Monmouth Poll: Trump Slices into Clinton’s Lead in Battleground Pennsylvania

Hillary Clinton maintains a lead over Donald Trump in neighboring Pennsylvania, although by a smaller margin than one month ago, according to this afternoon’s Monmouth University Poll.

The poll finds Clinton with a 4-point edge over Trump, down from a 10 point lead in October and an 8 point lead in August.  Simultaneously, in the race for U.S. Senate, Democratic challenger Katie McGinty has pulled ahead of GOP incumbent Pat Toomey by 3 points.  The race was tied last month, while McGinty had a 4 point lead in the summer.

Among Keystone State voters likely to cast ballots in November’s presidential election, 48% currently support Clinton and 44% back Trump.  Another 3% intend to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 1% back Jill Stein of the Green Party.  This marks a narrowing of Clinton’s 50% to 40% lead from one month ago and her late August advantage of 48% to 40% over Trump.

“Clinton is still in the lead, but the race has tightened in the past four weeks. It looks like this shift was in the works even before Friday’s FBI bombshell, which has made only a small contribution to this overall narrowing,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Murray conducted the poll after news broke about the FBI investigation of new emails during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.  Only 4% of Pennsylvania voters say this news caused them to change their minds about which candidate they would support.  The vast majority (89%) say these latest developments have had no impact on their vote and 6% are unaware of the news.  Among those who changed their vote, Trump has less than a 2:1 advantage, meaning the overall presidential vote margin shifted by no more than one percentage point specifically due to this breaking news.

The Republican nominee has regained some support among white voters, mainly among women, since October.  He currently leads among all white voters by 50% to 43%, which is similar to his 48% to 39% advantage back in August.  However, the white vote was divided at 46% for Trump and 45% for Clinton just one month ago.  Trump trails among white women 45% to 48% for Clinton, but this is much improved from his 35% to 55% deficit with this group last month.  Trump continues to hold a large advantage among white men – 55% to 37%, compared with 57% to 35% in October.

Clinton leads among non-white voters by 83% to 9%.  This is slightly lower than her 88% to 5% lead among this group in October and her 90% to 5% lead in August.  These differences, however, are within the survey’s margin of error.

Philadelphia and its suburbs are where Pennsylvania statewide races tend to be won or lost.  Clinton continues to do very well in the southeastern corner of the state.  She leads Trump by a 62% to 29% margin in the seven congressional districts that encompass the city of Philadelphia and its adjacent suburbs. This is nearly identical to her October lead of 62% to 30% and her August lead of 62% to 29%.

Trump’s improved performance has been driven by significant gains in the western portion of the state, where he now has a substantial 54% to 38% lead over Clinton.  Last month, Clinton actually had a very narrow edge of 45% to 42% in western Pennsylvania, whereas Trump held a 47% to 40% lead here in August.  Trump continues to hold an advantage of 56% to 40% in the northeastern and central part of the state, which is similar to his 55% to 38% lead last month and slightly off his 58% to 28% lead in this region in August.

The poll also found that Clinton’s favorability rating has ticked down in the last month while Trump’s rating has ticked up. Fewer than 4-in-10 Pennsylvania voters (36%) have a favorable opinion of Clinton while 53% hold an unfavorable view of her.  This compares with a 41% favorable and 48% unfavorable rating in October.  Only 32% have a favorable opinion of Trump while 54% hold an unfavorable view of him, but this is better than his October rating of 27% favorable and 60% unfavorable.

Turning to the U.S. Senate race, former state official Katie McGinty now leads GOP incumbent Pat Toomey by 47% to 44%, with another 3% of Keystone State voters supporting Libertarian Edward Clifford.  The race was tied at 46% for each major party nominee last month, while McGinty had a 45% to 41% lead in August.

McGinty has made gains in the southeastern part of the state, now holding a 57% to 34% lead in this region compared with a narrower 49% to 42% margin last month.  Toomey has a lead of 54% to 40% in the eastern and central portion of the state, identical to his 54% to 40% lead in October.  The Republican has gained some strength in the western part of the state where Toomey now leads McGinty by 48% to 40%.  The two candidates were actually tied at 45% each in this region one month ago.

Toomey continues to get mixed job ratings from his constituents – 40% approve and 37% disapprove of his performance as U.S. Senator.  His job rating was 42% approve to 38% disapprove in October and 43% approve to 35% disapprove in August.

Voters are divided on their personal opinion of both candidates.  Toomey has a 31% favorable and 30% unfavorable rating, which is practically the same as his 32% favorable and 30% unfavorable rating last month.  McGinty has a 27% favorable and 28% unfavorable rating, which is essentially the same as her 27% favorable and 29% unfavorable rating last month.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from October 29 to November 1, 2016 with 403 Pennsylvania residents likely to vote in the November election.  This sample has a margin of error of + 4.9 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.

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