F&M Poll: Trump’s Pennsylvania Numbers Show Polarized Public
Trump won Pennsylvania 48.58% to 47.85% a little over three months ago.
Trump’s 32% job approval (13% excellent plus 19% good) is in the same neighborhood as Senator Bob Casey’s (37%) and Wolf (38%). However, high negatives create a possible ceiling for Trump that Casey and Wolf do not face.
Those who disapprove of Trump’s job performance do so emphatically. 54% of voters said the President is doing a poor job, while 13% responded that he was doing a fair job.
51% of respondents said they view Trump strongly unfavorably. Just 13% and 14% of respondents have strongly unfavorable views of Wolf and Casey, respectively. An additional 6% view him somewhat unfavorably. Trump totals 37% of voters with favorable views between the 23% with strongly favorable and 14% with somewhat favorable views.
Trump’s numbers are much more polarized than President Obama’s first F&M poll in February 2009. At that time Obama’s numbers were 38% strongly favorable, 18% somewhat favorable, 8% somewhat unfavorable, and 15% strongly unfavorable. Obama’s job approval ratings showed more positives than Trumps. 25% said he was doing an excellent job, 30% said good, 23% said fair, and 13% said poor.
An important caveat between the current poll and the Obama poll prevents an apples-to-apples comparison: the 2009 poll represented all Pennsylvania adults, not just registered voters, as today’s poll does. 14% of respondents in the 2009 poll were not registered to vote.
Trump faces his strongest challenge in Philadelphia, where only 10% view his job performance as either excellent or good. Trump is facing similar ratings among nonwhite voters, 92% score his performance as fair or poor.
He scores 40% excellent/good on job performance in southwest Pa., where he won found widespread support among coal and natural gas workers. Other strong demographics include self-described conservatives, with 70% responding with excellent/good on his job performance.
Trump also scores well across the state on his ability to handle the economy. 51% of voters view him as being able to handle the economy. But he is facing off with 66% of voters who think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
A plurality of voters, 41%, said that the most important problem facing the country was the government and politicians. A distant second with only 10% was immigration. Foreign policy, terrorism & war with 7%, unemployment and personal finances with 6%, and the economy and finances with 5% rounded out the top five responses.
The media got an even split between those who say Trump is treated very fairly and very unfairly with 32% giving each response. 21% said Trump was treated somewhat fairly, and 13% said he was treated somewhat unfairly.
Asked their primary source of news, 31% said cable television, 28% said the internet (distinct from the 3% who said social media), 18% said network TV and 8% each said local newspapers and radio. Among cable news viewers, 44% named Fox News as their channel of choice, 29% said CNN and 15% said MSNBC.
Franklin & Marshall surveyed 816 registered voters from February 15-19. Respondents were contacted by letter and given the choice between phone interview or online interview. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percent.
F&M calculates job approval differently than most pollsters that tends to result in lower ratings – regardless of party. Respondents choose between a rating of excellent, good, fair, and poor. The approval numbers are pulled from the excellent and good categories.