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Some Good News: Trump Doesn’t Look Strong in Pennsylvania Poll on Presidential Election…But Dems Have Their Work Cut out for Them

A Quinnipiac poll on the Presidential Election released on May 15th, 2019, shows both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders defeating Donald Trump by eleven and seven points, respectively. Biden wins 53-42 and Sanders wins 50-43. Warren wins by three, 47-44, (inside the poll’s margin of error of 4 pts.), while Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and Beto O’Rourke are in dead heats with the President. Biden, Sanders, and Warren are better-known than Harris, Buttigieg, and O’Rourke, meaning that these newer figures still have additional upside potential against Trump should one of them be the Democratic candidate for President. Pennsylvania was a painful loss for the Democrats; Trump won by just under 45,000 votes out of 6.16 million cast, or seven-tenths of 1 percent.

These first two snapshots from the Quinnipiac Poll show the breakdowns by party, age, gender,race, education, and ethnicity for the match-ups between Trump and Biden, and Trump and Sanders. The next set of snapshots are  Exit Polls of the vote in both the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections in Pennsylvania to provide a picture of what happened in those past two elections in the State and highlight the significance of the African-American vote, which is not reflected in the Quinnipiac polls. The final snapshots compare Warren, Harris, Buttigieg, and O’Rourke in their matchups with Trump.

Quinnipiac Poll, May 9-14, 978 RV


One takeaway from the Quinnipiac poll is that both Biden and Sanders are quite competitive with Trump among white voters. Biden edges Trump 49-45, while Trump edges Sanders 49-46. Among nonwhite voters, Biden beats Trump 70-27, and Sanders beats Trump 70-21.

But the poll does not break out African-American voters, nor does it provide an estimate of what proportion of the vote is African-American or minority.The snapshots of the two above polls don’t provide a look at past turnouts. Here are two snapshots of ethnic breakdowns in the Pennsylvania votes in 2016, and then 2012. In 2016, there were 6.16 million votes. In 2012, 5.75 million, 400,000 fewer than in 2016.


pennsylvania 2016 race


pennsylvania 2012

The CNN Pennsylvania Exit Polls report the African-American vote at 10% of the vote in 2016 (Clinton wins 92-7), while in 2012 African-Americans are 13% of Pennsylvania’s total vote ( Obama wins 93%). The drop-off in the African-American vote in 2016 is a factor in Clinton’s loss in Pennsylvania – hardly the only factor but even Donald Trump remarked upon it after his victory. In 2020, despite polling indicating the Democrats may do better among whites, it would be a disaster for the Democrats not to do everything possible to stimulate the African-American vote, as well as that of other minorities. College-educated whites are turning away from Trump, but that fact alone can’t guarantee Pennsylvania for the Democrats.

Here are the snapshots for the other four Democratic contenders vs. Trump, followed by a wrap-up.






The Quinnipiac poll shows the potential for a win in Pennsylvania for the Democrats. Clearly a few Trump voters will switch to the Democrats. But the poll might be wrong; even a little bit wrong makes a difference in a close election. Most of the potential  probably lies with new voters, African-American and other minority voters the Democrats need to re-engage, third-party voters ( the 5% in Pennsylvania who voted for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein), along with a good candidate and an all-out effort.

Jim Brennan was a member of the New York State Assembly for 32 years and retired at the end of 2016. He chaired four committees, including the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions for six years, the Committee on Cities for five years, and the Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities for six years. There are 96 Brennan laws on the books of the State of New York and Jim won three national awards for his legislative work during his career.

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