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Former VP Joe Biden leads President Trump in commonwealth according to new F&M poll

  • Julia Agos/WITF

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a 9-point lead over President Trump among Pennsylvania voters, which is outside the margin of error for a new Franklin & Marshall College poll.

The survey of 667 registered Pennsylvania voters showed the pandemic is a top concern for respondents heading into the election.

Biden has the support of half of respondents surveyed, compared to President Trump’s 41 percent, with just over 3 months until the election.

Voter engagement is high, according to the new survey, with nearly three-quarters of registered voters saying they are “very interested” in the 2020 election – up from two-thirds in January 2020.

“We have never seen a campaign environment like the one we are in, so I don’t think any of us know what to expect. But its typically the case that as elections get closer things tend to tighten up. And I expect it to be competitive here,” said Berwood Yost, Director of the Institute for Public Policy Center for Opinion Research Franklin & Marshall.

Just less than two-in-five registered voters in the state believe President Trump is doing an “excellent or good job” — the same as in January. Sixty-one percent say he’s doing an “only a fair” or “poor” job.

Trump’s overall rating is consistent with respondents’ views on his handling of the economy, foreign policy and immigration. But his rating falls when it comes to his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, improving health care, and protecting the environment.

Data from the survey suggests some of the enthusiasm for Biden is driven by distaste for the incumbent. Seventy-eight percent of those who plan to vote for the president say they are voting for him, not against Joe Biden. In contrast, more than 55 percent of Biden’s supporters say they are voting against President Trump.

The new poll also shows significantly fewer registered voters in Pennsylvania are interested in voting for a third-party candidate.

Yost said those numbers are significant in a state like Pennsylvania where President Trump won by just 40,000 votes in 2016. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, the Libertarian and Green party candidates four years ago, won nearly 200,000 votes between them.

“There were a number of voters who went to third-party candidates. And in an election that was decided by only a few thousand votes, any of those things could have made a difference,” Yost said.

In 2016, at least 20 percent of voters in the state at this point in the campaign said they were voting for a third party or said they were undecided.

Now, the survey found that share of voters at just 6 percent, and only 2 percent say they are considering a third-party vote.

The survey results were published on the same day that Vice President Mike Pence visited Pennsylvania to attend a “cops for Trump” rally in Westmoreland County before heading to Somerset to talk about economic recovery.

The Franklin & Marshall poll was conducted between July 20 and 26; the results have a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percent.

Dr. G. Terry Madonna, the head of F&M’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs, will be a guest on WITF’s “Smart Talk” program on Monday, August 3 to discuss the survey. The show airs from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on 89.5 FM or online at

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