Biden's lead over Trump in Pennsylvania hasn't budged, poll says

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PHILADELPHIA — Former Vice President Joe Biden is holding a steady lead with likely voters in Pennsylvania, with a new Franklin & Marshall College poll showing him up 6 percentage points over President Donald Trump.

That edge in the survey released Thursday is unchanged from an F&M poll conducted in September, and in line with other surveys showing Biden leading in the state by mid- to high-single digits.

Less than a week before Election Day, Biden is out-performing Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania counties she won in 2016 while Trump is lagging in counties he carried. Trump’s victory in Pennsylvania was driven in part by white, working-class voters in southwestern counties like Beaver, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland.

“He’s not doing as well out there as he did four years ago,” said Franklin & Marshall pollster G. Terry Madonna, attributing Trump’s troubles to his handling of the coronavirus and unemployment caused by the pandemic. “That makes a pretty big difference.”

In Southeastern Pennsylvania, where Democrats scored big pickups in federal and local elections in 2018 and 2019, “Biden is doing better than Clinton did four years ago, urged on by college-educated women and millennials,” Madonna said.

While the coronavirus and the economy are factors in that part of the state, voters are broadly rejecting Trump, his policies, and his behavior, Madonna said.

The survey of 558 likely voters, conducted from Oct. 19 to Oct. 26, has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points — meaning Biden’s advantage could be far smaller.

The election is a referendum on Trump’s time in office, with 54% of Biden’s supporters saying they are voting against Trump, while 78% of the president’s supporters say their vote is about him.

Trump continues to be unpopular in Pennsylvania, with 57% holding an unfavorable view, while 52% hold a favorable view of Biden. That stands in contrast to the 2016 election, when a majority of voters held an unfavorable view of both Trump and Clinton at this point in that race.

Trump, who has had favorable ratings in the low 40’s since July, has never been above 50% on that measure in F&M polling, going back to February 2016.

Voters in the poll continue to see Trump as better prepared to handle the economy, 48% to 45%. But Biden tops Trump on all other issues, such as keeping communities safe, managing the military, dealing with the pandemic, and race relations in the country.

A majority of voters, 53%, said they plan to vote in person on Nov. 3, while 46% said they are voting by mail. This is the first year any Pennsylvania voter can cast a mail ballot, and 59% of voters approve of the method, according to the poll.

But the use of and confidence in mail ballots broke along party lines, as Trump continues falsely attack mail ballots as being vulnerable to widespread fraud.

“How many different ways has Trump said, fraud, fraud, fraud, fraud?” he said. “He’s made a big deal of that.”

More than 3 million mail ballots have been requested for the general election, with 63% going to Democrats and 25% going to Republicans. That matches what the poll found for mail ballot use.

A majority, 62%, believe the vote tally will be accurate. But just 26% of Republicans approve of mail ballots just 31% are confident the vote count will be accurate.

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