A new Franklin & Marshall College poll suggests that Pennsylvania is slipping from Republican Donald Trump’s grasp in the last week of the presidential campaign, with Democrat Hillary Clinton opening up an 11-point lead among likely voters.
Clinton has the support of 49 percent of those who say they are certain to vote, to 38 percent for Trump, according to the survey released Tuesday. The remainder were undecided or planning to support a third-party candidate.
“This state was always going to be an uphill fight for Trump to win,” said F&M polling director G. Terry Madonna. “Pennsylvania is simply trending more Democratic than the other big swing states.”
In Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race, the poll finds Democrat Katie McGinty with a 47 percent to 35 percent lead over Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey among likely voters. Her 12-point advantage is larger than in previous F&M polls and also bigger than the average of recent Senate race polls in the state.
“Readers should interpret these results with caution and in the context of other recent polling,” the pollsters advised. Madonna noted that Toomey underperformed his showing in other polls in the F&M survey. It’s either an outlier, or an indication that Democrats are “aligning to vote straight ticket, which we saw in 2012,” Madonna said.
The poll is too "silly" to be regarded seriously, said Ted Kwong, spokesman for the Toomey campaign. “This poll is so laughably wrong, and so wildly off from every other poll that exists, that we will shed our long-standing policy of not commenting on public polls in order to call it what it is – worthless," Kwong said.
The demographic divisions in the race for president have remained stable throughout the general election campaign, the latest poll finds. Clinton continues to dominate among women, young voters, non-whites, self-described moderates, and those living in the influential suburban Philadelphia counties of southeastern Pennsylvania, where statewide elections are often decided.
Trump has big advantages among whites without a college education, those living in rural counties, and self-described conservatives, as he had in previous F&M surveys.
The poll finds Trump holds the advantage among white likely voters with no college degree 53 percent to 34 percent for Clinton, as he has throughout the race. Among white men overall, Clinton leads 45 percent to 43 percent, but she leads among white women likely to vote - 53 percent to 36 percent.
The survey is based on live telephone interviews conducted between Oct. 26 and Oct. 30 with 863 registered voters taken from a commercially available voter list, including 652 likely voters. The margin of sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, and for likely voters it is 5.1 percentage points.
About 80 percent of the interviews were finished before the FBI’s announcement Friday afternoon that it had unearthed and would investigate additional emails possibly related to the private server Clinton used as secretary of state.
The issue has bedeviled Clinton, feeding into the perception, captured in multiple polls, that voters do not find her trustworthy. Yet it had seemed to fade after the FBI said in July that it would not recommend prosecution for Clinton’s handling of classified information on the unsecure private server.
As of Monday, the Real Clear Politics average of polls showed Clinton leading Trump by an average of 5.6 percentage points, 46.4 percent to 40.8 percent, among Pennsylvania likely voters.