#PAGov: Deep-Dive Into the Schwartz 22%, McGinty 15%, McCord 12% Harper Poll

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There are a lot of interesting tidbits in the Harper poll released yesterday measuring the support of Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial candidates. Harper polled both with regards to the candidates and with regards to Pennsylvania issues, from the favorables of John Hanger to taxing the wealthy.

There are two things to keep in mind about this survey: One is that all of these responses are from primary-voting Democrats and the other is that Harper Polling’s president, Brock McCleary, is the former National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC)’s Polling Director. On that point, I don’t think the candidate results are necessarily skewed in any way, because the methodology looks sound and because I don’t think Republicans would have anything to gain from skewing a poll like this in one direction or another so early; my sense is that it’s better for them at this point to get a realistic view of where the race lies, so they can get a good sense of strengths and weaknesses. But it’s always good to know who’s releasing your polls.

While the issue results are nice to have, let’s focus on the candidates. Obviously, the most important news, are the candidate totals (which we already wrote about) — but just to give you the nice pie graph feel, here are the results:

Harper Poll Candidates

A lot people seemed to be most surprised about the 34% of respondents who were undecided, but that seems about right to me in a crowded field six months before their primary election. I was most surprised that McGinty was in second by only seven points, and that McCord was in third by 10.

It’s interesting that McCord could only land 12% support after holding statewide office for the past five years; this is likely mostly a result of (beyond blowing up all of our inboxes when he first announced) him not doing much in the sense of campaigning beyond lining up union endorsements. McGinty’s early surge to second (backed up by her last internal poll) seems to be a result of her running the hardest — so far, she’s put together a pretty impressive team (despite how we feel about some of them) and they haven’t stopped working since their launch — but the main question for her is whether or not she’ll be able to keep it up in the later months where she’s likely to run into money trouble.

With regards to candidate image, Allyson Schwartz is the likely the only one happy with her numbers:

Schwartz Image

A majority of respondents (57%) still don’t know who she is, but if you compare her to the second most well-known candidate: Rob McCord, he’s at 27% total name recognition — not even as high as Schwartz’s favorables at 32%.

Though the important thing here is that Schwartz has almost double the name recognition of everybody else (along with higher favorability numbers), but she’s still only up by seven points when everybody is pitted against each other. Candidates with higher name ID tend to have more “soft support,” which is essentially political speak for when a person wants to have an opinion about who they’re voting for, so they go with whichever one they know. The problem here for Schwartz is that this support can fall fast if she doesn’t lock it up. (See Christine Quinn.)

The rest of the candidates are at more or less at even image numbers (McGinty 14-9, McCord 14-13), which is also pretty interesting given that the respondents were all primary-voting Democrats. There’s a decent amount of unfavorability here so early on in the race from everybody in the same party.

The other surprising number in the image category was how disliked John Hanger is:

Hanger Image

4% favorable to 18% unfavorable, from primary-voting Democrats! These respondents had to have seen Gasland; there aren’t many other reasons why these numbers would be so lopsided.

The other interesting thing about this is that John Hanger has a 4% favorability rating while pulling in 7% of the overall poll. Since Harper’s sample size was 649 respondents, that means 26 of those people found Hanger favorable while 45 chose him to be the next PA Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee. Who are these 19 people who voted for Hanger even though they don’t know or don’t like him? It’s certainly possible that they found everybody unfavorable and Hanger was the least unfavorable of the bunch, but it’s hard to know.

Finally, here’s the list of the other things that are important to know moving forward in this primary:

    • McGinty is slightly beating Schwartz with women, 18.18% to 17.82% — but Schwartz is cleaning up with men, 26.56% to McCord’s 15.77%;
    • McGinty also edging out McCord in the west, 20% to 18.57% (remember how important this is because there is currently no western candidate), with Schwartz falling behind at 10%;
    • Schwartz has got the seniors 23.18% to McGinty’s 13.91% — but McGinty is bringing in the youth: 20.69% to Schwartz/McCord’s 13.79%;
    • Liberals love Schwartz: 37.5% (!) to McCord’s 10.53% — while conservative Democrats like McGinty with 14.29% to Schwartz’s 11.9%; and
    • Schwartz holds the African-American vote with 29.67% to McGinty’s 8.79% — which isn’t all that surprising given that Schwartz also cleans up SEPA 45.11% to Hanger’s 9.24%.
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10 Responses to #PAGov: Deep-Dive Into the Schwartz 22%, McGinty 15%, McCord 12% Harper Poll

  1. It’s interesting that McCord could only land 12% support after holding statewide office for the past five years;

    Because the office gets no news attention!! Would more than 20% of voters over all even know who the Lieutenant Governor is?

    • Ryan says:

      Obviously some offices garner more attention than others — but it also has a lot to do with former campaigns and administrative communications teams. And the easy point to make here is that McCord got 2.8 million votes from Pennsylvanians only a year ago. In 2010, only a little over a million people voted in the PA Gov Dem Primary.

  2. Jan Jarrett says:

    The unfavorable in this poll are exaggerated. Our internal poll of likely primary voters found 9% unfavorable to 7% favorable. The real story for the Hanger campaign is that it is gaining strength – from last in May to 4th now – and 2nd in the southeast. The more people get to know John, the more they like him. You may be right that Gasland pushes up unfavorable – but remember, the Dimock families have endorsed John and once people find out the real story of Dimock, they change their minds.

    • Ryan says:

      You may be right — I wasn’t taking a position on it either way; I was just pointing out the numbers I found interesting. We’ll need a couple more polls to see where the unfavorable numbers truly lie — or if Harper just got an interesting subsection of Democrats who don’t like Hanger.

    • You may be right that Gasland pushes up unfavorable – but remember, the Dimock families have endorsed John and once people find out the real story of Dimock, they change their minds.

      And what is “the real story”?

  3. Tom says:

    The mistake McCord made was laying low last election. He should have been blasting his name everywhere, but he knew he was going to win so he just chilled.

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