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Corbett team rails at pollster

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett speaks during an interview with The Associated Press Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Philadelphia. Corbett said Wednesday that he believes he fulfilled the spirit of his 2010 campaign pledge not to raise taxes or fees, but he will not renew that sweeping vow in his current bid for a second term. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gov. Tom Corbett’s campaign went after a top Pennsylvania pollster over the release of a poll showing the Republican incumbent trailing challenger Tom Wolf by 25 points.

Campaign manager Mike Barley said the Thursday release from the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College skewed results toward Democrats. On Twitter Thursday night, Barley did not mince words.

“You are unfairly influencing this election with bad polls,” Barley tweeted at pollster and director of the center, G. Terry Madonna.

The poll takes into account the 12.7 percent registration edge Democrats have in the state, Barley said, an edge unlikely to be reflected in turnout on Election Day.

“We all know that’s not true,” he said. “In 2006, a great year for Democrats in the mid-term elections, they had a five-point advantage.”

Madonna said the method of weighting registered voters is unchanged from previous polls and doesn’t indicate turnout.

“It’s typical of what happens,” Madonna said. “Pollsters get attacked if the campaign’s not doing well.”

Madonna has a track record of accuracy in showing which candidate is in the lead – including the polls running up to Corbett’s 2010 gubernatorial win.

Madonna has gone through this before. In 2012, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum called him a “Democratic hack” when Franklin & Marshall polls showed Santorum trailing Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential primary.

“They’re not interested in objective; they’re trying to win an election,” said Madonna.

Barley said the campaign’s internal polls show the governor behind by seven to nine points. The campaign shared a memo, dated a day before Franklin & Marshall’s release, explaining a polling model that takes likely voters into account.

Madonna said his polls typically take likely voters into account after Labor Day, when interest in the race is higher.

Barley on Twitter also pointed out Wolf’s wife, Frances, is a vice chair of the board of trustees at Franklin & Marshall, where she earned her second bachelor’s degree in 1996.

Tom Wolf, who on Friday toured the Bidwell Training Center in the North Side, said his wife has been on the board for about a decade. He said he does not want to second-guess political scientists and wouldn’t comment on his opponent’s methods.

“We both understand, I think, that there’s over two months until the election,” Wolf said. “I’m going to work hard. I’m sure he’s going to work hard, too.”

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or [email protected].

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