Sep 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Polls show Biden leading in Pennsylvania

Photo illustration of President Trump and Joe Biden surrounded by data visualizations.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photos: Brendan Smialowski/AFP and Jim Watson/AFP

Two polls out this week show Joe Biden leading over President Trump in the swing state of Pennsylvania, indicating the Supreme Court nomination this past weekend may have failed to reset the race in Trump's favor and shift the conversation away from the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: While Biden could afford to lose the battleground state, he would have to pick up Arizona and win northern swing states that Democrats lost in 2016. Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 1 percentage point four years ago and "has virtually no path to a second term without Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes," the Times writes.

By the numbers:

  • The Washington Post-ABC News poll found Biden’s support from Pennsylvania registered voters sits at 54% to Trump's 44%.
  • Monday's New York Times and Siena College poll indicated that 49% of likely voters favor Biden, while 40% favor Trump.
  • The Post reported that 53% of Pennsylvania voters would prefer the winner of the presidential election nominate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court replacement. The NYT poll shows 51% of voters trust Biden to select the next justice, over 44% who prefer Trump make the call. 
  • The Post-ABC poll highlights that handling the pandemic seems to sway opinions more than managing the economy. 53% of Pennsylvania’s registered voters approve of Trump’s management of the economy, but 57% disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
    • COVID-19 is the leading issue among Biden supporters at 30%, followed by equal treatment of racial groups at 21% and health care at 19 %.

The big picture: Trump's margins have been falling among select groups and areas across Pennsylvania, according to the Post-ABC poll.

  • Trump leads Biden by 17 points among white voters without four-year college degrees. Biden has a 23-point lead among white college graduates and a 64-point lead among non-white voters.
  • Pennsylvania's female voters favor Biden by 23 points, while Trump is up by 7 points among men.
  • Trump has 50% support to Biden’s 47% in western counties. In northeast Pennsylvania, the president receives 56% support, and his lead is nearly 30 points in central Pennsylvania, comparable to 2016 numbers.
  • "Biden is strongest in southeastern Pennsylvania," per the Post, leading Trump by more than 2 to 1 in the Philadelphia area, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.

Methodology: This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 21–26, among a random sample of 808 adults, including 702 registered voters and 567 likely voters in Pennsylvania. The margin of sampling error for results among registered voters is ± 4.5 percentage points, and the error margin is 5 points among likely voters. The New York Times/Siena College poll of 711 likely voters has a margin of sampling error of 4.3 percentage points.

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