8/07/2020 Peter Durantine

F&M Poll: Strong Voting Interest Suggests Strong November Turnout

In this tumultuous political year, nearly three-quarters, or 74 percent, of Pennsylvania’s registered voters say they are “very interested” in the 2020 election, a 7-point increase from January, and Democrat Joe Biden leads Republican President Donald Trump by 9 percent among those voters.

The latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll has Biden ahead, 50 percent to 41 percent, while the number of voters who express support for a third-party candidate or who are undecided are far fewer this year than they were in the 2016 election, when Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania.

“This is going to be a lot like the 2018 midterm election,” said Berwood Yost, the poll’s chief methodologist and co-director. “We will probably see the highest turnout we’ve seen in decades.”

Thirty-eight percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania, about two in five, believe Trump is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as president, according to the Poll. While the president performs better on the economy with 45 percent rating him positively for creating jobs, only 29 percent rate him positively for handling the pandemic and 26 rate him  positive for addressing health care. 

At 32 percent, COVID-19 was listed as the most important problem facing the state among registered voters while about half, 48 percent, say the state is headed in the right direction. Fewer voters, 20 percent, say they are financially “better off” today, and even fewer, 17 percent, expect to be better off next year.  

More than half the state’s registered voters, 52 percent, believe Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is doing an “excellent” or “good” job in office. And 64 percent believe it is “extremely important” to wear a mask when leaving home, a mandate the Wolf administration ordered in July.

F&M Poll Director Terry Madonna attributes much of Wolf’s favorability to an even temperament he displays in public. More than half, 55 percent, have a favorable opinion of the governor. 

“His style is very different than most politicians,” Madonna said.  

The F&M Poll was conducted July 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 667 Pennsylvania registered voters, including 324 Democrats, 271 Republicans and 72 independents. The sample error is plus or minus 6.1 percentage points.

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