Maybe Joe Paterno is gaining back some supporters.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows a very slight uptick in the percentage of Pennsylvania voters who have a favorable opinion of the late football coach whose reputation was put through the ringer over the past year and a half from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The poll found 47 percent of those surveyed have a favorable take on Paterno, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
It is an increase from 43 percent, the last time the poll was taken on Jan. 29.
The most recent poll surveyed 1,632 registered voters from May 30 to June 4, and it came as the Paterno family and a number of supporters filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on May 30.
Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said the increase is “so small it falls within the margin of error.”
However, Paterno “has not lost popularity over time. Perhaps it has to do with that the team, at 8-4 last year, did better than many expected,” he said.
“Time heals, but it looks like (the) Paterno legacy has a long way to go.”
In the latest poll, 27 percent of voters said they had an unfavorable opinion of Paterno while 18 percent had not heard enough to make a decision and 7 percent refused to answer the question.
Over the course of the past three polls on this topic, the trend suggests a decline in the percentage of voters who had unfavorable opinions of Paterno, which was at 36 percent in December 2011 and 29 percent Jan. 29 of this year.
The same poll asked voters to weigh in on other questions related to the Sandusky scandal:• The NCAA sanctions are “too severe,” according to 46 percent of voters. Thirty-two percent said they are appropriate.
• Fifty-eight percent said Gov. Tom Corbett did not do enough to investigate the Sandusky scandal.
• Forty-seven percent of voters said the Penn State issue will be “very important” or “somewhat important” when they vote for governor next year. By contrast, 48 percent of voters said it will not be important.
• Forty-two percent said the NCAA sanctions hurt Penn State “a great deal” and 33 percent said the sanctions hurt the university “somewhat.”
Malloy said voters, even Penn State football fans, “are still steamed” at the NCAA for the sanctions on the university.
“Pennsylvanians think Gov. Tom Corbett fumbled the Sandusky probe,” he said. “It’s a penalty flag for the governor. Facing a blitz of solid Democratic defenders, he is going to have a hard time moving downfield.”