Pollsters Keep Trying to Pretend Tom Corbett Has a Sliver of Hope, Even Though Their Polls Show He Doesn’t

It's over. Right?

The best parts of watching polls come out about the Pennsylvania governor’s race is the quotes from the pollsters themselves in which they bend themselves into all kinds of crazy rhetorical shapes to pretend like Gov. Tom Corbett still has a chance to win re-election — even though their polls show he doesn’t, really.

Take today’s Quinnipiac Poll. Here are two numbers that seemingly settle the matter:

• “Businessman Tom Wolf, the Democratic challenger for governor in Pennsylvania, leads Republican Gov. Tom Corbett 55 – 38 percent among likely voters four weeks before Election Day.” That’s a 17-point lead.

• “Their mind is made up, 85 percent of Pennsylvania likely voters say, while 13 percent say they might change their mind.”

Let’s do the math: Corbett is 17 points behind. Only 13 percent of voters are remotely in play. (In fact, more of Corbett’s voters say they might change their mind than do Wolf’s.) We suppose it’s possible that Corbett could win all 13 percent of those voters and eke out a bare majority … but only theoretically. Realistically, we’re beyond the point of the governor needing a game-changer. He needs something world-shattering to happen to alter the election’s dynamics. We can’t even imagine a scenario that fits that wouldn’t sound preposterous. Maybe something involving newly revealed superhero powers for the governor.

Still, election observers keep trying to keep the door open a crack for Corbett. We’re supposed to act like anything is possible till the voters have spoken. And anything is possible! At this moment, however, anything but a Wolf victory in November is extremely, extremely unlikely.

“With a slight shift in the numbers as a handful of Republicans come back, there is a pinprick of light at the end of the long, dark reelection tunnel, but time is not on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s side,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, trying to keep open the possibility of a Corbett comeback, but ultimately kind of failing. “It’s a matter of simple math and the ticking clock and both are working against Gov. Corbett.”

Still, we like to think somebody in the Corbett campaign saw the “pinprick of light” part of that quote and had something like the following reaction:

That sound you heard? Political reporters across the state weeping in despair at this race’s utter lack of drama.