By David DeKok
HARRISBURG Pa. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is trailing his Democratic challenger by 20 percentage points in a poll released on Thursday, a slight improvement in the Republican's showing since August.
The poll by Franklin & Marshall College shows Democratic businessman Tom Wolf favored by 54 percent of likely voters compared to 34 percent who favor the incumbent in November's election. In August, the Franklin & Marshall poll showed Corbett trailing by 25 points.
“Corbett is losing in every major region of the state,” said Terry Madonna, a professor at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, college who runs the survey.
According to the poll, 60 percent of Pennsylvanians believe the state is “off on the wrong track.” Some 58 percent believe Wolf will win the election regardless of how they themselves plan to vote. Only 19 percent believe Corbett will win.
Since the one-term limit for Pennsylvania governors was eliminated in the early 1970s, no incumbent has failed to be re-elected.
“We are confident that in the only poll that matters on Election Day, voters will re-elect Governor Corbett to a second term,” said his spokesman Billy Pitman.
A spokesman for Wolf, Jeffrey Sheridan, called the poll “more evidence that the people of Pennsylvania have rejected Tom Corbett’s failed policies.”
Education and the economy remain the most important issues for voters, Madonna said, and Corbett has been unable to shake the accusation that he cut a billion dollars from state education spending.
The poll had a sample of 520 registered voters and has a margin for error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
TV advertising is having little impact on voter opinion in the general election, Madonna said.
Pennsylvania leads the nation this year in spending on TV political advertising, some $37 million at all levels, according to a study released Wednesday by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C.
A good chunk of that was the $11 million Wolf poured into TV advertising to win the Democratic primary last spring, the study said. Much of that came from his own fortune acquired as a manufacturer of kitchen cabinets.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)