It’s a long way to go before the next gubernatorial election. But early murmurs in different quarters of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party suggest Governor Corbett might face some difficulty in his efforts to get re-elected. This is something to watch as potential challengers begin to float the idea of a rare challenge to an incumbent.
I admittedly do not believe that a poll constitutes news by itself. Nonetheless, polling can sometimes be a useful tool to corroborate intelligence being otherwise gathered on the ground and give a little more insight into the general mood of the public. Taking a few minutes to consider a recent Public Policy Polling poll accomplishes that very end.
In a survey of 490 Republican primary voters – i.e. Republican super voters – 54% approved of the governor’s job performance. Surprisingly, 31% of Republicans disapproved of it. When the voters were asked whether they would like Governor Corbett to be the next Republican candidate for governor, the gap in the numbers narrowed to 45% yes and 37% no. In a bit of good news, Corbett runs ahead of the only person who has made any serious noise about running against him, Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor, by a margin of 51% to 11%. To be fair, a large part of this gap may be accounted for by name I.D. differences.
Here is where it gets a bit more murky for the governor. Approximately 36% of those polled classified themselves as very conservative; and another 37% called themselves somewhat conservative. This accounts for 73% of those polled. These self-described categorizations seem to have been verified by answers given on the issue of gay marriage in the same poll.
Taking into consideration all of this information, it seems safe to assume that Governor Corbett does in fact have a problem with support within his own party. In particular, the conservative base has taken some issue with him over his job performance. Politicians of either party that lose their base usually don’t fare well in the general election. That being said, it seems Governor Corbett has not lost his base entirely. Rather, they are disenchanted with him at the moment.
From a political perspective, Corbett needs to have a good year and push several policies that would further ingratiate him with his conservative base. As a result, I would look for him to move to the right some in the near future to do so. An easy target would be for him to take on President Obama, who many conservatives are even more unhappy with for a number of reasons. There are a plethora of choices in that regard. Keep a close eye on the current gun control issue as one possibility. Many Pennsylvanians love to hunt and this state has the highest number of NRA members in the country. It’s an easy one for the Governor to use to his advantage.