Today’s newsletter contains information from the June 2021 Franklin & Marshall College Poll, conducted June 7 -13 among a sample of 444 registered Pennsylvania voters. The survey asked about a wide range of topics, including voters’ general feelings about the direction of the state and economy, climate change, COVID-19 vaccinations, election reform, and job approval ratings for President Biden and Governor Wolf. You can see the full set of questions asked as well as the overall responses to each question in the attached Topline Report. I’ve highlighted a few of the notable findings in today’s newsletter and you can find more details in our Summary of Findings.
Berwood Yost, Director
The June 2021 Franklin & Marshall College Poll finds that concerns about COVID-19 are receding among the state’s registered voters, declining from one in three (31%) voters who believed COVID-19 was the state’s most important problem in March to less than one in ten (7%) who feel that way today. Concerns about government and politicians (30%) and the economy (15%), including unemployment and personal finances, are currently the top issues facing the state.
Nearly four in five (79%) registered voters report having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is a large increase from March when three in ten (31%) registered voters reported having at least one dose. More Democrats (94%) and independents (84%) than Republicans (61%) report getting the vaccine.
Despite the lessening concerns about COVID and the increased vaccination rates, Pennsylvania’s voters remain pessimistic. Only two in five (35%) voters believe the state is “headed in the right direction,” which is significantly lower than the recent, pre-pandemic high of 57 percent reported in October 2019 and essentially unchanged since the March F&M Poll. There is also no notable improvement in voters’ assessments of their personal finances.
These negative assessments about the direction of the state and personal finances likely translate to lower job approval ratings for Governor Wolf. In July 2020, more than half (52%) of the state’s registered voters rated the governor as doing an “excellent” or “good” job; today, his positive job approval rating is at 39 percent.
President Biden’s approval ratings have fared better than Governor Wolf’s in Pennsylvania. About two in five (44%) voters in Pennsylvania believe President Biden is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as president and his approval rating for managing the coronavirus outbreak is higher (49%) than his overall job approval rating. Both of these numbers are consistent with his March approval ratings.
A majority (59%) of the state’s registered voters believes the state’s election laws need revised, although this belief is stronger among Republicans (75%) than among independents (52%) or Democrats (46%). Overall, a majority of voters favors signature matching for mail-in ballots (81%) and photo identification requirements (74%), while voters are divided about eliminating no-excuse voting by mail. Support for these electoral reforms differs substantially by party.
The survey findings presented in this release are based on the results of interviews conducted June 7 - 13, 2021. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall. The data included in this release represent the responses of 444 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 205 Democrats, 177 Republicans, and 62 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 +/- 6.4 percentage points when the design effects from weighting are considered. An alternative means of calculating the variation in a sample is to take a series of bootstrap samples from the original sample and to use those bootstrapped samples to produce an estimate of sampling error (see Canty, Angelo. 2002. “Resampling Methods in R: The boot Package.” R News 2/3 (December): 2-7). The procedure involves resampling a data set, calculating a statistic for each bootstrapped sample, accumulating the results of these samples and calculating a sample distribution. The standard error of the mean of 10,000 bootstrapped samples for the estimated positive job approval for Governor Wolf was 2.3% and 95% of the samples fell within a range of 35% and 44%. This indicates the actual variability of the sample may be larger than standard formulas suggest. 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.
References & Resources
[i] The question reported here is self-reported 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: 45% identify as Republican (n=193), 12% as Independent (n=54), and 42% as Democrat (n=179). Partisan comparisons in this summary show self-reported registration.
[ii] Data downloaded from IPUMS-CPS, University of Minnesota, www.cps.ipums.org, accessed 12/31/2019.
Franklin & Marshall College Poll Newsletter
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