HARRISBURG (AP) - Gov. Tom Corbett's popularity has declined since mid-November, although he scored points with many Pennsylvania voters for challenging the NCAA sanctions against Penn State University, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The Quinnipiac University survey showed that 51 percent of the respondents believe Corbett does not deserve re-election next year, while 31 percent said the Republican deserves another term. He had more support among men - 48 percent opposed the governor's re-election while 38 percent supported it - than among women, who opposed it 54 percent to 24 percent.
The poll of 1,221 registered voters found that 42 percent disapprove of Corbett's job performance during his first two years in office, up from 38 percent in a November survey by the same pollster, while those who approve declined to 36 percent from 40 percent.
Corbett's job-approval rating, which reached a high of 50 percent in September 2011, has helped motivate at least a half-dozen Democrats and one Republican who are weighing possible challenges in 2014. Democrat John Hanger, a former state environmental protection secretary, has already declared his candidacy.
The governor's spokesman, Kevin Harley, shrugged off the poll findings and noted that the next election is still nearly two years away.
"When the governor is up against an opponent, a real person, then I think those numbers will change," Harley said.
Fifty-three percent of respondents said the NCAA sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State, including a $60 million fine and a four-year bowl game ban, were too severe.
Forty-three percent approved of the antitrust challenge to the sanctions that Corbett filed in federal court this month, while 37 percent disapproved.
Harley said his boss "doesn't govern by polls," but he suggested that his low approval rating reflects tough choices Corbett has made to balance the state budget while keeping his campaign promise not to raise taxes.
"He knew this would be difficult," Harley said.
The telephone survey was conducted over a six-day period ending Sunday. The poll carries a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.