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F&M Poll: Biden With Slight Lead Over Warren in PA Dem Primary

After 2 rounds of debates and months of candidates beginning to make their pitch to primary voters, Pennsylvania Democrats favor former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) according to a new Franklin & Marshall College poll

Biden leads the pack with 28% of support in the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary, while Warren garners 21% of the vote. The only other candidate registering double digits in this poll is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 12%, while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) receives 8% in the poll and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounds out the top five with 6%. Four other candidates registered at least 1% of the vote, while 19% remain undecided. 

The poll, surveying 295 registered Democrats, collected data from between July 29 and Aug. 4, 2019. The margin of error for surveys on Democratic registered voters is +/- 8.7 percentage points. 

The most recent Democratic debate hosted by CNN displayed a divide between the progressive wing and moderate wing of the party and the results among self identified liberals and moderates in Pennsylvania shows differences in their preferred candidate. Biden holds a commanding lead with moderate Democrats with 47% pledging their support to his campaign, while Warren holds the advantage with liberal Democrats with 31% choosing her. Sanders comes in 2nd among liberal Democrats with 16%, followed by Biden with 13%, and Harris with 11%. 

Another “pretty clear divide” according to the August F&M polling was with gender. Sanders leads the way with male support by receiving 27% in the poll, while Biden comes in second with 20% and Warren finishes third with 18%. Women voters, who were the driving force behind overwhelming victories for Sen. Bob Casey and Gov. Tom Wolf in 2018, prefer Biden with 34% supporting him, while Warren is in second with 23% of the female vote, and Harris rounds out the top 3 with 13%. 

Despite these divides, Democrats at-large remain united behind what the most important issue is in the upcoming election and their goal for 2020, regardless of who they nominate. 

21% of registered Democrats polled said that “healthcare, insurance” was the most important issue while considering which Democratic candidate they support for President. This was the only selection that surpassed the double digit threshold, while “best option/dislike other candidates more” and “government/politicians” garnered 8% and “Donald Trump” as the reason for considering a Democratic candidate received 7%. 

50% of Democrats polled said selecting a candidate that can beat Donald Trump in the most important quality they want in a candidate. 23% said the most important quality was choosing a candidate that has the right experience, while 16% said they want a true progressive. 

All three Pennsylvania polls of the Democratic primary show Biden in first place, although this is the first of the three including Warren right behind him. An Emerson College poll conducted in late March had Biden receiving 39%, while a Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll in April had Biden in the lead with 28% of the vote. Both previous polls had Sanders in second place and Warren finishing in third place in the Emerson poll, while tied for third with Harris in the Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll. 

Although Biden holds a lead in this most recent poll, Warren is the leading “second choice” for the Democratic candidates. Out of 236 registered Democrats polled, 25% selected Warren as the top “second choice” for the nomination, while Harris was in second place with 16%, Biden and Sanders deadlocked at 15% each, and Buttigieg rounding out the top 5 with 12%. 

Biden holds the advantage over the rest of the Democratic field in favorability ratings, although Warren boasts the highest “strongly favorable” numbers. 46% polled had either a strongly favorable view and somewhat favorable view of Biden, while 41% have either a strongly favorable view and somewhat favorable view of Warren. 21% polled view the Massachusetts Senator “strongly favorable,” while Biden registers 16% in this category. Sanders finishes third in both overall favorability rating and the “strongly favorable” category. Buttigieg is the candidate with the lowest approval rating, but with the most room to grow. 29% have an overall favorable view of of the South Bend Mayor, while 39% don’t know, which is by far the largest of any of the top 5 Democrats. 

Separate F&M polling that included 627 registered Pennsylvania voters, including Democrats, Independents, and Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 6 percent, rated the job performance of Trump. 

Trump’s ratings received a couple point bump from March’s polling, with 37% of registered voters saying that he is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as president. 52% polled believe Trump is doing a “poor job” as president. 

Although Trump doesn’t carry a high approval rating in the state, his numbers are similar to President Barack Obama’s rating in the state at the same point in his presidency. 

About one in three (37%) registered voters in Pennsylvania believes President Trump is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as president, which is consistent with recent Franklin & Marshall College Polls. President Trump’s current rating is similar to President Obama’s rating in Pennsylvania at the same point in his Presidency. Two in five (38%) registered voters believes President Trump has done a good enough job to deserve reelection, while three in five (61%) voters say it is time for a change.

See the full data here.

12 Responses

  1. Any Democratic candidate running for the Presidential Nomination would be better than Trump. Who is the best person who can beat Trump and what will the Democratic Party Platform be? Having a “middle ground on climate change,” will not cut it with the Progressive base for sure. Just supporting and improving the Affordable Care Act is not enough. Maybe all you can get is the Public Option. But being opposed to Medicare for all and single payer healthcare is not going to work. You don’t get to the middle by starting in the middle. What are the principles the Democratic Party stands for? “Incremental change” is not a viable option or a winning message.

  2. #FeelTheBern2020. Or four more of TheRump. Excite our left base or lose. Again. Deja vu all over again. We excel at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    1. “Poor kids are just as bright, just as talented, as white kids. Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids, no I really mean it, but think how we think about it.”

      ~ Uncle Joe, last night.

      What in the heck does this even mean? No, any blue will NOT do.

  3. If Biden was smart, he’d thrown his support to Sen. Warren in return for VP slot on ticket. Then he could sit back and pick up a paycheck for 4-8 more years with a prestigious title and no worries at his advanced age. Biden does have experience at that.

      1. Still not “slight.” I would also say a poll with a +/- of 8.7% isn’t really that useful.

      2. Come on David. You can do the math. Geez..Biden has a commanding lead since entering the race in April and since the start of the new year. His well thought out a strategy of making it a Biden vs Trump race and minimizing arguing with other Dems is working big time!

        1. Abe-
          I wasn’t slighting Biden’s lead. He’s currently the most likely nominee. While I do happen to prefer Warren, I was just busting on Rick Santorum Jr. Jr. .

  • Reader Poll: Should President Joe Biden Step Aside?

    • Yes. He should step aside because of his age, declining ability to do the job. (45%)
    • No. He should not step aside. (39%)
    • Yes. He should step aside because he can't beat Donald Trump. (15%)

    Total Voters: 231

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