F & M Poll: Pessimism About Economy

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The Franklin & Marshall College Poll…the 18th consecutive year of polling in Pennsylvania

Please find attached and below the results of the October 2009 Franklin & Marshall College Poll of Pennsylvanians. Complete results can be found in the attachment or at http://politics.fandm.edu .

1) Pennsylvanians continue to express pessimism about the economy. More than a third (36%) say they are financially worse off this year than last, and only a third (31%) expect their personal finances to be better off a year from now. Nearly three in five (57%) state residents believe the current recession will not end for several more years, and a majority (54%) says they are trying to save more compared to one year ago. Additionally, only one in eight (13%) Pennsylvanians feel they have personally benefited from national economic recovery efforts.

2) Half (49%) of state residents have experienced at least one of the eleven hardships tested in the survey. The most common economic hardships include pay reductions (22%), unemployment (21%), and the inability to afford needed medical care (18%).

3) A large number of registered Pennsylvanians remain undecided about the upcoming senatorial elections. Arlen Specter leads Joe Sestak 30 percent to 18 percent among Democrats, with about half (47%) undecided.

In a general election matchup, Specter has a small lead over Pat Toomey, 33% to 31%, with nearly a third (30%) undecided. Toomey has a slight advantage over Sestak in a general election matchup, 28% to 20%, but half (48%) are undecided. Both Toomey and Sestak continue to have low name recognition. Many (64% and 77%, respectively) registered Pennsylvanians say they don’t know enough about each to have an opinion.

4) Similarly, Pennsylvania Democrats are largely (66%) undecided about the Democratic primary race for governor. Tom Corbett currently is favored over Jim Gerlach (30% to 8%) among Republicans for their gubernatorial nomination, but over half (57%) remain undecided about their preference.

5) In the election for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Republican candidate, Joan Orie Melvin, is neck to neck with the Democratic candidate, Jack Panella, 22 percent to 20 percent. Over half
(54%) remain undecided about this race.

6) President Obama and Senators Specter and Casey have each had a decline in their favorability ratings since August. Obama favorables now stand at 45 percent, 28 percent have a favorable opinion of Specter, and
32 percent have a favorable opinion of Casey.

7) President Obama’s job approval in Pennsylvania is the lowest of his presidency, with only 40 percent (compared to 47% in August) saying he is doing an excellent or good job. Likewise, only 29 percent (compared to 35% in August) say Senator Specter is doing an excellent or good job–his lowest recorded job approval rating since the poll began tracking the senator’s job performance in 1991. Furthermore, the percentage of Pennsylvanians saying Senator Specter deserves re-election has continued to drop. Only 23 percent (compared to 34% in August) indicate he deserves re-election–his lowest percentage yet in an F&M College Poll.

8) More Pennsylvanians now say the state is off on the wrong track (60%) than at any point since the question was first asked in 1995. Three in four (74%) registered Pennsylvanians say the quality of government in Pennsylvania is only fair or poor.

9) Governor Rendell’s job approval rating (32% excellent or good job) has held steady since August, but the job approval rating of the state legislature is the lowest recorded by an F&M College Poll (15% excellent or good job). While 44 percent say they would like to see their state representative re-elected in the next election, only one in four (24%) say they would like to see most members of the PA House of Representatives re-elected.

The survey findings presented in this release are based on the results of interviews conducted October 20-25, 2009. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College under the direction of the poll’s Director Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Head Methodologist Berwood Yost, and Project Manager Jennifer Harding.

The data included in this release represent the responses of 616 adult residents of Pennsylvania, including 529 registered adults. Telephone numbers for the survey were generated using random digit dialing, and respondents were randomly selected from within each household. Survey results were weighted (age, education, race, region, and gender) using an iterative weighting algorithm. The sample error for this survey is
+/- 3.9 percentage points. The sample error for registered adults is +/-
4.3 percentage points. The Franklin and Marshall College Poll is produced in conjunction with the Philadelphia Daily News, WGAL-TV (South Central PA), Pittsburgh Tribune Review, WTAE-TV (Pittsburgh), WPVI-TV6/ABC (Philadelphia), and Times-Shamrock Newspapers. It may be used in whole or in part, provided any use is attributed to Franklin & Marshall College.

Dr. G. Terry Madonna
Director, Center for Politics and Public Affairs Director, Franklin and Marshall College Poll Professor of Public Affairs Franklin & Marshall College P.O. Box 3003
Lancaster, PA. 17604
(717) 291-4052 Office
(717) 575-2164 Cell
(717) 358-4666 Fax
[email protected]