It turns out that spending millions on broacast TV ads while you have the airwaves all to yourself moves numbers.
Tom Wolf, the York businessman and former state revenue secretary, jumped from last to first – by a mile – in the latest survey of the Democratic primary for governor by Harper Polling, released Tuesday.
He led five rivals with 40 percent support among respondents who said they were likely to vote in the May 20 Democratic primary; in a Harper Poll last November, Wolf was in last place with a mere 5 percent of the vote.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Montgomery County, long labeled the frontrunner in the race to take on Gov. Corbett, was second with 14 percent support. State Treasurer Rob McCord had the backing of 8 percent of Democrats surveyed.
McCord has run and been elected twice statewide, and Schwartz has a base in the southeast. Neither has yet advertised in the governor's race, however.
Former Auditor General Jack Wagner, whose decision last week to run has shaken up the campaign, and former DEP chief John Hanger each had 7 percent. Katie McGinty of Wayne, also formerly the state’s top environmental official, had the support of 6 percent in the poll.
Nineteen percent of likely voters said they were undecided.
“The real impact in the race has been Wolf’s spending,” wrote pollster Brock McCleary in a memo analyzing the results. “In fact, it has given form to a race that to this point has been filled with candidates who lack broad name identification beyond niche constituencies.”
Wolf, whose largely self-funded campaign began the year with $11.1 million cash on hand, has been running ads in all Pennsylvania's broadcast markets for at least three weeks. McGinty began running ads in all markets except Philadelphia on Monday.
Harper Polling, a Republican-oriented firm based in Harrisburg, surveyed 501 likely primary voters via a computer-response system on Feb. 22 and 23. Results are subject to a sampling error of 4.38 percentage points, the company said.