Brittany Foster reads the new Harper poll, which finds Tom Wolf polling at 40% (!!) in our 6-way primary.
In the last Harper Poll held in November, former Revenue Secretary and gubernatorial candidate found himself in the back of the pack with 5%; now in the latest poll, he leads every other candidate with 40%.
Wolf’s name identification in the last poll was 23% among likely Democratic primary voters – now 65%. His image is now 58% favorable-to-6%, up from 11% favorable to 11% unfavorable in November.
This meteoric rise, no doubt due to his television blitz, has put him paces ahead of his competitors. The early-on frontrunner in the race, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz took just 14% of this poll. Following her was State Treasurer Rob McCord with 8%, former Auditor General Jack Wagner with 7% – a tie with former DEP Secretary John Hanger, and 6% for other former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty.
Wagner’s not on the chart above because Harper didn’t include him in their November poll, and also, I can’t even with him. He gets 7% in this poll and if history is any guide, he’ll soon be tanking worse than the Sixers.
But something else is happening here. For various reasons, Allyson Schwartz hasn’t been able to close the deal, and donors have been hanging back and waiting to see what happens. I assume most donors have been waiting to see what I’ve been waiting to see, which is whether there was some ideological benefit Schwartz could offer that outweighed her significant downside liabilities.
Turns out no, there is no ideological upside to supporting Schwartz. She’s less electable and less liberal than the other candidates. Begone!
Wolf has significant appeal in this primary. Above all, donors and primary voters are concerned about electability. They want somebody who will definitely be able to beat Tom Corbett. Wolf brings basically no downsides in this area. He’s the standard archetype of a political candidate – an older white male professional – and he owns a successful business that by all accounts treats its employees extremely well, and even shares profits with them. He also has substantial government and policy experience.
Oh, and he’s got $13 million he’s committed to spending on this race.
So Tom Wolf can definitely beat Tom Corbett. The challenge for him then was to meet some kind of progressive threshold, and prove to a sufficient degree that he’s a true member of the Democratic tribe. And the Fresh Start policy outline he released pretty much does the trick there. He checks all the boxes for issues Democratic voters care about, and adds in some creative new ones that showed me he’d really thought through some under-appreciated local issues I care about.
I’m still keeping my powder dry because I also like Katie McGinty and Rob McCord, but I would not be disappointed if Tom Wolf turned out to be the Democratic nominee and it appears that many other Democratic voters share this sentiment.