Pennsylvania Close; Sanders Supporter Unity Would Make It Not Close

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new Pennsylvania poll finds a close race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the state, although both a generic Democratic candidate and Bernie Sanders have more substantial leads that bode well for Clinton’s chances if she can get the party unified around her in the weeks ahead.

Clinton has 41% to 40% for Trump, with Gary Johnson at 6% and Jill Stein at 3%. In a head to head match up, Clinton and Trump tie at 44%. Similarly to what we found on the Florida poll we released yesterday, Republicans are more unified around Trump (79/8) than Democrats are around Clinton (75/15). That dynamic is what’s making the state competitive.

Democrats lead a generic ballot question for President 45/41, which is pretty similar to Barack Obama’s margin of victory in the state in 2012. Bernie Sanders has a substantial advantage over Trump, 45/36, with Johnson at 5% and Stein at 1%. In a head to head contest Sanders leads Trump 51/39. 

Pennsylvania is a great microcosm of the issue Clinton faces in winning over Sanders fans. Among people who support Sanders in a head to head match up with Trump, only 72% support Clinton in the general. 10% would go to Trump, 6% to Stein, 4% to Johnson, and 9% are undecided. If Clinton could win over even just half of those Sanders supporting hold outs her lead over Trump would go from a tenuous 41-40 to a comfortable 47-40. Whether it’s possible for her to do that time will tell.

Picking Rick Santorum as his running mate wouldn’t do Trump any favors in Pennsylvania. Santorum has just a 27/48 favorability rating. When he’s hypothetically included as the Vice Presidential candidate Trump loses supporters- he goes from a 44/44 tie with Clinton to trailing her 44/42, and goes from trailing Sanders 51/39 to trailing him 51/38.

Pennsylvania makes another state where Trump is the least popular of the Presidential candidates. Only 34% of voters see him favorably to 59% with a negative opinion. But what might be the worst for Trump is we asked who people think is more qualified to be President- him or the Phillie Phanatic- and the Phanatic won out 46/40.

The Pennsylvania Senate race remains competitive and is starting to shape up similarly to the Presidential race as a contest where voters aren’t terribly fond of either of their options. Pat Toomey is not a popular Senator- only 29% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 41% who disapprove. But Katie McGinty isn’t looking like a popular candidate either, with 26% of voters having a positive opinion of her to 34% with a negative one. Toomey leads McGinty 41/38 in the horse race.

One issue that continues to complicate Toomey’s reelection prospects is the vacant Supreme Court seat. 53% of voters want to see it filled this year, compared to only 38% who think that should wait for the next President. More importantly though, 66% of voters want there to be confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland’s nomination to just 18% who think he should be rejected out of hand. Democrats (79/9), independents (56/14), and even Republicans (52/31) think that Garland deserves a hearing. By a 23 point margin voters say they’re less likely to vote for a Senator who opposes confirmation hearings on Garland’s nomination- just 22% say that stance would make them more likely to vote for someone, compared to 45% who say it would make them less likely to.

Full results here

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