Donald Trump Closing the Hole in Essential Pennsylvania, Joe Biden’s Dwelling State

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Donald Trump Closing the Gap in Crucial Pennsylvania, Joe Biden's Home State

With nearly 25 days until the November 3 election, President Donald Trump is closing the gap among voters in Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s home state of Pennsylvania—a crucial battleground in Trump’s bid for re-election.

In the latest Emerson College/NewsNation poll among Pennsylvania residents, 688 likely voters were asked a series of questions between October 4 and 5. The poll found that 50 percent planned to cast their ballot for Biden, compared with the 45 percent who chose Trump. Three percent said they remained undecided, and 2 percent said they would vote for another candidate.

Biden’s lead has narrowed in the state since the last Emerson College poll, in August. At that time, he led Trump by 9 percentage points, 52 to 43 percent.

When voters were asked this week whom they thought would win the election, they were split exactly down the middle between Trump and Biden, suggesting how contentious the election remains with only a few weeks of campaigning left.

Pennsylvania voters also said that the economy is the most important election issue, with 33 percent of them choosing it over others like the coronavirus pandemic, health care, social justice or climate change.

But among those who planned to vote for Trump versus those who favored Biden, the importance of certain issues varies. The majority of Trump’s supporters (57 percent) chose the economy as their key issue. For Biden’s base, the country’s response to COVID-19 was the most important issue, at 31 percent.

The majority of Pennsylvania voters, however, said they believed Biden’s national coronavirus response plan is better than Trump’s, compared with the 44 percent who said Trump has a stronger plan. The two candidates remained neck in neck for who would make the country safer overall, with 49 percent of voters choosing Trump and 51 percent saying Biden.

The poll comes on the heels of Trump’s own coronavirus diagnosis and hospital stay, a surprise development that threw the run-up to the election into further turmoil. But 66 percent of Pennsylvania voters said that Trump’s positive test does not affect their voting decision. Eighteen percent said it made them less likely to vote for Trump, and 16 percent said it made them more likely.

Trump’s job approval continues to struggle in Pennsylvania. Fifty-two percent of those polled said they disapproved of the president, compared with the 44 percent who approve of his job as commander in chief.

The state is a crucial one for Trump as he seeks re-election. In 2016, Trump managed to secure Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, beating Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by an extremely narrow margin. Trump won 48.2 percent of voters’ support, flipping the great majority of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties red. Clinton received 47.5 percent of the vote in the state, which leans Democratic.

Most voters, 74 percent, said they are not influenced by the fact that Pennsylvania is Biden’s home state. Thirteen percent said it made them more likely to vote for Biden, who was born in Scranton, and 14 percent said it made them less likely.

Joe Biden speaks in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on October 6. His lead over President Donald Trump has narrowed in the state.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty

The new poll was released Tuesday, when Biden appeared in Pennsylvania for a campaign event. The former vice president delivered an address in Gettysburg, the site of perhaps the most famous battle of the Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln’s delivery of the historic Gettysburg Address.

Biden, who spoke for 25 minutes and did not mention his opponent by name once, quoted Lincoln’s opening line and drew on the 19th-century Republican’s rhetoric in comments that warned of the dangers to the country. But he also struck a positive note.

“(Lincoln) taught us this: A house divided could not stand. That is a great and timeless truth,” Biden said.

Nationally, Biden continues to maintain a fairly significant lead over Trump. According to polling website FiveThirtyEight, Biden is beating Trump by 9 percentage points, 51.4 to 42.4 percent.

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