A new poll shows Pennsylvania’s incumbent Democrats are in a strong position ahead of this year’s midterm elections.
It found 43 percent of voters in the Franklin and Marshall College survey believe Governor Tom Wolf is doing an “excellent” or “good” job in office, compared with 38 percent in a similar poll in September.
The boost came primarily from Democrats and Independents.
F&M’s Berwood Yost said it could be due to a lot of things.
For one, it might be disapproval of President Donald Trump—who has a steady 30 percent approval rating in the poll.
Or it could be satisfaction with Wolf’s response to Pennsylvania’s redistricting saga.
Sixty percent of registered voters who responded believe the commonwealth’s previous congressional map was unfair.
The pollsters note, it puts Wolf’s rating about where former Governor Ed Rendell’s was at this stage in his tenure and is higher than Wolf’s immediate predecessor, Republican Tom Corbett.
At this point, Wolf’s numbers are ahead of all three of his GOP challengers.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is up for reelection this year too. His poll numbers have stayed steady since September, at 37 percent.
Yost said based on the data, Democrats are likely to have a better shot overall of picking up wins in the midterm elections.
“It’s early, obviously,” he noted. “Every race, the quality of candidates matter. But right now the environment appears to favor the Democrats…at this point you probably feel good if you’re a Democrat."
The poll also found that over 70 percent of Pennsylvania voters would support new laws that regulate gun ownership, with more than half of those surveyed saying they would "strongly favor" more restrictions. In September, 61 percent said they backed such laws.
“That’s a stunning, stunning increase," poll director Terry Madonna said. "It’s ... the largest increase totally in those who favor [more restrictions on guns] since we first asked that question back in 2007.”
The poll found nearly universal support for expanding background checks, with 94 percent saying they would back such a measure. More than two-thirds of voters favored a more controversial proposal to ban the sale of assault-style weapons.
In addition, more registered voters said they think the state’s “headed in the right direction,” than said it’s “on the wrong track” for the first time since 2009.
90.5 WESA's An-Li Herring contributed to this report.