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Incumbents Tom Wolf, Bob Casey lead by wide margins in Pennsylvania poll

| Thursday, June 14, 2018, 6:39 a.m.
Gov. Tom Wolf (left) and Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner
Gov. Tom Wolf (left) and Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, left, and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, face each other in November in Pennsylvania's race for the U.S. Senate.
File photos
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, left, and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, face each other in November in Pennsylvania's race for the U.S. Senate.

Incumbent Democrats in Pennsylvania's two highest-profile races this year hold sizable early leads over their Republican challengers in a Franklin & Marshall College poll out Thursday, but a large share of the state's registered voters remain undecided.

The poll shows 48 percent of voters would re-elect Gov. Tom Wolf to a second term, while 29 percent support former state Sen. Scott Wagner and 23 percent are undecided.

In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Bob Casey, D-Scranton, leads U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, 44 percent to 27 percent, but 28 percent of voters are undecided.

G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall's Center for Politics and Public Affairs, said the results support the notion that a Democratic wave election is coming while cautioning against drawing too big of a conclusion from the numbers with the Nov. 7 election still five months away.

"We can argue about the size of it, but it looks like a Democratic year," Madonna said.

Democrats made up 48 percent of the poll's 472 respondents, while 39 percent were Republicans. That resembles the partisan breakdown statewide.

Among those polled, Democrats said they were more engaged and likely to vote than Republicans.

The poll shows voters have an increasingly favorable opinion of how Wolf and Casey are doing their jobs, which Madonna attributed to a strong economy and a lack of any major controversies for either candidate.

"They're all up slightly, and I think that probably has to do with the overall nature of the economy," Madonna said of the incumbents.

About 45 percent of voters surveyed thought Wolf is doing an "excellent" or "good" job as governor, up from 38 percent in September; while 42 percent gave Casey positive reviews, up from 37 percent last fall.

The poll, conducted from June 4 to 10, surveyed 472 voters across Pennsylvania and has a margin of error of 6.5 percentage points.

A lot could change between now and November, Madonna said.

"What happens if North Korea works out? What happens if the economy continues to improve? Will that help to spur Republican turnout and modify the wave?" Madonna asked.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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