Trump, Carson Tight in PA

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new Pennsylvania poll finds Donald Trump with the smallest lead he’s had anywhere since July. Trump’s at 24% with Ben Carson at 23%, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina at 9%, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie at 7%, and Marco Rubio at 6%. Those 7 are the only candidates who have more than 3% in the Keystone State. Rounding out the field are Mike Huckabee and John Kasich at 3%, Rick Santorum at 2%, Jim Gilmore and Rand Paul at 1%, and Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki all with less than 1%.

There’s a big ideological divide in where Trump and Carson’s support is coming from. Trump has actually fallen to third place among voters who identify themselves as ‘very conservative’ with 15%, behind Carson’s 31% and Cruz’s 20%. The reason Trump is still up ever so slightly overall is that he gets 33% with moderates, to only 17% for Carson. It will be worth keeping an eye on to see if Trump is actually slumping with voters on the right or if this is just a blip. There’s also a bit of a gender gap, with Trump leading 26/23 among men but Carson leading 23/21 with women. 

Pennsylvania makes yet another state where Carson is easily the most popular Republican (a 64/17 favorability rating, the next best is Trump at 54/31) and the most frequent second choice of GOP voters (20% say Carson is their runner up, only Fiorina at 11% also joins him in double digits.) Besides Carson the only other candidate to increase their support from the last time PPP polled the state in May, before Trump got into the race, is Cruz. He’s gone from a tie for 8th place at 6% on that poll up to his tie for third at 9% on this one.

A lot of candidates have gone in the wrong direction with the ascendancy of Trump over the summer, but none more so than home state hopeful Rick Santorum. In May he was in a tie for second place in the state at 12%. Now he’s in tenth place at 2%. Beyond that his favorability rating has declined dramatically from +32 (57/25) all the way down to +10 (46/36). And 64% of Pennsylvania GOP voters think that it’s time for Santorum to drop out of the race compared to just 23% who think he should continue on. No matter how you slice it things are looking pretty dire for Santorum.

Also dropping in a particularly spectacular fashion is Mike Huckabee. He was at 11% in May and has now dropped all the way down to 3% with a similar decline in his favorability from +38 (59/21) to only +9 (43/34). Huckabee is polling worse and worse as this campaign unfolds.

Pennsylvania makes another state where Republican primary voters don’t even like Jeb Bush. Just 36% have a favorable opinion of him to 45% with a negative one. Donald Trump generally struggles in head to head match ups with his leading opponents- Ben Carson would lead him 52/38, Marco Rubio would edge him 45/44, and Trump would lead Carly Fiorina just 47/43. But when it comes to a head to head with Bush, Trump blows him out of the water with a 60/31 advantage. That suggests that not only is Bush not voters’ first choice, he may not even be their third or fourth choice.

On a couple of key current issues Republican primary voters are way out ahead of their elected officials. 78% support background checks on all gun purchases, to only 12% who are opposed. And 53% support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, to 26% who want to leave it where it is and 17% who would like to get rid of the minimum wage altogether. 

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton leads with 40% to 22% for Bernie Sanders, 20% for Joe Biden, 3% for Lincoln Chafee, 2% for Martin O’Malley, and 1% each for Lawrence Lessig and Jim Webb. 39% of Biden voters say that Clinton would be their second choice to just 18% for Sanders so if Biden didn’t run and you reallocated his supporters to their second choice, Clinton would lead Sanders 48/26. That represents a pretty significant tightening from May when Clinton led Sanders 63/14, but that was before his campaign really took off.

Full results here

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