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In light of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s lawsuit against the NCAA over its sanctions on the Penn State football program last summer, Public Policy Polling decided to poll the popularity of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.

The verdict?  It’s still not good as Corbett’s approval registers at 38%.  Pennsylvania voters support the lawsuit with 52% approving but give the Governor very low marks with 27% approve his handling of the Penn State scandal.

For those who somehow haven’t heard about the case, Tom Corbett was the Attorney General when Pennsylvania decided not to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

The case was one of the more disgusting and scandalous controversies in recent memory.  The cover-up by Penn State officials to protect Sandusky was awful but the failure to act amongst the top officeholders in Pennsylvania was just as heinous.  In fact, Kathleen Kane who is the state’s newest Attorney General elected last November, stated that she would launch an investigation on Corbett’s role in the Sandusky case.

Corbett’s approval ratings aren’t exactly low for that exclusive reason.  Corbett’s attacks against teachers unions and PASSHE drew the scorn of college students across the state.  I can attest to that being a college student in Pennsylvania where Corbett is nearly a slur amongst us.  Corbett also drew no favors for his advice of “just close your eyes” to women during the transvaginal ultrasound debate.  Corbett is intending to run for re-election but he’s not doing the greatest job when it comes down to selling himself to voters.

Pennsylvania, for its blue state status, is no stranger to Republican Governors as Tom Ridge can show you.  However, Corbett is not going to win Philadelphia or Pittsburgh (the two biggest cities in the state) so he has to make up the ground in the solid red middle.  Penn State, for instance, is basically the middle of the state as the University is beloved until you get to Pittsburgh.

So Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA, about half a year after accepting their sanctions, is both well-timed and bathed in political overtures.  But as of right now, in the aftermath of the lawsuit being filed, it hasn’t really helped his case.  As of PPP’s poll, here are the hypothetical matchups between Corbett and a few challengers.

  • Corbett-40%, former Governor Ed Rendell-46%
  • Corbett-42%, AG Kathleen Kane-42%
  • Corbett-41%, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter-38%
  • Corbett-41%, former Secretary of the PA Department of Environmental Protection John Hanger-37%
  • Corbett-42%, former Rep. Joe Sestak-36%
  • Corbett-41%, Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord-35%
  • Corbett-41%, Rep. Allyson Schwartz-34%
  • Corbett-41%, York businessman Tom Wolf-29%

As PPP points out the fact that Corbett doesn’t go over 42% of the vote is telling.  Usually an incumbent is most deemed “vulnerable” by how much they are under the 50% threshold and Corbett is way under.

Other Governors such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio have slowly seen their favorability ratings climb a tad but Corbett continues to stay low.  The budget debates, the college funding debates, the attacks on teachers unions and now the Penn State case has tarnished the gubernatorial career of Tom Corbett.

But stranger things have happened in politics.  Corbett could always get re-elected if Democrats are either lazy or nominate another Dan Onorato that runs a lackadaisical campaign.  Odds are Rendell won’t run (considering his standing with liberal Democrats, I highly doubt it) and I wonder if Kane will give up the AG spot after only two years on the job.

That brings us to Sestak being the only candidate that has experience running a statewide campaign which was his 2010 loss to now-Senator Pat Toomey in the Republican wave of the 2010 mid-terms.  You will likely see a crowded primary (Hanger already announced his bid) so Corbett will likely see a small favorability bounce if the Democrats bloody each other enough.

But I still advise Tom Corbett to “just close his eyes” when Googling his name.

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