BOSTON — A Suffolk University/York Daily Record poll of likely midterm voters shows double-digit leads for Democratic candidates in elections for U.S. Senate and governor in Pennsylvania.
Incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (47 percent) leads Republican challenger Lou Barletta (32 percent), and incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf (49 percent) holds a significant edge over GOP nominee Scott Wagner (36 percent).
“Unlike the 2016 presidential election in Pennsylvania, a squeaker that went to Donald Trump, the U.S. Senate and governor’s races show a turning back to the predominant Democratic Party,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.
The latest Keystone State registration statistics show Democrats at 48 percent, compared to 38 percent Republicans and 14 percent classified as unaffiliated/independent or other political designations.
President Donald Trump doesn’t have to be on the ballot to factor into how Pennsylvanians cast their votes for U.S. Senate, according to Paleologos.
• 19 percent of respondents said the president is the most important issue they will consider when voting, second only to the economy (20 percent).
• 44 percent of voters said they want their votes in November to change the direction Trump is leading the nation, while 36 percent said their vote would support the president.
• Trump’s favorability and job approval ratings continued to tip to the negative side, with 51 percent of Keystone State voters viewing him unfavorably and 41 percent favorably. His job-approval ratings show a similar split (51 percent disapproving, 42 percent approving).
The Trump administration policy that resulted in separating children and parents crossing the border, which he recently backed away from under heavy public pressure, has divided voters.
• 59 percent of respondents said that immigrant families should be kept together despite border security concerns, while 34 percent prioritized a secure border.
“Whether or not separating immigrant children from parents becomes a wedge issue will depend on how well the Trump administration responds to changes in implementing the zero-tolerance policy and how quickly families are reunited,” said Paleologos.
•Remapping Pennsylvania congressional districts to eliminate partisan gerrymandering garnered the support of nearly 46 percent of voters, who said they agree or strongly agree with the state Supreme Court’s order to redraw the districts created after the 2000 census. Some 29 percent disagree with the order.
• On gun control, 61 percent of Pennsylvanians said their next governor should move to ban semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15 rifle, and 68 percent of midterm voters support raising the age requirement to buy a firearm from 18 to 21.
• Over 61 percent of likely voters said they support raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to Wolf’s proposed $12 per hour — or more. Meanwhile, 29 percent favor a minimum of $15 per hour or more.
In the 2010 Pennsylvania midterm, which also included gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, the Suffolk poll predicted that Republican Pat Toomey would win the U.S. Senate by 5 points; he won by 2 points. In the governor’s race, the Suffolk poll projected a 7-point victory for Republican Tom Corbett, who won by 10 points.
The statewide survey of 500 Pennsylvania likely voters was conducted June 21–June 25. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website.
• Beth Melena, Wolf campaign spokesperson: “Governor Wolf is continuing to fight to change Harrisburg. He is focused on the issues that really matter to Pennsylvanians like making sure everyone has access to quality, affordable health care, more seniors have the opportunity to stay in their homes as they age, and our children are able to get the education they deserve.”
• Andrew Romeo, Wagner campaign spokesman: “Scott isn’t concerned with poll results. He’s focused on running a campaign for all the people of Pennsylvania that Tom Wolf has forgotten. This race is closer than the polls indicate, and if Tom Wolf spent any time actually talking to voters instead of hiding from them then he would realize it.”
• Max Steele, Casey campaign spokesman: “This poll confirms what every other poll has shown this year: Congressman Barletta’s misleading attacks just aren’t working. While Congressman Barletta continues to struggle, Senator Casey remains in a strong position heading into the final months of the campaign.”
• David Jackson, Barletta campaign spokesman: “These are the same public polls that said Donald Trump and Pat Toomey would lose in Pennsylvania in 2016. Despite this being the thirteenth time Bob Casey’s name will appear on a statewide ballot, Casey still cannot crack 50 percent, a terrible place for an incumbent to find himself. This is Lou Barletta’s first statewide campaign, and he is closing the margin as more voters hear his message. We are even more encouraged because the poll greatly over-sampled Democrats relative to historical turnout in non-presidential, even-year elections in Pennsylvania. As voters across Pennsylvania continue to get to know Lou, we are confident he will win in November.”