For 19 years, Franklin & Marshall College has been conducting a statewide poll in conjunction with various news agencies throughout the state, to determine how the people of Pennsylvania feel about events and decisions that are directly affecting their lives.

We felt that the results of that poll are worth sharing with our readers. They are:

1) The percentage of Pennsylvanians who say the state is headed in the right direction now stands at 30 percent – a 15 year low – while 58 percent believe it is off on the wrong track.

2) Pennsylvanians continue to express pessimism about the economy. A third (33 percent) find their personal finances worse off this year than last, and only about one in four (24 percent) expect their personal finances to be better off a year from now. These figures have changed little since March.

3) In the governor's race Tom Corbett holds an 11 point lead over Dan Onorato, (38 to 27 percent), among likely voters with slightly less than one third (31 percent) undecided and four percent who would chose someone else. Among registered adults, Corbett holds a one-point lead, (29 to 28 percent), with 39 percent undecided and four percent supporting another candidate. Registered adults cite the economy, reducing spending/debt, and taxes (29, 11, and 9 percent), respectively, as the most important issues in their vote for governor.

4) Among likely voters, Pat Toomey leads Joe Sestak (40 to 31 percent) in their race for U.S. senate, with about one in four (26 percent) undecided and three percent with another choice. When registered adults are considered, Toomey's lead narrows, 31 percent to 28 percent, with almost four in ten (38 percent) without a preference. More registered Pennsylvanians cite the economy (35 percent) as the most important issue in their vote for U.S. senate than did in May (26 percent).

5) President Obama's job approval in Pennsylvania remains relatively weak with only 37 percent of voters finding his performance positive, specifically nine percent "excellent" and 28 percent "good." Five times as many Pennsylvanians (35 percent) rate the president's job performance as "poor" compared to "excellent." Governor Ed Rendell's job performance is even weaker – only 30 percent find his performance positive, seven percent find it "excellent" and 23 percent say it is "good." The same proportions (30 percent) say he is doing a "poor job."

6) Democrats are less likely to vote at the moment than Republicans. Only 37 percent of Democrats are likely to vote compared to 45 percent of Republicans. In another comparison, about one third (35 percent) of those who voted for Obama in 2008 are likely to vote now compared to half (50 percent) of McCain voters.

Polls are an inexact science, but the numbers compiled by the Franklin & Marshall researchers, do reflect a cross-section of the state's residents who responded to the poll.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com