By The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa.
A story by The Associated Press Oct. 22 on Pennsylvania’s governor’s race was reminiscent of an editorial page cartoon from yesteryear. “Who are you voting against?” one man asks the other as they approach their polling place. This year, the answer is clear: Tom Corbett.
The story by the AP, based on interviews with voters across the state, showed that Corbett is not liked, and Democratic opponent Tom Wolf is not known. So guess who has the big lead in
the polls? They consistently have given Wolf a big lead, in no small part because people simply are voting against Corbett. Incumbents have to run on their record. Corbett’s is shaky. He’s unpopular, because he’s had to deal with problems as governor, as any incumbent must do. Some of those decisions have not been popular.
On the other hand, the best part of Wolf’s record (other than that he is not Tom Corbett) is as a businessman. He’s a millionaire. But that doesn’t mean he can govern. In a way, it’s a flip on the old saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Voters are clearly seeking a
new “devil,” as it were. “We’re not voting for Corbett, that’s for sure,” said Vincent Graziani, a registered Democrat and tour planner from West Chester who could not immediately recall Wolf ‘s name but nonetheless vowed to vote for him, the AP story said.
Not a ringing endorsement for the Democratic candidate, is it? Incumbents have many built-in advantages and win a huge percentage of their re-election bids. But unpopular incumbents can quickly lose much of that advantage because they have a record to run against. There is always a chance that Corbett could pull the upset. Republicans who are not enamored of him and are loathe to publicly express their support still could vote for him because Wolf is too far afield of their core values. But some of those Republicans might decide to not vote at all. We would prefer that voters be knowledgeable about both candidates in any race and make an informed decision. But that’s not reality. It never has been. Too often voters feel as though they are picking the lesser of two evils. Is that a reflection on the candidates, or on the voters?