But among both subgroups, Trump lagged behind the 2016 benchmarks. He led with white voters without four-year degrees by 14 points; in 2016 it won these voters by 32 points, according to the exit polls. Among rural voters, he held a 26-point lead; four years ago he won rural Pennsylvania voters by 37 points.
The first presidential debate on Tuesday night offers Trump an opportunity to shake up the race, and the poll suggested that some Biden supporters are in a defensive position. Voters were very divided over who they expected to win the debate: 39% named Biden and 41% said Trump. Nearly three in four voters who identified themselves as Democrats expected a Biden victory, with 9% expecting Trump to win and 1
“I’m nervous that Biden will tinker with words or be unclear and get attacked, because Trump is a bully and Biden is not,” said Maryann Lemerise, 55, a Philadelphia who has reorganized her work schedule to make phone calls for Mr. Biden.
Laura Gallagher, 59, a pharmacist in Lehigh Valley who is a strong Trump supporter, eagerly awaits the debate. “I think it’s going to be a joke,” he said, “because I don’t think the Democratic candidate will be able to do it. I don’t think he’s got it.”
A third voter, Michael Sullivan, 54, who voted for the Green Party in 2016, is undecided and looks to the debate to define his choice. He said he would decide based on how the candidates manage themselves.
Mr. Biden is “like your grandfather, you’re worried he’ll get hurt if you don’t take his driver’s license,” he said. He wants to hear Mr. Trump answer questions with a “valid answer, not a detour”, adding, “Then I might think about voting for him.”