Poll: Pa. Gov. Rendell Holds Double-Digit Lead Over GOP Challenger Swann

Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell maintains a double-digit lead over Republican challenger Lynn Swann, whose increased campaigning has done little to help him gain ground on the incumbent, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Rendell led Swann 54 percent to 34 percent in a poll of registered voters taken in early August by Quinnipiac University. The gap was four points larger in a similar poll in June.

Ten percent of the respondents in the latest survey were undecided, 1 percent said they would vote for someone else and another 1 percent said they would not vote, the poll found.

"Lynn Swann has failed to make any significant headway against Gov. Ed Rendell over the summer," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Connecticut-based university's polling institute.

A Swann campaign spokesman dismissed the poll as inconsequential, while a spokesman for Rendell's campaign said it is a sign that voters are responding favorably to the Democrat's first-term record.

The Quinnipiac poll showed Rendell has stronger support from within his own party, with 81 percent of Democratic respondents favoring him and 61 percent of Republicans backing Swann.

One out of four Republicans polled said they would vote for Rendell; 13 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Swann.

The poll's release came on the same day that President Bush was scheduled to headline a fundraiser in Lancaster for the former Pittsburgh Steelers star, whose campaign contributions also have lagged behind Rendell's.

"Swann needs President Bush to help win back those Republicans who are backing Rendell," Richards said. "Also, the president can help raise the kind of money Swann needs to take on a well-financed Democratic incumbent."

Both candidates have crisscrossed the state on campaign buses over the summer, and Swann last week released a self-published book outlining his positions on various issues. But while Rendell has aired a barrage of television advertisements since April, Swann has yet to put out any of his own.

The survey found only a marginal increase in voter familiarity with Swann. Forty-seven percent said they had not heard enough about Swann to form an opinion, compared to 50 percent in the previous poll.

Rendell also continues to enjoy a higher approval rating than state lawmakers. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they approve of Rendell's job performance, while the Legislature's approval rating was 31 percent.

The poll also showed Rendell leading Swann 53 percent to 32 percent in a three-way contest including Green Party candidate Marakay Rogers, who received 4 percent. But Rogers, a York attorney, has said she is withdrawing her name from the ballot because she cannot afford to defend herself against a court challenge by state Democratic Party officials over her nominating papers.

The poll surveyed 1,384 Pennsylvania registered voters by telephone from Aug. 8 through Sunday. It carries a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.