A new poll in the crucial general election battleground state of Pennsylvania indicates that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden remains ahead of President Trump – but that his advantage is narrowing.
The public opinion survey indicates that the president’s full-court press on law and order in recent weeks may be one reason the race is tightening in Pennsylvania.
The Monmouth University public opinion survey conducted Aug. 28-31 – entirely after last week's Republican National Convention – shows the former vice president topping the Republican incumbent 49%-45% among registered voters in the Keystone State, with 3% backing other candidates and 4% undecided.
Biden's advantage is within the survey's margin of error.
The race tightens even further among the smaller pool of voters likely to cast a ballot in the general election. A model based on a somewhat higher level of turnout than the 2016 election puts the former vice president over Trump 49%-46%. But a model reflecting lower likely voter turnout has the race virtually tied, with Biden at 48% and the president at 47%.
That’s a shift from the last Monmouth University poll in Pennsylvania – which was conducted in early July. In the earlier survey, Biden enjoyed a 12-point lead among registered voters and a 7-10 point lead in the two likely voters models.
The new poll also indicates Biden with a 48%-46% favorable/unfavorable rating among Pennsylvania voters – with Trump underwater with a 44%-51% favorable/unfavorable rating.
“This is really a game of inches. The Trump campaign is looking to peel off a little bit of Biden support here and a little bit there. It may be working, despite the fact that Pennsylvania voters personally like the Democrat more, although this gap has narrowed,” highlighted Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray.
An average of all the latest polls in Pennsylvania conducted by Real Clear Politics puts Biden ahead of Trump by 4.7 points. That’s down from a 6-point lead Biden enjoyed at the beginning of August.
The poll indicates that a small, but important, portion of the electorate agrees with the message amplified by the president that the American suburbs are under threat amid nationwide protests over police brutality against minorities and racial injustice. According to the survey, Biden maintains a solid 59%-35% lead among women, but he’s lost ground among men. They prefer Trump by 56%-37%, compared with a much closer 47%-45% in early July.
And the president’s increased his support in 10 swing counties where the vote margins were the closest in the 2016 election. Biden’s 19-point lead from six weeks ago now stands at a 2-point edge for Trump.
With an eye to suburban voters, the president the past two weeks has repeatedly highlighted his law and order approach to the unrest and outbreaks of violence amid nationwide protests over police brutality against minorities and racial injustice.
“The Republican convention attempted to sow some seeds of doubt among core Democratic blocs, especially young and urban voters. It looks like they may have had a small amount of success with that, at least for now,” Murray noted.
Pennsylvania – along with Michigan and Wisconsin – had been carried by the Democrats in presidential elections for a quarter century. But Trump narrowly edged 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in all three states four years ago, helping him win the White House.
Biden – who was born and spent his first 10 years in Scranton, Pa., before moving to Delaware – retains strong ties to the Keystone State. He’s held several campaign events in Pennsylvania the past two months, including a speech Monday in Pittsburgh.
The Monmouth University used live telephone operators to question 400 registered voters in Pennsylvania. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.