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Poll: Casey, Wolf still have big leads

Borys Krawczeniuk
The Times-Tribune (TNS)

Five months before voters decide, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Gov. Tom Wolf still have double-digit leads over their opponents as they seek re-election, according to a new Franklin & Marshall College poll released Wednesday to The Times-Tribune.

Gov. Tom Wolf, left, and newly elected Lt. Gov. running mate John Fetterman speak to the media at Manchester Cafe in Manchester Township, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Casey led U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta by 17 percentage points, and Wolf led former state Sen. Scott Wagner by 19 points, according to the poll. Casey and Wolf are Democrats; Barletta and Wagner are Republicans.

The numbers almost exactly match the results of a March F&M poll.

“The burden is truly going to be on these Republicans, Wagner and Barletta, to make a case, given these substantial leads that the Democrats have in an election in which the Democrats are more interested in the election,” said G. Terry Madonna, the poll director.

The poll surveyed 472 registered voters – 224 Democrats, 185 Republicans and 63 independents – between June 4 and Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.5 percentage points.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) speaks to the York Dispatch Editorial Board in West Manchester Township, Thursday, April 5, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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In other poll findings:

■ Half of voters (50 percent) said they would favor a Democratic congressional candidate in November, while more than a third (36 percent) said they would vote for a Republican.

■ Democrats are also more enthusiastic about voting so far, with 62 percent very interested compared to 50 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of independents.

■ President Donald Trump’s numbers have improved since a March F&M survey – 40 percent see him favorably compared to 36 percent – but more than half (51 percent) think he’s doing a poor job.

■ More voters again (45 percent) thought the state is headed in the right direction than thought it’s on the wrong track (39 percent).

■ Only a third of voters (33 percent) said they noticed their household income increase because of the tax cuts Congress passed in December, while almost three in five (59 percent) said they haven’t noticed any difference.

Scott Wagner

■ Most voters (69 percent) think the current health care meets their needs at least pretty well. Among the ones who don’t, 55 percent blame the Affordable Care Act or high insurance premiums and deductibles.

■ Almost three-quarters of voters (72 percent) think state government needs reform. By almost two-thirds or more, they think the state should alter financing of election campaigns and state and local governments, reduce the size of the state General Assembly, impose term limits and change the way legislative districts are created. They also want a constitutional convention to consider altering the state constitution.

“They overwhelmingly think there needs to be major reform in state government,” Madonna said.

■ They generally think positively of the state having casinos – 43 percent more positive than negative, 31 percent more negative than positive. They don’t feel the same way about a bill that authorized 10 mini-casinos and allowed gambling at truck stops, airports and online. Only 40 percent favored expansion while 54 percent opposed.

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More from the poll:


As Sen. Bob Casey seeks a third, six-year term, voters generally like the Scranton Democrat – 44 percent have favorable views, 23 percent unfavorable. That’s about the same as three previous Franklin & Marshall College polls since February 2017 and almost 10 points better than before his re-election in 2012. Voters are more mixed on his job performance, with 42 percent saying he’s doing a good or excellent job and 43 percent saying he’s doing a fair or poor job. The positive job performance is 5 points better than 2012.


FILE – In this Nov. 29, 2016, file photo, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., gets on an elevator after arriving for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York. During Pennsylvania's Tuesday, May 15, 2018, primary election, Republican Party voters in the state will select Barletta or Pennsylvania state Rep. Jim Christiana as their nominee to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey's re-election bid. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta still has a long way to go just to get known if he wants to beat Casey. The former Hazleton mayor, a Republican, has served four terms in Congress, but two-thirds of voters statewide don’t know anything about him. Not only that, 14 percent of the ones who know him have favorable views while 17 percent have unfavorable views.


Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, wants a second four-year term and so far his underlying poll numbers look good. Almost half of voters have favorable views of him (49 percent) and almost as many (45 percent) think he’s doing a good or excellent job. His job rating is the best of his term. A third of voters (33 percent) view him unfavorably and almost half (49 percent) think he’s doing a fair or poor job.


Republican former state Sen. Scott Wagner wants Wolf’s job, but he’s even worse off than Barletta. Only a sixth (17 percent) view him favorably while almost a third (30 percent) view him unfavorably, maybe a sign his brutal primary election campaign against Paul Mango hurt. Almost half of voters (47 percent) still don’t know anything about him, either.