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MCAP Poll: Erie voters oppose Corbett; have no clear choice for Dem opponent

Monday, April 7, 2014

With the May 20 primary looming, Erie County voters have not yet rallied around a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Pennsylvania governor despite strongly disapproving of the job Tom Corbett is doing, according to a new poll released today by the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP).

In a poll of 426 registered voters in Erie County (margin of error +/- 4.75 percent), a majority of 52 percent gave Corbett poor marks. Only 29 percent approve of the job he is doing as governor.

If the general election was held today, only 25 percent of those polled said they would vote for Corbett. An unnamed candidate from the Democratic Party, in contrast, would garner 52 percent of the vote.

And, yet, MCAP Director Joseph Morris, D.A., said it appears that most Erie County voters have not tuned-in to the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination. "This is somewhat surprising given that the incumbent is so unpopular," he said.

According to the poll, majorities of voters don’t recognize the names of Democratic primary candidates Katie McGinty (79 percent), Rob McCord (56 percent), or Allyson Schwartz (76 percent). Among them, McCord is viewed most favorably, with 34 percent having a favorable opinion, and only 4 percent having an unfavorable opinion.

Closer to home, a plurality of voters (37 percent) said they approve of the job Kathy Dahlkemper is doing as Erie County Executive, with a quarter (24 percent) disapproving and 11 percent saying that it is too soon to tell.

"Kathy Dahlkemper has been in office for less than three months, so it's not surprising that so many voters don't know whether they approve or disapprove of the job she's doing, or say that it's too soon to tell,” Morris said. “Two and a half months in an office as important as county executive is barely enough time to get one's office in order."

On two important social issues, Erie County voters’ opinions are in line with those of the nation. When asked whether they favored allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally in Pennsylvania, 55 percent said they favor the change and only 36 percent oppose. Similarly, 75 percent favor making it legal for patients to use marijuana prescribed by a doctor, while only 23 percent oppose. A statewide MCAP poll released on February 28 found that a large majority of registered voters in Pennsylvania (85 percent) favored legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

When it comes to the state of Erie County’s economy, most voters (54 percent) said the situation remains unchanged. Roughly a quarter (27 percent) said that the county’s economy is getting worse, and only 17 percent said it is getting better. Nevertheless, voters expressed optimism about Erie County’s future in general.

When asked to think about Erie County’s future and report what one word comes to mind, a plurality said “hopeful.” 

To view the complete poll data, visit MCAP Polls.