By Eric Boehm | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Following the passage of his second state budget, Gov. Tom Corbett’s approval rating slipped again, according to a new Franklin and Marshall College poll released Thursday.
Terry Madonna, a professor of political science and the director of the poll, said Corbett’s low ratings are largely based on his support for budget cuts in higher education, basic education and human services. Even though the governor agreed to some restorations in those areas after initially proposing cuts, he seems unwilling to boast about it, Madonna said.
In a June poll from the same college in Lancaster, 38 percent of voters said Corbett was doing a good or excellent job.
Voters generally approve of Corbett’s policy of avoiding tax increases — a central piece of his political platform — but they also want more funding for state programs, an apparent contradiction, Madonna said.
And it’s too soon to judge Corbett’s re-election chances, which will hinge on the national economy and the state’s finances by 2014.
The poll, taken last week, consisted of 681 registered Pennsylvania voters, with more Democrats than Republicans surveyed. The poll had a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.
“Leadership is not a popularity contest,” said Kevin Harley, Corbett’s spokesman. “He is working to create an environment where private-sector business can succeed, and part of that includes controlling the size and cost of state government.”
Harley pointed to the $4.2 billion deficit Corbett inherited when he took office in 2010 and subsequently eliminated.
James Hallinan, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said Corbett’s policies were wrong for middle-class families.
“It’s not surprising that Pennsylvanians are rejecting Tom Corbett and his out-of-touch agenda,” Hallinan said.
Corbett can hope to follow in the footsteps of Pennsylvania’s last Republican governor, Tom Ridge, who faced his lowest approval rating in spring 1996 — his second year in office — but went on to win re-election easily in 1998, Madonna said.