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Pa. voters 'optimistic' about Wolf, new MCAP poll says

Monday, January 19, 2015

A new Mercyhurst University poll, released on the eve of Tom Wolf’s inauguration as the 47th governor of Pennsylvania, suggests voters are “relatively optimistic” about his ability to work with state lawmakers to resolve challenges facing the commonwealth, said pollster Joseph Morris, D.A.

The poll, conducted by the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics and released Monday, Jan. 19, surveyed 434 registered voters in Pennsylvania between Jan. 7 and 16, forecasting with a margin or error of +/- 4.75.

According to the data, solid majorities of voters say they have confidence in Wolf’s ability to work effectively with Republicans in the state legislature and express optimism that his performance as governor will exceed that of his predecessor, Tom Corbett.

"Most new governors enjoy a honeymoon period, where both political parties, news media and the public are optimistic about the governor's ability to solve problems, cooperate with the opposition party, and otherwise lead the state,” Morris said. “This honeymoon period is simply given to the governor. Beginning Wednesday, however, this optimism will have to be earned."

Concerning Wolf’s stated agenda, majorities of voters favor creating a progressive income tax for Pennsylvania (58% favor; 35% oppose), increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10/hour (66% favor; 29% oppose), enacting an extraction tax on natural gas (61% favor; 27% oppose), and increasing funding for public schools (74% favor; 22% oppose). Majorities of voters also express a desire for reform of the state’s pension system and favor privatizing state liquor stores.

On the question of which issue should be his top priority, voters identify education as No. 1, followed by the economy/jobs and taxes, among others.

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential election, registered voters in Pennsylvania have favorable opinions of potential candidates for the Democratic Party, and less favorable opinions of potential candidates for the Republican Party. Of the potential Democratic contenders, Hillary Clinton is perceived most favorably. Joe Biden also receives a largely positive evaluation from voters.

Leading the Republican field of potential candidates is Jeb Bush. Following close behind Bush are Rick Santorum and Chris Christie.

For complete poll results, visit the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics.