PPP Newsletter: Biden’s Standing and its Impact on Down Ballot Races

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New PPP surveys in Maryland and in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District have important implications for the election this fall.

The possibility of having to aggressively defend their open Senate seat in Maryland this year against former Governor Larry Hogan has been giving Democrats a headache. But our new poll finds that as they have become better known statewide over the course of the campaign Angela Alsobrooks and David Trone have both opened up clear leads over Hogan, 46-37 and 47-37 respectively.

It still speaks to his popularity for Hogan to be running that close- he’s doing so even as Joe Biden leads the state by 28 points and Democrats lead by 21 points on the generic Senate ballot. But while having an unusually strong candidate may allow the GOP to run 10 points ahead of the generic ballot in a dark blue state like Maryland, running more than 20 points ahead is a taller and likely impossible order.

The Senate map is challenging for Democrats this year but Maryland is not likely to end up being a problem in November regardless of who gets nominated- Alsobrooks and Trone would both win. Maryland voters can choose whoever they like better without worrying about electability.

Our new poll in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District shows the potential for down ballot candidates to succeed even in places where Democrats are struggling at the top of the ticket. Joe Biden lost to Donald Trump by 4 points in the district in 2020 and now trails by 7 points at 48-41.

Republican incumbent Scott Perry won reelection by 8 points in 2022. So you’d think given the state of the Presidential race in his district he’d be in a pretty safe position. Instead he only leads his Democratic challenger Janelle Stelson 45-43.

There’s been a lot of discussion about whether a Trump victory this fall would mean Democrats getting wiped out at all levels. What these numbers show is that Democratic candidates- especially strong ones like Stelson who is well known and popular in the district- have the ability to significantly outrun the top of the ticket.

In fact if there’s a broad perception Trump is going to win it may even help down ballot Democratic candidates because of voter desire for balance of power- a lot of Republicans won in 2016 because of the broad perception that Hillary Clinton was going to win who then got defeated badly in 2018 when that didn’t prove to be the case.

None of that should be taken to mean we think a Trump victory is inevitable. Right now Joe Biden is generally running a few points behind his 2020 margin in most places but we consistently find that undecided voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots for him last time. Whatever is driving their unhappiness with him they are more likely to end up back in his column by November than Trump’s and if they do we will be looking at a race with very similar dynamics to 2020 characterized by incredibly close contests in the key battleground states.

In addition to polling things like statewide and Congressional races PPP is keeping busy doing a lot of work for clients all over the country in upcoming primaries and in smaller general election races like legislative and even county races.

If we can be of any help with anything you’re working on- we also do issue polling- please email us or give us a call at 919-866-4950. PPP is proud to provide the best combination of accuracy, affordability, and speed for Democratic clients.

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