New F&M Poll indicates waning support for Wolf amidst budget battle

By Steven Viera || Senior Editor

Tom Wolf, governor of Pennsylvania, is beginning to lose support from his constituents as a result of the state’s inability to pass a budget four months after the deadline, according to the most recent F&M Poll. In addition to gathering data on statewide issues, the Poll explored Pennsylvania voters’ attitudes toward presidential candidates from both major parties.

Pennsylvania’s constitution requires the passage of a budget no later than July 1— the start of the fiscal year— or the state is forbidden from spending money or making payments. As of press time, the state has not yet passed a budget.

“There isn’t any doubt now that the failure to reach a budget agreement has significantly raised the angst of voters in the state,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the F&M Poll and F&M’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs, in this article on F&M’s news website.

According to the poll, 51 percent of voters blame the state legislature for lack of a budget while only 32 percent blame the governor. Similarly, 43 percent of voters trust Wolf to make decisions about the budget compared to only 38 percent trust in the legislature, reflecting the public’s greater faith in the governor.

However, even though a plurality of voters trust Wolf to handle budgetary matters, only 36 percent of voters— down from 39 percent in August— think that he is doing an “excellent” or “good” job. Furthermore, the poll results indicated that 62 percent of voters think that Pennsylvania is on the wrong track, whereas only 54 percent of voters felt that way in August.

“People were thinking it was the Legislature’s fault that the budget has yet to be passed, but now they are starting to blame the governor,” said Berwood Yost, chief methodologist of the poll and director of F&M’s Center for Opinion Research, according to the F&M news article.

Various proposals to increase taxes may be a reason why a deal has not been achieved. Wolf wants to tax natural gas extractors in the state— and enjoys the support of 67 percent of the voters on this issue— but faces opposition from Republicans. Voters also support tax increases on smokeless tobacco and cigarettes but oppose
increases to income taxes and sales taxes.

Another point of political contention is over the resignation of Kathleen Kane. Kane, the state attorney general, was charged with perjury after she allegedly leaked confidential documents and lied about it under oath; last month, the state Supreme Court suspended her law license. According to the poll, 51 percent of voters think she should resign.

Politicians and the government, according to the poll, have surpassed education as voters’ chief concern facing Pennsylvania.

With regard to national politics, Pennsylvania Democrats favor Hillary Clinton (52 percent) over Bernie Sanders (18 percent) while Pennsylvania Republicans support Donald Trump (23 percent), Ben Carson (22 percent), and Marco Rubio (13 percent).

“Pennsylvania looks like it could be another bellwether state,” Madonna said in the article on F&M’s news website.

The most recent poll reflects data collected during surveys conducted at the Center for Opinion Research on F&M’s campus from Oct. 19 to Oct. 25 with 614 Pennsylvania voters: 303 Democrats, 213 Republicans, and 80 Independents, and responses were weighted based on gender, region, and party affiliation. The interviews were conducted under the direction of Madonna, Yost, and Jacqueline Redman, project manager. The Poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 points.

For more information, the full results of the poll are available here.

Senior Steven Viera is a senior editor. His email is sviera@fandm.edu.

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