10/04/2016 Peter Durantine

Trump Falls, Clinton Holds Lead in Pennsylvania, F&M Poll Shows

 Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton maintains the lead in the presidential race while her Republican competitor, Donald Trump, bruised by his performance in the candidates’ first debate, has lost ground in Pennsylvania, according to the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

Clinton leads Trump 47 percent to 38 percent among likely voters while the percentage of voters who view the former secretary of state unfavorably has dropped from 54 percent in August to 50 percent. Trump’s unfavorable rating rose from 58 percent in August to 60 percent.

“Voters think she has the experience to be president, that she can handle the economy, and that she has sound judgment and the temperament for the job,” F&M Poll Director Terry Madonna said.

According to the poll, 60 percent of voters said Clinton has the experience needed to be president while 18 percent said Trump did. The same percentage said Clinton was prepared to handle foreign-policy issues while 23 percent said Trump did.

Where the two candidates closely poll is on three questions: 44 percent of respondents said Clinton would best protect the United States against terrorism, compared to 39 percent for Trump; in answer to who is most prepared to fix economic problems, 43 percent responded Clinton, while 40 percent said Trump; and each major-party candidate polled at 36 percent as who will change government policies to improve the respondent's life.

On the question of who is the most honest and trustworthy, 34 percent of voters said Clinton and 29 percent said Trump.

“We see the race reverting to where it was after the party conventions,” said Berwood Yost, the F&M Poll’s chief methodologist and director of the Center for Opinion Research.

Madonna and Yost said Trump’s problems began with his performance at the Sept. 26 presidential debate in which he appeared entirely unprepared and continued through a week in which he spent more time attacking people, including his opponent, instead of articulating a policy message.

“This is why is negatives went up,” Madonna said.

“This is a general election, not a primary; he needs to have a message and stick to it,” Yost said.

In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Katie McGinty has a lead over GOP incumbent Pat Toomey, 41 percent to 35 percent among likely voters with 22 percent of voters undecided. 

Conducted by the Center for Opinion Research at F&M from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, the poll reflects interviews with 813 Pennsylvania registered voters, including 395 Democrats, 316 Republicans and 102 independents. The sample error for registered voters is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points while the sample error for the 496 likely voters is plus or minus 6.1 percent. 

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