Wolf lead in Pa. gubernatorial race widens in new poll

Incumbent Tom Wolf (D) reacts to questions of students at a forum for the Democratic and Republican candidate for the seat of Governor, at the School District of Philadelphia headquarters. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Incumbent Tom Wolf (D) reacts to questions of students at a forum for the Democratic and Republican candidate for the seat of Governor, at the School District of Philadelphia headquarters. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has increased his lead over Republican challenger Scott Wagner in the latest Franklin and Marshall College poll.

The poll shows Wolf with a 26-point edge, 59 to 33 percent, over Wagner among likely voters. Wolf has held a big lead in fundraising and thus TV advertising throughout the campaign.

Poll director Terry Madonna said in an interview Wagner has been moving backwards.

“His favorables [rating], meaning how popular he is with the voters, has dropped as voters have become more knowledgeable about him,” Madonna said. “And I don’t think there’s any doubt that his campaign has run into a couple of controversies.”

Wagner got national attention three weeks ago when he said on a Facebook video that he would stomp on the governor’s face with golf spikes.

The survey shows Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey with a less dramatic, but still-comfortable 15-point lead —  50 to 35 percent — over U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta.

The poll finds voters in both parties energized and that more plan to vote for Democrats than Republicans for Congress by a 52-38 percent margin.

The poll found President Donald Trump to be a big factor in voters’ thinking.

About two-thirds of Democrats said they’d cast their votes for Congress mostly as votes against Trump and Republicans in Congress. Meanwhile, 83 percent of Republicans said they’d be voting for a GOP candidate mostly to show support for Trump and congressional Republicans.

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