Six days before the Nov. 3 general election, Democrat Joe Biden leads Republican President Donald Trump by 6 percentage points in Pennsylvania, according to the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll released Oct. 29.
Of the registered voters the poll surveyed Oct. 19-25, 50 percent support Biden for president while 44 percent support a second term for Trump. Berwood Yost, the poll’s chief methodologist and co-director, said the ball is in the incumbent’s court.
“President Trump has got to do two things in this state: He’s got to again roll up a real turnout advantage in parts of the state that supported him last time, and he needs to win those parts of the state convincingly, as he did last time,” Yost said.
About two in five voters, 42 percent, believe Trump is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as president, which is consistent in recent polls. His approval rating for managing the coronavirus outbreak is 33 percent.
At 27 percent, voters list COVID-19 as the most important problem facing the state. The economy, consistently Trump’s strong suit, comes in second at 21 percent.
Biden’s 6-point lead against Trump among Pennsylvania voters is consistent with the last poll, 48 percent to 42 percent, which was released Sept. 24.
Nonetheless, F&M Poll Director Terry Madonna said, “Biden is the favorite, but you can’t rule out that Trump won’t have an upset.”
Nearly three quarters, 77 percent, of voters are “very interested” in the election which is similar to voter response in 2016, according to the poll. More self-described liberals, 88 percent, than conservatives, 78 percent, and moderates, 69 percent, are “very interested.”
More state voters expect to cast their ballots in person, 53 percent, than by mail, 44 percent.
Fifty-seven percent of state voters have an unfavorable view of Trump compared to 42 percent favorable while 52 percent have a favorable view of Biden with his unfavorable at 47 percent.
While 78 percent of voters who plan to cast a ballot for Trump say they are voting for him, not against Biden, 54 percent of Biden’s supporters say they are voting against Trump, not for Biden.
For the poll question, “What would a Donald Trump victory mean to you, personally,” 36 percent of Biden supporters said “division of country,” and 23 percent said they would be “devastated.”
For that same question about Biden, 5 percent of Trump supporters said “division of country” and 4 percent said they would be “devastated.”
The F&M Poll, 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 558 Pennsylvania likely voters, including 268 Democrats, 229 Republicans and 61 independents. The sample error is plus or minus 5.0 percentage points.