Kathleen Kane holds a 20-point lead in her bid to become the first woman and first Democrat to be elected Pennsylvania's attorney general, according to the latest Inquirer Pennsylvania Poll.
But with barely a week remaining before next Tuesday's vote, nearly half of those surveyed said neither Kane nor her Republican rival, David Freed, had made much of an impression yet.
The new numbers come as both candidates have launched the first television ads of their fall race, hoping to overcome that name-recognition gap.
"My guess is that each side takes their share of the undecided voters, but we will still have our first Democratic attorney general," predicted Jefrey Pollock, president of the Democratic firm Global Strategies Group, which helped conduct the bipartisan poll.
The poll results, released Monday, also contains a bit of good news for Gov. Corbett, and more than a bit for Mayor Nutter.
The statewide survey of 600 likely voters, conducted last Tuesday through Thursday, found Kane leading Freed, 49 percent to 29 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. Twenty-two percent were undecided.
The poll's margin suggests a widening advantage for Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor, who led Freed by 41-29 in The Inquirer's previous survey, conducted from Oct. 4 though 8.
"It's tough to come up with a scenario in which you would conclude Freed has a decent chance," said Republican pollster Adam Geller, founder of National Research Inc.
But both Pollock and Geller cautioned against reading too much into Kane's numbers given the wide swath of voters who are still unfamiliar with either candidate.
Neither did particularly well when respondents were asked to rate their impressions of the candidates: 41 percent said they had never heard of Kane, while 66 percent said the same of Freed.
The margin dividing the pair of prosecutors in next Tuesday's vote may ultimately be decided by the performance of their counterparts at the top of the ticket, the pollsters said.
"There might very well be a few points that come to Freed solely because he's on the same ticket as Romney," Geller said.
The TV ads Freed launched last week tout his seven years' experience as Cumberland County's district attorney. Kane's ad points to 3,000 cases she said she handled during her tenure as an assistant prosecutor.
Their efforts seem to have had some effect. Asked what appealed to her about her chosen candidate Kane, poll respondent Kathleen Johns, of Chester County, echoed the Democrat's campaign slogan.
"She's a prosecutor, not a politician," Johns said. "I think her ads are convincing."
For others, though, the two candidates have largely been defined by the millions of dollars spent on attack ads by outside groups.
An ad aired by the Virginia-based Republican State Leadership Committee this month questioned Kane's record in sexual-assault cases. The Democratic-aligned Committee for Justice and Fairness put up its own spots last week challenging Freed's decisions in prosecuting corruption.
Another poll respondent, G. Grant McCollough, 75, of Connoquenessing in Western Pennsylvania, said those ads had left doubts in his mind about Kane, 46.
She "seems to be way overexposed by her ads," he said. Noting her oft-repeated claim of having handled 3,000 cases, McCollough added: "All the cases she claims to have handled? How old is she? She doesn't look 60."
The poll results released Monday offered a mixed bag for several incumbents.
Asked to evaluate Gov. Corbett's job performance, 43 percent said they approved, while 42 percent disapproved.
That marks a slight improvement for the governor from the previous Inquirer poll, in which 42 percent approved of the governor's performance and 45 did not.
"But the reality is that a 43 percent job approval rating just isn't ideal," said Geller, the Republican pollster. "It isn't where he wants to be."
By comparison, respondents voiced strong support for Nutter, who earned a 59 percent approval rating from respondents in the Philadelphia area. Only 22 percent of those surveyed said they disapproved of his leadership.
To put those numbers into context, Pollock pointed to poll results for another Philadelphia incumbent - Eagles head coach Andy Reid. Nearly half of those surveyed said this year should be his last at the team's helm.
"If it were a choice between Mayor Nutter and Andy Reid to lead the Eagles right now," Pollock joked, "I think they'd pick Mike in a heartbeat."