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F&M Poll: Casey Expands Lead Over McCormick; Biden-Trump A Toss-Up

Polling

A day before Punxsutawney Phil peers out of his hole on Gobblers’ Knob, the latest survey of over 1,000 registered voters in the Keystone State shows a clear preference at the moment for Sen. Bob Casey Jr. in his quest for another six-year term in Washington.

The Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College unveiled its winter 2024 poll today and Casey holds a 47-35 lead over presumptive Republican challenger Dave McCormick.

The 12-point margin is five points greater than the seven-point edge that Casey held over the former Bridgewater Associates CEO in F&M’s last survey in October. It is also the largest lead that polls have shown for Pennsylvania’s senior senator. The previous high-water mark was 10 points in a survey conducted by Quinnipiac University in early January.

 

pollster ratings between 0.5 and 3.0. Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight

 

President

Respondents could not separate the top two candidates for president in two questions. In a two-man contest between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, those surveyed pronounced a statistical tie with Biden’s 43-42 “advantage” falling within the margin of error at 5.1 percent.

Translated, Biden could have anywhere between 37.9 and 48.1 percent, while Trump’s numbers could range between 36.9 and 47.1%.

When queried about a possible four-person race including Robert Kennedy Jr. and Jill Stein, the difference between Biden and Trump grew to five points at 42-37, but still within the 5.6% margin of error. Kennedy drew eight percent support from the respondents, Stein 2% and 5% did not know.

The wear and tear of Trump’s legal woes seem to be having a little impact on the question of which candidate is better on various issues. The 45th president held an eight-point advantage (47-39) on the question of handling the job as commander-in-chief in October but that edge shrunk to three points (43-40) in this poll. Biden’s 11-point lead (41-30) on the question of honesty and trustworthiness four months ago grew to 17 points (44-27) today.

The question of age continues to raise red flags for Biden, as nearly 2 in 5 respondents (41%) felt that he is too old to serve another term. Just five percent said that Trump, who is four years younger than Biden, was too old to serve, while 43% indicated that both had aged out of that ability.

Right or Wrong Track?

The respondents felt better about the direction of the Commonwealth since the October poll, as 37 percent said the state was generally headed in the right direction – up from 35% in October. Forty-eight percent indicated that things were still on the wrong track, but that number fell seven points from the last survey. The 48% also tied for the lowest percentage recorded by F&M going back to October 2020 (45%). The August 2023 poll also had 48% saying the state was headed down the wrong track.

Most Important Problem Facing Pennsylvania

Pennsylvanians seem more content with the direction of the economy and of their politicians since the October survey. While 15% responded by indicating the economy was the top problem and another 11% said government, the numbers were down from 18% apiece in the last poll. An increasing number of Keystone State residents say they are better off (15%), while the 47% indicating they were worse off pointed to inflation (38%) as the main reason.

Unemployment rose to No. 3 on the list at 10 percent, while crime fell from that position to a tie for fourth at 8%.

State Issues

Fifty-six percent of respondents oppose banning skills games in the Commonwealth with 32% favoring their elimination. Fifty-one percent would impose taxes and regulations on the skill games, while 1 in 5 want them to continue unregulated.

A resounding 44 percent of those surveyed said that marijuana should “definitely” be made legal, while another 19% said probably. One in three spoke in opposition to its possible legalization.

Favorability

To the question of of someone being seen favorably or unfavorably among national or statewide candidates, only Casey was above water. The senator was seen favorably by 39% of respondents as opposed to 31% that saw otherwise. McCormick was 23-23, while both presidential candidates were underwater – Biden 41-57 and Trump 39-60.

Job Performance

Gov. Josh Shapiro continues to draw high marks, as nearly half of those surveyed (48%) said that he was doing an excellent or good job, while 3 in 10 say his performance is just fair.

Casey’s numbers are 35% excellent/good and 24% fair. This compares with similar numbers from 2018 (37-32) and 2012 (30-43). One in five (21%) consider his performance to be poor which is up from just above 10% in 2012 and 2018.

Pennsylvania’s junior Sen. John Fetterman gets good marks from 31% of respondents, while 24% consider his performance to be fair.

Biden’s negative numbers continue to be above 50 percent with 51% saying the incumbent is doing a poor job. Thirty-two percent feel much differently, while 16% say it’s a fair job. Those who say Biden is doing an excellent/good job is the highest number since October 2022 (36%).

Miscellaneous

A resounding 9 in 10 indicated that abortion should be legal under circumstances with 2 in 5 saying it should be legal with no strings attached. Just eight percent said it should be illegal in all circumstances.

Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed said that Trump’s actions to remain in power after the 2020 election were serious crimes – up from 56% in October.

Forty-six percent of respondents strongly favor creating more laws that regulate gun ownership, while 15% said they “somewhat favor” such actions. One in four (25%) strongly oppose such measures.

The survey findings presented in this release are based on the results of interviews conducted January 17 – 28, 2024. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. The data included in this release represent the responses of 1,006 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 450 Democrats, 414 Republicans, and 142 Independents.

The sample error for this survey is +/- 3.6 percentage points when the design effects from weighting are considered. The sample error for the two-way presidential horse race question (n=507) is +/- 5.0% and the SE for the multi-candidate presidential horse race question (n=499) +/- 5.1%.

One Response

  1. In better news for McCormick, polling shows he has a healthy lead over Casey in his home state of Connecticut.

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  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?


    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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