The Most Vulnerable Governor in the Country

Corbett is seeking re-election in 2014 in the Keystone State. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Corbett is seeking re-election in 2014 in the Keystone State. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Posted November 1, 2013 at 6:00am

There is still a year until the midterm election, but Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is in very serious jeopardy of losing re-election in 2014.

The Republican governor’s polling numbers continue to sag. According to a new survey, conducted October 22-27 by Franklin & Marshall College, just 19 percent of registered voters gave Corbett an excellent or good job rating, while 39 percent said “only a fair job” and 37 percent gave him a poor rating. Just 20 percent said he deserves re-election and 25 percent believed Pennsylvania is headed in the right direction.

That’s just the latest in a series of polls over the course of the year that have showed Corbett with slumping job ratings, poor personal image with voters and often trailing in general-election ballot tests.

Even though GOP strategists are trying to get Corbett back on track, the governor can’t seem to get his footing (in part because of his recent comments about same-sex marriage licenses). And his handling of the Penn State scandal continues to be a problem below the surface, according to one GOP source. We’ll see if voters change their tune on Corbett after seeing more “human” images of him, mingling with crowds, showing shirtsleeves and playing with his dogs.

Philadelphia-area Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, but a small crowd of candidates will compete in the May 20 primary. State Treasurer Rob McCord, wealthy businessman Tom Wolf and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski are running, along with former state Environmental Protection secretaries John Hanger and Kathleen McGinty, Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz and minister Max Myers. Clearly, Democrats smell blood.

At this stage of the race, Corbett will likely start the general election as the underdog against the Democratic nominee.

Corbett isn’t the only governor in the country to have poor job ratings. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois has struggled in his first term. But there haven’t been recent public polls in that race and Quinn as the advantage of running for re-election as a Democrat in a Democratic state. Corbett doesn’t enjoy the same dynamic.

The Pennsylvania gubernatorial race is now rated Lean Democrat (from Tossup/Tilt Democrat) in the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings.