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Lehigh Valley Election News

Muhlenberg College survey shows Trump with slim lead on Biden in Pennsylvania

Alex Brandon/AP
In this combination photo, President Joe Biden speaks May 2, 2024, in Wilmington, N.C., left, and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, May 1, 2024, in Waukesha, Wis. Just six months before Election Day, Biden and Trump are locked into the first presidential rematch in 68 years that is at once deeply entrenched and highly in flux as many voters are only just beginning to embrace the reality of the 2024 presidential election. (AP Photo)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Survey results from the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion show former President Donald Trump leading the presidential race against President Joe Biden for Pennsylvania's 19 electoral college votes.

And it's by a slim margin — just three points.

In a telephone survey of 417 registered Pennsylvania voters between April 15 and 25, 44% said they would vote for Donald Trump and 41% for Joe Biden if they had to choose between the two, while 14% chose neither/other.

Muhlenberg poll results.png
Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion
The Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion surveyed 417 registered Pennsylvania voters between April 15 and 25 about the upcoming general election. Survey results were released Tuesday.

According to the key findings report, the margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 6 percent at a 95% confidence level.

When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. became a survey option among respondents, 18% said they would vote for him, leaving Biden and Trump at a tie.

The survey attributes these results to Biden's poor job approval ratings (35%) and “limited voter sentiment that he deserves a second term,” (33%). Both candidates have “unfavorable ratings” in Pennsylvania, but Biden (57%) leads Trump (55%) in that category by 2%.

Political science professor Christopher Borick, who designed the survey, also found voters' opinions about election integrity hasn't shifted much since the 2020 election.

Across the board, trust in elections is down among all Pennsylvanians, but it's far more common among Republican voters than Democrats and independents, according to the survey.

"We haven't seen enormous changes over the last few years in terms of confidence and election results and confidence in systems like mail-ballots."
Dr. Christopher P. Borick

The survey also included questions outside of the presidential election, such as confidence in mail-in ballots, Gov. Josh Shapiro's approval ratings, and who voters would choose today for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race and congressional leaders.

Those results include the following:

  • When asked if voters would choose between incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr. or Republican David McCormick, 45% chose Casey and 41% selected McCormick.
  • More than half of Pennsylvanians (64%) approve of Shapiro — that's nearly two out of three voters.
  • Most Pennsylvanians are not confident in the state's use of mail-in ballots, with 43% of voters reporting they're “not too confident” or “not confident at all” with voting by mail.

“We haven't seen enormous changes over the last few years in terms of confidence and election results and confidence in systems like mail-ballots,” Borick said in an interview.
Republicans were far more likely to be suspicious of voter fraud and have doubts about mail-in ballots, he said. That's changed a little as Republican Party leaders have recognized the need to improve their own mail-in ballot figures and changed their messaging, Borick said.

Meanwhile, Democrats were much more concerned with voter suppression, Borick said.

“Partisanship plays an enormous role in that when you break it out in terms of who has less trust in something like a mail ballot,” he said.

The study did not ask voters what if anything could be done to restore their confidence in the election process. But because free and fair elections are the bedrock that the American experiment is based upon, it's a puzzle that Pennsylvanians must solve.

“It is really hard to rebuild confidence and trust once eroded,” Borick said. “It had been eroded for reasons that were not always based on fact but on electoral goals. I think that's a challenge for all of us in a democracy to rebuild that.”

The survey also found:

  • Pennsylvania voters are highly divided on which party’s candidate they support in their congressional district this fall with 45% indicating they plan to vote for a Democratic candidate and 44% intending to vote for a Republican candidate.
  • With the presidential election less than a year away, nearly two out of three (65%) registered voters in Pennsylvania do not believe that Joe Biden deserves reelection for another term as President of the United States.
  • Confidence in mail ballots is highly affected by party registration status with 84% of Democrats confident (either very or somewhat) in this method compared with only 28% of their Republican counterparts.