Pennsylvania’s GOP Governor In Big Trouble For Re-Election

Tom Corbett was among the many Republican Governors elected in 2010 along with the wave that swept the GOP into power in the House of Representatives, but it’s looking more and more like he’s going to have trouble holding onto his seat:

Pennsylvania governors typically encounter trouble in their first terms and the polls reflect that with dipping popularity.

It happened to Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican, in the late 1990s.

It happened to Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, in the mid-2000s.

Ridge and Rendell recovered, posting popularity numbers above 50 percent by the time they ran successfully for re-election.

A Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll being released today tells a different story for Gov. Corbett, a Republican up for re-election next year.

Corbett’s poll numbers continue to drop precipitously.

Just one in five registered voters think Corbett, who faces challengers from his own political party but no primary-election opponent, deserves a second term.

It comes as little surprise that just 7 percent of Democrats want a second term for Corbett.

It’s a problem for Corbett that just 22 percent of independents want him re-elected.

It is potentially disastrous that just 38 percent of Republican voters support his re-election.

Corbett is one of a number of Republican Governors up for re-election next year who are facing trouble. Others on the list include Rick Scott from Florida, Rick Snyder from Michigan, and Paul LePage from Maine.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. JohnMcC says:

    Here’s a conundrum about American politics: A governor like Mr Corbett gets elected in a ‘wave election’ such as we saw in ’10, and can lose popularity and get voted out of office in the next election but a Congressman gets elected by similar margins in the same ‘wave’ and similarly loses popularity but does not face the same probable loss. The most recent gerrymandering has something to do with this, of course, but the effect existed long before the last census. I’ve been observing politics for probably over 50yrs and it’s always been this way. Wonder what it is about Congressional elections that they are much less (small-d) democratic (maybe a better term ‘poplarity driven?’) than gubenatorial ones?

  2. Hal 10000 says:

    Corbett has done everything he can short of setting fire to something to make the voters dislike him. His handling of the Sandusky business, the tax exemptions for fracking, the budget priorities. I know lifelong Republicans who will not vote for him. It’s pretty stunning how badly the voters have soured on him.

  3. rudderpedals says:

    Pennsylvania governor: gay couples barred from marriage ‘like 12-year-olds’

    Gov. Corbett’s problems are far more serious than bad polling results. ISTM he’s a bit of a creep

  4. edmondo says:

    It’s actually kind of sad. This giant cipher is actually a perfect example of what Pennsylvania has to offer the nation.

  5. Snarky Bastard says:


    Most states at the state level are more ideologically balanced than the typical congressional district (before or after the 2010 gerrymanders). This is the same reason that Senators tend to slightly more center seeking than the median house member from the same party in the same state.

    Let’s review Pennsylvania. Right now there are 4 House seats that Democrats really can’t lose short of mistress choking/$90,000 in cash found in the freezer during an FBI raid, another seat that is highly favored Democrat, three districts that are highly favored Republican and the remainder are Republican locks without mistress choking incidents. The Republicans in the GOP lock seats can afford to lose 10 to 15 points of popularity and still win a clear majority with only Republican voters. The converse applies to the Dems in the heavy Dem seats.

    In 2012, the Dems won a clear majority of House votes, but they were inefficiently concentrated in urban areas, so the GOP took most of the seats (1 man: 1 vote does not mean equal distribution of political power).

    There is a working state wide Dem majority in PA when the base shows up, so anyone who has to face a statewide electorate instead of a district electorate is facing a slightly Democratic electorate to begin with, and as a Repbulcian that is losing popularity to Dems and independents,a state wide electorate is a much tougher group than a PA-12 electorate.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Tom Corbett is somewhat in the mold of Rick Santorum – prone to speak his mind and show us just how depressing he can be. I recall that back in 2012, Corbett made remarks to the effect women, either pregnant or with breast cancer, who were in public assistance (Medicaid) programs were a burden on taxpayers and should pay into the program, that they were freeloaders.

    Well, guys him are in the House of Representatives and they are thriving over there.

  7. Caj says:

    The big wave in 2010 for Republicans will become a Tsunami for them in 2014. People have seen and heard enough of these waste of space articles that refuse to do a thing to help the country progress. They are an embarrassment to the country as so much more needs to be done. While they spend their time repealing Obamacare for God knows how many times now! Time to throw them out. 2014 can’t come quick enough!

  8. Snarky Bastard says:

    @Caj: I doubt it — 218th seat is three or four points more Republican than the rest of the country. Throw in the clear advantage of incumbancy (roughly wortth an extra 1.5 to 2 points) and the Democrats need a clear 6 or 7 point national win that is efficiently distributed to get a majority. Right now the polling is not showing 6 or 7 point Dem advantage at the Generic House ballot; it is showing Dem +1 or 2 (if you exclude Rasmussen). That is a break-even to a handful of net seats gained for Democrats.

  9. JohnMcC says:

    @Snarky Bastard: Well, my friend Mr B, I think it’s a little more subtle than that; I don’t know Pennsylvania districts and voting history very well (but thanks for the primer). But I think it’s more along the lines of a distinction between executive and legislative role. The Governor has to actually ‘own’ his policy and it’s outcome. A congressman can convince his district that although policy that failed passed his body, it wasn’t his fault and he should be re-elected because he’s such a swell fellow and his heart’s in the right place.

    But that’s a pretty superficial way of dissecting it — legislative vs executive — and I’d like for someone of erudition to point me in a deeper direction.

  10. Mr. Replica says:

    Most, if not all, of the people I know who pulled the lever for this guy now believe it was a mistake to do so. Granted they are more moderate in their political views, not “Screw you, I got mine” types. Which would explain the buyers remorse.

  11. Rafer Janders says:


    Wonder what it is about Congressional elections that they are much less (small-d) democratic (maybe a better term ‘poplarity driven?’) than gubenatorial ones?

    Simple. You can gerrymander a Congressional district. You can’t gerrymander an entire state.

  12. Rafer Janders says:


    But I think it’s more along the lines of a distinction between executive and legislative role.

    No, it’s largely the gerrymander.

  13. Snarky Bastard says:

    @Rafer Janders: The 2012 gerrymander certaintly excerbates the problem of median voters in districts being much further away from the median voter in a state, but as long as we have single member districts and population that is has a non-uniform ideological geographic distribution, that will always be the case.