The presidential race is tightening in Pennsylvania, according to new GOP friendly pollsters.
Firehouse Strategies, a public affairs firm founded by 3 senior aides on Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, conducted their fifth poll of battleground states this cycle with their March polling showing President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe and Sen. Bernie Sanders in a close race in the keystone state.
Trump holds a 1 point lead over Biden, 45-44, while the president bests Sanders in a hypothetical head to head matchup in the state by 4 points, 46-42.
Both results fall within the margin of error.
The most recent polling is troubling for Trump in comparison to the previous poll from Firehouse Strategies in December. In that poll, Trump held a 5 point lead over Biden, 46-41, and a 10 point advantage over Sanders, 48-38. The closest Democratic presidential hopeful to Trump in the December poll was former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who only trailed the president by 4 points.
While the gap has closed between Trump and the Democratic presidential frontrunners, his job performance rating virtually remained unchanged from December polling. In the latest poll, 45.51% either strongly or somewhat approve of Trump’s job performance as president, while 49.99% either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapprove of the president’s job performance. In December, 46.79% either strongly or somewhat approved of Trump’s job performance, while 47.56% either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapproved of his job performance.
Arguably the most notable difference in comparing March’s polling to December’s, outside of Trump’s lead shrinking, is the issue most important to voters in the upcoming election. Healthcare was voted as the “most important political issue facing the United States today” with 28.71% selecting that as their top choice. The second most important political issue was the economy with 19.95% selecting that as the top issue, while immigration was third with 15.36% selecting that topic. No other specific issue cracked double digits although “jobs and unemployment” which can be viewed similar to the economy, registered as the most important political issue to 5.72% polled in March. Even if one combines those who selected the economy and jobs and unemployment, it still trails the number of people who believe that healthcare is the most important issue right now.
In December, immigration was the most important issue facing the United States at the moment with 20.61% selecting that topic. The economy slightly edged out healthcare as the second most important issue with 17.76% choosing the former and 17.48% choosing the latter as the most important issue. If one combined the results of the economy, 17.76%, and jobs and unemployment, 6.68%, then that category would be the top issue for voters as of December.
The March polling also introduced a new question for voters about how concerned they are about the coronavirus and how they view Trump’s handling of the issue.
62.48% polled said that they are either very concerned or somewhat concerned about a “large coronavirus outbreak within the United States,” while 37.13% said that they were either a little concerned or not concerned about it.
Over half of those polled approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic. 52.35% either strongly or somewhat approve of the president’s handling of the matter, while 40.60% either strongly or somewhat approve of his handling of the coronavirus.
This polling from Firehouse Strategies and 0ptimus surveying 533 likely 2020 general election voters, collected data from March 5 through March 7, has a margin of error of +/-5.3% percent.
This polling of hypothetical head to head matchups between Trump and the two Democratic presidential candidates is somewhat comparable to a recent Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll released within the last two weeks. The poll showed Sanders with the best odds as the only Democrat defeating Trump head to head in the state by 3 points, while Biden was tied with Trump, although both results were within the margin of error. However, a Quinnipiac University poll released 19 days ago showed all of the Democratic presidential frontrunners leading Trump in the state with Biden holding the largest lead of 8 points and Sanders leading Trump by 4 points.
The full data from Firehouse Strategies and 0ptimus can be found here.