New 6abc/Franklin & Marshall poll

September 29, 2010

The governor's race has tightened up. Among registered adults, Republican Tom Corbett leads Democrat Dan Onorato (33 to 30-percent - within the margin of error. 37-percent undecided).

In the race for U.S. Senate, Republican Pat Toomey also has a thin, three-point lead over Democrat Joe Sestak (32 to 29-percent with 39-percent undecided) and by nine points among those most likely to vote (38 to 29-percent and 32-percent undecided).

The poll's director, Doctor Terry Madonna, says it is still too early to count the Democrats out.

Madonna explains, "The Democrats have enough money to take their message to the voters and they're moving the earth to try to get their voters motivated and to turn out."

Madonna's poll also found that 32-percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania cite the economy as the most important issue in their lives.

21-percent feel personal finances and unemployment are most important.

View the poll results below:

1) The percentage of Pennsylvanians who say the state is headed in the right direction now stands at 31 percent--while 59 percent believe it is off on the wrong track, virtually unchanged from August.

2) Registered Pennsylvanians continue to express pessimism about the economy. A third (32-percent) cite the economy and one in four (21-percent) say personal finances/unemployment are the most important problems facing individuals and their families.

3) Republican Tom Corbett leads Democrat Dan Onorato in the race for governor by three points among registered adults (33-percent to 30-percent with 37-percent undecided) and by four points among those most likely to vote (36-percent to 32-percent with 31-percent undecided). When voters who "lean" toward a candidate are included, Corbett's lead remains about the same among likely voters (41-percent to 37-percent with 19-percent undecided.) Registered voters cite the economy (24-percent), reducing/ spending (13-percent) and taxes (10-percent), respectively, as the most important issues in their vote for governor.

4) The large proportion of Pennsylvania voters who have not heard enough about the gubernatorial candidates to form an opinion of them (45-percent for Corbett and 43-percent for Onorato) is unusually high for this point in the election cycle.

5) In the Pennsylvania US senate race, Republican Pat Toomey leads Democrat Joe Sestak by three points among registered adults (32-percent to 29-percent with 39-percent undecided) and by nine points among those most likely to vote (38-percent to 29-percent and 32-percent undecided). When voters who "lean" toward a candidate are included in these figures, Toomey's lead among likely voters is slightly larger (46-percent to 34-percent with 17-percent undecided).

6) Registered Pennsylvanians cite the economy (34-percent) as the most important issue in their vote for U.S. Senate. A plurality of supporters for both candidates (34-percent of Toomey voters and 40-percent of Sestak voters) says the economy is the most important issue in their senate preference. Toomey voters (15-percent) are more likely than Sestak voters (2-percent) to say that issues related to the size of government are driving their preference.

7) President Obama's job approval in Pennsylvania continues to remain relatively weak with only 36 percent of registered adults finding his performance positive, specifically 10 percent "excellent" and 26 percent "good." Almost three times as many (30-percent) rate the president's job performance as "poor" compared to "excellent." Governor Ed Rendell's job performance also is low among registered adults-only 35 percent find his performance positive, with five percent reporting "excellent" and 30 percent reporting "good." About the same proportions (27-percent) say he is doing a "poor job."

Methodology:

The survey findings presented in this release are based on the results of interviews conducted September 20-26, 2010. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College under the direction of the poll's Director Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Head Methodologist Berwood Yost, and Senior Project Manager Angela Knittle. The data included in this release represent the responses of 734 adult residents of Pennsylvania, including 606 registered adults (288 Democrats, 222 Republicans, 84 registered as Independent/Other, and 12 who refused to identify party). Telephone numbers for the survey were generated using random digit dialing, and respondents were randomly selected from within each household. Survey results were weighted (age, education, race, region, and gender) using an iterative weighting algorithm. The sample error for this survey is +/- 3.6 percentage points. The sample error for registered adults is +/- 4.0 percentage points, and the subsample of likely voters (n=436) has a sample error of +/- 4.7 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, this poll is also subject to other sources of non-sampling error. Generally speaking, two sources of error concern researchers most. Non-response bias is created when selected participants either choose not to participate in the survey or are unavailable for interviewing. Response errors are the product of the question and answer process. Surveys that rely on self-reported behaviors and attitudes are susceptible to biases related to the way respondents process and respond to survey questions.

Complete results can be found in the attachment or at http://politics.fandm.edu.

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