Today’s newsletter contains information from the October 2022 Franklin and Marshall College Poll, conducted October 14-23, 2022 among a sample of 620 registered Pennsylvania voters (including 384 likely voters). The survey asked about a wide range of topics, including the direction of the state of Pennsylvania, the upcoming Senate and Gubernatorial races, and presidential job performance. 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 October 2022 Franklin & Marshall College Poll finds that two in three (66%) of the state’s registered voters are “very interested” in the 2022 elections, an increase of eleven points since our September survey. At the moment, similar proportions of Republicans (69%) and Democrats (69%) say they are “very interested” in the election. Interest in this mid-term race is similar to the interest expressed by voters in October 2018, and much higher than previous mid-term elections in the state.
This poll continues to find that Pennsylvania’s registered voters are restive, with economic concerns remaining high and voters continuing to feel deeply frustrated and mostly dissatisfied with President Biden’s performance, although his ratings are a bit higher now than they were a month ago. Concerns about the economy (34%), including unemployment, personal finances, and gas prices, remain the most important problems facing Pennsylvania, according to voters. Pennsylvania voters remain pessimistic about conditions in the state and the nation. Only one in four (27%) registered voters believes the state is “headed in the right direction” and three in four (76%) believe things in the U.S. are “off on the wrong track.” Republicans continue to lead in the generic ballot in Pennsylvania, 46% to 41%.
Republican candidates should benefit from these contextual advantages, but their statewide candidates continue to underperform, in part because about half of the state’s Republicans would have preferred that their party nominated different candidates for governor (46%) and Senate (55%). Fewer than one in ten (6%) Democrats say they would have preferred a different candidate for governor, and only one in four (24%) would have preferred a different Senate candidate.
Democrat Josh Shapiro currently holds an advantage over Republican Doug Mastriano in the 2022 race for Pennsylvania Governor among likely voters (58% to 36%). The dynamics of the governor’s race have changed a good bit since September: Shapiro held a 52% to 42% lead in late September, and voters’ feelings toward the candidates, as measured by how favorably each is viewed, have gone in different directions. Shapiro improved his personal favorability ratings during the past month, while Mastriano’s personal favorability ratings have declined.
Democrat John Fetterman currently holds a narrow advantage over Republican Mehmet Oz in the 2022 race for Pennsylvania U.S. Senator among likely voters (49% to 45%). The race has not changed much since our September survey (47% to 43%). Both candidates have seen their personal favorability ratings remain mostly stable over the past month, even as they have both become better known to voters. About one in seven (13%) voters now has an unfavorable opinion of both candidates. More voters believe Fetterman best understands the concerns of Pennsylvanians (55% to 34%) and is closest to their views on social issues (53% to 35%), but more voters believe Oz is more likely to have policies that will improve voters’ economic circumstances (43% to 37%).
One of this survey’s notable findings is how dissatisfied Republican voters are with their Senate and governor nominees. We find that both Oz and Mastriano are running well behind a generic Republican candidate, particularly among traditional Republicans, and that support among Democrats for Fetterman and Shapiro is much more cohesive. The unanswered question that remains in this election cycle is whether these factional patterns will hold through Election Day, or if Republican voters ultimately decide to support their party’s candidates despite their misgivings.
The survey findings presented in this release are based on the results of interviews conducted October 14 - 23, 2022. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall. The data included in this release represent the responses of 620 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 280 Democrats, 254 Republicans, and 86 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, vote history, 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 +/- 5.3 percentage points when the design effects from weighting are considered. Sample error for likely voters is +/- 6.8 percentage points. 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.[iii] The standard deviation of the mean of 10,000 bootstrapped samples for the estimated positive job approval for President Biden was 1.9% and 95% of the samples fell within a range of 32% and 39%.
To read more about the electoral margins for Governor, U.S, Senate, and Presidential candidates in Pennsylvania since 2000, click here.
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: 47% identify as Republican (n=275), 9% as Independent (n=54), and 43% as Democrat (n=251) 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] Canty, Angelo. 2002. “Resampling Methods in R: The boot Package.” R News 2/3 (December): 2-7