3/29/2018 Peter Durantine

F&M Poll: About Half of Pa. Registered Voters ‘Very Interested’ in Midterm Elections

Nearly half, 48 percent, of registered Pennsylvania voters are “very interested” in the 2018 congressional midterm elections this year, according to the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

At 60 percent, more Democrats than Republicans (41 percent) or independents (26 percent) say they are “very interested” in this fall’s elections, the poll showed. Congressional Democrats want to capture at least one of the two chambers of the Republican-controlled legislative body.

“This confirms what national polls have shown,” said F&M Poll Director Terry Madonna. “It looks like a Democratic wave is coming this fall.”

The poll reported more registered voters expect to vote for Democrats for the U.S. House in November than for Republicans, 42 percent to 35 percent. The poll was conducted March 19-26.

On the issue of guns, which is dominating the national interest today, 86 percent of voters “strongly favor” enhancing the gun background check system, 61 percent endorse banning assault-style weapons, and 59 percent want the minimum age to purchase a gun raised to 21. 

Meanwhile, for the first time since 2009, nearly half, 46 percent, of voters believe Pennsylvania is headed in the right direction, which benefits Gov. Tom Wolf, who is up for re-election this year, said the poll’s chief methodologist, Berwood Yost.

“People feel better about the direction of the state and the governor gets credit for it,” Yost said.

Wolf’s job approval rating is up from 38 percent in the September 2017 poll. Forty-three percent of voters believe he is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as governor. Wolf holds sizable leads over the three Republicans vying for their party’s nomination in the May primary.

President Donald Trump’s approval rating has held steady among Pennsylvania voters since the September poll with 30 percent of voters believing he has done an “excellent” or “good” job.

The approval rating for U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, also facing re-election this year, remains unchanged from the September poll at 37 percent.

Madonna said state politicians in general have not been earning high marks from voters and largely because of the years of arrests and trials for scandals in the statehouse.

“I think there’s this hangover in the state that voters are just unhappy with politicians,” he said.

Conducted by the Center for Opinion Research at F&M, the poll reflects interviews with 423 Pennsylvania registered voters, including 201 Democrats, 163 Republicans and 58 independents. The sample error is plus or minus 6.8 percentage points. 

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