In the contest for the Republican presidential nomination in Pennsylvania, businessman Donald Trump, 45%, outpaces Texas Senator Ted Cruz, 27%, by 18 points among likely Republican primary voters statewide. Ohio Governor John Kasich follows with 24%. Trump leads his rivals among many key demographic groups. Of note, Trump and Cruz are competitive among white evangelical Christians and those who describe themselves as very conservative. Trump and Kasich vie for likely GOP voters who are college graduates or moderates.
Six in ten Republican likely primary voters with a candidate preference, 60%, say they strongly support their choice of candidate. Among those who support Trump, 72% report they are firmly committed to their choice. This compares with 52% of Cruz’s backers and 47% of Kasich’s supporters who express the same level of support.
Looking at the second choice candidate of likely Republican primary voters with a candidate preference, Kasich, 40%, is the most mentioned followed by Cruz, 30%. 18% say Trump is their second choice candidate for the Republican nomination.
“Trump and Clinton are both positioned to win the popular vote,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “For the Democrats, it’s all about delegate counts. But, for the Republicans, the popular vote doesn’t guarantee a big chunk of the delegates at the convention. Many will not be committed to a candidate after Tuesday and will need convincing.”
In the race for the Democratic nomination for president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 55%, has a 15 point lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 40%, among likely Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania. Clinton does especially well among likely Democratic primary voters who are 45 years of age or older or are African American. Sanders does best among first-time voters, those who are under 45 years old, or those who identify as very liberal. While Clinton leads Sanders by 28 points among women, Sanders, 49%, and Clinton, 45%, are competitive among men.
Seven in ten likely Democratic primary voters with a candidate preference, 70%, say they strongly support their choice of candidate. Similar proportions of Clinton’s supporters, 71%, and Sanders’ backers, 68%, report they will not waver in their commitment to their candidate.
In hypothetical general election contests, Clinton and Sanders have the advantage over their potential Republican rivals, with one exception. When Clinton, 45%, and Kasich, 48%, are paired against each other, the two are competitive among Pennsylvania registered voters. In each of these potential general election contests, Sanders outperforms Clinton against the Republicans.
On the statewide level, 45% of Pennsylvania adults approve of Governor Tom Wolf’s job performance. 40% disapprove, and 15% are unsure. Looking at the approval rating of Senator Pat Toomey, 42% approve of how he is doing his job, 28% disapprove, and a notable 30% are unsure.
What effect, if any, will the controversy surrounding the confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, have on Toomey’s re-election bid in November? If Toomey agrees with his Republican colleagues to deny Garland confirmation hearings, a plurality of registered voters, 45%, say it will make no difference to their vote. But, more than one in three, 34%, reports they would be less inclined to support Toomey. 18% say they would be more likely to vote for him. If Toomey disagrees with his Republican colleagues and wants to hold confirmation hearings now, a majority, 54%, reports it will not influence whom they will support for the U.S. Senate. More than one in four voters, 26%, think it would make them more likely to cast their ballot for Toomey. 17% say it would make them less likely to do so.
Pennsylvania adults divide about President Obama’s job performance. 49% of residents, including 82% of likely Democratic primary voters, approve of how the president is doing his job. 46% disapprove.