Muhlenberg College/Morning Call Pennsylvania Presidential Election Survey: August 2020

In a new Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion election poll, voters in this swing state were surveyed about their choice for president in the upcoming election.

 Thursday, August 20, 2020 04:19 PM

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In the latest Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion election poll, done in conjunction with the Morning Call, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a narrow 4 point lead over President Donald Trump among likely Pennsylvania voters. 

Voters were also surveyed about the President’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, mail-in balloting, how best to get students back to school, whether they plan to vote for the Democrat or Republican candidate in their congressional district and more.

The report contains the results of a telephone survey of 416 likely voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania between August 11 and 17, 2020.  With a randomly selected sample of respondents, the margin of error for the surveys is +/- 5.5% at a 95% level of confidence.

Key Findings:

  • With election day 2020 a little over two months away, the latest Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll finds former Vice President Joe Biden holding a narrow 4 point lead (49%-45%) over President Donald Trump among likely Pennsylvania voters.

  • The President’s efforts to once again win the Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes is hindered by the majority of Pennsylvania likely voters who disapprove of his handling of the presidency (51%), and who believe that President Trump does not deserve reelection (53%).

  • Despite his narrow lead over Trump in the poll, Biden also exhibits liabilities, with more likely voters in the Commonwealth viewing him unfavorably (46%) than favorably (39%).
  • In the midst of the economic struggles that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, only 10% of likely voters in Pennsylvania said their financial situation is worse than it was before Trump took office, with 40% stating their financial situation is better now. These levels are largely unchanged since the last Muhlenberg/Morning Call poll in February.
    • "Given the current unemployment levels, we expected some shifts in these numbers," says Chris Borick, director of Muhlenberg's Institute of Public Opinion. "We know the economic standing of many people has suffered during the coronavirus pandemic crisis. I believe voters are appraising their economic situation not so much in the moment but rather over the span of Trump's presidency."
  • Democrats hold a 7% lead among likely Pennsylvania voters in terms of congressional elections in the state, with 45% planning to vote for the Democrat candidate in their district, compared to 38% backing Republican candidates.

  • As debates about mail-in balloting in Pennsylvania continue, about 2 out of 3 likely voters (64%) report that they intend to vote in person this November, with about 1 in 4 intending to vote by mail (26%), and 1 in 10 unsure of the voting method they will choose.
  • About 1 in 4 likely voters in the Keystone state indicate that as of the day they were surveyed they did not feel safe voting in person.
  • Likely voters in the Commonwealth are highly divided on the threat of fraud associated with extensive mail-in voting this fall, with 47% agreeing that there is a greater chance of fraud if most Pennsylvania vote by mail, and 46% disagreeing with this claim.
    • "As the debates surrounding mail-in ballots have become intense in Pennsylvania, we find that there is a stark divide among voters on how likely they are to believe this voting process is prone to fraud," says Borick.
  • The President’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic receives a very poor rating from Pennsylvania’s likely voters, with only 17% indicating he has done an “excellent” job on this issue, compared to 51% who rated his performance on this matter as “poor.”
  • In regards to the means of instruction in Pennsylvania schools, a plurality of likely voters (39%) prefer a mix of in-person and online instruction, with smaller percentages supporting entirely online instruction (28%), or in-person instruction (22%).

Read the full report: August 2020 Muhlenberg College/Morning Call Pennsylvania Presidential Election Survey

About Muhlenberg College
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential, liberal arts college offering baccalaureate and graduate programs. With an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences; selected preprofessional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health; and progressive workforce-focused post-baccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees. Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 90 miles west of New York City, Muhlenberg is a member of the Centennial Conference, competing in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.