Pennsylvania Gov. Election Headed in Uncharted Waters

The polls have made it clear that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is in serious trouble in his bid for re-election next year.  An incumbent governor going down to defeat is not exactly unusual in this country, but it certainly is in the Keystone State.

But Corbett has not made things easy for himself, comparing same-sex marriage to incest, cutting funding for education, and generally having trouble selling his agenda.

Since 1974, when governors were first allowed to succeed themselves for the first time in decades, no Pennsylvania chief executive has lost his bid for re-election.

Another fun fact: starting in 1954, the two major parties have traded control of the governor’s office every eight years (Dems won in 1954 & ’58, GOP in ’62 & ‘66, Dems in ’70 & ’74, and so on).  Corbett would have to win re-election next year to continue that trend.

But Corbett’s numbers have been awful.  A recent Franklin & Marshall poll showed that even among voters in his own Republican Party, the governor is struggling; 44% want him to step aside and just 42% say he should run again.  Sixty-nine percent of all voters say he doesn’t deserve a second term.

Democrats are chomping at the bit; already eight candidates are running.  Interestingly, no Republican is publicly talking of a primary challenge.

We’ll be talking more about this race next year.  But here’s one fun fact to remember:  the last Pennsylvania governor defeated for re-election was a guy named William Bigler.  That was in 1854.

(Listen to my conversation last week with Matt Paul of WITF Harrisburg for a look ahead to that race.)

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