Republican Gov. Tom Corbett lost support across the board in seeking a second term, preliminary exit poll results showed Tuesday. In contrast to his successful 2010 race, the governor lost votes among men, women, all age groups and all income levels.
His Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf, a York businessman and political newcomer, got a strong backing from voters under 50, with about 6 in 10 casting ballots for him, according to preliminary results from the exit poll conducted Tuesday.
The poll of 1,623 voters showed that most of Corbett’s support came from central Pennsylvania, where voters gave him a slight advantage. Heavily Democratic Philadelphia and its suburbs solidly backed Wolf, and he also held a narrow lead in the northeast part of the state.
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Wolf also carried an apparent lead in the western part of the state, which includes the Pittsburgh suburbs where Corbett lives. Corbett had carried 58 percent of the western vote four years ago.
Corbett’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child-molestation scandal at Penn State University wasn’t a huge factor for most voters; nearly 6 in 10 said it wasn’t important.
The investigation of the former assistant coach began while Corbett served as attorney general and publicly surfaced after he became governor. It led to Sandusky’s conviction but also the firing of beloved football coach Joe Paterno and sanctions for the program.
Fewer than 4 in 10 said Corbett’s handling of the controversy was very important or somewhat important. Most of those voters chose Wolf.
Voters appeared evenly divided on whether the state should legalize marijuana. Most of those who favor legalization backed Wolf, while most of those opposed went for Corbett.
Corbett has proposed a limited medical marijuana plan and opposes decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot. Wolf would sign legislation to legalize marijuana for broader medicinal purposes and supports decriminalizing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
The controversial gas industry practice of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, received support from nearly 6 in 10 voters. But those voters split their support about evenly between Corbett and Wolf.
Wolf wants to impose a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas extraction to put more money into public education. Corbett favors the existing $50,000 impact fee per well, which supports communities affected by drilling.
On national issues, nearly 9 in 10 Pennsylvania voters remain worried about the economy. Wolf had the lead among those voters. More than 5 in 10 voters disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling his job.
The preliminary exit poll of 1,623 Pennsylvania voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research in a random sample of 28 precincts statewide. Results were subject to a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.