Today’s newsletter contains information from the April 2022 Franklin and Marshall College Poll, conducted March 30 - April 10 among a sample of 785 registered Pennsylvania voters. The survey asked about a wide range of topics, including voters’ general feelings about the direction of the state and economy, repealing property taxes, teaching critical race theory, discussing sexual orientation in schools, and the upcoming primary election. You can see the full set of questions asked as well as the overall responses to each question in the attached topline summary. I’ve highlighted a few of the notable findings in today’s newsletter and you can find many more details in our Summary of Findings.
Berwood Yost, Director
The April 2022 Franklin & Marshall College Poll finds little change in the mood of Pennsylvania’s registered voters since our March Poll, with economic concerns remaining high and voters continuing to feel deeply frustrated and mostly dissatisfied with President Biden’s performance. More than one in three (36%) respondents say they are “worse off” financially than a year ago, about the same as last month. Many Republicans and conservatives say they are “worse off” than last year, but a quarter of Democrats (26%) and a plurality of independents (40%) also say they are worse off financially. Given the concerns about their personal finances, it is unsurprising that Pennsylvania voters remain pessimistic about conditions in the state and the nation. Only one in four (29%) registered voters believes the state is “headed in the right direction.” Three in four (75%) voters who say they are “worse off” financially this year than last also say the state is “on the wrong track.” Concerns about the economy (21%), including unemployment and personal finances, remain the most important problem facing the state.
Most (63%) registered voters favor eliminating property taxes, but a proposed plan that would replace property taxes with an assortment of other tax changes is opposed (66%) by a majority of respondents. Every partisan group reports being opposed to this plan.
Nearly three in four (70%) registered voters favors teaching students in public schools about the history of race and racism in the United States and a majority (58%) opposes giving parents the right to sue schools that teach critical race theory, as Florida has done.
Registered voters are sharply divided about passing a law in Pennsylvania that is similar to Florida’s law that limits instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity. About one in three (35%) strongly supports such a law while about two in five (42%) strongly opposes it.
About one in three (33%) registered voters in Pennsylvania believes President Biden is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as president. President Biden’s current rating is similar to President Trump’s and is lower than President Obama’s rating in Pennsylvania at the same point in their terms. The President’s positive job ratings have declined from 78% to 61% among Democrats, from 38% to 24% among independents, from 79% to 64% among liberals, and from 50% to 42% among moderates since August.
The March 2022 F&M Poll showed that voters in Pennsylvania were deeply frustrated, particularly about economic issues, and were mostly dissatisfied with the job President Biden is doing as president. These general sentiments found in the March survey are apparent again in the April F&M Poll. These judgments will play an important role in Pennsylvanians’ voting behaviors in the 2022 mid-term elections and they suggest the electoral current continues to run strongly in favor of the Republican Party at the moment. Right now, more of the state’s registered voters say they will support a Republican candidate for Congress, 44% Republican versus 39% Democrat.
John Fetterman has increased his advantage in the Democratic US Senate primary since March--Fetterman now leads Conor Lamb, 41% to 17%, with one in four (26%) still undecided about their preference. Nearly half (47%) of those who have a preference report they could change their mind about their choice.
The Republican primary field has no clear front-runner at the moment, with Mehmet Oz (16%) and David McCormick (15%) each garnering similar shares of Republican support. More than two in five (43%) voters say they are not sure who they will vote for in the Senate race and two-thirds (66%) of those who have chosen a candidate say they could still change their minds.
The data gathering for this survey was almost finished when former President Donald Trump offered his endorsement of Mehmet Oz in the Senate race. Oz (22%) was leading among voters who identified with the Trump faction of the party, while many (36%) of those voters were still undecided about their preference.
The survey findings presented in this release are based on the results of interviews conducted March 30 – April 10, 2022. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall. The data included in this release represent the responses of 785 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 356 Democrats, 317 Republicans, and 112 independents.[i] The sample of voters was obtained from Marketing Systems Group. All sampled respondents were notified by mail about the survey. Interviews were completed over the phone and online depending on each respondent’s preference. Survey results were weighted (age, gender, education, geography, and party registration) using an iterative weighting algorithm to reflect the known distribution of those characteristics. Estimates for age, geography, and party registration are based on active voters within the PA Department of State’s voter registration data. Gender and education is estimated using data from the November 2018 CPS Voter Registration Supplement. [ii]
The sample error for this survey is +/- 4.2 percentage points when the design effects from weighting are considered. [iii] In addition to sampling error, this poll is also subject to other sources of non-sampling error. Generally speaking, two sources of error concern researchers most. Non-response bias is created when selected participants either choose not to participate in the survey or are unavailable for interviewing. Response errors are the product of the question and answer process. Surveys that rely on self-reported behaviors and attitudes are susceptible to biases related to the way respondents process and respond to survey questions.
Franklin & Marshall College Poll - The 2022 Primary Elections: Political Catnip
Franklin & Marshall College Poll: Primary Polling in 2022
Franklin & Marshall College Poll: Party Identification Shifted to Republicans in 2021
PARTY FACTIONS AMONG THE VOTERS
Stephen K. Medvic and Berwood A. Yost
Prepared for delivery at the 2021 State of the Parties: 2020 and Beyond Virtual Conference, November 4 – 5, 2021. The Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, The University of Akron
References & Resources
[i] The data reported here is voter REGISTRATION and is consistent with past reporting practices. The survey also asked about self-reported voter IDENTIFICATION, which shows a slightly different partisan split: 50% identify as Republican (n=373), 8% as Independent (n=60), and 40% as Democrat (n=301) and the balance not offering a response. Partisan comparisons in this summary show self-reported registration.
[ii] Data downloaded from IPUMS-CPS, University of Minnesota, www.ipums.org, accessed 12/31/2021
[iii] The sample error for questions asked only of registered Republicans is +/- 6.6 percentage points and for questions asked only of registered Democrats the sample error is +/- 6.2 percentage points.