Pennsylvania Statewide Poll

May 6-7, 2015

Most likely voters in Pennsylvania feel that things in the state are off on the wrong track (59%). More than two thirds of voters in the Northern Tier (68%) and Pittsburgh/Southwest regions (67%) say that things are on the wrong track.  The most optimistic voters are found in the Philadelphia/Southeast region (36% right direction).

QWould you say that things in Pennsylvania are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

Senate 2016 
Candidate Images

Senator Pat Toomey is showing favorable gains with respect to voter perception of the first-term incumbent. More than half of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Toomey (54% favorable, 32% unfavorable). He is viewed favorably in every region of the state (Northern Tier: 45% favorable, Philadelphia/Southeast: 52%, Pittsburgh/Southwest: 55%, Scranton/Lehigh Valley: 53%, South Central: 60%) as well as among Republicans (72% favorable), self-identified Conservatives (73% favorable), Independents (54% favorable) and Moderates (49% favorable).  The Republican’s favorable standing with unconventional constituencies may affirm the Senator’s inclination to chart a more moderate course at times.

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (20% favorable, 19% unfavorable) and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro’s (19% favorable, 18% unfavorable) images are marked by low hard name identification (60% and 62% not sure, respectively). Although Pawlowski’s name identification is higher in his home region of Scranton/Lehigh Valley, his image is actually a net negative there (21% favorable, 33% unfavorable). 

Former Congressman and 2010 candidate Joe Sestak’s image is essentially 1-to-1 (33% favorable, 32% unfavorable) and he holds a significant hard name identification advantage over his fellow Democrats. Of the three potential Democratic challengers tested, Sestak has the best image among Democratic voters (Sestak: 44% favorable, 24% unfavorable; Pawlowski: 23% favorable, 18% unfavorable; Shapiro: 24% favorable, 18% unfavorable). Sestak’s name identification varies across the state, reaching a high of 78% in the Philadelphia/Southeast region (41% favorable, 37% unfavorable) and a low of 44% in the Northern Tier (19% favorable, 25% unfavorable).

Senate 2016
General Election

Republican Senator Pat Toomey holds commanding early leads over three potential Democratic challengers in the race for Senate. Toomey leads declared candidates Joe Sestak (53-32%) and Ed Pawlowski (55-30%) by 21% and 25%, respectively. Josh Shapiro trails Toomey by the largest margin (55-27%). Toomey consistently receives stronger support from his own party than the Democrats do from theirs and he also earns 20% or more of the Democratic vote in all three match-ups. Toomey leads Pawlowski and Shapiro by significant margins in their home regions (Scranton/LV: Toomey 57%, Pawlowski: 31%; Philadelphia/Southeast: Toomey 51%, Shapiro: 37%). 

Q: If the election for United States Senate were held today, which of the following candidates would you vote for: Pat Toomey, Republican or Ed Pawlowski, Democrat?

Toomey leads Joe Sestak in every region, and earns majorities of the vote in the Northern Tier (54-26%), Pittsburgh/Southwest (60-25%), Scranton/Lehigh Valley (53-27%) and South Central (55-27%) regions. Sestak narrows Toomey’s lead to 3% in the Philadelphia/Southeast region (47-44%). Toomey also leads Sestak among both women (46-37%) and men (61-27%).

Q: If the election for United States Senate were held today, which of the following candidates would you vote for: Pat Toomey, Republican or Joe Sestak, Democrat?
Q: If the election for United States Senate were held today, which of the following candidates would you vote for: Pat Toomey, Republican or Josh Shapiro, Democrat?

Governor Tom Wolf

Governor Tom Wolf is viewed favorably by 49% of Pennsylvania voters (43% unfavorable). This represents a net 8% decline from his pre-election day standing in our final gubernatorial poll in 2014.  The Governor’s image is a net positive among both women (52% favorable, 40% unfavorable) and men (48% favorable, 45% unfavorable).

Voters are split on what grade they would give Wolf after his first few months in office. Most voters give Wolf a grade in the B (22%) or C (20%) range. However, more voters would give Wolf an F (21%) than would give him an A (16%). Voters in Pittsburgh/Southwest were the most critical of Wolf (50% D/F) while voters in Philadelphia/Southeast gave him the highest marks (46% A/B). 

Q: If you had to give Tom Wolf a grade for his first few months as Governor of Pennsylvania, would you give him an A, B, C, D, or F?


Voters Say Taxes Going Up Under Wolf
When asked whether they think their taxes are more likely to go up or down as a result of Tom Wolf’s proposed tax plan, an overwhelming 71% think their taxes are more likely to go up. Voters from all three parties agree that they are more likely to go up (Republicans: 87%, Democrats: 56%, Independents: 73%). 

Q: Based on what you have seen or heard in the news recently, how would you characterize the likely impact of Governor Tom Wolf’s tax plan on your personal finances: My taxes are more likely to go up OR My taxes are more likely to go down?

Property Taxes Voted the Worst
Property taxes have the most significant impact on personal finances, according to 50% of Pennsylvania voters (27% income tax, 14% sales tax). The property tax jumps to 67% among voters from Scranton/Lehigh Valley. Younger voters (18-39) are the only group where a plurality says income tax (41%) rather than the property tax (37%).  

Q: In your opinion, which type of tax most impacts your personal finances: the income tax, the sales tax, or the property tax?

What’s Impacting Taxes More?
Sixty-one percent of those surveyed think that “too many people not working and rely[ing] on government assistance” has a greater impact on taxes in general than “rich people not paying their fair share” (32%). Republicans overwhelmingly say the problem is that too many people are not working (85%) while a majority of Democrats say the rich are not paying their fair share (56%). Independents (67%) and Moderates (50%) tend to agree with Republicans on this issue.

Q: Which of the following issues do you think has a greater impact on taxes in general: rich people are not paying their fair share OR too many people are not working and instead rely on government assistance?

Defining “Wealthy”
To place taxes on the ‘wealthy’ and the ‘middle class’ in perspective, we asked at what income level Pennsylvanians consider a family in Pennsylvania to be wealthy. A plurality of Pennsylvanians (29%) consider a household income of $100,000-$199,000 to be wealthy. The remaining voters are primarily split between $200,000-$299,000 (23%) and $300,000 and above (21%). An additional 18% consider $75,000-$99,000 to be wealthy. 

Q: Now I am going to read you a few annual household income levels. Please tell me at which level you consider a family in Pennsylvania to be wealthy.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane

A majority of Pennsylvanians have an unfavorable opinion of Attorney General Kathleen Kane (31% favorable, 52% unfavorable). Kane is viewed unfavorably by both women (32% favorable, 48% unfavorable) and men (31% favorable, 55% unfavorable). 

The allegations against Kathleen Kane have received extensive coverage in the news, so it is little surprise that 80% of voters have seen, read or heard something recently about the allegations against her. Of those who have heard something, 69% say the information they heard gave them a more unfavorable opinion of Kane. 

Q: Have you seen, read or heard anything recently about the allegations against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane?
(Only 'Yes' respondents from previous question)
Q: Has that information given you a more favorable or more unfavorable opinion of Kathleen Kane?

A plurality (39%) of those surveyed say Kane should stay in office and the justice system should determine whether she is guilty or not, followed by 30% who say she should resign immediately and 25% who say she should resign if she is formally charged. Pluralities of both women (38%) and men (40%) say Kane should stay in office. Interestingly, younger voters are much more likely to say Kane should resign immediately (18-39: 41% resign immediately, 25% if formally charged, 31% stay in office; 40-54: 40%/20%/35%), while older voters say she should stay in office (55-65: 25%/27%/40%; 66+:21%/26%/45%).

Q: As you may have heard, a grand jury has recommended that Attorney General Kathleen Kane be charged with perjury and several misdemeanors including obstruction and making a false statement. Which of the following outcomes do you think would be the most appropriate in this situation: Kane should resign immediately, Kane should resign if the Montgomery County District Attorney decides to officially press charges, OR Kane should remain in office even if her case goes to trial and the justice system should determine whether she is guilty?

Confirmation of Marcus Brown

Thirty-nine percent of voters feel that the state Senate should not confirm Marcus Brown, compared to 20% who say he should be confirmed as state Police Commissioner. Still, a plurality of voters are not sure what the Senate should do (40%). Men are more likely to say he should not be confirmed (44%) while most women say they are ‘not sure’ (47%).

Q: There has been significant controversy surrounding the nomination of acting Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown, after he wore a state police uniform and was accused of removing signs criticizing him from the area near his home. Do you think the Pennsylvania Senate should confirm Marcus Brown?

Full Results & Methodology

The sample size for the survey is 503 likely voters in Pennsylvania and the margin of error is 
+/-4.37%. Reponses were gathered through land line interviews conducted using Interactive Voice Response (IVR). The survey was conducted May 6-7, 2015 by Harper Polling. The total percentages for responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.

Harper Polling