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More Voters Trust Biden on Covid

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020

Challenger pulls into double-digit lead over Trump

West Long Branch, NJ – Joe Biden holds a 12-point lead over Donald Trump among all registered voters in Pennsylvania and anywhere from an 8-point to 11-point lead among likely voters, according to the Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. This marks an improvement from Biden’s single-digit lead in a Monmouth poll just over one month ago. More voters trust the challenger than the incumbent on key issues, such as handling the pandemic. The poll does not find much shift in opinion since the president’s own Covid-19 diagnosis. Other findings show a Democratic advantage in a trio of statewide office races and a tight margin in the generic party preference for Congress.

Among all registered voters in Pennsylvania, the race for president stands at 54% for Biden and 42% for Trump. Another 1% support Libertarian Jo Jorgensen and 2% are undecided. Biden maintains a sizable lead when likely voter models are applied. A model based on a somewhat higher level of turnout than 2016 puts the race at 54% for Biden and 43% for Trump, while one reflecting lower turnout has it at 53% for Biden and 45% for Trump.

The results show a wider gap than Monmouth’s poll one month ago, when Biden held a 49% to 45% lead among registered voters. The current race standing is more in line with Monmouth’s July poll, which had it at 53% Biden to 40% Trump. A significantly larger number of voters say Biden (60%) has at least some understanding of their day to day concerns than say the same about Trump (45%).

“If any recent event moved the needle it was more likely last week’s debate than the president’s Covid diagnosis. What seems to be more important than either event, though, is voters’ focus on which candidate they trust more on the issues that keep them up at night,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll found little differentiation in vote preferences before and after the president revealed he has Covid-19. Half of the poll’s interviews were conducted on each side of that breaking news. After adjusting for the sample’s party registration balance in each half, Biden held a 54% to 42% lead among registered voters in interviews conducted Wednesday and Thursday and a similar 55% to 42% lead in the Friday through Sunday period.

PENNSYLVANIA: VOTER MODELS
Presidential vote
choice:
Registered
voters
High likely
turnout
Low likely
turnout
Early October   
Biden54%54%53%
Trump42%43%45%
    
Late August   
Biden49%49%48%
Trump45%46%47%
    
Mid July   
Biden53%52%51%
Trump40%42%44%
 Source:  Monmouth University Poll, Sep. 30-Oct. 4, 2020

There was also very little movement in key issues metrics – including the pandemic. Overall, 52% of Pennsylvania voters trust Biden more to handle the coronavirus pandemic and just 32% give the edge to Trump on this issue. Before the president’s diagnosis was made public, 52% trusted Biden more and 34% trusted Trump. After the news broke, it was 52% for Biden and 29% for Trump.

The results are similar on other key issues, including keeping health care affordable and accessible, where 48% trust the Democrat more (46% before Friday and 50% since Friday) and 34% trust the Republican more (34% both before and since). Biden has a small advantage on handling law and order. Just over 4 in 10 trust Biden on this issue (45% overall, with 43% before and 46% since Friday) and a slightly smaller number trust Trump (41% overall, with 40% before and 42% since Friday).

Biden lags Trump on being trusted more to create jobs and strengthen the economy by 39% to 44%. The Democrat’s trust number on the economy went from 37% before Friday to 41% since Friday, while Trump’s number stayed stable (45% before and 44% since). All of the pre- and post-Covid news shifts shown here are well within the survey margin of error for each half of the sample.

“We’ve grown accustomed to big news not having any effect on the needle. This is not good news for Trump, who really needs to see that needle move. If anything, the president’s health crisis may be reminding voters about their own vulnerability,” said Murray.

When asked about how much each of these four issues worry them personally, the top concerns for voters are the possible breakdown of law and order (58% worry a lot) and the coronavirus pandemic (54%). These are followed by knowing they will have access to medical care if they need it (46%) and knowing they will have a stable income next year (44%).

“Trump may be strongest on jobs and the economy but that seems to be an issue that is farther down the list of things that keep Pennsylvanians up at night. On the other hand, an issue he has successfully elevated in the debate – law and order – may actually be helping his opponent more,” said Murray.

Demographically, Biden has made gains across the board. Of particular note, he now leads Trump by 54% to 45% among middle-aged voters (50 to 64 years old). This is a group that Trump led by 54% to 45% in Monmouth’s August Pennsylvania poll and has generally led in most states throughout the campaign. Biden maintains leads he has held with younger voters (54% to 40% among those aged 18 to 49) and senior voters (55% to 42% among those aged 65 or older).

Biden has pulled even with Trump among white voters (49% to 48%). The Democrat has also expanded his lead among voters of color (83% to 16%), mainly by moving many of them from being “undecided” over the past month. Strengthening his position among this group also translates into a stronger showing for the Democrat in the four counties Hillary Clinton won decisively in 2016.*  Biden now leads in this blue core by 77% to 20% compared with 65% to 30% one month ago.

Biden has retaken the edge in ten counties where the vote margins were closest in the 2016 presidential election. In these swing counties*, which are concentrated in a swath that runs from the Philadelphia suburbs into the northeast region of the commonwealth, the race stands at 53% for Biden and 42% for Trump. Voters in these counties were divided at 46% for Trump and 44% for Biden in Monmouth’s August poll. Trump has a 22-point lead (59% to 37%) in the counties he won handily four years ago. This is consistent with his standing in these counties a month ago, but off the 34-point margin he had in 2016.

“There appears to be a bump in urban and suburban enthusiasm for Biden. This could just be a natural drift as we get closer to Election Day, but it could also be prodded along by a backlash against divisive messaging around law and order,” said Murray.

Just under half (48%) of registered voters in the commonwealth say they are certain to vote for Biden – up from 43% in late August – while just over half (51%) are not at all likely to vote for Trump – up from 47%. Biden currently has a 50% favorable to 44% unfavorable rating from Pennsylvania voters, while Trump earns a 40% favorable and 52% unfavorable one. Opinion of Biden has ticked up since late August (48% favorable and 46% unfavorable) while opinion of Trump has turned slightly more negative since then (44% favorable and 51% unfavorable).

– Other contests –

The race for president may have shifted in the past month, but the Monmouth University Poll finds greater stability in other Pennsylvania contests. In the generic ballot test for the U.S. House of Representatives election, 49% of registered voters statewide currently support the Democratic candidate in their district and 45% back the Republican. This result is basically unchanged from 48% to 45% in late August and 49% to 45% in July. Applying likely voter models to the current poll, high turnout puts the statewide House vote choice at 49% Democrat and 45% Republican while low turnout has it at 49% Democrat and 46% Republican.

Democrats have made some gains in key statewide office races on the ballot this year. In the race for Attorney General, incumbent Josh Shapiro leads Heather Heidelbaugh by 15 points among all registered voters (53% to 38%), compared with a 10-point lead one month ago (51% to 41%). In the State Treasurer contest, incumbent Joe Torsella leads Stacy Garrity by 6 points among all registered voters (47% to 41%), similar to his prior 5-point lead (45% to 40%). The open seat contest for Auditor General has Democrat Nina Ahmad ahead of Republican Timothy DeFoor by 6 points (46% to 40%), compared with the prior poll’s 2-point lead for Ahmad (43% to 41%). It is important to note that only Shapiro’s lead is outside the poll’s margin of sampling error.

PENNSYLVANIA: VOTER MODELS
State office:Registered
voters
High likely
turnout
Low likely
turnout
Attorney General   
Shapiro (D-i)53%54%53%
Heidelbaugh (R)38%39%40%
    
Treasurer   
Torsella (D-i)47%47%47%
Garrity (R)41%42%43%
    
Auditor General   
Ahmad (D)46%46%45%
DeFoor (R)40%42%44%
 Source:  Monmouth University Poll, Sep. 30-Oct. 4, 2020

Optimism about this year’s presidential election outcome has declined, especially among Trump’s partisans, although they remain slightly more confident than other voters. Currently, 53% of voters say they are optimistic about the presidential election, down from 63% in prior Pennsylvania polls. The biggest drop has come from Republican voters who say they are very optimistic (from 51% a month ago to 25% now). There have been smaller drops in this sentiment among Democrats (from 26% to 18%) and independents (from 22% to 12%) over the same time period.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 30 to October 4, 2020 with 500 Pennsylvania registered voters. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

* 2016 presidential margin by county groupings:

Swing (26% of vote) – counties where the winning margin for either candidate was less than 10 points, with a cumulative vote of 48.6% Clinton and 47.4% Trump (Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Dauphin, Erie, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton).

Clinton (34% of vote) – Clinton won these counties by more than 10 points, with a cumulative vote of 66.3% to 30.7% (Allegheny, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia).

Trump (40% of vote) – Trump won these counties by more than 10 points, with a cumulative vote of 64.8% to 31.4% (remaining 53 counties).

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Note: Voters who report already casting their ballots were asked, “In the election for X, did you vote for…” for Q1 and 4-7.]

1.If the election for President was today, would you vote for … Donald Trump the Republican, Joe Biden the Democrat, or Jo Jorgensen the Libertarian? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Donald Trump or Joe Biden?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS (with leaners)Oct.
2020
Aug.
2020
July
2020*
Donald Trump42%45%40%
Joe Biden54%49%53%
Jo Jorgensen1%2%n/a
(VOL) Other candidate<1%<1%3%
(VOL) No one<1%1%<1%
(VOL) Undecided2%4%4%
(n)(500)(400)(401)

* July 2020 question specified “another candidate.”

[1A.  If Trump/Biden voter, ASK: Are you certain about your vote choice, or might you change your mind before election day?]

[QUESTIONS 2 & 3 WERE ROTATED]

2.What is the likelihood that you might vote for Donald Trump in November – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Aug.
2020
July
2020
Certain for Trump (from Q1/A)37%40%36%
Very likely 2%2%2%
Somewhat likely 5%4%5%
Not too likely4%4%5%
Not at all likely51%47%49%
(VOL) Don’t know1%3%2%
(n)(500)(400)(401)

3.What is the likelihood that you might vote for Joe Biden in November – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Aug.
2020
July
2020
Certain for Biden (from Q1/A)48%43%45%
Very likely 2%2%3%
Somewhat likely 7%4%6%
Not too likely4%4%4%
Not at all likely39%44%40%
(VOL) Don’t know1%3%2%
(n)(500)(400)(401)

4.If the election for U.S. House of Representatives was held today, would you vote for the Republican or the Democratic candidate in your Congressional district? [PARTIES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: At this time do you lean more toward the Republican or more toward the Democratic candidate?]

 TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS (with leaners)Oct.
2020
Aug.
2020
July
2020
Republican45%45%45%
Democratic49%48%49%
(VOL) Other candidate 0%1%1%
(VOL) No one<1%1%<1%
(VOL) Undecided6%5%5%
(n)(500)(400)(401)

[QUESTIONS 5-7 WERE ROTATED]

5.If the election for Pennsylvania state Attorney General was today, would you vote for … Heather Heidelbaugh the Republican, Josh Shapiro the Democrat, Daniel Wassmer the Libertarian, or Richard Weiss of the Green Party? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Heather Heidelbaugh or Josh Shapiro?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS (with leaners)Oct.
2020
Aug.
2020
Heather Heidelbaugh38%41%
Josh Shapiro53%51%
Daniel Wassmer<1%1%
Richard Weiss<1%<1%
(VOL) No one1%1%
(VOL) Undecided7%7%
(n)(500)(400)

6.If the election for Pennsylvania state Auditor General was today, would you vote for … Timothy DeFoor the Republican, Nina Ahmad the Democrat, Jennifer Moore the Libertarian, or Olivia Faison of the Green Party? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Timothy DeFoor or Nina Ahmad?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS
(with leaners)
Oct.
2020
Aug.
2020
Timothy DeFoor40%41%
Nina Ahmad46%43%
Jennifer Moore1%2%
Olivia Faison1%1%
(VOL) No one1%1%
(VOL) Undecided12%12%
(n)(500)(400)

7.If the election for Pennsylvania State Treasurer was today, would you vote for … Stacy Garrity the Republican, Joe Torsella the Democrat, Joe Soloski the Libertarian, or Timothy Runkle of the Green Party? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Stacy Garrity or Joe Torsella?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS
(with leaners)
Oct.
2020
Aug.
2020
Stacy Garrity41%40%
Joe Torsella47%45%
Joe Soloski1%1%
Timothy Runkle<1%0%
(VOL) Other candidate<1%0%
(VOL) No one1%2%
(VOL) Undecided10%13%
(n)(500)(400)

[QUESTIONS 8 & 9 WERE ROTATED]

8.Is your general impression of Donald Trump very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Aug.
2020
July
2020
Very favorable27%29%25%
Somewhat favorable13%15%15%
Somewhat unfavorable6%6%7%
Very unfavorable46%45%47%
No opinion8%5%6%
(n)(500)(400)(401)

9.Is your general impression of Joe Biden very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Aug.
2020
July
2020
Very favorable25%26%17%
Somewhat favorable25%22%28%
Somewhat unfavorable11%9%15%
Very unfavorable33%37%32%
No opinion6%6%9%
(n)(500)(400)(401)

[QUESTIONS 10 & 11 WERE ROTATED]

10.How much does Donald Trump understand the day to day concerns of people like you – a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Great deal25%
Some20%
Not much9%
Not at all44%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(500)

11.How much does Joe Biden understand the day to day concerns of people like you – a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Great deal29%
Some31%
Not much14%
Not at all24%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(500)

12.For each of the following situations please tell me if it personally worries you a lot, a little, or not at all? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

Knowing you will have access to medical care if you need it

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
A lot46%
A little23%
Not at all31%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
(n)(500)

Knowing you will have a stable income over the next year

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
A lot44%
A little21%
Not at all34%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(500)

The possible breakdown of law and order

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
A lot58%
A little24%
Not at all18%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(500)

The coronavirus pandemic

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
A lot54%
A little30%
Not at all16%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
(n)(500)

[QUESTIONS 13 -16 WERE ROTATED]

13.Who do you trust more to keep health care affordable and accessible – Donald Trump or Joe Biden, or both equally?

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Donald Trump34%
Joe Biden48%
Both equally14%
(VOL) Neither3%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(500)

14.Who do you trust more on creating jobs and strengthening the economy – Donald Trump or Joe Biden, or both equally?

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Donald Trump44%
Joe Biden39%
Both equally14%
(VOL) Neither2%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(500)

15.Who do you trust more on maintaining law and order – Donald Trump or Joe Biden, or both equally?

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Donald Trump41%
Joe Biden45%
Both equally11%
(VOL) Neither3%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(500)

16.Who do you trust more on handling the coronavirus pandemic – Donald Trump or Joe Biden, or both equally?

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Donald Trump32%
Joe Biden52%
Both equally10%
(VOL) Neither4%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(500)

17.Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the 2020 presidential election? [Is that very or somewhat optimistic/pessimistic?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Aug.
2020
July
2020
Very optimistic19%33%27%
Somewhat optimistic34%30%36%
Somewhat pessimistic22%16%18%
Very pessimistic21%14%10%
(VOL) Neither, don’t care2%4%4%
(VOL) Don’t know2%3%5%
(n)(500)(400)(401)

18.How motivated are you to vote in the November election for president – very motivated, somewhat motivated, or not that motivated?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Aug.
2020
July
2020
Very motivated88%85%85%
Somewhat motivated9%9%11%
Not that motivated3%6%4%
(VOL) Don’t know0%0%0%
(n)(500)(400)(401)

19.Compared to past elections, are you more enthusiastic than usual, less enthusiastic, or about the same as past elections?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Aug.
2020
July
2020
More enthusiastic47%48%42%
Less enthusiastic16%13%11%
About the same36%37%46%
(VOL) Don’t know1%1%1%
(n)(500)(400)(401)

20.How will you vote this year – in person on Election Day, in person at an early voting location, or by mail ballot? [If ALREADY VOTED: How did you vote this year…?]

REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
In person on Election Day64%
In person at an early voting location5%
By mail ballot28%
(VOL) Won’t vote at all0%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(500)

21.Overall, how confident are you that the November election will be conducted fairly and accurately – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSOct.
2020
Aug.
2020
Very confident20%19%
Somewhat confident40%40%
Not too confident24%24%
Not at all confident14%15%
(VOL) Don’t know1%2%
(n)(500)(400)

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 30 to October 4, 2020 with a statewide random sample of 500 Pennsylvania voters drawn from a list of registered voters. This includes 170 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 330 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for party registration, age, gender, race, education, and region based on state voter registration list information and U.S. Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter sample). For results based on the full voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
REGISTERED VOTERS
 
Party Registration
40% Republican
14% Other/none
46% Democrat
 
Self-Reported Party
35% Republican
29% Independent
36% Democrat
 
47% Male
53% Female
 
22% 18-34
22% 35-49
29% 50-64
27% 65+
 
82% White, non-Hispanic
11% Black
  2% Hispanic
  4% Asian/other
 
64% No degree
36% 4 year degree
 

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs