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Muhlenberg College Poll Shows Trump Ahead in PA, McCormick Gaining on Casey

As the clock ticks down to the 2024 election, a new Muhlenberg College poll has former President Donald Trump with a narrow three-point edge over President Joe Biden, 44 to 41 percent. But the poll found that if independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is on the ballot, he takes 18 percent of the vote, leaving Trump and Biden tied at 35 percent.

The same poll of 417 registered voters conducted between April 15 and 25 shows three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) at 45 percent to Republican challenger Dave McCormick’s 41 percent.

The poll is the second within the past month to show McCormick is closing the gap against Casey, after Emerson College’s April survey found Casey’s lead had narrowed to just four points.

Political observers say both Biden and Trump are well-known to the public and it’s unlikely that many voters will shift their views in the remaining six months until November.

“I imagine we will see little ebbs and flows between Biden and Trump’s poll numbers over the next six months, but I would be surprised by any major shifts given how cemented the candidates are in most voters’ minds. Just like 2016 and 2020, the race in Pennsylvania is likely to be very close,” said Muhlenberg political science Professor Christopher Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

Quantum Communications CEO Charlie Gerow said, “This poll confirms that Donald Trump leads in Pennsylvania by an increasingly significant margin. That’s not surprising. The Biden economy is hurting ordinary Pennsylvanians, and they are going to vote against him in November.”

“Biden’s approval ratings continue to sink as Americans and Pennsylvanians in particular see someone who simply doesn’t have the capacity to lead,’ Gerow added.

The poll also found that Biden’s 2024 campaign to win Pennsylvania, a key swing state, is being undermined by poor job approval ratings (35 percent). And, only 33 percent of voters believe that Biden deserves a second term.

However, Biden and Trump both must contend with high unfavorable ratings among Pennsylvania voters. Some 57 percent disapprove of Biden and 55 percent hold similar negative views of Trump.

“The Presidential race will have an impact on the Senate race in terms of keeping the Senate votes fairly close to the presidential results, but by no means determine the winner. There is room for both Casey and McCormick to build enough separation from their presidential candidates that they can find a path to victory even if their party loses the presidential race,” Borick said. “A significant portion of voters either haven’t heard of McCormick, or have no opinion about him, so both his and Casey’s campaign will be active in defining him for that audience.”

Gerow said, “The poll also shows that Dave McCormick has an excellent shot at defeating Bob Casey. Casey’s lackluster record will be contrasted by McCormick’s service in the military,  as a job creator and as someone who has accomplished a great deal.”

“Bob Casey has spent his entire adult life in politics pushing the Democrat party line while his family got rich off his Senate office—that’s why he’s in the race of his life against Dave McCormick. Pennsylvanians need a senator who will put them first, not a career politician like Bob Casey,” said National Republican Senate Committee Spokesman Philip Letsou.

An election survey of Pennsylvania voters ages 50 and older conducted by Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research on behalf of AARP was also released this week. Not surprisingly, those voters are concerned about Social Security, Medicare and the cost of prescription medications.

In the 2020 elections, older voters accounted for 55 percent of all Pennsylvania voters and in the 2022 mid-terms, they comprised 62 percent of the state’s voters. Eighty-five percent of voters ages 50 and older say they are “extremely motivated” to vote in this election.

Among these older voters, Trump leads Biden by 52 percent to 42 percent. Casey leads McCormick 48 percent to 44 percent.

Elizabeth Gregory, a spokeswoman for McCormick, said, “Pennsylvanians from across the commonwealth are joining Dave’s movement to send a 7th-generation Pennsylvanian, combat veteran, and PA job creator to the Senate to deliver new leadership and fresh ideas. From day one of this campaign, Dave has been laser-focused on uniting the party and training our fire on career politician Bob Casey, who has voted for Joe Biden’s failing agenda 98 percent of the time, fueling a border crisis that has killed over 4,000 Pennsylvanians from fentanyl, violent crime, record inflation and regulations that are killing the commonwealth’s energy sector. On November 5, Pennsylvania will retire empty suit Bob Casey and send Dave McCormick to the Senate.”

The Casey campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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Biden Visits Scranton for Major Economic Speech

One day after Pennsylvanians filed their income taxes, President Joe Biden visited his hometown of Scranton on Tuesday and promised to cut middle-class taxes if given another term.

Biden will also visit Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Philadelphia on Friday—the eighth time the president or vice president will have come to Pennsylvania this year, according to his campaign. It’s yet another sign of the key role the Keystone State will play in the Electoral College in November.

Former President Donald Trump was in the Lehigh Valley on Saturday.

During a Monday press call, Biden campaign officials bashed Trump for the tax cuts he enacted in his first term, saying they favored billionaires and corporations. Former National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said that if Trump were reelected, he would bring “a plan our economy and our country simply can’t afford.”

He said Trump would extend the tax cuts for high-income individuals and give billionaires more than $3.5 million in tax relief every year. That would come by repealing the Affordable Care Act. They said Trump would also give large corporations a $1.5 trillion “windfall,” letting them use special loopholes to pay little or nothing in taxes.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris would also increase taxes on millionaires by 25 percent to make the “wealthy” pay “their fair share” toward Medicare, Deese said.

In fact, the Tax Foundation reports top earners are already paying a disproportionate share of taxes.

“The current federal tax system is highly progressive. For the individual income tax alone, the top 1 percent of earners pay about 45.8 percent of total income taxes, and the top 10 percent of earners pay nearly 76 percent of total income taxes, said Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst with the Tax Foundation.

“Looking at the federal tax system overall, the federal tax rate in 2019 began at 0.5 percent for the bottom 20 percent of earners to a 30 percent effective tax rate for the top 1 percent of earners, which show the system is progressive. The share of all federal taxes paid by the top 1 percent stands at about 25 percent, up from an average of 14.3 percent in the 1980s,” Wilson said.

“We have also looked closely at the entire tax and transfer system within the U.S, including non-tax transfers at all levels of government,” he said.

“The lowest quintile experienced a combined tax and transfer rate of negative 127.0 percent, meaning that for each dollar they earned, they received an additional $1.27 from the government, netting transfers (gains) and taxes (losses), while the top quintile had a rate of positive 30.7 percent, meaning on net they paid just under $0.31 for every dollar earned,” he said.

The Biden campaign also charged that Trump would help wealthy tax cheats by repealing the $87 billion Democrats have dedicated to increased IRS audits.

“You’re…allowing tax cheats to operate with impunity,” said Deese.

However, according to The Wall Street Journal, 63 percent of new audits last year targeted the middle class, despite promises audits would be aimed at those making $400,000 or more.

And Biden’s proposed $7.3 trillion fiscal year 2025 budget includes a $4.9 trillion tax increase.

“This is a classic tax-and-spend budget that continues large deficits even after big tax hikes,” according to Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute.

Dan Kanninen, Biden’s campaign battleground states director, said the Biden campaign has seven offices in the Delaware Valley and is aggressively reaching out to voters.

Kanninen said Biden has helped “create half a million jobs” in Pennsylvania.

“We’re building roads and bridges across the state. Meanwhile, Trump and his MAGA allies in Pennsylvania are saddled with a deeply unpopular agenda,” he said.

“Trump’s MAGA brand has become toxic in the Philadelphia suburbs, which are key swing areas that decide any Pennsylvania race statewide,” he said. Despite recent losses in statewide races, Republicans are becoming “more extreme,” he said. While Democrats are winning on their pledges to safeguard democracy, abortion and LGBTQ rights, he said.

Trump Campaign National Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt said the important issue is the economy.

“President Trump proudly passed the largest tax cuts in history. Joe Biden is proposing the largest tax hike ever which would take nearly $40,000 away from the average American family who is already losing thousands every year due to Biden’s record-high inflation crisis.

“When President Trump is back in the White House, he will advocate for more tax cuts for all Americans and reinvigorate America’s energy industry to bring down inflation, lower the cost of living, and pay down our debt.”

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Biden Campaign Targets PA With $30 Million Ad Buy

President Joe Biden fired a salvo this week, releasing a new 2024 campaign ad.

Called “For You,” it’s part of a $30 million campaign targeting voters in battleground states, including Pennsylvania. The spot begins with Biden talking directly to viewers and touting his accomplishments as president. In the ad, Biden seems like a friendly father or grandfather.  He talks about what he’s done and claims former President Donald Trump lacked achievements during his term.

In the commercial, the 81-year-old Democrat highlights his age and experience as helping him get things done in Washington.

“Y’all want to talk about age? Let’s talk about age,” said Michael Tyler, communications director for the Biden-Harris campaign. “At 77, Joe Biden beat Donald Trump. At 78, he led us through the COVID crisis, put us on a path to creating nearly 15 million new jobs since the day he took office, and passed the bipartisan infrastructure law to repair our roads and bridges and expand access to broadband internet to every community.

“At 79, he got us the most significant gun safety legislation in a generation and became the first president to beat Big Pharma and cap the cost of insulin at $35 for seniors. At the same time, he made the single largest investment in history to combat climate change – all before his 80th birthday. Meanwhile, the only helpful thing Donald Trump did for the American people in four years was lose the 2020 election to Joe Biden – and it’s the one thing he won’t take credit for,” said Tyler.

“Now, Joe Biden is 81, and he’s going to beat Donald Trump again because he wakes up every single day fighting for the American people while Trump wages a campaign of revenge and retribution focused on himself. Trump may be four years younger than Joe Biden, but his ideas are old as hell, and they’ve already been rejected by the American people. Joe Biden is running to make sure we reject them for good.”

An Axis/Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance poll from Feb. 25 to 27 had Biden ahead with Pennsylvania voters by 1 point. The poll had Biden at 40 percent, Donald Trump at 39 percent, Robert Kennedy Jr. at 8 percent, Jill Stein at 2 percent, and Cornell West at 1 percent.

However, a Morning Consult/Bloomberg poll taken Feb. 12 to 18 showed Biden at 36 percent, Trump at 45 percent, Kennedy at 8 percent, West at 1 percent, and Stein at 1 percent.

“Biden could put millions more behind this ad, and he’d still be missing the mark,” said GOP consultant Charlie Gerow. “He doesn’t even address the mess he’s created at the southern border, which is on every voter’s mind. Nobody is buying that we have the strongest economy in the world while they struggle to pay for their groceries. He can’t get around the age issue because it’s about much more than age. The American people can see that he’s failing. Telling them they’re wrong won’t work.”

“The close is cute, but cute doesn’t cut it,” Gerow added.

The six-week ad run will air on national and local broadcast and cable television in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina. The ad campaign will target audiences in the key markets of Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Phoenix, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Raleigh, focusing on voters of color and young voters.

The ad will be shown on popular entertainment and sports programming on stations like ESPN, TNT, FX, Adult Swim, and Comedy Central during high-viewership moments like the NCAA March Madness Tournament. It will also run digitally across platforms – heavily emphasizing Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

“Joe Biden is burning cash gaslighting Pennsylvania voters, but they aren’t buying his lies,” said Rachel Lee, Republican National Committee spokeswoman. “Keystone State families and workers know that his failed agenda has driven up prices, threatened their safety, waged a war on American energy, and exacerbated the opioid crisis in the commonwealth. With Biden underwater in Pennsylvania, voters are enthusiastic to support President Donald J. Trump and restore American prosperity once again!”

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PAWLICKI: Authoritarian? Cult? Fact or Political Rhetoric?

What does it mean to be authoritarian? What is a cult? These are labels Democrats assign to the presumptive Republican candidate for president and to a significant part of his followers. Are these labels accurate, or are they just political rhetoric?

Authoritarianism refers to a style in which a person assumes and acts as if they have absolute rule — total power and immunity. They presume they can act like a king or dictator with supreme power. We accept Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as authoritarians with that internal expectation.

Any deviation from their wishes can mean death or imprisonment. No exceptions are allowed to their dictates. Authoritarians ignore or attack decisions they oppose and punish their opposition to the best of their ability.

Many Democrats claim Donald Trump is cut from the same cloth as Xi and Putin. Is that true, or is it just political rhetoric against a candidate who received about 74 million votes in the 2020 presidential election?

Does Trump attack his enemies rather than argue policy? Does he work to punish and threaten his opponentsDoes he ignore laws or judgments not to his liking? Does he lie? Did the former president work to attain personal wealth through his office as other authoritarians have done? Does he scapegoat minorities and people with disabilities as Adolf Hitler did the Jews? If yes, and by those criteria, Trump is authoritarian.

Those with dictatorial beliefs offer quick answers to complex questions. They tend to rise to power when countries are in despair, with significant dissatisfaction and malaise, such as Putin and Hitler.

Authoritarian leaders suppress oppositional thought and create a strong megaphone of their own. Ingeniously, Trump embedded a belief in “false news” early in his ascent to power. Two impeachment trials and a Jan. 6th hearing made little dent in MAGA’s opinion. Few of his supporters followed the proceedings. The same is likely in the coming 91 indictments with evidence critical of the former president’s behavior.

All Trump voters are not cult members, but a significant portion fit the definition. Cult members are typically led by a self-appointed charismatic leader who requires absolute devotion and insists on total denial of information critical of their leader. The insistence on this alternative reality must be intact to qualify as a cult member.

Cult members maintain an unwavering belief in the wishes and thoughts of their leader. They deny and ignore oppositional thought and imbue unbounded admiration for the leader, bordering on religious faith.

Trump fosters a cult of personality in which he is the only one who can make America great again. It is a true sign of an authoritarian and, for those most devoted followers, religiously embedded.

As authoritarian power grows, so does its grandiosity. Recently, Trump posted a video on Truth Social touting the idea that God created him as a caretaker and “shepherd to mankind.” Posters of him in a pose with Jesus Christ are easily found at his rallies.

Trump rallies are settings of joy, if not rapture. Followers commonly wait hours for his arrival, interrupt his utterances with excitement, and laugh uproariously at his slurs and put-downs, enjoying the rude expressions he dares to say. They turn to their like-minded neighbor wrapped in a community addiction, joyful to be a part of this community.

Trump is not an ordinary politician. He is perceived to be a savior by many. Trump is fighting for them. He knows their grievances and frustrations. They have been waiting for him.

Devoted followers are so convinced of his righteousness that civil behaviors are bent. His direct and indirect support of violent behavior becomes acceptable, a telling measure of cult behavior if suggested by the leader. The most common rationalization in Germany after World War II was that “I followed orders. I don’t believe that I’m to blame.” Blind and unthinking commitment dominates over facts, discussion and rational thought.

Ultimately, however, authoritarians destroy democracies. They suppress their enemies and elevate their most loyal supplicants with power. They may deliver short-term satisfaction to some but ultimately long-term disaster to the masses.

Trump supporters, cult followers or otherwise, need the maturity to understand what they are buying is fool’s gold. They may enjoy short-term benefits. Their children and our democracy will not. There is substance in labeling Donald Trump as authoritarian, and some of his followers are accurately labeled as cult-followers.

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GOP’s McCormick Beats Casey in Fundraising, Gaining in Polls

Pennsylvania Republicans got a double dose of good news Monday, and it suggests a good year ahead for the GOP.

For U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick, the headline is his blowout fundraising in the fourth quarter of 2023, $6.4 million. That’s more money than the incumbent Democrat he’s challenging, Sen. Bob Casey, has ever raised in a single quarter.

For former President Donald Trump, the good news is a poll from the left-leaning group Future Majority showing him leading President Joe Biden in Biden’s native Pennsylvania by six points, 46-40 percent. Trump already has a slim one-point advantage in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. With the new Future Majority poll, Trump beat Biden in four of the five most recent polls in Pennsylvania.

It’s part of a consistent trend showing Trump leading Biden in Pennsylvania and six other swing states that are likely to determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential race. And it’s good news for Keystone State Republican candidates like McCormick, who will benefit from having a strong performance at the top of the GOP ticket.

Not that McCormick isn’t helping himself.

McCormick raised $5.4 million from over 15,000 individual donors and put in an additional $1 million of his own in his first quarter as a 2024 Senate candidate, making for a groundbreaking haul, his campaign said in a press release. McCormick’s number beats any of Bob Casey’s fundraising quarters in 18 years and is among the largest first quarters ever for a Republican challenger.

“Dave McCormick has earned the support of Pennsylvanians from all walks of life because they believe he is the kind of leader who can address the burden of inflation on working families, push for a secure border, and protect the security of Americans at home and abroad. A seventh-generation Pennsylvanian, West Point graduate, and Pennsylvania job creator, Dave is exactly the kind of candidate who can beat Bob Casey in November, shake up Washington, and get this country back on track from the failed policies of Joe Biden,” said McCormick campaign manager Matt Gruda.

The Casey campaign raised $3.2 million for the third quarter of 2024.

“I’m no stranger to a tough race. I’ve always fought for PA, and I won’t stop now. We’re up against a wall of money, so I’m looking for 10,000 supporters to help us start 2024 off strong,” Casey posted on social media.

In addition to his fundraising success, McCormick just completed a trip to Israel to highlight his strong foreign policy resume and raise questions about Casey’s commitment to the Jewish state.

Delaware Valley supporters of McCormick like what they’re seeing from the candidate.

“Dave McCormick is running an excellent campaign so far,” Radnor businessman Austin Hepburn told DVJournal. “His fundraising is impressive. It’s going to be an expensive race.”

Democrats are already looking at a difficult U.S. Senate map as they attempt to hold their 51-49 majority. West Virginia is almost certain to flip to the GOP now that Sen. Joe Manchin has announced he’s not seeking reelection. Democratic incumbents in two other states that Trump carried easily in 2020 — Ohio and Montana — are up for reelection in November, too. If Democrats can’t hold Pennsylvania, they are assured of losing control of the Senate.

And if Biden can’t pick up his poll numbers here, it’s going to be tough for Casey to hold off McCormick.

Perhaps in an effort to shore up his support in Pennsylvania, Biden kicked off his 2024 campaign in Montgomery County on Friday with a speech attacking Trump. Biden went after Trump over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, claimed Trump would become a dictator if elected again, and compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of Hitler.

While going negative against Trump, Biden did not tout his own record. All of which has the GOP feeling optimistic.

“From calling out Biden’s ‘erosion’ of support, to bluntly saying his ‘numbers are bad,’ to already being desperate for a ‘rebound,’ the Pennsylvania press corps are calling in dire news for Joe Biden,” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Rachel Lee. “Democrats’ prospects in Pennsylvania are bleak, and in 300 short days, Joe Biden and Bob Casey will be reading the worst headlines of their careers yet: Democrats’ defeat.”


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Republicans Believe PA Will Go Red in 2024

Despite a poor showing in statewide judicial races in 2023, Pennsylvania Republicans are bullish for 2024.

It’s a presidential election year and so far former President Trump is leading in the polls for the primary so barring an unforeseen event, the general election will likely be a rematch of Trump against President Biden.

“I think in Pennsylvania, the Republicans will do very, very well,” said  Republican consultant Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications. “And as Pennsylvania goes, so goes the nation.”

Asked about the losses in 2023, Gerow said, “2023 was an ‘off-year election’ with a very different electorate than the folks who will show up at the polls next year.”

More people come out and vote in presidential election years.

“You’re going to have three times the number of voters participating in 2024 as you had in 2023,” said Gerow.

Scott Presler, a Republican voter registration activist who has been focusing on registering Pennsylvania voters this year, including spending three days in December at a recent gun show in Oaks, is also bullish.

“I feel more confident today about Republicans winning the presidency in 2024, than I did a year ago,” said Presler.

He points with pride to the recent “flip” of Beaver County from Democrat to Republican and believes Bucks County may be next. Luzerne and Centre counties are also on the cusp of flipping from blue to red.

In the first two weeks in December, the Democrats lost 2,165 voters while Republicans gained 3,530 voters.

“Republicans had a net gain of 5,695 voters in 14 days,” said Presler, who was also recently in Philadelphia teaching local Republicans how to register voters.

“This is monumental when you think of Joe Biden winning Pennsylvania in 2020 by 80,000 votes,” said Presler. “So I think 2024 is going to be a great year. I think Pennsylvania is winnable and anecdotally from what I’ve experienced the last three days at the gun show, granted it’s a gun show. These are Second Amendment voters.”

“Republican momentum is on the rise, with another Pennsylvania county flipping from blue to red just this week. The RNC is continuing to register Republican voters and encouraging them to ‘bank’ their vote for Republicans up and down the ballot in 2024, as Pennsylvanians stand ready to Beat Biden and retire Bob Casey once and for all!” said RNC Spokesperson Rachel Lee.

In November of 2021, Pennsylvania Democrats had 605,188 more voters than Republicans.   Republicans have reduced Democrats’ advantage by over 161,000 voters in the last two years.

In 2023, some 50,000 Democrats and Independents have re-registered as Republicans in Pennsylvania.

The RNC is also pushing mail-in ballots in a Bank Your Vote campaign, to cut into the Democrats’ lead in that arena.

“People are hungry for change. One woman who was born in 1965 never registered to vote her entire life. She registered for the first time with me as a Republican,” said Presler.

“What I’m hearing from people is the theme, what they’re saying to me is, ‘The world is in chaos. The world is upside down and it’s time for a change.’ That’s what I’m hearing over and over again,” said Presler.

Many DelVal voters still abhor Trump and will likely never vote for him.

“Well, in other parts of the state, they are,” said Gerow.

“And, as you know, Donald Trump won here in Pennsylvania in 2016, and lost narrowly in 2020. So he’s got a very clear path to win again in 2024,” said Gerow. “And I believe he will.”

Asked about abortion, which Democrats have been successfully using as a wedge issue, including to attack Judge Carolyn Carluccio, the Republican who ran for the Supreme Court, Gerow believes that issue will fade.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as big as some of our Democratic friends will like it to be,” said Gerow. “I think the economy is going to be the dominant issue next year and the devastation of Bidenomics is going to reflect in the results.”

The other marquee race will be three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey who is being challenged by Dave McCormick, a Gulf War veteran, a successful businessman who also served in the Bush administration.

Gerow said, “Dave McCormick’s entire life is action packed. He gets things done. His record of accomplishment in the private sector far exceeds Bob Casey’s 34 years in politics. People are increasingly asking, ‘What has Bob Casey actually done?’ They don’t ask that about Dave McCormick.”

“I think it always boils down to personalities,” said Gerow.

He also pointed to Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who the state Democratic Party endorsed for auditor general, over two other candidates.

“He’s a Marxist for crying out loud,” said Gerow. “That’s where the Democratic Party is right now. It’s identity politics. He’s African American. He’s gay. He checks all the boxes. That’s what they’re looking for, not competency. That guy’s got no business running for auditor general.”

In contrast, incumbent Timothy DeFoor, who is also African American, has a strong background in auditing and accounting.

In addition to the economy, Presler said people are concerned with rising crime. He is convincing Philadelphians to either register Republican as first-time voters or to switch parties based on rising crime.

“I’m getting formerly incarcerated people,” he said. “Business owners. They’ve changed their lives and they’re going ‘Oh my gosh, the taxes are incredible. Inflation is incredible. Crime is rising. The streets aren’t being cleaned.”

“Unlike 2020 or 2016, you’re going to see millions of people who have never been part of the process coming out to vote,” said Presler.

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Poll Shocker: 84% of PA Voters Say Biden, 80, Is Too Old for Second Term

A new Franklin & Marshall Poll released Thursday found a jaw-dropping 84 percent of Pennsylvania voters think President Joe Biden, once called a “scrappy kid from Scranton,” is too old for a second term. That compared to 47 percent who said the same about Donald Trump.

“Most of those people are Democrats, actually, who say that Biden is too old,” said Berwood Yost, Director of the Franklin & Marshall Poll, to DVJournal. “Republicans say, ‘Yeah, Biden’s too old.’ Democrats are more likely to say they’re both too old.”

The age issue has plagued Biden, who turns 81 next month, all year. A Delaware Valley Journal/Coefficient poll in July found that 48 percent of suburban voters didn’t believe he was mentally or physically fit to face a crisis as president.

Some Pennsylvania Democrats, however, said they believe Trump’s problematic politics will more than make up for doubts about Biden’s abilities.

“It’s an issue – plain and simple,” said T.J. Rooney, a Democratic strategist. “However, Trump still has a stranglehold on the Republican Party. As long as that remains the case, Republicans will continue to lose elections – from the state house to the White House.”

The poll results should still be disturbing for Democrats wanting to keep their “Blue Wall” of Midwestern and blue-collar states intact. Biden leads Trump 44 to 42, despite the latter’s indictment on multiple charges in federal and state courts. It is worth noting that an early October survey from Emerson College Polling gave Trump a nine-point lead over Biden.

Also troublesome for Democrats is that Biden’s favorability rating within their party was at 57 percent. That is well below the 78 percent favorability the president enjoys nationally among Democrats.

Biden’s overall favorability rating is no better. Fifty-eight percent of the surveyed 873 registered voters had a negative opinion. Only 40 percent gave him a favorable rating.

“I think it’s clear that these concerns about the economy are really dragging on the president and how they feel about him,” said Yost. Biden’s current rating is lower than Trump’s and former President Barack Obama’s ratings in Pennsylvania at the same point in their first term. “You look at the numbers, and you just see that there’s not a terrible amount of enthusiasm at this point for his candidacy.”

For comparison, Trump has a similar 58 percent unfavorable rating but a 41 percent favorable – one percent higher than Biden.

The high unfavorable ratings may not stop people from picking Biden or Trump.

“No one’s running against Biden, and then Trump obviously has such a grip on the GOP base that it doesn’t matter what he really does,” Larry Ceisler of Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy told DVJournal. He believes the country is craving for different candidates but is resigned to Biden-Trump II. “People are expressing their hopes for what they wish it could be.”

Trump dominates the Republican field. He scored 55 percent support in the Republican Primary field, with Ron DeSantis far behind at 14 percent. The Florida governor has seen the floor drop since April 2023, when he was only six points behind Trump. In third place was former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley with nine percent.

Head-to-head, those surveyed think Biden was more trustworthy and had better judgment. He also ranked higher on values issues like abortion and gay marriage. Biden led Trump 42-41 percent on who understands ordinary Americans.

Trump scored higher on the economy (49-38) and as commander in chief of the military (47-39).

Democrats like Rooney aren’t publicly sweating Biden’s low number against Trump. “Lots of road for Trump to cover in court before next November.”

Unlike Biden, things for Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro appear to be going all right. The poll found 49 percent believed Shapiro was doing an “excellent” or “good” job as the state’s top elected official. The only Pennsylvania governor to have a higher rating 10 months into his term was Tom Ridge.

Yost saw it as Shapiro’s style of governance. “He’s implemented some policies that are things that Republicans might support. He’s been supportive of school choice. I think he’s a moderate leader that communicates things well.”

Shapiro is unsurprisingly doing well with Democrats, generating 76 percent support. But it was a different story with independents and Republicans. The governor garnered 25 percent approval from the GOP and only 38 percent from independent voters. It was still enough to get him an overall 57 percent favorable rating.

There are still problems for Shapiro and the state legislature. The Franklin & Marshall College Poll revealed 50 percent of respondents felt they are “worse off” compared to 2022, and 35 percent thought they will be financially worse off from last year. And voters were worried about the state of Pennsylvania, with 55 percent saying it was “on the wrong track.”

“I think that’s a blanket issue,” commented Shapiro. “Certainly, the state legislature has had its share of issues. Particularly the House being able to organize itself early in the term. There’s still some spending bills left to finish in the state.”

He added national issues like inflation are likely why people seem pessimistic about their situation.

The poll also found incumbent Democrat Sen. Bob Casey holds a seven-point lead over likely GOP challenger Dave McCormick.

That has Ceisler believing that things will be fine for Democrats in 2024. “I don’t see a scenario where Bob Casey wins reelection and Joe Biden loses the state. [Democrats are] sending a message to Joe Biden, but, at the end of the day, they’re going to vote for him.”