Shocker: Wolf Opens Up Huge Lead in New Harper #PAGov Poll

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Brittany Foster reads the new Harper poll, which finds Tom Wolf polling at 40% (!!) in our 6-way primary.

In the last Harper Poll held in November, former Revenue Secretary and gubernatorial candidate found himself in the back of the pack with 5%; now in the latest poll, he leads every other candidate with 40%.

Wolf’s name identification in the last poll was 23% among likely Democratic primary voters – now 65%.  His image is now 58% favorable-to-6%, up from 11% favorable to 11% unfavorable in November.

This meteoric rise, no doubt due to his television blitz, has put him paces ahead of his competitors. The early-on frontrunner in the race, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz took just 14% of this poll. Following her was State Treasurer Rob McCord with 8%, former Auditor General Jack Wagner with 7% – a tie with former DEP Secretary John Hanger, and 6% for other former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty.

Wagner’s not on the chart above because Harper didn’t include him in their November poll, and also, I can’t even with him. He gets 7% in this poll and if history is any guide, he’ll soon be tanking worse than the Sixers.

Part of the reason for Tom Wolf’s crazy momentum has to be the ads, which are incredible and plentiful and frequent. The Wolf site is also excellent.

But something else is happening here. For various reasons, Allyson Schwartz hasn’t been able to close the deal, and donors have been hanging back and waiting to see what happens. I assume most donors have been waiting to see what I’ve been waiting to see, which is whether there was some ideological benefit Schwartz could offer that outweighed her significant downside liabilities.

Turns out no, there is no ideological upside to supporting Schwartz. She’s less electable and less liberal than the other candidates. Begone!

Wolf has significant appeal in this primary. Above all, donors and primary voters are concerned about electability. They want somebody who will definitely be able to beat Tom Corbett. Wolf brings basically no downsides in this area. He’s the standard archetype of a political candidate – an older white male professional – and he owns a successful business that by all accounts treats its employees extremely well, and even shares profits with them. He also has substantial government and policy experience.

Oh, and he’s got $13 million he’s committed to spending on this race.

So Tom Wolf can definitely beat Tom Corbett. The challenge for him then was to meet some kind of progressive threshold, and prove to a sufficient degree that he’s a true member of the Democratic tribe. And the Fresh Start policy outline he released pretty much does the trick there. He checks all the boxes for issues Democratic voters care about, and adds in some creative new ones that showed me he’d really thought through some under-appreciated local issues I care about.

I’m still keeping my powder dry because I also like Katie McGinty and Rob McCord, but I would not be disappointed if Tom Wolf turned out to be the Democratic nominee and it appears that many other Democratic voters share this sentiment.

This entry was posted in Governor.

12 Responses to Shocker: Wolf Opens Up Huge Lead in New Harper #PAGov Poll

  1. Sean Kitchen says:

    No one should be surprised about this and not because he’s starting his own television network or self funding his campaign. I’ve met Wolf a few times in the past year while interning in Harrisburg and at rallies in Philadelphia. I haven’t written openly about Wolf, but my opinion about him from the onset was that he should be taken seriously as a candidate because he’s the same exact person in the ads as he is on real life and he has a story to campaign on.

    Wolf is extremely approachable, mild mannered, genuine and a really nice person. I met him last year during my lunch break before he launched his campaign and I was weary about him because he’s not your typical cut-throat politician. Wolf also has a story to campaign on. Who else can say they dropped out of a governor’s race, bought back the family business, gave their employees raises during the middle of a recession? No one. I still think he has a lot of work to do. It’s obviously a poll, but I thought he’d be the darkhorse between him, Schwartz and McCord.

  2. Tim Potts says:

    Tom Wolf is the whole package. Heart, brains, business, labor, education. His Fresh Start is an excellent piece of work that shows Wolf has a comprehensive view of state government and the beneficial role it can play. He strikes everyone, including me, as idealistic. But from my experience, Pennsylvania’s government doesn’t suffer from a excess of idealism. It suffers from an excess of corruption, large and small. It is only the idealists and optimists who make progress, and we sure have a lot of progress to make.

  3. steventodd says:

    Clearly, Wolf’s millions have made an impact. Only the John Hanger campaign held its prior ground. That is not surprising. Our presence in all but 5 of our 67 counties (as of last Wednesday) is harder and more committed than any of the other candidates. Folks who are not registered Dems ask me everyday how they can vote for John. Everyday, I tell them, and put them in touch someone within a decent drive. We will keep building on that. A lot will happen in the next three months, as the other campaigns start blanketing the airwaves with their pieces. Wolf’s run-of-the-mill campaign will come back in line.

    Steve Todd
    Dauphin County Coordinator

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Hanger hasn’t gained any ground at all despite months of online hype. He should drop out.

      • steventodd says:

        Hanger is recruiting volunteers every day. Why would he drop out on us? Everyone lost ground, except Hanger and Wolf. Wolf spent gobs and gobs to gain his. Hanger spent phone calls, conversations, blog posts and meetings, but very few dollars. Nearer the election, all candidates will dump insane amounts on TV, we will all gripe about all the ads, and Wolf’s bump will level out.

        • steventodd says:

          Why don’t one of the folks who’ve lost ground drop out? That would be everyone but Hanger and Wolf. I hope they do not drop out, as I want us to have the most rigorous primary we can, not just an anointment of the one who can compromise themselves to big outside dollars the most.

  4. steventodd says:

    In front of the PA Capitol. Hmmm…where are the signs being held by normal, freezing folks from the campaigns with lots of cash? They’ll probably buy some robocalls or TV ads. Or something. Amen. Keep spreading the word, Tom Frost!

    • Carl Dash says:

      Curious why you call for Hanger (7%) to drop out but you are cool with McGinty (6%) staying in.

      • steventodd says:

        We are all curious, and have been for the months Geeting’s been trashing Hanger. There are mounds of explanations on past posts, none make any sense as to why we Dems would encourage limiting the choices of people (and their accompanying talents and policies) in our own Primary election.

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  7. I haven’t seen one Wolf ad where I lived(western Philly burbs). And Schwartz has gone backwards in the polls? Ouch!!