PA Gov: Democratic Primary Poll
November 9-10, 2013

The geographic and ideological contours of the Democratic primary race for Governor are beginning to take shape.  Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz enjoys both a name identification advantage and a 7% lead over her nearest competitor Katie McGinty, a Rendell cabinet secretary.

Q. If the Democratic primary election for Governor were held today, which of the following Democrats would you most likely support: John Hanger, Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, Ed Pawlowski, Allyson Schwartz, or Tom Wolf?

In the Philadelphia/Southeast region, Schwartz's lead grows to 36%.  It is the only region of the state where she leads on the ballot.  In the more conservative Northern Tier, Schwartz drops to last place while McGinty leads the field with 24% of the vote.

Katie McGinty leads State Treasurer Rob McCord by a single point in the blue-collar Pittsburgh/Southwest region (20%-19%).   Businessman Tom Wolf of York County draws 11% of the vote in his home South Central region but trails McGinty by 10%.  In the Scranton/Lehigh Valley region, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski pulls into a tie with McGinty.

Schwartz and McGinty are tied among women but Schwartz leads among men by 15%.  Self-described “liberal” voters prefer Schwartz by 27% while McGinty leads among “moderates” by 2%.  Schwartz holds a 31% lead over the field among voters who believe late-term abortions should be legal.

Candidate Images

Testing Candidate Profiles

Borrowing a page from campaign-style internal polling, our survey conducted three head-to-head match ups using candidate profile descriptions.  The profiles of Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz and former Rendell cabinet official Katie McGinty were tested against one another first.

Schwartz vs. McGinty

Q: Now, I’m going to read you a description of two candidates.  Please tell which one you would be more likely to support?

Candidate A is a female elected office holder in the Philadelphia area, who has been a progressive leader for the reproductive rights of women.

Candidate B was a female cabinet official under Governor Ed Rendell, and also an advisor on environmental issues to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

By a greater than 2-to-1 ratio, the profile of Katie McGinty surpasses that of Allyson Schwartz.  In the Philadelphia/Southeast region, Schwartz’s residency is no match for McGinty’s association with Rendell, Gore and Clinton (48%-27%).  In the Pittsburgh/Southwest region, the spread grows to 52%-17%. 

Women, Liberals, and Moderates support Candidate B (McGinty) over Candidate A (Schwartz) by respective margins of 28%, 11%, and 47%.

The other two match ups appear more evenly balanced:  Treasurer Rob McCord vs. Businessman Tom Wolf and former Rendell cabinet official John Hanger vs. Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

McCord vs. Wolf

Q: Again, please tell me which of the following candidates you would be more likely to support.

Candidate A is a statewide elected office holder with a background in financial management and technology.

Candidate B was a top cabinet official under Governor Ed Rendell and a successful businessman from central Pennsylvania.

Candidate A (McCord) leads across all regions with the exception of the Northern Tier where Candidate B (Wolf) leads by 2%.  White Democrats and African-American Democrats differ sharply between the candidates.  Whites prefer McCord 43%-32% while African-Americans pick Wolf 40%-28%.

Hanger vs. Pawlowski

Just 10% percent of primary-voting state Democrats say they will purchase a new health insurance plan under Obamcare.  Seventy-four percent say they will not.  Among those who say they are not satisfied with their current health insurance, 24% say they will purchase a plan through Obamacare and 48% say they will not.  Forty-four percent of the uninsured say they will buy an Obamacare plan.

The profile of John Hanger edges that of Ed Pawlowski, but the lead is fueled primarily by his association with Ed Rendell in the Philadelphia/Southeast region where he leads 49%-19% lead.

Q: Once more, which of the following candidates would you be more likely to support?

Candidate A is a lawyer and top cabinet official under Governor Ed Rendell with a background environmental policy.

Candidate B is a mayor from the Lehigh Valley with a record of success governing the state’s third largest city.

The 43%-30% lead for Candidate B (Pawlowski) in his home region of Scranton/Lehigh Valley is marginally less than that of other regions where he leads, including Pittsburgh and South Central.  Along gender lines, women prefer the profile of Pawlowski 38%-28% while men chose Hanger 48%-31%.

Generic Democratic Primary Ballot

The Generic Democratic Primary Ballot provides insight into the basic preferences between contrasting candidate types common in Democratic primary elections.  It is a question format often used in internal campaign polling.

Q: In a Democratic primary election, which of the following candidates would you normally support: A moderate Democrat who is more electable against a Republican or A liberal Democrat who champions progressive issues?

Base Democrats - On the Issues

Beyond the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor, our survey took the pulse of Democratic base voters on several issues.

This summer, the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on fracking.  Several of the Democratic candidates for Governor spoke out in opposition to it.  Only 27% of Democratic primary voters share that opinion, while 47% agree with the moratorium.

The Democratic Party of Pennsylvania has called for an end to fracking, a process used to drill for natural gas, because of health and environmental risks.  Do you agree or disagree with this position?

Pittsburgh/Southwest is the only region of the state where a plurality of Democrats disagree with a moratorium on fracking.  In the remaining four regions of the state, support for the moratorium is no less than 50%.  Whites are 14% more likely to agree with the measure than African-Americans.

When asked about the taxes paid by wealthy individuals and corporations, the results were overwhelming and steady across all demographics.

Thinking about the amount of taxes paid by wealthy individuals and corporations, do you believe their taxes should be a great deal higher, somewhat higher, somewhat lower, or a great deal lower?

On the issue of school vouchers, there is a significant racial gap among Democratic primary voters.  White Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove of providing financial assistance to help parents send their children to charter or private schools.

African-American Democrats hold a diametrically different opinion with 58% in support of school vouchers.

On the issue of abortion, more primary-voting Democrats are pro-life with exceptions (34%) than believe late-term abortions should be legal (13%).  Democrats in the Northern Tier are the most likely to be pro-life with exceptions (50%) and Democrats in the Philadelphia/Southeast region are the most likely to support late-term abortions (19%). 

Men are 8% more likely than women to support late-term abortions.  African-Americans are 10% more likely than Whites to believe all abortion should be illegal.

Which of the following best describes your position on the issue of abortion: Abortion should be outlawed in all cases, Abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother, Abortion should be legal within the first 12 weeks of conception, or Late-term abortions should be legal?

PA Dems on Obamcare

A full 82% of Pennsylvania Democratic primary voters have health insurance plans that they like, while 13% have insurance that they do not like and just 4% are insured.

How would you describe your current circumstances regarding health care insurance: You have an insurance plan that you like, You have an insurance plan that you do not like or You do not have health care insurance?

Those living in the Pittsburgh/Southwest region (86%) and self-identified "liberals" (87%) are more likely to have health insurance that they like.  Whites (84%) are 8% more likely than African-Americans (76%) to be satisfied with their health insurance.

Thinking about the new federal health care law that is currently being implemented, do you intend to buy a new health care plan offered under the law?

The sample size for the survey is 649 primary-voting Democratic voters and the margin of error is +/-3.85%.  The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) automated telephone survey was conducted November 9-10, 2013 by Harper Polling.  The total percentages for responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.

Harper Polling