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New Polls Put Pennsylvania in Play for White House, Senate

New polls of Pennsylvania voters show the ping-pong contest between Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump still bouncing within the margin of error. The fight over Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat also remains tight, with Republican Dave McCormick trailing incumbent Democrat Sen. Bob Casey Jr. by single digits.

A Susquehanna Polling and Research survey of 450 likely voters found Biden led Trump 50 to 45 percent, just outside the margin of error. While that poll was just released, the survey was conducted from Feb. 27 and March 6.

Perhaps most notably, Biden’s five-point edge is down from Susquehanna’s January poll when Biden led by eight points — 47 to 39 percent.

In another sign of how close the Keystone State race is likely to be,  a Bloomberg poll of 807 registered voters, conducted from March 8 to 12, had the race tied at 45 percent. A previous Bloomberg poll gave Trump a six-point lead.

Biden’s approval rating remained near historic lows at 40.5 percent. Fifty-five percent of voters disapproved of Biden.

So, why would an extremely unpopular Democrat poll better or equal to his Republican competition?

“Voters are faced with a binary choice for president,” public affairs executive Larry Ceisler told DVJournal. “It’s solidifying. It’s going to be a very close election.”

Republicans weren’t concerned that Keystone State voters would pick Biden in November.

“Although recently released, [the Susquehanna poll is] an old poll, taken almost a month old,” said longtime GOP strategist Charlie Gerow. “More recent polls show Trump winning Pennsylvania.”

The RealClearPolitics poll average gives Trump an extremely slim 0.2 percent lead in the state.

In an email to DVJournal, Susquehanna Polling and Research president and CEO James Lee acknowledged the results could be considered stale because they weren’t released for weeks.

“[We] wanted to be completely transparent about the dates the poll was conducted so you can decide for yourself,” he said.

That revelation didn’t concern Dr. Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College. He told DVJournal that he didn’t expect any dramatic shifts in polling because Americans have a “deep level of familiarity” with Biden and Trump.

As for the Senate race, Borick said McCormick’s campaign could take heart that he’s polling within a few points of Casey, an incumbent who sailed to reelection victories in 2012 and 2018.

Borick added the Casey camp could also see the poll as a positive because all other polls gave him a lead, albeit one that continues to tighten. “Going into a competitive election cycle and having any advantage is probably welcome news,” he said.

Democratic strategists like Neil Oxman expressed confidence Casey will remain on top.

“I just think that Casey is Pennsylvania,” Oxman told DVJournal. “He really represents the majority of Pennsylvanians…He has a lot of independent voters and he has a lot of Republicans who support him.”

An Emerson College Poll from earlier this month found nine percent of those surveyed would vote for Trump and Casey.

McCormick has touted his endorsements from the Pennsylvania Republican Party, GOP congressmen, and law enforcement groups including the Delaware County Fraternal Order of Police. He avoided a nasty primary fight when the Pennsylvania Department of State removed one candidate from the ballot while another withdrew.

Ceisler, however, wondered if there was still skepticism about McCormick following the 2022 U.S. Senate Republican primary where McCormick narrowly lost to TV’s Dr. Mehmet Oz. Oz, who was endorsed by Trump, lost to Democrat John Fetterman.

McCormick endorsed Trump for president shortly after Super Tuesday. But Trump has not weighed in on the Pennsylvania Senate race.

“McCormick is probably looking for the best of both worlds with Trump. But he could also end up with the worst of both worlds with Trump,” observed Ceisler.

The Casey and McCormick campaigns did not comment.

EBERHART: It’s Time for Republicans to Come Home

The GOP presidential primary contest is over. Donald Trump won 27 of the first 29 contests, and his last serious challenger, Nikki Haley, dropped out.

Most Republican voters are clearly in favor of a second term with Trump. It’s time for the Grand Old Party to unite behind the presumptive nominee and focus all of its energy on the campaign ahead to get Joe Biden — and his liberal policies — out of the White House.

Coming together after a bruising nominating contest is always a challenging step for a political party. Emotions are still raw after a primary that often devolved into petty personal attacks against candidates and their supporters, and the winning side’s temptation to seek political revenge against those who lost is always strong.

But Republicans need to unite now for one straightforward reason: Biden isn’t just vulnerable; he’s beatable.

A recent CBS News/YouGov poll shows how poorly voters see Biden’s time in office. Not only is Trump leading Biden 52 percent to 48 percent in a head-to-head comparison, but voters consistently give Trump better grades for his time in office.

When asked how the economy was during Trump’s first term in office, 65 percent of voters said it was “good,” compared to 38 percent who think today’s economy is doing well. On immigration, which recently became the top issue for all Americans, a whopping 72 percent said Trump’s policies would decrease the number of migrants flooding America, compared to 50 percent for Biden.

Trump also leads Biden in the swing states that will decide the 2024 presidential election — and likely control of Congress. A recent Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll shows Trump leading 48 percent to Biden’s 43 percent in seven swing states. Trump’s biggest lead is in North Carolina, where he’s up 9 points. That’s a massive advantage in a state Trump squeaked out a 1-point win in 2020.

A recent New York Times/Siena College poll yielded similar results, showing that Trump beat Biden 48 percent to 43 percent among registered voters. The same survey found that 65 percent of voters feel America is headed in the wrong direction under the current administration. The best Biden can point to is polls from Fox News and The Wall Street Journal that have Trump up by just 2 points.

And to top it all off, Biden has an approval rating of 38 percent. That’s not only abysmally bad, but it’s also historically bad. Biden has the lowest approval rating at this point in his presidency of any president in modern history.

All of this has Democrats slamming the panic button as they grabble with the fact that their candidate is an unpopular octogenarian who is saddled with an even less popular running mate.

The 2024 election will affect not only the presidency but also control of the Senate. With the progressive wing of the Democratic Party showing the exit to the last two moderate Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Republicans stand their best chance in years of taking back the majority.

Manchin and Sinema were the lone centrist voices remaining in the Democratic Party. They took reasonable positions on immigration, economic growth and energy security. With their exit, there’s little to keep Democrats from pursuing an agenda of insecurity at home and abroad and higher energy prices.

It’s a cliché to say this is the most important election of our lifetime. Every election is important, but there’s no doubt much is at stake in November. The 2024 election will have far-reaching consequences for America, affecting domestic and international affairs.

We’ve seen what four years of Biden’s presidency have given us: rampant inflation, stagnant wages, and rising prices for food, rent and other must-have staples. We can’t afford an additional four years.

Republicans are divided over many policy issues, including spending and foreign relations. Still, Trump’s dominance of the presidential nominating process is an opportunity to unify behind the singular goal of taking back the White House. I say that as someone who initially supported another candidate but recognizes how urgent it is for Republicans to come together to stop the economic and security harm another four years of Democratic control would bring.

Republican voters have spoken loud and clear. They want Trump. Republican leaders should listen to voters and support our nominee.

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Trump, Biden Ready to Repeat Battle for DelVal Voters

With former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden clinching their respective party’s presidential nominations, what will the repeat race mean to the Delaware Valley?

How will it affect other races, including the marquee U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Casey and Republican Dave McCormick? And down-ballot contests?

Bucks County is seeing gains in Republican voter registration, while the other counties—Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery—are trending Democratic.

In February 2022, Democrats had an advantage of 9,289 voter registrations in Bucks County. Today, that lead has been narrowed to 2,145, said Scott Presler, a voter registration activist.

“In a quintessential swing county, like Bucks, this is huge news,” said Presler. “My organization, Early Vote Action, has volunteers from across the country writing letters into Bucks to continue this voter registration trend to the right. We’re also focused on Centre and Luzerne counties.”

Bucks County GOP Chair Pat Poprik said, “After four years of President Biden and the Democrats’ failed policies, voters have had enough of high gas prices, the rising cost of living, and a border crisis that’s worsening by the day.

“We have seen it on the ground, and the positive trend in voter registration towards the Republican Party in Bucks County demonstrates the grassroots energy building for a much-needed change in our country’s direction. Republican voters are energized. Independents and even some Democrats are also seeing that the state of the country was better under President Trump. In every sense, on the issues that matter most to working families, the Biden administration has simply been a failure.”

Temple University political science Professor Robin Kolodny believes the Senate race will be a significant factor in the presidential race in Pennsylvania.

“In 2024, we will have both a closely contested presidential race and a U.S. Senate race,” Kolodny said. “The Senate race is key to determining which party controls the chamber. Demographic trends suggest Democrats will have a slight advantage statewide and probably a bit more in the Delaware Valley. President Biden praised Sen. Casey’s bill in his State of the Union Address. I think the Biden-Casey campaigns will probably work together a bit more easily than the McCormick-Trump campaigns, but it’s too early to know for sure.”

A new Emerson College/The Hill poll shows Trump is leading among Pennsylvania voters by 47 percent, with Biden at 43 percent. However, 10 percent are undecided. When voters were asked which candidate they leaned toward, Trump’s support increased to 52 percent and Biden’s to 48 percent.

The same poll shows Casey at 45 percent, McCormick at 41 percent, and 14 percent undecided.

Former Chester Chamber president and Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Guy Ciarrocchi noted, “The State of the Union address changed nothing. The battle for Pennsylvania will be very close: We saw it in 2016 and 2020–less than 2 percent. Any slight movement could tip the balance—and the presidency. The priorities of suburban voters will help pick the winner—and we likely won’t know until this fall, with their last mood swing.”

In 2016, when Trump beat Hillary Clinton narrowly winning Pennsylvania, Bucks County voted for Clinton 48.52 percent and Trump 47.74 percent. In Chester County, Clinton received 52.71 percent, and Trump got 43.20 percent. In Delaware County, Clinton scored 59.6 percent, and Trump eked out 37.18 percent. Clinton earned 58.91 percent in Montgomery County, while Trump had 37.44 percent of the vote.

In 2020, when Biden bested Trump, Bucks County voted for Biden at 51.66 percent and Trump at 40.88 percent. Chester County had Biden at 57.99 percent and Trump at 40.88 percent. In Delaware County, 62.95 percent voted for Biden, while  36.15 percent voted for Trump. Biden garnered 62.6 percent in Montgomery County, compared to Trump’s 47.29 percent.

Colleen Guiney, Delaware County Democratic Committee chair, praised Biden’s State of the Union speech and said she believes area voters will stick with the president.

“We have a choice between ‘Honesty, decency, dignity, (and) equality.’ or ‘resentment, revenge, and retribution.’ I am confident that Delaware County will choose the former,” Guiney said.

Frank Agovino, the Delaware County Republican chairman, said, “In my mind, the 2024 rematch of Biden vs. Trump will be more beneficial for Republicans in Delco. The combination of a nostalgic feeling of the strong Trump economy and a world not at war versus the Biden administration that has made us weaker through an agenda of mixed-up priorities at home and abroad will result in a record turnout.

“Additionally, elevated crime and the rising cost of everyday necessities such as food and gas have hit everyone hard, but most especially the largely African American communities such as Upper Darby and Darby Townships. It feels like there is real buyers’ remorse, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Trump pull 25 percent in these areas, which would be a stark improvement from 2016.”

And Chester County Democrat Committee Chair Charlotte Valyo said,  “The strong State of the Union speech by President Biden leaves no doubt that he is fit and capable to lead for four more years. The contrast between his administration and the one he followed could not be more clear. The voters in the collar counties will continue to support President Biden as they did in 2020. President Biden has demonstrated that he can achieve bipartisan legislation.”

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PATTERSON: Putin, Biden and Trump

NATO has moved closer to nuclear war with Russia after French president Emmanuel Macron suggested that putting Western troops in Ukraine was a possibility. Russian president Vladimir Putin promptly threatened to end civilization with nuclear strikes in the West.

Macron’s provocative statement came after a summit where 20 European leaders discussed strategic plans for the third year of Russia’s war on Ukraine. The summit could be seen as proof that NATO is not united over Ukraine. These are dangerous times.

President Biden was among NATO leaders who quickly objected to Macron’s idea. The State Department said it “had no plans to put boots on the ground in Ukraine.” Biden’s plans could change if Putin attacks a NATO member.

Former president Donald Trump had spoken earlier when he observed that Russia could do “whatever the hell they want” with NATO. Trump may have thought he was making a factual statement rather than expressing an opinion. Putin no doubt enjoys publicly rebuking France and NATO. Putin claims he has evidence that Germany is preparing for war with Russia. Germany says it is Russian disinformation.

With NATO publicly stating it won’t send troops to help Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, the pressure mounts for an end to the war. Biden wants more and more funding for Ukraine, and Congress wants a diplomatic solution. Zelensky watches anxiously as Ukraine’s time could be running out.

Misstatements and misjudgments by world leaders might be seen as partly responsible for Ukraine’s predicament.

In January 2022, when Biden was asked about the U.S. response if Russia invaded Ukraine, he expressed little concern. He thought a “minor incursion” by Russia into Ukraine might not warrant a response. It was a colossal misstatement that has cost thousands of Ukrainian lives during the last two years.

In October 2022, Biden said that it would be a nuclear Armageddon to confront Putin over Ukraine. Putin might have felt the West was fearful of him. Since then, to paraphrase Trump, Putin has been doing whatever he wants to do with the fearful Biden and NATO in seeming disarray. Ukraine has paid a horrible price.

In 2024, Biden referred to Ukraine as NATO. More recently, he has called Gaza, in the Middle East, Ukraine.

Some members of Congress are asking Biden to find a diplomatic way to end Russia’s war against Ukraine. This might be difficult since Biden recently called Putin “a crazy S.O.B.” It sounds like Biden was channeling Trump’s diplomacy. Biden’s undiplomatic language could worsen Russia’s treatment of American hostages.

Before Macron’s massive misstatement about sending troops into Ukraine, NATO announced that Kyiv had a right, under international law, to strike Russian military targets outside Ukraine. International law may allow this, but recall Biden’s concern about nuclear Armageddon.

Finland, a new NATO member, gifted weapons to Ukraine with the blessing to use them to attack Russia. Germany is debating whether to send its long-range Taurus missiles to Kyiv. Germany’s indecision may be due to concerns about Biden’s nuclear Armageddon comment. If Germany sends Taurus missiles to Ukraine, it could lead to severe escalation in the war. Some analysts have speculated that Putin is looking to expand the war into Europe, especially Poland and the Balkans.

Berlin seems incapable of finding another diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine war. In 2014, then-German chancellor Angela Merkle crafted the elegant Minsk agreements which led to a ceasefire in the war. Where is Germany’s diplomacy in 2024?

It seems that NATO is looking to Washington for diplomatic leadership to end the Russia-Ukraine war, while Washington is looking to Europe for diplomatic leadership. Ukraine is looking to Washington and Europe for military funding and weapons.

Trump says he could end the war “quickly” by talking with Putin. Could Trump charm Putin into a ceasefire? It sounds risky, and it sounds improbable.

After two years of Biden’s failure in Ukraine, his billions in aid, his comment about a nuclear Armageddon, his many misstatements, and his unwillingness to talk with Putin, Trump’s charm appeal to Moscow could be, at this moment, the best hope Ukraine has for a ceasefire.

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KING: The Political Class Is Hiding Behind Two Old Men

Even political junkies are feeling short of adrenaline. Two old men are stumbling toward November, spewing gaffes, garbled messages and misinformation as the political class cowers behind banners they don’t have the courage not to carry.

If you aren’t committed to Joe Biden or Donald Trump in a very fundamental way, it is a kind of torture — like being trapped in the bleachers during a long tennis match. The ball goes back and forth over the net, your head turns right, your head turns left. You watch CNN, turn to Fox, turn to MSNBC, turn back to CNN. You read The Washington Post, try The New York Times, then pick up The Wall Street Journal.

Over all hangs the terrible knowledge that this will end in a player winning who many think is unfit.

These two codgers are batting old ideas back and forth across the news. We know them too well. There is no magic here; nothing good is expected of either victory. Less bad is the goal, a hollow victory at best.

This is a replay. We can’t take comfort in the idea that the office will make the man. Rather, we feel this time, in either case, the office will unmake the man.

Both are too old to be expected to deliver in the toughest job in the world. Much of the attention about age has focused on Biden, but Trump is only three years his junior and doesn’t appear to be in good health, and he delivers incomprehensible messages on social media and in public speeches.

We know what we would get from a Biden administration: more of the same but more liberal. His administration will lean toward the issues he has fought for — climate, abortion, equality, continuity.

From Trump, we know what we would get: upheaval, international dealignment, authoritarian inclinations at home, and a new era of chaotic America First. The courts will get more conservative judges, and political enemies will be punished. Trump has made it clear that vengeance is on his to-do list.

One candidate or the other, we are facing agendas that say “back to the future.”

But that isn’t the world that is unfolding. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late, great Democratic senator from New York, said “the world is a dangerous place.”

Doubly so now, when engulfing war is a possibility, when there is an acute housing crisis at home, and when the next presidency will have to deal with the huge changes that will be brought about by artificial intelligence. These will be across the board, from education to defense, from automobiles to medicine, from the electric power supply to the upending of the arts.

How have we come to such a pass when two old men dodder to the finish line? The fact is few expect Biden to finish out his term in good physical health, and few expect Trump to finish his term in good mental health.

How did we get here? How has it happened that democracy has come to a point where it seems inadequate to the times?

The short answer is the primary system, or too much democracy at the wrong level.

The primary system isn’t working. It is throwing up the extreme and the incompetent; it is a way of supporting a label, not a candidate. If a candidate faces a primary, the issue will be narrowed to a single accusation bestowed by the opposition.

What makes for a strong democracy is representative government — deliberation, compromise, knowledge and national purpose.

The U.S. House of Representatives is an example of the evil the primary system has wrought. Or, to be exact, the fear that the primary system has engendered in members.

The specter of former Rep. Liz Cheney, a conservative with lineage who had the temerity to buck the House leadership, was cast out and then got “primaried” out of office altogether, haunts Congress.

No wonder the political class shelters behind the leaders of yesterday, men unprepared for tomorrow, as a new and very different era unfolds.

There is a sense in the nation that things will have to get worse before they get better. A troubled future awaits.

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DelVal Dems Back Behemoth Border Bill; GOP Balks

President Joe Biden supports the mammoth $118 billion border and foreign aid deal released by the U.S. Senate Sunday night. And despite complaints from some progressives that it’s “a new version of a failed Trump-era immigration policy,” Delaware Valley Democrats say they’re on board, too.

“Now we’ve reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it,” Biden said in a statement.

The bill, which approves $60 billion in aid for Ukraine and another $14 billion for Israel, is poised for its first vote in the Senate on Wednesday. On immigration, it would raise the standard for claiming asylum, end “catch and release,” and add money for 50,000 detention beds for migrants awaiting review.

It was negotiated by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.)

But in Pennsylvania, attitudes toward the legislation fall along partisan lines.

“The bipartisan bill released last night takes critical steps towards securing our border and stopping fentanyl while providing key assistance to Ukraine and Israel,” said Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) via social media. “It’s time to put politics aside and get this done.”

His likely Republican opponent, Dave McCormick, posted his opposition. “This is not a compromise; it’s a capitulation. This bill does not secure the border — it allows 4,000 migrants to cross illegally every. single. day.”

McCormick was referencing a provision in the legislation that mandates the Department of Homeland Security turn away all would-be migrants at the border if encounters reach a weekly average of 5,000 per day. The bill also grants the president the authority to invoke that measure at 4,000 encounters per day.

Like many of his fellow Republicans, McCormick argues there’s no reason to allow that level of undocumented migration — about 1.4 million per year — before shutting down the border.

“To protect Americans and fight the scourge of fentanyl, we need to CLOSE the border to illegal immigration. I oppose this deal,” McCormick wrote.

Progressive Sen. John Fetterman posted on social media that he had former Republican Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson as a professor.

“Back in 1998, Sen. Simpson said that we’ll never have any meaningful immigration legislation because it will forever be a useful political weapon. Here we are more than a quarter century later. I hope my Senate Republican colleagues don’t prove him right. Let’s PASS THIS BILL.”

The three Democrats in the Delaware Valley federal delegation also support the package.

“Our border and immigration system is dysfunctional and has been under both parties,” Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery/Berks) posted on social media. “It’s time to start talking solutions. So far, House Republicans are unwilling. I pray they change their minds soon — for the sake of our communities and for the sake of those seeking refuge.”

Republican David Winkler, who is running against Dean, said he is “deeply disappointed” in the “lack of seriousness” from Democrats on the border, and he cites the lack of a border wall mandate in the bill.

“We should propose a bill that focuses on strengthening border security by implementing physical security measures, utilizing advanced technology, and increasing staffing.”

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) supports the bill. She visited the border last Thursday and Friday. Houlahan also penned a letter asking her colleagues to send more aid to Ukraine.

“I’m calling on Speaker [Mike] Johnson to change his deeply cynical position that “now is not the time” for immigration reform—I couldn’t disagree more. Most people in communities across America couldn’t disagree more. No solution will be perfect, but we cannot let that keep us from making progress for both the American people and those who seek refuge here,” Houlahan said in an op-ed in Newsweek on Monday.

Her request is falling on deaf ears. Speaker Johnson and other key House leaders signed a letter Monday declaring the bill dead on arrival in the House.

“It fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize more illegal immigration,” they wrote. “The so-called ‘shutdown’ authority in the bill is anything but, riddled with loopholes that grant far too much discretionary authority to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas – who has proven he will exploit every measure possible, in defiance of the law, to keep the border open.”

Neil Young, the Republican running against Houlahan, said he agrees with Johnson.

“Senate Republicans who voted in favor of this bill should be made to account for their vote and primaried if necessary. The American people do not want a quota system on how many people should be allowed into this country illegally.

“We deserve leaders who will vote to protect our borders from all threats, be they drug, crime, or illegal immigrant-related,” said Young. “In addition, for them to also tie this nonsense to yet another $60 billion foreign aid handout to Ukraine is doubly insulting. Last year’s HB2, which Speaker Johnson passed, was the blueprint for how to handle this, and the Senate still failed to deliver meaningful border security. The American people are smart enough to know that this current administration is responsible for our crisis at the border, and no amount of media spin can change that.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery) did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Ashley Ehasz, the Democrat making her second attempt to unseat him.

F&M Poll Shows Casey Ahead, Biden And Trump Virtually Tied

A new Franklin & Marshall College poll shows there hasn’t been much change since October in voters’ attitudes about the race between Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. and Republican challenger Dave McCormick.

Casey leads McCormick 47 percent to 35 percent in a head-to-head match-up for U.S. Senate. In October, the F & M poll showed Casey at 46 percent to McCormick’s 39 percent.

Another poll, the Susquehanna P & R,  conducted on Jan. 15 and 21, was closer. It had Casey at 45.9 percent and McCormick at 42.1 percent. That poll has a plus or minus 3.7 accuracy rate.

“There really isn’t that much difference between the polls–the numbers for Casey are virtually identical and Susquehanna has McCormick a tad higher than us. Could be the result of sampling variation, could be the result of question wording or order. What’s probably more important for McCormick is that 55 percent of voters said they didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion. He’ll definitely need to change that to be competitive,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute of Public Policy Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College,

President Joe Biden is barely ahead of former President Donald Trump in the presidential race, 43 to 42 percent, virtually a tie. Biden has a larger lead of 42 percent to 37 percent if a third-party candidate is added.

The poll claimed that more voters think Biden has better judgment than Trump, is more trustworthy and shares views closer to their own. But more voters believe that Trump can better handle the economy and serve as commander-in-chief.

And 43 percent think both Biden, 81, and Trump, 77, are too old to be president. One in five voters has an unfavorable opinion of both men.

Most Democrats, at 64 percent, think Biden is doing a good job. Only 8 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Independents believe that. Biden is also viewed more unfavorably by 57 percent of Pennsylvania voters than favorably by 41 percent of voters.

“The bad news for President Biden is that his numbers on handling of the economy and overall approval are dreadful and would normally spell doom for an incumbent,” said Vince Galko, a Republican strategist.  “The good news for Biden is that he is running against Donald Trump.  Former President Trump’s legal problems and his lack of support from Independents and suburban voters level the playing field and will make this a real dogfight.  This election may not be about who is best to lead our nation, but rather who is least objectionable.”

Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications, said, “The F&M poll shows the presidential race within the margin of error, which is not surprising. There are other recent polls that give President Trump a lead in Pennsylvania greater than the 1 percent margin in the F&M poll. While there are lingering questions about the sampling by F&M, one thing is clear: Pennsylvania is still up for grabs, and both teams have a lot of work to do.”

The survey also found that voters were “generally pessimistic” about the economy, although to a lesser extent than in October. Some 48 percent think things in the state are on the wrong track, but 55 percent believed that in October. And 47 percent believe they are worse off than they were a year ago, with 38 percent naming inflation as the cause and 19 percent saying the general cost of living. Some 7 percent listed the cost of food, and 7 percent said stagnant wages were the main reasons they feel worse off, the poll stated.

The Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College conducted the poll from Jan. 17 to 28. The responses included 1,006 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 450 Democrats, 414 Republicans, and 142 Independents. The sample error for this survey is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

KING: Want to Win the Election? Get a Great Speechwriter

I wonder whether my hearing is failing. Should I get it tested?

In this seminal presidential election year, I haven’t heard the answers from either side about the issues bearing down on the country.

The over-coverage of the Iowa caucuses was in direct proportion to the candidates’ avoidance of the great matters that the victor will have to deal with in the Oval Office.

If the Republicans are off down the yellow brick road of the Wizard of Donald Trump, the Democrats are well along a road of political ruin, believing they won’t win unless Trump is imprisoned or removed from the ballot. That represents a negative political dynamic.

Neither political caravan has emphasized there are great issues ahead that, if they were to embrace, would lead to victory.

Trump is sure he has the formula, and he may be right. Grievance, his and those of the voters — vast, shapeless grievance — propels the Republicans forward: Unhappy about something? Trump is your man.

Joe Biden’s message is to vote for more of the same. That should be a message enough because the Biden years have been overall good years with an economy that is growing despite inflation and woes abroad.

For Trump, everything is a platform, everything a bullhorn; for Biden, no message is getting out. He is in the chorus when he should be the lead singer.

Questions about Trump’s fitness for office are muted and questions about Biden — mostly his age — are front and center. It is asymmetrical, but it is what it is.

It is up to the Democrats to turn their fortunes around beyond waiting for Trump to fall. Trump is a political phenomenon, and his Republican and Democratic opponents need to accept that.

Meanwhile, huge issues are begging for attention. Here are just five:

—How to prepare for artificial intelligence and its boost to productivity set against its threat to jobs.

—How can we accommodate the effects of climate change? Should we build seawalls in vulnerable cities along the coasts? Can Boston, New York, Miami and San Francisco be physically defended against rising seas?

—The looming matter of Taiwan. Will we defend it, or will we let it fall to China? The stakes are appeasing China or going to war — world war.

—The housing crisis. This is a here-and-now issue that should be at the top of the Democratic agenda. This is a people issue like abortion. People have nowhere to live, and that should be a gift to any politician.

—Immigration writ large, not just as a crisis at the Southern border. It is a world issue in which every war, drought, coup, recession and religious purge worsens as more people from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Middle East seek a better life — but often just life itself. We can seal the border, but the undocumented will still arrive. Migrants are pitiable, as are all refugees, but they are flooding the stable countries of the world so fast that they endanger those countries. It is conquest by migration.

The candidates haven’t delivered great speeches on these or other issues, let alone a series of speeches that would move the electorate and the country. Nothing echoes from the rafters when Biden, Kamala Harris, Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis speak. It is small-bore stuff, no cannons.

Politics in democracies is carried forward by great speeches that raise new issues, redefine old ones and shiver the timbers of the electorate. Think Washington, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Churchill, De Gaulle, Kennedy, Reagan and Thatcher — and, in a special category, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. They carried the day with rhetoric and found their place in history with words.

Trump’s speeches are just Trump, part of the phenomenon, part of the disinformation cascade. Biden’s sound —  as I am sure they are — written by committee, like corporate press releases. And, oh, Harris reduces everything to incoherence. Haley and DeSantis have been hobbled by a disinclination to take on Trump frontally.

The big issues are hanging out like ripe fruit, ready to be plucked by any candidate with the nous to do so and craft a speech or several. None have I heard.

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UPDATE: Senate Dem Declares Mastriano ‘Insurrectionist’ for Questioning 2020 Election Results

First, Colorado. Then Maine. Now — Pennsylvania?

Using the same argument progressive Democrats are relying on to remove former President Donald Trump from the ballot in at least two states, state Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) announced Tuesday he’s filing an ethics complaint in the state Senate against his Republican colleague Sen. Doug Mastriano.

Mastriano is an outspoken Trump supporter who has repeatedly claimed the 2020 election was stolen, the results corrupted by widespread fraud.

Calling him an “insurrectionist,” Haywood said there is ample evidence showing Mastriano wanted to overturn the 2020 election that brought President Joe Biden into office. As a result, Haywood says, an investigation by the Senate is warranted. The Senate could vote to expel, censure, or reprimand Mastriano (R-Adams/Franklin) or reject the complaint.

He accused Mastriano, who ran for governor in 2022, of taking part “in a coup attempt to keep Donald J. Trump in office.”

“He used his prominence and reputation in the Senate and his office to conduct a bogus hearing, at which advisors of the then president who were not under oath provided testimony which proved later to be false,” said Haywood. “Further, he introduced a resolution to ‘disapprove and reject’ the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results.”

Holding hearings and introducing resolutions is not a crime. In fact, it’s part of a state legislator’s job. And although he attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., and listened to Trump speak, Mastriano did not go into the Capitol Building and was not charged by federal authorities.

Haywood argues the Senate is free to declare a member an insurrectionist, just as Colorado’s Supreme Court and Maine’s secretary of state have done in Trump’s case. Trump has never been charged with insurrection.

“He was part of a large, angry, armed, violent mob that was assembled at the Capitol for the purpose of overturning the election,” Haywood said Tuesday.

It may not be a coincidence that Haywood said he received information from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to make his complaint. That’s the same progressive nonprofit organization that brought the case to take Trump off the ballot in Colorado.

Brie Sparkman, policy counsel for CREW, said, “The constitution must be enforced, and accountability must be pursued against those who engaged in an insurrection against it.”

“Sen. Mastriano is an election denier, who despite having taken an oath to defend the United States Constitution, he supported and appears to have taken part in an insurrection against it. His continued service in the Pennsylvania Senate poses an acute and ongoing threat to democratic institutions in the commonwealth and nationwide.

“Sen. Mastriano has expressed no remorse in the actions on that day, even going so far as to continue to uphold the big lie during his unsuccessful run for governor in 2022,” said Sparkman.

Investigating candidates for public office in Pennsylvania over claims the other party believes are false would be unusual, to say the least.

The Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement, “It is unfortunate we are seeing the new year start with political gamesmanship. As outlined in Senate Rules, any ethical complaints are reviewed in a thorough manner.”

Mastriano had called for an audit of the 2020 general election and the 2021 primary election in July 2021, citing a poll that showed 40 percent of Pennsylvania voters believed there were problems. He was later subpoenaed to testify by the Congressional Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

Mastriano released this statement:  “One would think that the long time Senator for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania would start out the New Year by helping people and improving quality of life in his own district which is suffering from record crime rates and an epidemic drug overdose that is cutting down so many of his constituents in the prime of their lives.

“Sadly, the Senator is focused on a partisan PR stunt. What is truly unethical is a Senator using his bully pulpit to attack the freedom of speech of those he disagrees with. The Senator should tread carefully with this new precedent. Some could construe that his inflammatory anti-law enforcement rhetoric and actions led to the deadly and destructive riots across our commonwealth during the Summer of 2020.

“The Senator further embarrassed himself by justifying his specious ethics complaint with a report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW is a well-documented far left activist organization founded by a Democrat operative and uses a DNC vendor (Act Blue) to solicit donations from left-wing donors.

“I do not need a lecture on the U.S.  Constitution. I volunteered to defend it while serving our nation for over 30 years as an officer in the U.S. Army.

“This stunt will not intimidate or silence me,” he said.

Two Republican strategists said they believe Mastriano does not have much to worry about.

Christopher Nicholas, with Eagle Consulting, said, “Sen. Haywood is bored.”

Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications, agreed.

“You’ve got to wonder where Sen. Haywood has been for the last two or three years,” said Gerow. “We’re almost through the Biden presidency, and he’s just waking up to the act he can get some headlines by attacking Doug Mastriano?”

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KING: Why Haven’t the Presidential Candidates Embraced or Even Mentioned AI?

Memo to presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump:

Assuming one of you will be elected president of the United States next year, many computer scientists believe you should be addressing what you think about artificial intelligence and how you plan to deal with the surge in this technology, which will break over the nation in the next president’s term.

Gentlemen, this matter is urgent, yet only a little has been heard from either of you who are seeking the highest office. President Biden did sign a first attempt at guidelines for AI, but he and Trump have been quiet on its transformative impact.

Indeed, the political class has been silent, preoccupied as it is with old and — against what will happen — irrelevant issues. Congress has been as silent as Biden and Trump. There are two congressional AI caucuses, but they have been concerned with minor issues, like AI in political advertising.

Climate change and AI stand out as game changers in the next presidential term.

On climate change, both of you have spoken: Biden has made climate change his own; Trump has dismissed it as a hoax.

The AI tsunami is rolling in, and the political class is at play, unaware that it is about to be swamped by a huge new reality: exponential change that can neither be stopped nor legislated into benignity.

Before the next presidential term is far advanced, the experts tell us that the nation’s life will be changed, perhaps upended by the surge in AI, which will reach into every aspect of how we live and work.

I have surveyed the leading experts in universities, government and AI companies and they tell me that any form of employment that uses language will be changed. Just this will be an enormous upset, reaching from journalism (where AI already has had an impact) to the law (where AI is doing routine drafting) to customer service (where AI is going to take over call centers) to fast food (where AI will take the orders).

The more one thinks about AI, the more activities come to mind that will be severely affected by its neural networks.

Canvas the departments and agencies of the government, and you will learn the transformational nature of AI. In the departments of Defense, Treasury and Homeland Security, AI is seen as a serious agent of change — even revolution.

The main thing is not to confuse AI with automation. It may resemble it, and many may take refuge in the benefits of automation, especially job creation. But AI is different. Rather than job creation, it appears, at least in its early iterations, set to do major job obliteration.

But there is good AI news, too.  And those in the political line of work can use good news, whetting the nation’s appetite with the advances that are around the corner with AI.

Many aspects of medicine will, without doubt, rush forward. Omar Hatamleh, chief adviser on artificial intelligence and innovation at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, says the thing to remember is that AI is exponential, but most thinking is linear.

Hatamleh is excited by the tremendous effect AI will have on medical research. He says that a child born today can expect to live to 120 years of age. How is that for a campaign message?

A good news story in AI should be enough to make campaign managers and speechwriters ecstatic. What a story to tell; what fabulous news to attach to a candidate. Think of an inaugural address that can claim AI research is going to begin to end the scourges of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Sickle cell and Parkinson’s.

Think of your campaign. Think of how you can be the president who broke through the disease barrier and extended life. AI researchers believe this is at hand, so what is holding you back?

Many would like to write the inaugural address for a president who can say, “With the technology that I will foster and support in my administration, America will reach heights of greatness never before dreamed of and which are now at hand. A journey into a future of unparalleled greatness begins today.”

So why, oh why, have you said nothing about the convulsion — good or bad — that is about to change the nation? Here is a gift as palpable as the gift of the moonshot was for John F. Kennedy.

Where are you? Either of you?