POLITICS
10/07/2014 06:00 am ET Updated Dec 07, 2014

Tom Corbett Trails His Democratic Opponent In New Poll

Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Daniel Kelley

PHILADELPHIA, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett continues to trail his Democratic opponent by double-digit margins a month before the general election, according to a poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

Corbett trails Democrat Tom Wolf by 17 percentage points with support from 38 percent of likely voters, the poll showed, compared to 55 percent who favor Wolf.

"It's a matter of simple math and the ticking clock and both are working against Corbett," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Corbett lacks the support of 22 percent of Republicans, the lowest rate of support from his own party by any incumbent governor.

Wolf, a businessman who poured his personal fortune into a four-way race for the Democratic nomination came out early with a series of autobiographical ads that touted his work as a Peace Corp volunteer.

He has pledged to levy a tax on natural gas drillers to fund shortfalls in the state's education budget.

Corbett, who was elected in 2010, has suffered from poor approval ratings through much of his first term as the state struggled economically.

He has been criticized for presiding over a reduction in funding for education, a key issue for many voters.

Corbett's Democratic predecessor, Ed Rendell, cut the state's share of basic education funding in the 2010 and 2011 budgets as revenues slumped, relying on temporary stimulus money until those federal funds dried up.

In 2012, Corbett brought state funding for education back up to 2008 levels, but that was still at least $500 million below the previous year's total without the stimulus funds. For the current fiscal year, Pennsylvania is spending $5.5 billion on basic education.

Chris Borick, a professor of political science at Muhlenberg College, said voters in the state have come to see education as their top issue.

"The governor, as we've seen in the polls in the past couple years, has struggled to win over voters because of an array of factors, but I think it starts and ends with public perception on education budgets."

The poll surveyed 907 likely voters between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5 and had a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points. (Editing by Sharon Bernstein & Shri Navaratnam)

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