Analysts don't discount Corbett, say Wolf has early momentum
HARRISBURG — Democrat Tom Wolf emerges from his landslide primary victory with momentum and an edge against Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, analysts say, but political experts aren't predicting Corbett's defeat.
The scales tip to Wolf now, “but I think it may be a lot closer than people think” in November, said Michele DeMary, a political science professor at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove.
“I don't think it's a done deal,” said Michael Cassidy, who teaches political science at Temple University's Harrisburg campus and was a Democratic state legislator in the 1970s.
Tuesday's primary election gave Wolf “huge momentum,” Cassidy said. Wolf carried every Pennsylvania county in a four-way race, garnering almost 58 percent of the vote, according to unofficial totals from the Department of State.
Corbett, who ran unopposed, has been tagged by national analysts as one of the country's most vulnerable incumbents. His poll numbers are consistently weak.
“I see Wolf having the edge, but that does not translate the same during the first week of November,” said Gerald Shuster, a professor of political communications at the University of Pittsburgh.
Wolf's inexperience — as someone seeking statewide office for the first time — is a disadvantage and an advantage, said Shuster: “He's not tied to politicians. He's not tied to the Marcellus shale industry. He's not tied to teachers' unions.”
A York County businessman, Wolf campaigned on the need for a “different” type of governor. With the least political baggage and more money than his opponents, Democrats “coalesced around him as the strongest candidate to be able to beat Tom Corbett,” said Cassidy.
Corbett's campaign has $6.3 million on hand. Wolf finished his primary run with $1.6 million, according to the latest state figures. Through donations and a loan, Wolf provided $10 million to his campaign.
“As inept as he has been, in many respects, at explaining his administration, (Corbett) still has the power of incumbency,” said Michael Federici, chairman of the political science department at Mercyhurst University in Erie.
Incumbency means name recognition, more “free media” and typically an advantage in raising campaign money, Federici said.
“Voters don't really know Wolf that well,” Federici said.
Corbett “is not a garrulous kind of guy,” said Shuster. “People know that about him. He's kind of cool, in terms of temperature.”
Corbett needs to resume TV ads, with little delay, aggressively “defining Wolf” before Wolf defines himself further, said J. Wesley Leckrone, a political science professor at Widener University.
Both candidates can expect money to flow from the national Republican and Democratic parties, analysts said.
Yet Corbett needs to unify his base among Republicans, since some are dissatisfied, DeMary said.
Republican lawmakers need to give Corbett a victory before their summer recess, addressing his issues such as pension reform and liquor privatization, Shuster said. Otherwise, “people say, ‘Why are you there, if you can't push it through' ” a GOP-controlled legislature, he said.
Corbett's campaign emphasizes the state's lower-than-national unemployment rate and increase in job opportunities during his tenure. “The message they're trying to get out is tough (budget) decisions had to be made” in 2011 when he took office facing what Corbett identified as a $4.2 billion deficit, said Leckrone.
But nationally, Republicans argue the economy isn't doing well. “It comes down to whether people buy into the fact that they are doing better in Pennsylvania,” said Leckrone.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers trying to get missing defensive pieces on field
- In reworking contract, Steelers WR Brown gets hefty pay raise
- Cole struggles as Brewers continue Miller mastery over Pirates
- Steelers running back eager to prove he can help bridge gap to Bell
- Wilmerding targeted for mobile farmers market
- Student violinist,Valley School of Ligonier reach settlement
- 22-month-old boy shot, killed in North Side; stepfather charged
- Authorities investigate suspicious packages at Murrysville post office
- Western Pa. played role, was transformed by victory in World War II
- Study shows Ligonier Borough might save if police consolidate
- Steelers notebook: New kicker Scobee relishes opportunity