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Downtown Harrisburg and the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building as seen from Cumberland County, across the Susquehanna River (Nov. 2006)
Tom Corbett may not be spending much time in Pennsylvania's State Capitol in a couple of years
Sweet Jesus, these new numbers for GOP Gov. Tom Corbett are just brutal. When PPP was in the field in Pennsylvania just a couple of months ago, things certainly didn't look good for the incumbent. Now they look absolutely atrocious. Corbett's job approval rating has sunk from an already-pitiful 38-52 down to a treacherous 33-58, making him the third least-popular governor in the nation (only Illinois's Pat Quinn and Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee fare worse in PPP's testing).

And the head-to-heads? Oy vey. Here's a run-down, with January's results in parentheses:

• 34-45 vs. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (41-34)

• 34-45 vs. ex-Rep. Joe Sestak (42-36)

• 34-45 vs. Treasurer Rob McCord (41-35)

• 33-42 vs. businessman Tom Wolf (41-29)

• 34-41 vs. ex-Sec. of Environmental Protection John Hanger (41-37)

Holy smokes! It's bad enough that Corbett couldn't break 42 percent in the previous survey; now he can't break 34! And as Tom Jensen notes, the Democratic field is still largely unknown. It's commonplace to say that two years is a long time in politics—and it certainly is. But how is Corbett supposed to come back from this? And honestly, even if PPP's new numbers are total outliers, the January results still suck for Corbett and don't really offer him much hope, especially since the news driving his numbers down isn't about to go away any time soon:

Only 25% of voters approve of how he's handled the Penn State situation, to 58% who disapprove. And just 17% support his plan for privatizing the state lottery, compared to 67% who oppose it. In both cases Corbett's leadership is being repudiated even by members of his own party—he has just 35/45 support for his handling of Penn State and 25/55 support for lottery privatization from Republicans.
So I'm thinking it's not impossible Republicans will try to pitch him overboard, much as Democrats did with former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter in 2010—a move that paid off, as the much more popular John Hickenlooper was able to preserve that seat for Team Blue. The real question may be whether Corbett will go on his own, or whether he'll get pushed. Among Republican primary voters, only 37 percent want Corbett as their nominee once more, while 49 percent say they'd like an unnamed "someone else." That "someone else" could be Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor, who has been considering a challenge and has now sliced Corbett's lead in a hypothetical matchup to 43-23 from 51-11.

The general election head-to-heads, though, could also make for a complicated Democratic primary as well. While Schwartz is gathering steam for a bid, Corbett looks like such a sitting duck right now that the likes of Sestak and McCord may be tempted to give it a shot, even if that means enduring a hotly contested nomination battle. But hey, that's a good problem to have—for us. For Tom Corbett, not so much.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 11:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pittsburgh Area Kossacks, DKos Pennsylvania, and Daily Kos.

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