Pennsylvania Poll

January 7, 2013

Favorite Pennsylvania Convenience Store

Q: Which of the following convenience stores is your favorite: Sheetz, Rutter’s, Wawa, Turkey Hill or 7-Eleven?

Convenience stores are a part of the cultural fabric of this state.  As a son of Pennsylvania, I can associate a convenience store with nearly every stage of life to date:  Sheetz – childhood, Turkey Hill – college, Wawa – Philly, 7-Eleven – DC, Rutter’s – present day.

The Contenders:
SHEETZ began on a dairy farm in Altoona, Pennsylvania in 1952.  It took more than 10 years for the Sheetz brothers to open their second store.  Today, there are 400 locations primarily across the mid-Atlantic.  Sheetz opened the country’s first “Convenience Restaurant” in Altoona, which undoubtedly makes it a frequent pit stop for one of Pennsylvania’s most influential politicians, Congressman Bill Shuster.

RUTTER’S traces its roots to the grandson of the First Pennsylvanian, William Penn.  In 1747, he deeded to the Rutter family a piece of farmland in York County (notable also as the residence of Harper).  Rutter’s has the smallest footprint of all the contenders with 55 locations in south central PA.

TURKEY HILL sports a massive distribution reach from Vermont to Florida to Oregon.  Theirs is the nation’s top-selling refrigerated iced tea.  They, too, share a connection to William Penn whose sons sold to the Frey family a stretch of land in Lancaster County known as “turkeyhill” by the Conestoga Indians.

WAWA, the Broad Street Bully of convenience stores in this state.  Wawa is the third largest food retailer in the entire Philadelphia region.  With over 600 stores in the area, Wawa is one of Philly’s largest employers.  It began when a native New Jerseyan moved to Delaware County and opened the first Wawa Dairy Farms in 1890. 

DoubleO 7-ELEVEN.  They're international.  7-Eleven sells Slurpees® to the Taiwanese.  Sheetz sells gobs to my wife.  Huge marketing advantage.   But this poll is in Pennsylvania where the competition for customer loyalty is fierce among a great collection convenience store chains.

Sheetz   51%
Wawa   26%
Turkey Hill  13%
7-Eleven  7%
Rutter’s  3%

Sheetz in a landslide.  With the exception of Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, Sheetz finished first or second in every other region.  They have the state blanketed and anyone who lives here knows that Sheetz has been ahead of the curve in the rush to build virtual quick-stop campuses.

Sheetz’s popularity is strongest in Pittsburgh/Southwest and Erie/Northwest at a remarkable 88% and 80% respectively.  Men are more likely (54%) to rate Sheetz as their favorite store than women (49%).  While women are more likely (30%) to pick Wawa than men (21%).

Wawa’s regional dominance in the Southeast is unmistakable.  It’s the top pick of the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia at 60% and 88% respectively.

Both Turkey Hill and 7-Eleven had respectable showings with both taking three second place finishes across the state.  Turkey Hill won the gold in Scranton/Northwest with 63%.  Rutter’s, the underdog, took a solid third place in its home region of Harrisburg/South Central.

Republicans are 15% more likely to call Sheetz their favorite store (59% to 45%).  While Democrats are 11% more likely to pick Wawa over Republicans (31% to 20%).  This all stands to reason when you consider the geographic strength of the two chains: Southeast = Democrats and Southwest = Republicans.
(Citation: Wikipedia)

Biggest Story of 2012 in PA Politics

Q: What was the biggest story in Pennsylvania politics this past year?

The impact fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas
The Penn State child abuse scandal
The law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls
Democrats winning every statewide elected office including our first female attorney general

Pennsylvania has retaken center stage in national politics.  Big things are happening here.  Some good and some bad.

Assertive electoral reforms like Voter ID draw national praise – and scorn.  The law is popular with the public but the name-calling from opponents is unpleasant to say the least.

The global economy is being shaped by the explosion of natural gas here in America.  The energy viability of the country is exponentially better than it was just a few years ago.  And the engine of it all is in Pennsylvania.  Putting the appropriate tax structure for Marcellus Shale in place was necessary to keep the boom booming. 

Republicans got whipped by an impressive ticket of statewide Democrats in November.  And polling showed that the races were never really in doubt.  However, there’s not a lot of angst among state Republicans.  They tout having held both chambers of the legislature despite Democratic wins up ballot.

Nonetheless, Democrats are energized again in the state.  They elected their first Democratic and first female attorney general.  National Democrats see star potential in Kathleen Kane.  It’s her misfortune that the state Democratic bench is very deep these days.

Finally, so much of life and politics in Pennsylvania this past year was impacted by the horror of Jerry Sandusky.  And it shows in the results:

Penn State scandal               59%
Voter ID law                            23%
Fee on Marcellus Shale           9%
Big wins for Democrats          9%

The Penn State scandal scores high in every region as the top story of 2012.  Philadelphia/Southeast gives PSU the lowest score at a still healthy 50%.  It’s in the Southeast that Voter ID scores its highest number at 31%.

Voters who get their news from TV are more likely to pick Penn State than those who get their news from the Internet (63% to 53%).  This reflects the extensive coverage the scandal has received on local news throughout the state.

Republicans are more likely to rank Penn State as the top news story than are Democrats (67% to 54%).  Democrats are more likely to say Voter ID was the big story (25% to 19%).

Predictably, the impact fee on Marcellus Shale rates highest in Pittsburgh/Southwest and Erie/Northwest at 13% in both regions.

But nothing comes close to the Penn State scandal.  You sense Nittany Lion fans are still struggling to separate the heinous crime from the institution they love.  To do so you must separate the institution from those at the school who failed to stop a monster.  Penn State loyalists will find closure one day but that’s not likely to happen for most as long as the issue remains at the center of state politics.  

Penn State NCAA Lawsuit

Q: Do you support or oppose the state of Pennsylvania's lawsuit challenging the NCAA's severe sanctions levied against Penn State because of the Sandusky scandal?
Governor Tom Corbett begins his lawsuit against the NCAA with solid public support.  The NCAA and Democrats will do their best to flip these numbers but they face an uphill battle in the court of public opinion.
Support the lawsuit        49%
Oppose the lawsuit        34%
Not sure                           17%

Of the voters who rated the Penn State scandal as the top news story of 2012, 54% support the lawsuit and 31% oppose.

The lawsuit is most popular in State College/North Central (61%), Scranton/Northeast (58%) and Allentown/Lehigh Valley (58%).  The only region where support and opposition are almost at parity is Philadelphia/Southeast (43% support and 40% oppose).

Those who get their news from newspapers are split on their opinion of the lawsuit with 44% in support and 43% in opposition.  While there was very little difference by age, men are 12% more likely to support the lawsuit than women (56% to 44%)

The issue cuts across party lines.  Democrats support the Governor’s decision 44%-38% while Republicans are behind him 56%-28%.  

Public Pension Reform Messaging

Q: Which of the following two statements comes closest to your opinion about pension plans for state workers?

The state cannot afford the current pension benefits that are more generous than private sector workers and they need to be cut.
The state gambled away the pension funds on Wall Street so it is unfair to now make workers pay the price.

Pennsylvania is no different than any other large state.   Reforming public sector pension plans is a fiscal fact of life.  The old model of defined benefits and minimal worker contributions to their benefits is over.  The days of bountiful state revenues that gave birth to this model are a thing of the past.

AFSCME won’t go down without a fight.  For an issue of this magnitude in politics, winning the message war will decide the game.  Today, no one has the advantage:

The state can’t afford it        45%
It’s unfair to workers            44%
Not sure                                11%


Support for the reformers tops out in Harrisburg (56%) of all places.  The region is populated with public employees.  To form, the blue-collar bedrocks of Pittsburgh (52%) and Scranton (58%) are more stridently opposed to pension reform.

The battle appears to break down along party lines with 61% of Republicans in favor and 58% of Democrats opposed.  Everyone else is 43% for and 41% against.  Dead even.

Seniors are the strongest age demographic for reform (50%) and 36-to-45 year olds are the most opposed (54%).

There is a clear gender split on the issue.  Men want reform (50%-40%) and Women are opposed (41%-47%).

And, for the record, Rutter’s patrons strongly favor reform (69%) and 7-Eleven goers are the most opposed (48%).  Think about that.

Andy Reid Firing

Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied that the Philadelphia Eagles fired head coach Andy Reid?

Nothing stirs the passions of Philadelphia sports fans like a coach on the hot seat.  When the Eagles showed Andy Reid the door last week, the rabid callers on the city's famous sports talk radio largely backed the team's decision.  But do the rest of the folks in our poll's Philadelphia/Southeast region share that sentiment toward the greatest coach in franchise history?

Satisfied                           60%
Dissatisfied                        9%
Don’t care                        31%
Case Closed.

In this case, Frankie from Bensalem speaks for the city.

Source for News

Q:Where do you get your news?


Q: Do you consider yourself more of a Republican or a Democrat?

Results & Methodology

Sample Size: 798
Margin of Error: +/- 3.47%
Harper Polling