10.06.2023 0

Pennsylvania in play in 2024 as Trump, Biden trade 47 percent and 45 percent in two polls and independents are the kingmaker

By Robert Romano

Pennsylvania looks to be a very interesting contest in 2024 with former President Donald Trump leading President Joe Biden in a Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 Quinnipiac poll 47 percent to 45 percent after Biden was leading Trump in Pennsylvania in a prior Sept. 19 to Sept. 28 Susquehanna poll by the same 47 percent to 45 percent margin.

Fair to say, the race is tied in a state Democrats cannot afford to lose a short 13 months until Nov. 2024 when Biden will stand for reelection. On the Republican side, Trump running strong in the state has consequences not just for the race for the White House, but also House races and Sen. Bob Casey’s (D-Pa.) reelection bid.

Unseating incumbent presidents isn’t easy, and neither is keeping electoral majorities—especially small ones like the narrow five-seat majority House Republicans have—when running against an incumbent who usually picks up seats if reelected. Suffice to say, if Biden wins reelection with the popular vote, Democrats will almost certainly reclaim the House of Representatives. And if he wins Pennsylvania, then Bob Casey is probably safe too.

Whereas a strong Trump run nationwide and in Pennsylvania puts all that in play, and other states like Ohio where Trump is favored and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is running for reelection.

If nothing else, Trump’s continued strength in the Rust Belt should give Republicans some hope that a third Trump run could have positive downstream ballot implications, even if Trump were to lose narrowly.

Key issues sited in the Susquehanna poll included crime and public safety (46 percent), abortion (40 percent) and inflation and the economy (44 percent). The top two issues of crime and the economy appear to favor Trump, while abortion appears to favor Biden. Whereas in Quinnipiac it was the economy (30 percent), preserving democracy (23 percent) and immigration (15 percent).

In the Quinnipiac breakdown, Trump draws a surprising 19 percent among Blacks and otherwise leads independents 48 percent to 39 percent. The result on independents in Susquehanna was reversed by a similar margin in Biden’s favor, 42 percent to 31 percent, and appears to be the difference in the two polls.

Biden’s low 42 percent reading in Susquehanna among independents should be cause for concern to Biden’s team, as his disapproval in the Quinnipiac stands at a whopping 63 percent among independents, with only 31 percent approving. That is simply abysmal and is only offset by Trump’s own 59 percent unfavorability among independents, many of whom invariably say they are voting for him. Interestingly, just 30 percent of independents say that have a favorable opinion of Trump, but 48 percent say they are voting for him.

This indicates a strong anti-Biden vote that are driving independents towards Trump, even if he wasn’t their first choice. How independents go determines control of Pennsylvania, and likely the path to 270 Electoral College votes in 2024.

Overall, Biden’s job approval in Pennsylvania is a crappy 41 percent, with 55 percent disapproving, something that can ultimately eat away at Biden’s reelection hopes because it indicates he losing more followers than he is gaining. He is vulnerable. From Republicans and Trump’s perspective, that makes Pennsylvania and 2024 itself ripe for the picking.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

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