ShareThis Page
Political Headlines

Robert Morris University poll shows Governor Wolf in good standing

| Monday, March 2, 2015, 11:30 p.m.

Gov. Tom Wolf curried favor with Pennsylvania voters during his first month in office, a dynamic that could shift as he pushes for new taxes on consumers, wage earners and the bountiful Marcellus shale drilling industry.

About 57 percent of Pennsylvanians have a positive view of Wolf, according to results released Monday from a poll by Moon-based Robert Morris University.

Phil Harold, polling director and associate dean at the School of Education and Social Sciences, said the numbers gauge Wolf's early days from the transition to his inauguration. As his administration takes shape, they're likely to dip.

“Governors have a little bit of a honeymoon,” Harold said. “Their numbers are a little high at the beginning and they drop. That's the pattern in recent decades.”

Wolf, a Democrat who won his first bid for public office with nearly 55 percent of the vote over Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, gives his inaugural budget address Tuesday to the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

With a budget deficit as high as $2.3 billion, lawmakers and analysts predict Wolf will propose hiking sales and personal income taxes.

He campaigned on a plan to levy a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas drilling to help pay for public schools — an idea that industry and business interests oppose.

Lawmakers anticipate the governor will propose an ambitious restructuring of the state's tax code, including a substantial cut in property taxes.

Republicans like state Rep. Stephen Bloom of Carlisle warned that Wolf should proceed with caution if he proposes increasing the personal income tax because 79 percent of small business owners pay that instead of corporate taxes. Wolf has said he intends to cut the corporate net income tax in half over two years.

Small businesses generate 65 percent of the state's jobs, said Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon.

Raising the personal income tax “would be devastating to small businesses,” said Kevin Shivers, executive state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

The 3.07 percent tax last increased in 2003.

Wolf's popularity with many voters is an impressive start, Harold said.

One in five residents held “very favorable” views of Wolf, the same number who described their feelings as either “somewhat” or “very” unfavorable. About 23 percent described themselves as unsure, and 37.5 percent said their opinion was “somewhat favorable.”

Harold said seniors are the most skeptical demographic.

The university surveyed 508 Pennsylvanians in the poll, backed by Trib Total Media, from Feb. 11-20. It has an error margin of 4.5 percentage points.

Joe DiSarro, a political science professor at Washington & Jefferson College and Republican analyst, said Wolf's favorable numbers may be the result of a welcoming public.

“The public, in general, is saying, ‘We want to give the new governor a chance,' ” he said.

DiSarro doubts the potential for compromise with Harrisburg's split-party government, pointing to Wolf's intent to add or raise taxes.

“You don't have to be a political science professor at some small college to know the Republican legislature is never going to pass that,” he said.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or mdaniels@tribweb.com. Staff writer Brad Bumsted contributed to this report.

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.

click me