Panned on the pandemic, Trump lags Biden in Pa. in new poll | Thursday Morning Coffee

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)

With less than 100 days to go before this November’s general election, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a 9-point, 50-41 percent, lead over President Donald Trump in a critical battleground state, where voters say they’re disappointed in the 45th president’s job performance and his management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About two in five registered voters (38 percent) say they believe Trump is doing an “excellent’ or “good” job as the nation’s chief executive, according to a new Franklin & Marshall College poll.

Only 29 percent of registered voters say Trump is doing a good or excellent job of managing the pandemic, which has so far, claimed the lives of nearly 150,000 Americans, including 7,162 people in Pennsylvania, according to state Health Department data.

With millions of people out of work, not quite half of the state’s registered voters (48 percent) believe the state is headed in the right direction, down from a high of 57 percent in October 2019, pollsters found. That’s the lowest “right track” result in a poll by Lancaster-based Franklin & Marshall since the 2016 election.

(Source: Franklin & Marshall College poll)

The head-to-head results are slightly higher than the most recent RealClear Politics polling average, which shows Biden holding an average 6.2 percent lead over Trump. They’re in line with a July 9 Monmouth College poll that gave Biden a 10-point edge in a high-turnout election. That lead decreased to 7 percent in a low-turnout model in the Monmouth poll.

Trump’s performance is a “problem directly related to COVID-19,” Franklin & Marshall pollster G. Terry Madonna told the Capital-Star. “Biden’s rise is tied into the spike” in cases.

“Now if [the pandemic] levels off, that would be good for Trump, who has now spoken out about wearing masks and he said it will get worse before it gets better,” Madonna observed.

While the economy has traditionally been Trump’s strong suit (Indeed, 45 percent of respondents rate Trump positively on job creation), Pennsylvania voters are less optimistic about their finances than they were six months ago, the poll found. Two in 10 voters (20 percent) say they’re better off now than they were in January (33 percent). And even fewer (17 percent) expect to be better off next year.

Forty-two percent of respondents said they had a strong or somewhat favorable impression of Trump, compared to 48 percent who said the same of Biden. Trump’s numbers are effectively unchanged from the last Franklin & Marshall poll in January. Biden’s favorables increased by 5 points, from 43 percent in January, the poll shows.

(Source: Franklin & Marshall College poll)

The poll includes some of the predictable geographical splits among voters that helped Trump carry the state by barely a percentage point in 2016.

Biden holds leads in Philadelphia and its deep blue suburbs, and a commanding advantage on his home turf in northeastern Pennsylvania. Trump holds a 5-point edge in southwestern Pennsylvania and Allegheny County, though Biden could close the gap among undecided voters whose ranks surely include independents who sided with Trump four years ago.

Trump continues to run strong in sparsely populated northwestern Pennsylvania, and leads in central Pennsylvania.

Conducted from July 20-26, the Franklin & Marshall poll sampled the opinions of 667 registered voters, including 324 Democrats, 271 Republicans, and 72 independents. The poll has a margin of error of 5.5 percent.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Nearly one in three Pennsylvania voters say that COVID-19 is the biggest issue facing the state and fear getting very sick and possibly dying if they contract the disease, according to that new F&M poll. Elizabeth Hardison has the details.

In Bucks County’s 1st Congressional District, there’s a new coat of paint on an old issue: The perennial debate over debatesCorrespondent Davis Giangiulio explains.

The Wolf administration is hitting back against a Trump administration rule excluding undocumented immigrants from congressional apportionment in the 2020 Census, Cassie Miller reports.

And while others pile on, some Blacks are standing by Philly NAACP prez Rodney Muhammad after he shared an anti-Semitic meme, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report. A Community College of Philly teach-in will focus on transgender violence. And Malik B. a founding member of Philly rap legends, The Rootshas died, aged 47, the Philadelphia Tribune also reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning, state Sen. Art Haywood, D-Philadelphiaexplains why the real fight over police reform will take places across state capitols across the country. And opinion regular Anwar Curtis knows you’re stressed, so he’s sharing some tips to help you ease your mind.

Vice President Mike Pence waves before addressing NASA employees, Thursday, July 6, 2017, at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Vice President thanked employees for advancing American leadership in space, before going on a tour of the center that highlighted the public-private partnerships at KSC, as both NASA and commercial companies prepare to launch American astronauts from the multi-user spaceport. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr Commons)

Elsewhere.
Ahead of a visit to western Pennsylvania today, the Biden campaign has a message for VP Mike Pence: The Keystone State needs real leadership, not a photo op, the Post-Gazette reports.
Speaking of which, PennLive explains why Joe Biden will win Pennsylvania.
The Morning Call talks to protesters on either side of a debate over police funding in Allentown.
NEPA is seeing a resurgence in COVID-19 infections, the Citizens-Voice reports.
Stateline.org explains why this summer’s raging heat will make racial disparities in the pandemic worse.
Politico profiles former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Ct.who’s playing a key role in vetting VP candidates for the Biden campaign.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Rep. Carol Hill-Evans
4 p.m.: 
Reception for Pa. House candidate Nick Pisciottano
6 p.m.: 
Reception for Sen. John DiSanto
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a mere $3,550 today.

Heavy Rotation.
Sadly, Pennsylvania lost a talented native son on Wednesday. Malik B., a founding member of Philadelphia’s The Roots, died at the age of 47. The band headlined Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2019 inauguration and were incandescent on stage that night. So here’s a whole playlist of The Roots, so you can celebrate their music and Malik’s life. Rest in peace, sir.

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Carolina 
dropped a 3-2 decision to the loathsome Washington Capitals during exhibition play on Wednesday.

And now you’re up to date.