President Barack Obama has expanded his lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, with most voters believing the president better understands their concerns and is better able to handle the economy, according a Franklin & Marshall College Poll released Sept. 26.
Obama, who has led Romney in every Franklin & Marshall College Poll since August 2011, currently leads the former Massachusetts governor 50 percent to 39 percent among registered voters in Pennsylvania, with 6 percent undecided. The president also leads his challenger among likely voters (52 percent to 43 percent), with 3 percent undecided.
Obama led Romney by a smaller margin (44 percent to 38 percent) among registered voters in an August Franklin & Marshall College Poll.
Respondents in the current poll said Obama is "most prepared to handle foreign-policy issues" (56 percent to 33 percent); "best understands the concerns of ordinary Americans" (59 percent to 32 percent); will "better handle the job of commander-in-chief of the military" (53 percent to 38 percent); is "closest to [respondents'] views on value issues, such as abortion and gay marriage" (48 percent to 39 percent); and is "most prepared to fix our economic problems" (47 percent to 43 percent).
Obama is viewed favorably by 50 percent of respondents, compared to Romney's 34 percent. The president's job performance rating is more negative than positive, with 52 percent negative ("fair" or "poor" job) and 47 percent positive ("excellent" or "good" job).
In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Sen. Bob Casey Jr. has a comfortable advantage over Republican challenger Tom Smith (46 percent to 34 percent), with one in seven voters undecided (14 percent). Smith's name is unrecognized by 50 percent of the state's voters.
The poll also included questions on two Pennsylvania issues that have received national attention. More voters support the voter identification law passed in March by the state legislature—requiring all voters to show photo identification at polling places—than oppose it (59 percent to 39 percent). In addition, almost half (49 percent) of voters think the next attorney general should further review the way then-Attorney General and current Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett investigated the sexual abuse case involving former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Candidates in the current attorney general's race have called for a review of the case.
Interviews for the poll were conducted Sept. 18-23 at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College and were overseen by Director G. Terry Madonna, Head Methodologist Berwood Yost and Senior Project Manager Angela Knittle. The oldest statewide poll exclusively and directly produced in Pennsylvania, the Franklin & Marshall College Poll is produced in conjunction with regional media partners.
The data represent responses of 632 registered voters in Pennsylvania, including 318 Democrats, 236 Republicans and 78 registered as Independent/Other. The sample error for the survey is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
For complete results, visit www.fandm.edu/fandmpoll.