A SUMMER WAVE of negative television ads has not nudged the needle at all for Gov. Corbett in his bid for a second term against Democrat Tom Wolf.
A Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll being released today shows Wolf holding a comfortable 25-point lead on Corbett, 49 percent to 24 percent, with 25 percent undecided. That's virtually unchanged since Franklin & Marshall's last poll in late June.
Four out of five of the registered voters in the poll said they have seen campaign ads for both Corbett and Wolf. They recall Corbett's attacks on Wolf, mostly because Wolf's kitchen-cabinet-supply company in York is registered as a Delaware corporation.
That doesn't appear to have much of an impact on voters.
"The voters have made a judgment about Governor Corbett," pollster G. Terry Madonna said yesterday. "He has not given them a sufficient reason to change that judgment."
Support for Corbett is historically weak for a Pennsylvania governor seeking a second term.
"He faces the biggest uphill challenge of any incumbent governor seeking re-election in modern history," Madonna said.
Public education is the reason.
Voters in the poll rank it as the most important problem facing the state and the No. 1 issue for them when considering who should be governor. They also rank the issue as their main dissatisfaction with Corbett.
Wolf and his allies have pounded Corbett for slashing $1 billion from the state's public-school funding in his first budget.
Corbett insists that the budget cut resulted from the expiration of federal stimulus funds and that he actually has increased public-school funding.
That math works if you count the legislatively mandated increases to the state pension fund, money that does not have an immediate impact on classrooms.
Madonna said that for voters the pension-funding increase is "not something they relate to," while Pennsylvania school districts raise local property taxes, lay off staff and curtail programs.
"That's all you hear about," he said. "It's not just Philly. It's all over the state."
Likewise, attacks on Wolf for running a company registered in Delaware are simply not playing with the voters, Madonna said.
Corbett has claimed that Wolf uses the Delaware registration to avoid paying Pennsylvania corporate taxes, but he offers no proof.
Wolf has refused to disclose corporate records that would refute Corbett's claims on the taxes.
Regardless of how they plan to vote, 51 percent of those polled expect Wolf to win, while just 21 percent said that of Corbett.
Sixty-four percent said Corbett does not deserve a second term. That percentage has been above 60 percent, according to Franklin & Marshall's last six polls, for the last 15 months.
"This election is 85 percent about him," Madonna said of Corbett. "The challenger only has to be an acceptable alternative."
The polling shows that voters think Wolf fits that bill, Madonna said.