Monday, September 21, 2009

Celinda Lake: Hoeffel with slight lead in early polling

We received this memo summarizing the latest polling done by Celinda Lake on the 2010 PA governor's race. While the numbers are inconclusive, they show Joe Hoeffel in the lead with 15%.



To: Interested Parties

From: Celinda Lake and Daniel Gotoff, Lake Research Partners

Date: September 17, 2009

Subject: New Poll Results on the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary in PA

A recent statewide survey of likely Democratic Primary voters finds former Congressman Joe Hoeffel leading a field of candidates in the race for Governor of Pennsylvania.[1] This finding is all the more impressive considering that Hoeffel has not yet announced his candidacy. Despite a field of several announced candidates, Democratic Primary voters are clearly looking for a strong progressive leader to lead the state; Hoeffel is poised to consolidate the sizable progressive bloc of the primary electorate, as well as the all-important swing Philadelphia suburbs. Indeed, after simulating an engaged race, with voters hearing positive messages for all the candidates, Hoeffel expands his lead.

Key Findings

Ø Former Congressman Joe Hoeffel leads a crowded field of candidates in the Democratic Primary for Governor of Pennsylvania. Hoeffel secures 15% of the vote, with Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and State Auditor General Jack Wagner drawing 12% each, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty at 6%, and businessman Tom Knox at just 5%. Fully, half of the electorate (50%) is undecided, underscoring the wide-open nature of this race. Hoeffel’s early lead is especially impressive considering the fact that other major candidates have made their intentions to run for Governor clear for some time.

Ø Hoeffel is already consolidating a strong regional base in the Philadelphia suburbs, which together with the city constitute the largest region in the state – both in a Primary and a General election. Hoeffel holds a strong lead over Onorato, Wagner, and Knox—the only other Philadelphia-area-based candidate in the race—in the greater Philadelphia region. In Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, Hoeffel takes 30% of the vote, with Knox at 10%, Wagner at 6%, Doherty at 4%, and Onorato at 3%. Hoeffel’s lead is particularly strong in the Philadelphia suburbs, where he receives 41%, followed by Wagner’s 8%, Knox’s 7%, Onorato’s 3%, and Doherty’s 2%.

Ø The greater Philadelphia regions makes up 40% of the vote in the Democratic Primary statewide vote. Hoeffel’s 41% of the vote in the Philadelphia suburbs is comparable to Onorato’s strength in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania (42%) and far outpaces Wagner’s strength in Central PA (25%) and in Pittsburgh and Western PA (17%), and Doherty’s strength in Northeastern PA (25%). It bears repeating that Hoeffel’s strength in the Philadelphia suburbs affords him an enormous – and unique – advantage in a General election.

Ø While Hoeffel’s voters are solidly in his camp, the same cannot be said for Wagner, Onorato, and Knox – all of whom are sitting on relatively weak, contested bases of support. Fully 68% of Hoeffel’s voters would move to “undecided” if he were not in the race – significantly more than is the case for Onorato’s, Wagner’s, and Knox’s voters; no other candidate would pick up more than 11% of Hoeffel’s initial vote. In contrast, if Knox were to exit the race, Hoeffel would stand to pick up 31% of his vote. Wagner and Onorato supporters are also poised to switch should their first choice exit the field. Fully 37% of Onorato voters would vote for Wagner if Onorato were not running. And more than one in five Wagner voters (22%) would vote for Onorato if Wagner were not running.

Ø Voters who know Joe Hoeffel like him, and he is more popular than most of the candidates, including Onorato. By more than a three-to-one margin, Democratic Primary voters have a favorable opinion of Hoeffel (25% favorable, 8% unfavorable). Hoeffel’s image ratings are stronger than Onorato’s (22% favorable, 8% unfavorable), Knox’s (19% favorable, 11% unfavorable), and Doherty’s (16% favorable, 6% unfavorable). Only Wagner is better known than Hoeffel (29% favorable, 7% unfavorable), though he has trouble converting personal affect into votes.

Ø After voters hear each of the candidates’ positive messages, Hoeffel expands his lead. (The text of each of the messages is provided on the following page.) Voters respond strongly to Hoeffel’s progressive bona fides and his demonstrated commitment to fighting for good jobs with good wages, fair trade laws, clean energy technologies, and real health care reform. After this exercise, Hoeffel attracts nearly one-quarter of the statewide vote (23%), followed by Wagner’s 18%, Knox’s 12%, Onorato’s 11%, and Doherty’s 6%. About one-third (31%) remain undecided.

Ø The Democratic Primary electorate is looking for a progressive leader – which is good news for Hoeffel, the only candidate with a strong record of accomplishments on progressive issues, and bad news for the rest of the field, to whom few would apply the progressive label. Fully half of Democratic Primary voters (50%) describe themselves as liberal, compared to 29% who describe themselves as moderate and 17% who describe themselves as conservative. This figure is nearly identical to the 2008 Presidential Democratic primary exit poll in Pennsylvania, which showed 49% of Democratic Primary voters describing themselves as liberal.


(Order of Statements Randomized in Survey)

Joe Hoeffel is the one true progressive leader in this race, not afraid to stand up for working families, even when it’s politically unpopular. He has been at the forefront of the fight for good jobs with good wages. Trade laws that benefit workers and small business, not corporations that outsource jobs. A health care plan that puts people ahead of profits. And a leading voice for investing in the clean energy technologies that are the key to our economic future. Joe Hoeffel is a leader who will take bold action to put people back to work and turn our economy around.

The son of a mechanic and a school teacher, and the first in his family to go to college, Dan Onorato was raised on the importance of family and faith, and that when times are tough, everyone pitches in. As Allegheny County Executive, Dan has led the way, cracking down on waste and abuse, cutting taxes, and transforming Western Pennsylvania into a hub for 21st century jobs. As Governor, he’ll bring new ideas to reform government, clean-up Harrisburg, create new 21st-Century jobs, strengthen our education system & invest in new energy solutions.

Jack Wagner is Pennsylvania’s state Auditor General. He has saved Pennsylvania taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by exposing waste, fraud, and abuse. He’s a Purple Heart-decorated Marine known for his integrity and ability to get results. Jack exposed millions of tax dollars in hidden bonuses spent by education loan executives and took steps to protect state and local pension plans. He’s already identified $1.3 billion in savings so we can keep investing in core services without raising taxes. As Governor, he’ll fix our budget mess.

The son of a steelworker, Tom Knox grew up in a Philadelphia housing project & worked his way out of poverty–serving in the Navy, then going on to become a respected business leader. Never a career politician, at his own request, Tom was paid a salary of $1 per year when Ed Rendell asked him to balance Philadelphia’s budget—which he did & turned in a $10 million surplus. Knox has led the fight against utility deregulation and is the only candidate who has created jobs in the private sector. As Governor, his three priorities for the state are simple: jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

Under Chris Doherty’s leadership as Mayor of Scranton, the city has been named one of the best places to raise a family in Pennsylvania by Business Week magazine and has seen more than 6,000 jobs created, a $500 million investment in new development, and acres and acres in new urban green spaces. As Governor, Doherty will lead the way on bringing investment dollars into the state to create jobs.

Regional Definitions

Philadelphia: Philadelphia county/city.

Philadelphia Suburbs: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.

Pittsburgh/ Western PA: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.

Johnstown/Altoona: Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Elk, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Jefferson, and Somerset counties.

Northwest PA: Clarion, Clinton, Crawford, Erie, Forest, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, and Warren counties.

Central PA: Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, Union, and York counties.

Northeast : Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming counties.

Lehigh Valley: Berks, Lehigh, Monroe, and Northampton counties.

[1] Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey of 800 likely 2010 Democratic Primary voters in Pennsylvania. The survey was conducted by telephone, using professional interviewers, between September 8-13, 2009. The overall margin of error for this survey is +/-3.5%.

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