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Mercyhurst: Trump Trails in Erie County

In 2016, President Donald Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to win Erie County since Ronald Reagan in 1984. But a new Mercyhurst poll found him trailing the Democratic presidential frontrunners in the county. His job approval is under water. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders all lead Trump in a hypothetical head to head matchup for the presidency in the county beyond the margin of error. Biden holds the largest lead over Trump with 52% to the president’s 38%. Warren leads Trump 47-40 in the county, while Sanders bests Trump 46-41 in a hypothetical head to head matchup. 

The poll surveying 407 registered voters in Erie County, collected data September 16-25, 2019, has a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points. 

Trump was neck and neck with the following 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls: Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro. 

Erie County was one of the three counties that Trump won in 2016 that previously voted for President Barack Obama twice. Trump won Erie County by just over 1.5 points in the 2016 election over Sec. Hillary Clinton. Trump’s total in the county was nearly a 20 point swing after President Barack Obama carried the county in 2012 by 17 points over former Gov. Mitt Romney.

Despite huge gains for Trump and GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in 2016 in Erie County, who had larger margins of victory in the county in comparison to their state total victories, the county swung back the Democrats way in 2018 voting for Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey by double digits over their Republican challengers. 

The Hill recently listed Erie County as one of the ten counties in the nation that will decide the 2020 election. 

Trump’s Job Performance Rating 

38% polled approve of Trump’s job performance, while 53% say they disapprove. This is a minor improvement for Trump in the county in comparison with the most recent Mercyhurst poll in March that that had just 35% approving of his job performance, while 55% said they disapproved. Trump’s highest approval rating in the county was in February 2017 with 41% supporting his job performance and 49% disapproving. 

The Economy 

58% polled said the state of the nation’s economy is “excellent” or “good”, while only 39% said the economy is “not so good” or “poor.” These latest numbers are the highest net approval rating on the state of the economy since Trump was elected to office. In Feb. 2017, 42% described the state of the nation’s economy as “excellent” or “good” while 58% said the economy was “not so good” or “poor.” 

A majority of voters polled don’t view the state of Erie County’s economy as “excellent” or “good,” but the most recent polling is the strongest numbers to date since Trump was elected. 61% polled described Erie County’s economy as “not so good” or “poor” while 36% said it is “excellent” or “good.” A poll from February 2017 showed just 11% thought the state of the Erie County economy was “excellent” or “good” and 86% saying that the local economy was “not so good” or “poor.” 

When voters were asked for Trump’s performance on 14 specific topics, his strongest numbers came from his handling of the economy with 52% approving of his job in that field, while 41% disapproved. Trump’s weakest numbers was on gun violence with 63% disapproving of his handling of the issue, with 24% approving. Another downward significant shift for Trump since being elected is the way he’s handled America’s infrastructure, according to the latest polling. In Feb. 2017, 45% approved of Trump’s handling of infrastructure, while 35% disapproved. The latest poll shows just 29% approve of Trump’s handling of infrastructure and 52% disapprove. 

See the full data here.

4 Responses

  1. We went through this same song and dance in 2016 as Republican partisans expressed zeal and devotion to Scott Wagner even though he was floundering politically. The same here with Trump in 2020. The reality outside the zealous Republican political circles is that Trump is floundering in key political states like PA. Anything can happen and Trump can rebound but there seems to be an undercurrent of support for a return to normalcy and Biden seems to be that person. Folks are getting tired of Trump’s endless political dramas and want to have things back to what they had been before Trump so voters are seriously considering Biden. The only problem is for Republicans in the suburbs like Bucks County’s Fitzpatrick–voters will be highly likely to want Republicans out of office and vote for Dems.

  2. The buried story though: “Trump was neck and neck with the following 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls: Sens. Cory Booker…Amy Klobuchar…Castro. ”

    If the incumbent can’t even beat folks who aren’t even pulling 5% in their party primaries, he is done.

  3. Maybe people are starting to see that Trump is all crazy talk and no action. GOP couldn’t get anything done when they had the congress.

  • 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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