Why Is Pennsylvania's Governor So Incredibly Unpopular?

According to a poll released Tuesday from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett would lose to literally any Democratic challenger in 2014. 

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According to a poll released on Tuesday from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett would lose to literally any Democratic challenger in 2014. Even candidates nobody's heard of, like the current state treasurer and the former state auditor general. PPP finds Corbett trails "his potential Democratic challengers by anywhere from 12 to 20 percentage points."

And so, naturally, GOP officials in the state don't want him to run for reelection. But he's already announced that he will seek a second term, despite the fact that only 20 percent of the state's voters believe he deserves one (according to this poll from Franklin & Marshall College). He's considered the most vulnerable governor in the 2014 election. What did Corbett do to earn these lousy approval numbers?

Well, he disagrees with a majority of voters on a number of social issues.

Gay Marriage

Corbett's comments about the ongoing battle to legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania have drawn the most national attention. His state attorneys (who are defending the state's gay marriage ban) compared gays who want to get married to children in August. When asked about the comment in October, Corbett responded, "I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don't you?"

He later apologized for his gay-marriage-is-just-like-incest comment. While there are still Pennsylvania voters who think the gay marriage ban should remain in place, the state looks very different than it did in 1996, when the ban was passed. Fifty-two percent of Pennsylvania voters favor legalizing gay marriage, while 41 percent oppose it. There are now two openly-gay lawmakers in the legislature, and some state representatives who originally voted for the ban say today that they wish they could change their vote.

Gun Control

According to a February poll by Franklin & Marshall College, a full 94 percent of Pennsylvanians favor background checks for all gun purchases. And 61 percent "favor banning high capacity magazines and assault weapons, and limiting gun purchases to one per month."

Corbett, a lifetime member of the NRA, doesn't want any more gun control. Right after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Corbett said that the U.S. shouldn't rush to pass new gun control laws. He instead favors increasing services for the mentally ill, which, as some opponents have unfortunately pointed out, he actually cut in his first two state budgets.

Medicaid Expansion

Corbett has agreed to expand Medicaid under Obamacare — as long as participants pay for it themselves. Which, some might argue, defeats the purpose of the program. The federal government has already promised to pay 100 percent of the cost.

Liberal group Keystone Progress made fun of the governor at an October Eagles-Cowboys game by passing out football cards picturing him in a Dallas uniform as the “Quarterback for Corporate Privateers.” The group also flew a banners over the Philadelphia game reading “Governor Corbett likes the Cowboys … but hates Pennsylvania families.”

Privatizing the State Lottery

Pennsylvanians feel very strongly about their lottery, apparently. Only 18 percent of them support Corbett's plan to privatize it.

While the governor's lotto plan probably didn't seal his fate, Corbett does suffer from being a not-so-savvy conservative in a state that's increasingly liberal on social issues. If Pennsylvanians don't have a change of heart, he won't be reelected in 2014.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.