Developments occurring this week continue to suggest that three office holders are in serious trouble as they look toward re-election next year – two governors and a congressman:
Probably the most vulnerable governor in the country is Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett (R). Public Policy Polling just released a new survey of the Keystone State electorate (Nov. 22-25; 693 registered Pennsylvania voters; 436 Democratic Pennsylvania primary voters) and finds the governor with a terrible 24:65 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval rating. By contrast, President Obama’s approval index is also upside down but only to a 43:53% extent. The PPP job approval scores always skew negative, but the Corbett numbers are clearly downtrodden no matter what the scale.
In considering the aforementioned, it is no surprise that the incumbent trails various potential Democratic challengers, and by wide margins. Former state Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger scores the best against the governor, leading him 51-32 percent. State Treasurer Rob McCord holds a similar 50-31 percent advantage. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13), the leader in the Democratic primary portion of the poll, scores a 48-33 percent margin, and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski is up 45-33 percent.
The two most disturbing facts for Corbett are that he trails multiple Democratic opponents, and that he only scores in the low 30s. For an incumbent to be down this far, this early, suggests that his road to re-election is a most difficult one to traverse, and him coming all the way back to win next year appears highly unlikely.
A Democratic governor in danger of losing his seat next year is Illinois’ Pat Quinn. Earlier this year it appeared he might face either Attorney General Lisa Madigan or former Obama White House Chief of State and ex-Commerce Secretary Bill Daley in the Democratic primary, but both chose not to make the challenge. Daley had actually entered the race and began to construct a campaign, but then decided not to pursue the race even though polling showed him running at least even with Gov. Quinn.
Public Policy Polling also surveyed the Illinois electorate simultaneously with their Pennsylvania study (Nov. 22-25; 557 registered Illinois voters; 375 Republican Illinois primary voters) and found the governor only running even with several potential GOP challengers.
The potential Republican nominee faring best is state Treasurer Dan Rutherford who actually leads the governor 41-39 percent. State Sen. Bill Brady, the 2010 gubernatorial candidate who came within a half-percentage point of unseating Gov. Quinn in that election year, pulls into a 41-41 percent tie. Businessman Bruce Rauner, who is already appearing in television ads in various media markets, trails Quinn only 38-41 percent, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who lost a very close nomination campaign to Brady in the last Republican gubernatorial primary election, also ties the Democratic incumbent at 39 percent apiece.
Like Gov. Corbett in Pennsylvania, Quinn’s Illinois constituents view him poorly. His job approval rating is a poor 34:60 percent favorable to unfavorable. It is worth noting that both the Pennsylvania and Illinois surveys are small sample polls and taken during a weekend period. Though the reliability could be lesser than those conducted with larger samples in a more conventional time frame, the results are so one-sided as to suggest that both governors truly have serious political problems.
In the Republican primary, the PPP survey gives businessman Rauner the lead, largely because he is spending early on ads to become known. The venture capitalist places first with 24 percent of the respondents’ support, Brady is second at 17 percent, Rutherford third with 14 percent, and Dillard posting 10 percent.
Last week, freshman Rep. Trey Radel (R) announced that he was taking a leave of absence from Congress because he pled guilty in a plea arrangement to cocaine possession charges, yet he has no plans to resign his office.
This decision isn’t sitting well with many Republican leaders. Already, the district’s two official local Republican Party organizations, in Lee and Collier counties, have gone on record saying they will not endorse Rep. Radel for re-election.
After the county parties took a stand, both Florida Republican Party chairman Lenny Curry and Gov. Rick Scott (R) have called upon Radel to step down and also announced their joint intention not to support him for a second term.
Though Radel remains steadfast that he will not resign, expect pressure to build to such a pressure point that he eventually leaves office. The 19th is a safe Republican seat located on the southwestern portion of the Florida peninsula, and contains the major cities of Cape Coral, Ft. Myers, and Naples.