None of the candidates to be the next Governor of Pennsylvania are particularly well known, but between an unpopular outgoing Democratic Governor and a good national political climate Republican Tom Corbett currently has a strong edge over all four of his opponents.
Corbett is up 43-30 on Jack Wagner, 45-32 on Dan Onorato, 46-31 on Joe Hoeffel, and 45-27 on Anthony Williams.
A few major trends ring through all four hypothetical match ups. Corbett has the advantage among independents in each of them, by margins ranging from 9 to 20 points. He's also benefiting from a considerably more unified party, getting 78-80% of the Republican vote while the Democrats are all polling at 49-54% of their party's vote. There are considerably more undecided Democrats than Republicans, probably because there is so much more uncertainty about who the party's nominee will be. That means the Democrats will likely pull a good deal closer to Corbett once they're unified around a nominee, although the Republican will certainly still be favored.
It's hard to look at Corbett's early advantage as any great sign of personal popularity. 53% of voters in the state don't know enough about him to have formed an opinion while 27% see him favorably and 20% view him unfavorably. That does make him better known than the Democratic candidates, none of whom achieve even 30% name recognition.
Ed Rendell's lack of popularity may be one of the things giving Corbett an edge. 51% of voters disapprove of the outgoing Governor compared to just 35% who approve. It stands to reason that a state unhappy with its current Democratic executive is not all that inclined to elect another one this fall.
Corbett is favored for now but the dynamics of the race have the potential to change quite a bit once the general election match up is set and once voters get to know the candidates better.
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