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Post-ABC poll: Biden leads Trump to the battlefield of Pennsylvania




Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to reporters before leaving Charlotte on September 23 (Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)

Former vice president Joe Biden leads President Trump into the disputed Pennsylvania battlefield, buoyed by strong support in the Philadelphia suburbs and its competitiveness in the state’s western counties that were a Trump stronghold in 2016, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Biden’s support stands at 54% versus Trump’s 45% among prospective Keystone State voters and 54% to 44% among his registered voters. Biden’s current lead among likely voters looks sizable but is not definitive given the five-point margin of error that applies to each candidate’s support. Other Pennsylvania polls this month found Biden leads Trump by an average of eight points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Biden has an advantage over Trump in Pennsylvania

Q: If presidential elections were held today, who would you vote for? Would you lean on …

Note: “Other”, “Neither”, “I would not vote” and “No opinion” are not displayed.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 567 probable Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Biden has an advantage over Trump in Pennsylvania

Q: If presidential elections were held today, who would you vote for? Would you lean on …

Note: “Other”, “Neither”, “I would not vote” and “No opinion” are not displayed.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 567 prospective Pennsylvania voters with a +/- 5 percentage point margin of error.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Biden has an advantage over Trump in Pennsylvania

Q: If presidential elections were held today, who would you vote for? Would you lean on …

Note: “Other”, “Neither”, “Would not vote” and “No opinion” are not displayed.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 567 prospective Pennsylvania voters with a +/- 5 percentage point margin of error.

Five weeks into election day, the poll finds 53% of Pennsylvania registered voters approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, but 57% disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak and that issue appears to affect more voters than how much the economy does. Trump’s overall approval rate in the state among registered voters is 43% positive and 55% negative, with 49% saying they disapprove “strongly”.

Pennsylvania is the most populous of the three Rust Belt states that proved decisive in the 2016 election. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan by less than a percentage point each. All three states had voted for Democratic presidential candidates in the previous six elections before moving on to Trump.

Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes make it the most valuable of the three, and Trump and Biden’s campaigns have focused their resources accordingly in an effort to steer the state in their candidate’s direction. Candidates also repeatedly campaigned in person in the state, which was home to Biden’s headquarters before the pandemic forced it to close.

The Post-ABC poll suggests Biden is challenging Trump for support among key groups and areas that propelled the president’s victory in 2016, including white voters with no four-year degree, who account for roughly half of the Pennsylvania electorate. In recent weeks, Biden has insisted that as a Scranton native he has more affinity for blue-collar voters than Trump, who was born and raised in wealthy conditions in New York. Trump retorted that he is their biggest defender.

Trump leads Biden by 17 points among this group in the poll, although Trump won them by over 30 points both domestically and in Pennsylvania four years ago. Biden also boasts a 23-point lead among white college graduates and a 64-point lead among non-white voters, similar to or greater than Clinton’s advantages with these two groups of voters four years ago.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Biden has a wide advantage among Pennsylvania women, White College graduates, and early voters

Plan to vote

on election day

* Non-white results among registered voters.

Note: “Other”, “None”, “I would not vote” and “No opinion” are not displayed.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 567 prospective Pennsylvania voters with a +/- 5 percentage point margin of error. Greater margin of error between subgroups.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Biden has a wide advantage among Pennsylvania women, White College graduates, and early voters

Plan to vote

on election day

* Non-white results among registered voters.

Note: “Other”, “None”, “I would not vote” and “No opinion” are not displayed.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 567 probable Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points. Greater margin of error between subgroups.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Biden has a wide advantage among Pennsylvania women, White College graduates, and early voters

Plan to vote

on election day

* Non-white results among registered voters.

Note: “Other”, “None”, “I would not vote” and “No opinion” are not displayed.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 567 prospective Pennsylvania voters with a +/- 5 percentage point margin of error. Greater margin of error between subgroups.

Trump’s support in western Pennsylvania also seems weaker than in 2016. Excluding Democratic-leaning Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, Trump has 50 percent support to Biden’s 47 percent among registered voters in the state’s western counties. In 2016, Trump won these counties by 29 points. In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won that region by 16 points on his way to losing the state to then-President Barack Obama.

Trump enjoys considerable advantages in central Pennsylvania, where he won decisively in 2016, and has a smaller advantage in northeastern Pennsylvania. In the central part of the state, his lead is nearly 30 points, the same as in 2016, while in northeastern Pennsylvania the president receives 56% of support, comparable to four years ago. Trump’s campaign has made it a priority to present even more voters in these areas than in 2016.

Biden is the strongest in southeastern Pennsylvania. The Post-ABC poll finds the former vice president leading Trump more than 2 to 1 in the Philadelphia area, including its populous suburbs of Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Clinton won these counties together by a 14-point margin in 2016, but have since become more democratic.

Across the state, female voters are also key to Biden’s support, leading him by 23 points, while Trump holds a narrow seven-point margin among men.

Whatever his current deficit, Trump has a chance to keep the state in November if he can replicate what happened four years ago. A month before the 2016 election, several Pennsylvania polls showed Trump was two digits behind. Clinton’s lead deteriorated in the last two weeks of that campaign, a time when her campaign was hit with renewed questions about her private email system. Exit polls show Trump won late-deciding voters by double digits and led the state with about 45,000 votes, or seven-tenths of a percent.

Trump maintains a lead on enthusiasm, with 71 percent of registered voters supporting him saying they are “very excited” to do so, compared to 51 percent of Biden’s supporters. There is a large gap in enthusiasm between younger and older Biden supporters. Among people aged 65 and over, 79% say they are very enthusiastic about their support. This compares with 27% of voters under 50. However, 91% of Biden supporters under 50 exclude voting for Trump.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Trump supporters in Pennsylvania are more likely to say they are “very enthusiastic” than Biden supporters

Among the registered voters who support every candidate

Not thrilled

bestic at all

Note: “No opinion” not shown.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 310-358 Trump and Biden voters in Pennsylvania with a margin of error of +/- 6-6.5 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Trump supporters in Pennsylvania are more likely to say they are “very enthusiastic” than Biden supporters

Among the registered voters who support every candidate

Not thrilled

bestic at all

Note: “No opinion” not shown.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 310-358 Trump and Biden voters in Pennsylvania with a margin of error of +/- 6-6.5 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

trump supporters in Pennsylvania he is more likely to say he is “very enthusiastic” about Biden’s supporters

Among the registered voters who support every candidate

Note: “No opinion” not shown.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, Washington Post-ABC News poll of 310-358 Trump and Biden voters in Pennsylvania with a margin of error of +/- 6-6.5 percentage points.

Few voters who voted for Trump or Clinton in 2016 are ready to defect, but there is a slight edge to Biden among those who do. The poll finds that 92% of likely voters who supported Trump four years ago currently support him, but 8% of them currently support Biden. In contrast, 98% of Clinton voters say they support Biden, with 1% switching to Trump.

A quarter of Pennsylvania registered voters cite economics as the most important issue in their voting choice, more than any other issue. The coronavirus outbreak is second at 18%, with a trio of problems – crime and security, equal treatment of racial groups and health care – clustered closely behind. The lowest ranking is “the next appointment to the US Supreme Court”, with 9% saying it is their main problem.

Trump and Biden supporters see problems through competing lenses. Among Trump voters, the economy is by far the most important issue, cited by 47%. Crime and security are next at 22%. Only 3% highlight the coronavirus epidemic. Among Biden’s supporters, the pandemic is the main problem, cited by 30%, followed by equal treatment of racial groups at 21% and health care at 19%.

About 6 out of 10 probable Pennsylvania voters rate the national economy as not so good or poor and split 85 to 15 percent for Biden. The roughly 4 in 10 who say the economy is good or excellent prefer Trump by a comparable margin of 86% to 14%. Although the president has net positive ratings on his running of the economy, he enjoys no advantage over Biden on the question of who trusts Pennsylvania voters to handle the matter in the future.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Pennsylvania Voters Trust Biden More to Handle Coronavirus Outbreak, Supreme Court Appointment, and Healthcare

Share of registered voters who trust most to manage …

Equal treatment of

racial groups

The next appointment a

the Supreme Court of the United States

Note: “Both”, “None” and “No opinion” are not displayed.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, the Washington Post-ABC News poll of 702 Pennsylvania voters recorded a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Pennsylvania Voters Trust Biden More to Handle Coronavirus Outbreak, Supreme Court Appointment, and Healthcare

Share of registered voters who trust most to manage …

Equal treatment of

racial groups

The next appointment a

the Supreme Court of the United States

Note: “Both”, “None” and “No opinion” are not displayed.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, the Washington Post-ABC News poll of 702 Pennsylvania voters recorded a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll

Pennsylvania Voters Trust Biden More to Handle Coronavirus Outbreak, Supreme Court Appointment and Healthcare

Share of registered voters who trust most to manage …

Equal treatment of

racial groups

The next appointment a

the Supreme Court of the United States

Note: “Both”, “None” and “No opinion” are not displayed.

Source: September 21-26, 2020, the Washington Post-ABC News poll of 702 Pennsylvania voters recorded a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Likewise, views on the coronavirus form a dividing line between candidates. More than 6 in 10 probable voters in Pennsylvania say they are worried that someone in their immediate family might contract the coronavirus, while about a third are not worried and 3% say they or a family member have already caught the virus.

Those who are worried about the coronavirus support Biden, from 75% to 24%, while those who are not worried support Trump from a broader 82% to 16%. In addition to the president’s general disapproval of his handling of the pandemic, Biden has more confidence in addressing the issue, from 54% to 40% among registered voters.

The poll finds that 54% of registered voters support recent protests against police treatment of blacks, but voters give different answers when asked which candidate can best handle aspects of the problem. Biden has a 20-point margin to manage “equal treatment of racial groups,” but registered voters are roughly divided on which candidate can best handle “crime and security”, with 50% choosing Biden and 47% who chooses Trump.


President Trump speaks during a campaign event in Middletown, Pa., On September 26. (Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

On other issues, Biden has a narrow edge in handling a Supreme Court appointment and brings healthy when it comes to health care and equal treatment of racial groups. The president does not have a significant advantage on any issue.

The poll was largely completed before President, appointed federal appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett on Saturday, filled the vacancy created by the death of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But a 53% majority of Pennsylvania voters say they would prefer the election winner to appoint someone to succeed Ginsburg rather than President Trump selecting someone and the Senate proceeding with confirmation proceedings before the election outcome is clear. . The works should be completed before election day.

Similar to national public opinion, more Pennsylvania voters who support Biden say it is “more important” for their candidate to win because of the vacancy in court than what Trump supporters say about their candidate, from 61 percent to 41. %.

The majority of Pennsylvania voters (65%) say they will vote on election day, while just over 3 in 10 plan to vote early, by mail or in person at an early voting site. Four years ago, only four percent of voters in the state voted absent, but at the time the state required voters to have an excuse to do so. This year, any Pennsylvania voter can request a ballot by mail.

This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone September 21-26, 2020, among a random sample of 808 adults, including 702 registered voters and 567 probable Pennsylvania voters, with 63% of all interviews completed on cell phones and the rest on landlines. The sampling margin of error for results among registered voters is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, and the margin of error is five points among probable voters.

Graphics by Daniela Santamariña. Emily Guskin and Alauna Safarpour contributed to this report.


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