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Mixed Signals For Commonwealth In F&M Poll

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

The latest poll from the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College indicates optimism for the new administration of Gov. Josh Shapiro, positive signs for the reelection campaign of Sen. Bob Casey Jr., and support for reproductive rights, but headwinds when discussing election integrity and the rise of crime, drugs, violence and guns in the Commonwealth.

The Shapiro Effect

Forty-three percent of those surveyed say Shapiro is doing an excellent or good job, while a quarter say he is only doing a fair job. Thirteen percent are not pleased with his performance, saying it has been poor, while an additional 21 percent had no opinion or did not know.

Pennsylvanians are feeling better about the direction the state is taking, as nearly one in three respondents said the Commonwealth is headed in right direction – a 5% improvement since October and the 32% number equals the highest in the poll since last March.

More Performance Ratings

Just 27 percent say President Joe Biden is handling his job in a good or excellent manner. It is the lowest total since F&M began compiling in March 2021. Half of the respondents say Biden is doing a poor job, while 22% say it is a fair performance to date. Sixty-three percent give the 46th president an A, B or C when it comes to helping create new jobs, while just 39 percent give the same grade for dealing with inflation.

Casey, who just announced his reelection bid earlier in the week, has seen his grade at handling his job in the chamber slip from 38% in May 2017 to just 29% in April 2023. The number has fallen even farther from a 43 percent grade in October 2018.

Even with those numbers, Casey is the choice among those surveyed in the 2024 U.S. Senate race. When paired against Republican Dave McCormick, the Scranton native has a 42-35% advantage. That lead is extended to 47-31% when paired against state Sen. Doug Mastriano.

Direction of Commonwealth

While those surveyed feel better about the direction of the economy, their fears on the rise of crime, drugs, violence and guns has risen to the top of the important problems in the state. Nineteen percent indicated that it was the most important problem, while 17 percent pointed their finger at politicians and the government. The economy fell from a high of 28 percent in October to third at 15%.

When it comes to their position on public safety and policing, nearly half of the respondents say the Republican Party is closest to the views of most Americans. The GOP also won out on immigration (51%), gun control (43%) and government spending (39%), while Democrats were perceived to be more aligned on issues of abortion (53%), social security and medicare (50%), and elections (38%).

Mail-In Ballots

Election deniers’ misinformation about mail-in ballots has seeped into the public mindset even more as 50 percent of respondents favor their use, while 47 percent oppose. Back in October, the split was 59 to 38 in favor. And only 53% are confident that the vote count will be accurate if mail-in voting is widely used in 2024.


Using the time-worn phrase, “C’s get degrees,” just shy of two in three respondents would give their local public school a diploma-granting grade. Nine percent awarded their district an “A,” while 27 percent went a notch lower with a “B.” Twenty-nine percent gave a passing “C” grade, while 1 in 4 handed out a D (15%) or F (10%).

Three in 10 surveyed think a book or novel could be banned from public school classrooms or school libraries. Sexually explicit/pornographic books or topics heads the list at 60 percent of the 197 who said yes, while LGBTQ+ content was second at 18 percent.

Finally, respondents are split right down the middle when it comes to favoring the concept of giving state tax dollars to parents so they can send their children to a private or religious school of their own choosing instead of their local public school.

Reproductive Rights

Nine in 10 surveyed think that abortion should be legal with 33% saying in all circumstances and 57% opting for certain circumstances. Only eight percent said that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

Next Up

Forty percent of the respondents indicated they would vote for former president Donald Trump if the GOP primary were held today, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came in second at 34%. No other candidate received more than six percent.

When posed with a choice of Biden versus Trump in a rematch in 2024, the current president edged the former, 36-35%, with 23% opting for someone else.


The survey interviews were conducted March 27 – April 7, 2023, by interviewers at the Center for Opinion Research. The data represent the responses of 643 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 287 Democrats, 266 Republicans, and 90 independents. The sample error for this survey is +/- 4.9 percentage points when the design effects from weighting are considered.


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    Total Voters: 30

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