Pennsylvanians slow to feel economic recovery, MCAP Poll finds


Despite what has been characterized as a slow but steady improvement in the nation’s economy, Pennsylvanians aren’t feeling it. In fact, they remain largely pessimistic about the economy and their personal finances, according to a just released poll of the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP). 

The MCAP Poll surveyed 579 Pennsylvanians in a random sampling taken Sept. 19 to Oct. 3. In addition to questions on the economy, Pennsylvanians were also asked their opinions on extracting gas from Marcellus Shale through hydraulic fracking. In both instances, pollsters were able to ascertain trend data by comparing current responses with those from a 2011 MCAP poll.

Today as in 2011, Pennsylvanians offer a relatively downbeat assessment of the economy and their personal financial situation. While far fewer 2013 respondents – 32 percent – say the nation’s economy is “poor” compared to 57 percent in 2011, a plurality of 48 percent say that it is “not so good.”

Very few Pennsylvanians – 9 percent today, 7 percent in 2011 – report there are “plenty” of job opportunities in their communities; a plurality – 53 percent today, 47 percent in 2011 – reports jobs are “somewhat difficult to find.”  Although most Pennsylvanians say that they are making just enough money to maintain their standard of living (60 percent today, 57 percent in 2011), roughly 21 percent say that they are falling behind.

“The numbers may indicate that the nation’s economy is recovering, but Pennsylvanians say they are not seeing it,” said MCAP Director Joseph Morris, D.A.

In playing the blame game, Pennsylvanians are critical of actions by both the Obama Administration and the Republicans in Congress to address the nation’s economic situation. Solid majorities say that Obama (58 percent) and the GOP (67 percent) have made things “somewhat worse,” “much worse” or have had “no effect” on the state of the economy. This reflects a slightly more positive assessment of the Obama Administration’s performance on the economy and, to a lesser extent, the Republicans in Congress than provided in 2011. 

MCAP’s latest poll also found that while Pennsylvanians are generally supportive of gas extraction through fracking, they are less supportive today than they were in 2011. Roughly three out of four Pennsylvanians (74 percent today, 70 percent in 2011) have heard about “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking” to extract gas from the Marcellus Shale formation.  Of these individuals, 49 percent of the 2013 respondents favor fracking to extract natural gas whereas 55 percent supported it in 2011.

Finally, the poll finds that if Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial election were held today, a plurality of registered voters – 40 percent - would vote for an unnamed Democratic Party candidate rather than the incumbent Republican governor, Tom Corbett (29 percent).

Results for questions pertaining to the economy are based on interviews with 579 adult residents of Pennsylvania (MOE +/- 4.01).  Results for questions on gas extraction from Marcellus Shale and the gubernatorial election are based on subsamples of 426 (MOE +/- 4.75) and 490 (MOE +/- 4.43) individuals, respectively.

MCAP is the only independent, nonpartisan research organization in northwest Pennsylvania that aims to regularly conduct public opinion polls on issues of regional, state and national concern. Dr. Joseph Morris is director; Dr. Rolfe Peterson is associate director and methodologist.

For complete poll results, click here. To learn more about MCAP, visit the MCAP website, or call the polling center at 824-3859. And, be sure to follow MCAP on Facebook and on Twitter.


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