By John Celock
A new poll shows that 44 percent of Pennsylvania voters view Gov. Tom Wolf (D) favorably as he nears the halfway mark of his first year in office.
The poll, released Thursday by Franklin and Marshall University, shows that Wolf has a 44 percent favorability rating and a 27 percent unfavorable rating. The poll comes as Wolf is in the middle of a battle with the Republican-controlled state Legislature over his budget proposal.
The poll shows that 39 percent of those surveyed viewed Wolf as doing an excellent or good job as governor. The poll indicates that Wolf’s poll numbers are below where former Govs. Tom Ridge (R) and Ed Rendell (D) were at similar points in their first years, but ahead of where former Gov. Tom Corbett (R) was at a similar point in 2011. Wolf unseated Corbett last year.
The poll shows that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to rank the rookie governor as doing an excellent or good job, with 56 percent of Democrats surveyed indicating that answer compared to 16 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of independents. Seventy percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents ranked Wolf as doing a fair or poor job, a rank given by 31 percent of Democrats.
The poll showed that 30 percent of those surveyed believed that increased state funding for public schools was the top issue for state legislators to address, an increase from 27 percent in March. The poll indicated that 25 percent wanted the focus to be on property tax reduction and 15 percent on reducing state spending, similar totals from March. The poll also showed that the amount of support for lawmakers to deal with the state pension fund had dropped from 15 percent to 10 percent and support for hiking the state minimum wage went up from eight percent to 10 percent. The surveyed noted that only two percent of those questioned wanted lawmakers to focus on privatizing the state’s liquor stores, a top issue during Corbett’s administration.
The poll also indicated that 31 percent of those surveyed “strongly supported” and 27 percent “somewhat supported” Wolf’s proposal to hike the state’s sales and incomes tax rates and create a new fracking extraction tax, issues where Wolf is doing battle with legislative Republicans.