A new poll of voters in Pennsylvania’s southeastern Democratic stronghold found they are unhappy with President Joe Biden’s job performance, aren’t sure he is physically up to the job, and don’t want him to run for a second term.
Other than that, Mr. Biden…
However, the good news for Democrats is the Trump-branded GOP is so unpopular in the Philadelphia suburbs that Biden still has a lead over the two most likely Republican presidential nominees. However, even that number is down in the Democrats’ danger zone.
The Delaware Valley Journal/Coefficient poll asked 759 likely voters in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties for their views of the president on the eve of his Thursday visit to the City of Brotherly Love.
Like Americans everywhere, voters in the Philly suburbs overwhelmingly said they believe the country is on the wrong track instead of going in the right direction (59 to 27 percent). Just 43 percent of Delaware Valley voters approve of the job Biden is doing as president, similar to his national 42 percent average at RealClearPolitics.
But that is notably low among voters in blue-to-purple counties Biden carried with around 60 percent of the vote in 2020.
That weakness is reflected in Biden’s head-to-head match-ups with former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Just 50 percent of the suburban voters said they would back Biden, which is enough to handily defeat Trump (at 39 percent) or DeSantis (37 percent). But that is not the margins needed to carry the state.
In 2020, Biden won 58 percent of the vote in Chester County, 62.6 percent in Montgomery County, and 62.9 percent in Delaware County. Bucks County was the only competitive spot on the suburban map, with Biden beating Trump 52 to 47 percent.
Biden won the state by just 1.2 percent over Trump.
“These [poll] numbers should give Joe Biden agita when he gets off the plane,” said longtime Pennsylvania GOP strategist Charlie Gerow. “These are nowhere near the margins he needs in the southeast suburbs.”
Nearly half (48 percent) of suburban voters said they don’t believe Biden is mentally or physically up to facing a crisis as president, while 44 percent believed he is. But perhaps the most worrying number for Keystone State Democrats was only 33 percent of voters in this southeastern stronghold want Biden to run again, while 53 percent say no.
Just 47 percent of registered Democrats want Biden in the race.
“Southeastern Pennsylvania is one of the lynchpins of Democratic strength in Pennsylvania. To see Biden at 50 percent in head-to-head contests with Trump and DeSantis — in a region where he won about 60 percent of the vote three years ago — is not good news for Democrats,” said Coefficient CEO Ryan Munce. “Then again, with fewer than half of Democrats saying they want Biden to run again, these numbers may be a warning to the rest of the party.”
At the same time, 64 percent of respondents said they didn’t want Trump to run in 2024, either. But as Gerow pointed out, among Republicans in the Delaware Valley, a solid 58 percent are still on board.
“And that’s in an area of the state where Trump is weakest. You go to a place like Washington County, and I bet you’d see staggering numbers for Trump,” Gerow said.
Still, Trump lost Pennsylvania in 2020, and he needs to improve in order to win it back, said public affairs executive Larry Ceisler.
“If the GOP wants to win Pennsylvania, they have to make the election a referendum on President Biden and not a binary choice. Looking at these numbers, suburban voters may not have favorable views of President Biden on a variety of issues and overall performance. But they would still overwhelmingly vote for him over Trump and DeSantis,” Ceisler said.
Others are not so sure, pointing to Biden’s weak support among two key parts of the Democratic base: Young voters and voters of color. Suburbanites under 44 strongly disapprove of Biden’s job performance (53 to 27 percent), and just 53 percent of Black voters approve as well. Among other voters of color (Hispanic, Asian, etc.) Biden’s approval is down to 50 percent. Traditionally for an incumbent Democrat, those numbers would be significantly higher.
“It must be distressing for the Biden folks to see how low their numbers are with what should be their key constituencies: Liberals and African-American voters,” said GOP strategist Christopher Nicholas. “It’s also clear that voters very much want two different choices for president besides the retreads of Trump and Biden.”
Gerow said he was not surprised by Biden’s weakness with Black voters.
“This poll matches what I’ve been hearing anecdotally,” Gerow said. “More and more Black and Hispanic voters are dissatisfied with the Democratic Party and what it’s become.”
Republicans also point out that, as The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, the president’s Thursday visit “is the sixth time Biden has come to the city this year and at least the 13th since he took office in January 2021.” And despite the serious campaigning, he still has just half the voters of the suburbs on board.
Ceisler wasn’t worried.
“No one doubts Pennsylvania will be a close, battleground state in 2024,” he said.”Biden will not have Shapiro numbers, but unless the GOP nominates a candidate not named Trump or DeSantis, we are looking at a repeat of 2020 in Pennsylvania.”
[To see the entire poll, click here.]