Oct 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Poll shows Biden with 12-point lead in Pennsylvania

Supporters outside the Amtrak station in Latrobe, Pa., for Biden. Photo: Jeff Swensen/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Joe Biden now has a 12-point lead over President Trump in Pennsylvania, according to a Monmouth University poll out Tuesday, which also found that a majority of voters in the battleground state think Biden better understands their daily concerns.

Why it matters: It's more bad news for Trump, whose re-election efforts have hinged on winning Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes. Biden's current lead is a significant improvement from his four-point lead in last month's Monmouth poll.

  • Biden is visiting Pennsylvania today, with plans to give remarks in Gettysburg later this afternoon.
  • Last week, Biden hosted a whistle-stop Amtrak tour through the state highlighting his "Build Back Better" economic recovery plan.

By the numbers: 54% of registered voters in Pennsylvania support Biden, compared to 42% who are backing President Trump.

  • 60% of voters think Biden at least somewhat understands their day-to-day concerns.
  • There was little movement before and after Trump's announcement that he tested positive for COVID-19, the poll found. Voters still trust Biden more when it comes to handling the pandemic and health care.
  • And while Trump continues to lead Biden on the economy, slightly more voters now say they believe Biden will strengthen the economy and create jobs (41%, up from 37% before Friday).

Between the lines: Monmouth's poll found Biden with a slight advantage on which candidate voters feel better handles "law and order" — 45% to Trump's 41%.

  • Previously, Trump campaign officials felt hopeful that the president's "law and order" rhetoric was helping in Pennsylvania, specifically — aides thought — with the state's white, working-class voters.

Be smart: A decisive Biden win in Pennsylvania would likely help Democrats avoid major post-election litigation, Axios' Stef Kight writes:

  • Pennsylvania is already at the center of election-related legal battles since it could decide the election and has had very little experience with mass vote-by-mail. (Just 4% of ballots were cast by mail in 2018.)
  • In order for there to be meaningful lawsuits over ballot counts after the election, there either has to be a massive election failure (like a cyber attack) or it has to be a razor-thin election — within a few thousand ballots, elections experts say.
  • There’s less incentive for suing over whether or not to count certain ballots if it won’t change the outcome.

Methodology: The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, 2020 with a statewide random sample of 500 Pennsylvania voters drawn from a list of registered voters. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%.

Go deeper: Trump campaign goes all in on Pennsylvania

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