1/30/2020 Peter Durantine

F&M Poll: Moderates and Undecideds Could Decide This Year’s Election

Half of Pennsylvania voters surveyed in the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll want a change in the White House, a third of voters do not, and the remaining voters are undecided, auguring the possibility of a close presidential election in November.  

More than two in five, or 41 percent, of registered voters believe President Donald Trump deserves re-election and most of these respondents, 83 percent, say they will vote for him no matter who runs against him. Nearly three in five voters, 57 percent, want a change in leadership and 87 percent of those voters say they will vote against the incumbent no matter who runs against him.

Taken together, according to the poll, 50 percent of voters “firmly support a change” and 35 percent are firmly supporting no change, leaving undecided voters in the balance.

“The undecideds and moderates are going to make the difference in the election,” said Berwood Yost, the poll’s co-director and chief methodologist. 

While 38 percent of voters polled believe the country is “headed in the right direction,” 51 percent believe the state of Pennsylvania is, with 33 percent of voters saying they are “better off” and 54 percent saying they are the “same” financially compared to last year. Moderate voters typically respond favorably to incumbents when the economy is good, Yost said. 

For registered Democratic voters, 42 percent said honesty is the quality they most want in a candidate as they prepare for Pennsylvania’s April 28 primary, and 20 percent continue to say that health care is the priority issue for them.

Among Democrats, former Vice President Joe Biden remains the top choice for president at 22 percent, with U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren at 15 percent and 14 percent, respectively. At 7 percent, Michael Bloomberg joined other candidates running in the single digits: Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang.

“Pennsylvania is mirroring national polls,” F&M Poll Director Terry Madonna said. “Biden continues to lead, though his lead is smaller now. If the Democratic nomination race is still competitive by the time it gets to Pennsylvania, he could be tough to beat.”

The F&M Poll was conducted Jan. 20-26. It, like all surveys, is a snapshot of a specific point in time, not a forecast. All polls have variability; voters change their minds; and events after a survey can sometimes influence voters’ decisions, including whether to vote at all.

Conducted by the Center for Opinion Research at F&M, the poll reflects interviews with 628 Pennsylvania registered voters, including 292 Democrats, 251 Republicans and 85 independents. The sample error is plus or minus 6.2 percentage points

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