With a split Republican and Democratic Senate delegation, a 50:50 mix of Republican and Democrat US Representatives, and 2020 Presidential Election results that saw Joe Biden narrowly defeat Donald Trump after the latter had previously won the state, Pennsylvania is a true swing state. The latest research from Redfield & Wilton Strategies affirms the partisan division within Pennsylvania, examining the way in which the state’s residents view political leaders at both a federal and state level.
Similar proportions of Pennsylvanians approve and disapprove of Joe Biden, with 43% disapproving and 42% approving of President Biden’s overall job performance since he became President of the United States, whilst 13% neither approve nor disapprove.
Disapproval is significantly heightened amongst those who voted for Donald Trump in 2020, as 81% disapprove of Biden’s performance thus far, compared to just 8% who approve. Amongst 2020 Joe Biden voters, meanwhile, 80% approve of the President’s performance, whilst just 8% disapprove.
When it comes to specific policy areas, President Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is the only policy area in which a plurality approves of his Administration’s performance: 46% of respondents say they approve of his handling of the pandemic, compared to 38% who disapprove and 14% who neither approve nor disapprove.
In all remaining policy areas on which we polled, pluralities or majorities of respondents express disapproval of the Joe Biden Administration’s performance, with disapproval being strongest with respect to immigration: 52% of Pennsylvanians disapprove of the Administration’s record on immigration, including 84% of 2020 Trump voters and 22% of 2020 Biden voters. Disapproval is also widespread with regard to the economy (48%), crime/policing (46%), and addressing unemployment (45%).
Substantial proportions of respondents appear dissatisfied with elements of the Biden Administration’s foreign policy record, with 42% disapproving of its handling of both relations with Russia and relations with China and 45% disapproving of its defence policies. Lastly, pluralities disapprove of the Administration’s performance on housing (40%) and the environment (38%) as well.
Thus, whilst approval of President Biden’s overall performance remains demonstrably split, opinions of his Administration’s performance on specific policy areas seem to be more definitively negative.
Approval of the state’s Democratic Governor Tom Wolf is just as divided. Wolf, who is serving his final term as Governor and cannot run for re-election, elicits a net approval rating of +1%, as 40% approve and 39% disapprove of his performance as Governor.
Opinions of Democratic Senator Bob Casey are split as well: 30% approve of Senator Casey’s performance, 29% neither approve nor disapprove, and 30% disapprove. Views of Casey fall largely along partisan lines, with 47% of 2020 Joe Biden voters approving and 51% of 2020 Donald Trump voters disapproving of the Senator.
A slim plurality (33%) disapprove of his colleague Pat Toomey’s performance as Senator, compared to 31% who approve and 24% who neither approve nor disapprove. This mixed evaluation is also prevalent among voters of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden: 36% of Trump voters disapprove, 33% approve, and 21% neither approve nor disapprove of the Republican Senator’s performance. Likewise, 35% of Biden voters disapprove, 28% approve, and 24% neither approve nor disapprove. These results may be related to the fact that Pat Toomey was one of seven Republican Senators to vote to convict Donald Trump of incitement of insurrection, which may have increased both disapproval from some Trump voters and approval from some Biden voters.
With a Senate seat and a Gubernatorial position up for election and no incumbents running, the elections in November 2022 will provide an opportunity for both parties in the state to stake a claim to turning Pennsylvania more ‘red’ or ‘blue.’