HARRISBURG - Women like him, men think he's doing a good job, Republicans overwhelmingly approve of his work - and so do some Democrats.

In fact, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll, Gov. Corbett is growing more popular.

The survey, released Thursday, found the first-term Republican got a 50 percent approval rating from respondents, with women in particular giving his popularity a sudden and striking surge.

"He is doing profoundly better than other first-term Republican governors in swing states," including Govs. Rick Scott in Florida and John Kasich in Ohio, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Connecticut.

Scott and Kasich have incurred the wrath of labor unions by going after public employee benefits and bargaining rights. Compared with those governors, Malloy said, "Corbett's .500 average makes him an all-star candidate."

In the survey, conducted from Sept. 21 through Monday, female respondents gave Corbett a 45 percent approval rating, well above his marks in the last Quinnipiac poll, conducted in early August, when 37 percent of female respondents gave him a thumb's-up.

The new poll is based on interviews with 1,370 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

Also contributing to Corbett's higher grades this time around: the northeastern part of the state. There, respondents gave him a 48 percent approval rating, a boost from 31 percent in August.

Though those voters were not asked why they liked Corbett more these days, the consensus among pollsters and political analysts was that the governor's handling of the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee, which hit the state's northeast corner hardest, had a lot to do with the uptick. Corbett put state government on an emergency footing and went to flooded communities along the Susquehanna River.

"The flood helped him," said Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College. "Gov. Corbett seemed to have a firm handle on what was happening, and he said all the right things at the time."

What also likely helped Corbett with voters, Borick said, was a propensity - in contrast with his loquacious predecessor, Democrat Ed Rendell - for keeping a low profile and holding his cards close.

"In some ways, no news is good news for political figures in Harrisburg," Borick said. "Since the battles this spring and early summer on the budget, it's been a fairly quiet time in the Capitol. And in the world of politics today, quiet is good."

Overall, the poll found that a majority of registered voters who responded liked the governor as a person, 53 percent to 12 percent. The majority of Democratic respondents liked him, too, by 39 percent to 19 percent, with 41 percent undecided.

Still, respondents didn't like the policies quite as much as the man: 42 percent said they approved and 37 percent did not, according to the survey.

After taking office Jan. 18, Corbett made his first priority dealing with a gaping state budget deficit. The battle got bloody, with tense legislative fights for weeks over where to cut. Fights and all, though, Corbett and his Republican allies in the state House and Senate got the budget passed by its deadline, which Rendell did not manage in eight years.

In the end, state aid to public education and public welfare programs for the poor took big hits. But Corbett stayed true to his campaign pledge not to raise taxes - including no tax on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. He has opposed such a tax while saying he could support a so-called local impact fee, as long as most of the money raised goes to communities directly impacted by drilling.

According to the poll, only 40 percent of respondents approved of the governor's handling of the budget, with 45 percent registering disapproval.

That discontent was highest in Philadelphia, where only 25 percent of respondents said they liked Corbett's handling of the budget problems; a whopping 57 percent did not.

Debbie Campolo, 54, an elementary school physical therapist from Bryn Mawr, said she found Corbett's stances on budget cuts and gas drilling "reprehensible."

Campolo said Thursday she couldn't understand how the governor had grown more popular - unless it was because voters weren't sure what he was up to. "You don't hear from him, you don't see him. He does all this stuff behind closed doors," she said.

But Liz Preate Havey, 40, a Penn Valley lawyer and Republican committee person - and daughter of former state Attorney General Ernie Preate - said she thought Corbett had walked into a difficult situation and handled it deftly.

"The economy's terrible and he took a no-tax pledge. So far, he's not jumped into anything crazy or offensive. He's learning," she said. "I like him."

Havey added that she was happy Corbett had decided to support a Marcellus Shale impact fee.

"It gives people a nice overall picture of him," she said. "He's not just cutting. He recognizes that these companies are having an impact on roads and infrastructure and they should pony up some money."

Contact staff writer Angela Couloumbis at 717-787-5934, acouloumbis@phillynews.com, or @AngelasInk on Twitter.
For more about the latest Quinnipiac survey, go to http://bit.ly/Q-Poll.