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Franklin & Marshall Poll Release: March 2021

The survey asked about a wide range of topics, including the direction of the state and the economy, marijuana legalization, minimum wage, climate change, COVID-19 vaccinations, President Biden's job approval ratings, and the legacy of former President Trump.

Berwood A Yost
5 min read

Dear Subscribers,

Today’s newsletter contains information from the March 2021 Franklin & Marshall College Poll, conducted March 1 – 7 among a sample of 588 registered Pennsylvania voters. The survey asked about a wide range of topics, including voters’ general feelings about the direction of the state and economy, support for issues related to marijuana legalization, the minimum wage, climate change, COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as questions about politics, including President Biden’s job approval and the legacy of President Trump. 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

Key Findings

The March 2021 Franklin & Marshall College Poll finds two in five (36%) of the state’s voters believe the state is “headed in the right direction,” which is significantly lower than the recent, pre-pandemic high of 57% reported in October 2019. Voters list COVID-19 (31%) as the most important problem facing the state today, as they did in our October 2020 survey. Concerns about government and politicians (27%) and the economy (12%), including unemployment, personal finances and business retention, follow as top concerns.

This figure shows how registered voters in Pennsylvania feel about the general direction of the state. The red line shows the proportion that believes the state is “off on the wrong track” and the green line shows the proportion that believes the state is “headed in the right direction.” More voters currently believe the state is on the wrong track than headed in the right direction.

Sizable proportions of the state’s registered voters continue to support increasing the state’s minimum wage (67%) and legalizing the use of marijuana (59%). Support for both these policies has been consistently high over recent years. About three in ten (31%) registered voters have received a COVID-19 vaccine, but partisan differences in attitudes about the coronavirus vaccine are clear: more Democrats (40%) than Republicans (26%) have received a vaccine and more Democrats (74%) than Republicans (36%) who have not been vaccinated say they will “definitely” get the vaccine.

About two in five (41%) voters in Pennsylvania believe President Biden is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as president. President Biden’s current rating is higher than President Trump’s and lower than President Obama’s rating in Pennsylvania at the same point in their terms. The President’s approval rating for his management of the coronavirus outbreak is higher (50%) than his overall job approval rating. President Trump received lower (33%) ratings for his management of the coronavirus compared to his overall job performance.

This figure shows how registered voters in Pennsylvania rate the performance of President Biden in relation to Presidents Obama (blue line) and Trump (red line) at similar points in their terms. President Biden’s rating in Pennsylvania is higher than President Trump’s but lower than President Obama's at similar points in their terms.

The state’s registered voters are evenly divided on the legacy of the Trump presidency. About the same numbers of voters say the Trump presidency was “good” (50%) for the United States as say it was “bad” (48%). Ratings of the Trump legacy are highly partisan and ideological, with most Republicans (87%) and conservatives (90%) saying it was “good” and most Democrats (87%) and liberals (92%) saying it was “bad.”

Three in five (61%) registered voters disapprove of the vote against certifying the results of the state’s 2020 presidential election that was supported by eight members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation. Partisan feelings about the certification of the state’s election results are explained a bit by how Republicans place themselves within the party. About two in five (42%) Republicans say they are aligned with former President Trump’s wing of the party, while a similar proportion (38%) say they more closely align with traditional Republicans. Most conservative Republicans (51%) place themselves in the Trump faction, while most moderate Republicans (53%) place themselves in the traditional faction.


The survey findings presented in this release are based on the results of interviews conducted March 1 – 7, 2021. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall. The data included in this release represent the responses of 588 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 269 Democrats, 236 Republicans, and 83 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 +/- 5.5 percentage points when the design effects from weighting are considered. 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: March 2021

Franklin & Marshall College Poll: March 2021

Summary of Findings

Franklin & Marshall College Poll: March 2021

Franklin & Marshall College Poll: March 2021

Topline Report

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: 47% identify as Republican (n=267), 7% as Independent (n=43), and 43% as Democrat (n=243). Partisan comparisons in this summary show self-reported registration.

[ii] Data downloaded from IPUMS-CPS, University of Minnesota,, accessed 12/31/2019.

F&M Poll ReleasesTrump-Related IssuesRatings of Political FiguresCOVID-19Economic IssuesClimate Change

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