HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania electorate is restless and unhappy with incumbents in both parties.
That’s the main conclusion from a new Susquehanna Polling and Research poll commissioned by ABC27. The numbers are dismal for two Democrats seeking re-election next year and for the Republican in the White House less than a year.
The poll was conducted the last week of September among registered voters across Pennsylvania.
When asked if they approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as President, 37 percent approved, 53 percent disapproved and 10 percent were undecided.
Pollster Jim Lee cautions that throughout the campaign and right up until the election, Trump frequently polled poorly only to succeed at the ballot box.
“I guess I’m not surprised (at the low approval number) because I know what Trump’s image was even last year when we polled for you guys. This is what his favorable-unfavorable was and he still won,” Lee said.
Pennsylvania’s chief executive, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, is also struggling in the commonwealth, according to the poll. The question asked if Wolf deserved reelection or if a new person should get a chance?
Only 35 percent of respondents gave Wolf a thumbs up. Fifty percent said give someone new a chance and 15 percent were undecided.
Lee notes that the numbers can and will change the minute a specific Republican is pitted against Wolf and it’s easier to support the faceless “someone new.” But Lee also suspects erosion among fiscally moderate Democrats who supported Wolf the first time.
“He won many counties in the state where he was perceived as a middle-of-the-road moderate guy on fiscal issues,” Lee said. “I think he’s been exposed as a liberal on taxes and spending because the Republican House has been so strident in making voters understand that they will not raise taxes and that seems to be what Wolf wants to die on the sword to do.”
For perspective, Lee asked the same question at the same time in former governor Tom Corbett’s term and his numbers were much worse, with 65 percent saying someone new should get a chance. Corbett, of course, went on to become the first governor seeking a second term not to get a second term in Pennsylvania history.
US Sen. Bob Casey, whose last name has been on Pennsylvania ballots for two generations, has work to do ahead of next year’s election, according to the poll. Only 27 percent say he’s done a good enough job to deserve reelection, with 46 percent saying someone new should get a shot and 28 percent still undecided.
Lee says that Casey won’t have the advantage of facing voters in a presidential election year as he did last time when Barack Obama won a second term. Presidential years, Lee said, create larger turnout which generally favors Democrats, since there are more of them in Pennsylvania.
Casey’s approval numbers are 10 points lower than they were a year before his last reelection. But Lee said if anger toward the current president is strong, that will be to Casey’s advantage.
“If the political environment is toxic for the Republicans next year, Casey wins probably a squeaker because you’re not gonna vote against Casey if you don’t like what Trump’s doing.”
But based on this poll it’s easy to conclude that lots of you don’t like what any incumbents are doing.
“It’s easy to say, ‘I’m unhappy with the bums that are in there now’ so to speak figuratively, but until you know who the other bum is that might be running maybe it’s a different answer.”
Susquehanna Polling & Research has, among its clients, Republican candidates.