F&M Poll: Rendell Job Approval Rating Drops to Lowest Since Taking Office

Member Group : News Releases

For Immediate release, September 3, 2009

The Franklin & Marshall College Poll…the 17th consecutive year of polling in Pennsylvania

Key Findings:

1) The state budget impasse has made residents far less positive about state government and state government officials. Currently only one in three (33%) state residents believes the state is headed in the right direction. The current ratings of state government are the lowest recorded in a Franklin and Marshall College Poll, and Governor Rendell’s favorability and job performance ratings are the lowest they have been since taking office in 2003. At this point, fewer than three in ten (29%) registered adults in the state say the governor is doing an excellent or good job, and ratings for the state legislature are even lower — not a single respondent rated the legislature’s performance as excellent. More than three in four (78%) registered adults believe the state legislature is doing a fair or poor job, and only a quarter (27%) believes the quality of state government in Pennsylvania is excellent or good. More registered Pennsylvanians blame the legislature (54%) than the governor (31%) for the current budget impasse, but ironically more still trust the state legislature (48%) over the governor (36%) when it comes to decisions about the state budget.

2) Senator Arlen Specter maintained his edge over Rep. Joe Sestak for the 2010 Democratic Senate primary (37% to 11%), although a significant number (46%) of Pennsylvania Democrats still do not know who they’ll vote for. Tom Corbett leads the Republican field of possibilities for governor; however, that race remains wide open, with 73 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans saying they don’t know for whom they will cast their vote. In a possible general election matchup for U.S. Senate, Specter leads Toomey (37% to 29%). Toomey leads in a possible matchup with Sestak (26% to 22%), although nearly half (46%) of respondents aren’t sure how they would vote in that race.

3) While the percentage of registered Pennsylvanians holding a favorable opinion of President Barack Obama has held steady at 55 percent (compared to 56% in June), his unfavorable rating has risen to 37 percent (compared to 27% in June). For the first time in our polling, a majority of respondents believe President Obama is doing only a fair or poor job (53%), while fewer believe he is doing an excellent or good job (47%). Confidence in the president’s ability to handle the economic crisis, while still strong, appears to be slipping (58% compared to 66% in June). Finally, over half (57%) of registered Pennsylvanians are skeptical of the president’s ability to reform healthcare.

4) Registered Pennsylvanians appear to be following the healthcare debate closely. Two in three (64%) say they’ve heard a great deal or a fair amount about possible congressional reforms, and four in five (80%) say they’ve seen or heard news reports about town hall meetings. A narrow majority (51%) say they’re opposed to reform proposals that have been discussed so far in Congress, and nearly half (48%) say they do not believe reforming healthcare will help the economy in the long run.

Those in favor of current reform proposals cite helping the working and middle class uninsured as the main reason, while those opposed point to the expansion of government control through a public insurance option as their biggest concern.


The survey findings presented in this release are based on the results of interviews conducted August 25-31, 2009. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and 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 643 adult residents of Pennsylvania, including 562 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 +/-
4.1 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. 19604
(717) 291-4052 Office
(717)575-2164 Cell
(717) 358-4666 Fax
[email protected]

– R