Is Corbett Gaining on Wolf?

Or was a new poll done poorly?


Do we suddenly, really have a gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania?

Under most circumstances, a poll showing that an incumbent governor is down by nine points to a challenger wouldn’t be considered good news. It’s different in Pennsylvania, where so many polls have shown for so long that Gov. Tom Corbett is losing his election campaign to Democrat Tom Wolf by 20 points. The gap has been shown over and over again, the closest thing to a sure thing one can find in today’s politics.

Until Tuesday night.

The Patriot-News reports:

The recent polling collaboration between the New York Times and CBS News, completed as part of a massive effort using new polling standards with the firm YouGov, shows Corbett losing 33 percent to Wolf’s 42 percent.

But the polling method has come in for deep critique: YouGov doesn’t randomly survey voters; instead, it relies on people to opt-in to an Internet poll — which then undergoes “some sophisticated weighting” before a result is produced. (The company explains its method here; Pew Research offers its own take here.) The effort leaves some experts skeptical.

“Anytime you see an outlier poll, especially one using a diverse method, you might want to take it with a grain of salt,” Chris Borick, professor of Political Science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, told the Patriot-News. “Right now it stands alone in terms of showing the race this close. I wouldn’t discount the poll, but I would take it with a grain of salt until I see if it aligns with the next round of polls using more traditional methods.”