Poll: Corbett trails Wolf by 20 points for Pa. gov

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— Gov. Tom Corbett is trailing Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by a formidable 20 points as Pennsylvania's gubernatorial campaign shifts into gear for the general election, according to a poll released last week.

The survey of 1,308 Pennsylvania voters by Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University showed Wolf backed by 53 percent and the Republican governor by 33 percent.

The margin was almost identical to Wolf's 52 to 33 percent advantage over Corbett in a hypothetical matchup by the same pollster in February — months before Wolf captured the Democratic nomination with 58 percent of the vote in a four-way primary race.

Fifty-five percent of the respondents in the latest poll said they disapproved of Corbett's job performance — his lowest job-approval rating since Quinnipiac began tracking it in 2011, his first year in office.

Corbett, who was previously the state's corruption-fighting attorney general, was viewed favorably by only 29 percent, contrasted with 46 percent who said they view Wolf favorably.

Wolf consistently outscored Corbett when voters were asked which would do a better job on a laundry list of issues that included education, the economy and jobs, energy and the environment, health care, taxes and government spending.

“There's no good news anywhere for Gov. Corbett," said Tim Malloy, the poll's assistant director.

Mike Barley, Corbett's campaign manager, shrugged off the governor's polling deficit as the product of weeks of attack ads, including many aimed at Corbett, that were aired by the four candidates vying for the Democratic nomination and their allies.

“The governor is very much still in position to win" the Nov. 4 election, Barley said. “Remember, it is June and this race is just starting."

Corbett's campaign will highlight his efforts to promote job growth and fiscal responsibility, and portray Wolf as a millionaire politician who wants to significantly increase taxes, Barley said.

“We hope Tom Wolf enjoys his lead now, because once (voters) get to know who he really is, this race will change drastically," he said.

Corbett is viewed as vulnerable for reasons that include voter backlash from a nearly $1 billion cut in education spending in 2011, his opposition to efforts to impose a severance tax on the state's thriving natural gas industry and his reticent leadership style.

Wolf, a wealthy York businessman who briefly served as state revenue secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell, has played up his turnaround of his family's building products company, his stint in the Peace Corps and his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He poured $10 million into his campaign that enabled him to air months of folksy TV ads that made him a household name and gave him a crucial early lead in the primary.

The telephone survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

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