New F&M Poll: Biden leads Trump, 49-40 percent in Pa.; Biden gets edge on managing pandemic | Thursday Morning Coffee

September 24, 2020 6:00 am

PHILADELPHIA, PA – MARCH 10: Democratic Presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden addresses the media and a small group of supporters with his wife Dr. Jill Biden during a primary night event on March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Six states – Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington, and North Dakota held nominating contests today. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

With just just 40 days to go before Election Day, Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump 49-40 percent among registered voters, and by a narrower 48-42 percent advantage, among likely voters, according to a new Franklin & Marshall College poll out this morning.

The poll, conducted from Sept. 14-20, has a margin of error of 6.5 percentage points, rendering Biden’s lead among likely voters, the most predictive sample, an effective dead heat. The poll includes the opinions of 296 Democrats, 250 Republicans, and 79 independents.

Biden’s lead among registered voters is effectively unchanged from the last Franklin & Marshall poll in August, where the former vice president held a 49-42 percent lead. As of Wednesday, Biden held an average 3.8 percentage point lead over Trump in the Keystone State, according to the RealClear Politics polling average.

And as was the case in August, Trump gets the edge on managing the economy, but respondents still find Biden better suited to manage the myriad of problems afflicting the country, most notably, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans.

The new poll comes amid a week of increased attention on Pennsylvania by both of the major party nominees. Trump barnstormed Allegheny County on Tuesday. He’s slated to campaign in suburban Harrisburg on Saturday. Biden campaigned in Philadelphia on Sunday.

During that appearance at Pittsburgh International Airport, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask, even as the U.S. smashed through another tragic benchmark on the pandemic.  On Monday, Biden blamed Trump’s “lies and incompetence” for the ever-increasing death toll.

(Franklin & Marshall College poll)

Biden led Trump 51-30 percent on managing the pandemic, effectively unchanged from August, when respondents voiced the same sentiment 49-29 percent. Biden gained some ground on managing the economy, with Trump’s 48-44 percent advantage in August shrinking slightly to 48-46 percent in the September canvass.

The poll results drive home the tragic intimacy of the pandemic, with 30 percent of respondents saying a family or member or close friend had contracted COVID-19, up from 22 percent who answered the same way in July. Despite that, more respondents (74 percent, compared to 63 percent in July) also believe they are unlikely to contract COVID-19 in the next three months.

(Annie E. Casey Foundation photo)

And despite Trump’s criticisms of mask-wearing, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) say it is “extremely important,” to wear a mask when they leave home, but fewer (32 percent now, compared to 42 percent in July, believe it is “extremely important” to stay home.

Through midday Wednesday, the state Health Department had confirmed 152,544 cases of COVID-19 in all 67 counties, with 8,062 deaths.

As ever, partisanship and ideology remain the biggest drivers in voter sentiment, though Biden commands slightly more loyalty among Democrats and progressives than Trump does among Republicans and conservatives, pollsters found.

Four in five (84 percent) of respondents who plan to voter for Trump say they’re voting for him and not against Biden. More than half (56 percent) of Biden’s supporters say they are voting against Trump, not for him. There also are far fewer registered voters in 2020 who express support for a third-party, the poll found.

Meanwhile, more of the state’s registered voters (57 percent) say they have an unfavorable impression of Trump, compared to a favorable opinion (40 percent). Voters narrowly said, 48-46 percent, that they have a favorable impression of Biden.

And with the Legislature’s Republican majority duking it out in court with the Democratic Wolf administration over mail-in balloting, more Keystone State voters told pollsters they expect to cast their ballot in person (60 percent) than by mail (34 percent). As ever, there are strong partisan differences: Fifty-three percent of Democrats intend to vote by mail while most Republicans (81 percent) and independents (67 percent) say they plan to vote in person.

(Screen Capture)

DePasquale goes negative in new ad:

After some soft-touch bio ads, one bragging about his bona fides as the state’s elected fiscal watch dog, and that one with the enormous tire, Democratic 10th Congressional District candidate Eugene DePasquale is going on the attack in his newest spot.

Scott Perry is lying to cover up his record of taking away healthcare during the pandemic,” a narrator intones over some appropriately terrifying music.

“In his first TV ad, independent fact-checkers found all his claims false,” the voice-over continues, referring to a Perry attack ad attempting to tie the moderate DePasquale to progressive U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Our Sept. 2 analysis found Perry’s claims that DePasquale supports single-payer healthcare; wants to defund police, and favors the Green New Deal, to be false on every score.

(Screen Capture)

“Now, he’s at it again,” the ad continues, “lying about Eugene DePasquale’s record of service.” The ad highlights a Beaver County nursing home that saw a surge in COVID-19 deaths, and charges that DePasquale is responsible because he failed to carry through an audit of the facility.

The Tribune-Review newspaper reported in August that the nursing home, Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, refused to cooperate with DePaquale’s request for its financial records and blocked his efforts to audit the facility.

DePasquale made his announcement a week after Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced he was investigating the nursing home. DePasquale said he told Shapiro about Brighton’s lack of cooperation, the Tribune-Review further reported. On Sept. 3, state and federal investigators raided the nursing home, where they executed a search warrantNBC News reported.

In a statement, Perry’s spokesman, Matt Beynon, told the Capital-Star that DePasquale’s explanation didn’t “pass the smell test and it’s clear he’s in full damage control mode.”

“When an organization is placed under audit by the auditor general, it’s not optional,” Beynon continued. “And if Eugene DePasquale is too weak to stand up for Pennsylvania seniors during the heat of a pandemic, then he should resign from office immediately. The families of the 73 Pennsylvania seniors who lost their lives at the Brighton nursing home have the right to know the truth.”

In a statement, DePasquale’s spokesman, Kunal Atit, told the Capital-Star that “Perry can’t explain why he’s trying to kick 42,000 south-central Pennsylvanians off their healthcare [through a Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act], or trying to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions in the middle of a pandemic, so instead he’s turned to lying about Eugene.

“Independent fact checkers have knocked down every single attack in Scott Perry’s first ad and South Central Pennsylvanians know the truth; they can’t trust a word out of Scott Perry’s mouth,” Atit said.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
For the second time in three weeks, the state House fell short of the votes it needed to override a gubernatorial veto. This time out, the target was a bill that would have prevented Wolf from regulating high school athletics. Stephen Caruso has the details.

Federal investigators are looking into irregularities with a small amount of mail-in ballots received by Luzerne County’s elections bureau, NEPA Correspondent Patrick Abdalla reports.

In case you missed them the first time around: Here are clip-and-save voters’ guides. First up, it’s your indispensable primer to the race for the White House, Congress, row offices, and the Legislature. You can also check out our complete guide on how to vote — whether by mail or in-person. And finally, here’s how you can help us provide you with the best possible coverage during this very consequential election season.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a volunteer from Moms Demand Action explains what you can do to help prevent unintentional handgun injuries and deaths during national Suicide Prevention Month.

Efforts to sway the Wolf administration’s business waiver program might trigger a criminal review, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale told the York Dispatch’s editorial board on Wednesday.
Peaceful protests broke out in Philadelphia in the wake of news that a Louisville police officer had been charged in connection — but not for — Breonna Taylor’s death, the Inquirer reports.
Pittsburgh’s Arts Commission has recommended removing a Christopher Columbus statue in the city, the Post-Gazette reports.
Three students in the Cumberland Valley schools have tested positive for COVID-19, the Sentinel of Carlisle reports.
It could take days to count Pennsylvania’s election resultsSecretary of State Kathy Boockvar has said, the Morning Call reports.
The Citizens-Voice runs down the latest on spectator limits in advance of Friday night games in the region.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


View this post on Instagram


I took a narrated horseback riding tour in #Gettysburg to experience the battlefield from the vantage point of some of the Civil War soldiers themselves. Hickory Hollow Horse Farm provides a variety of horseback riding tour options with different price points. On the licensed battlefield guided tour, every rider is given an audio device to listen to the licensed guide speak to the group while riding along with us through the fields. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Experiencing the battlefield from this vantage point put the ebbs and flows of the three-day July battle into perspective. You understand the importance of “the high ground” while riding through the fields, and understand how both sides nearly won over the three days. @hickoryhollowfarmgettysburg . . . . . . . . . . . . . #GettysburgPA #horsebackriding #GettysburgBattlefield #GettysburgNPS #horsebackride #horsebackridingtour #gettysburgpennsylvania #horselove #GettysburgMoments #pennsylvania #goliveyourstory #girlswhotravel #lifewelltraveled #mytravelstory #explorelater #travelforlife #traveltheworld #liveyourstory #passionpassport #visualsoflife #livethelittlethings #flashesofdelight #pursuepretty #createtocreate #mytravels #visitPA #scenicPA #lovewhereyoulive #focusonlocal

A post shared by Courtney Elko (@goliveyourstory) on

SEPTA says its ‘dire finances’ prevent it from paying out COVID-19 death benefits, WHYY-FM reports.
GoErie updates on the latest on COVID-19 cases in the county’s schools.
Politico explains how COVID-19 is making school segregation worse.

What Goes On.
The House and Senate are not in voting session today.
10 a.m, G50 Irvis: House Democratic Policy Committee
10:30 a.m.: Senate Republican Policy Committee (live-streamed)
10:30 a.m., Friedman Jewish Community Center, Kingston, Pa.: House Majority Policy Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
12 p.m.: 
Luncheon for Rep. Martina White
5:30 p.m.: 
Virtual cocktail hour for Rep. Mary Isaacson
5:30 p.m.: 
Reception for Pa. House candidate Bob Smythe
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a truly offensive $15,000 today. White’s reception blows the bell curve with a maximum ask of $10,000.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Chris Lilienthal, of PSEA, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation.
Normally, we’d save a playlist like this one for Friday. But this is 2020, and there are no rules. So here’s a positively ginormous playlist of 1990s club bangersTurn this up loud and dance around your home office.

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Tampa took a series lead in its Stanley Cup final against Dallas on Wednesday night. The ‘Bolts beat the Stars 5-2, to go up 2-1.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.