GOP Presidential Primary Tightens

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Franklin & Marshall College Poll

The 25th consecutive year of polling in Pennsylvania

Below are the highlights of the March 2016 Franklin & Marshall College Poll of Pennsylvania voters. Complete results can be found at

• Hillary Clinton continues to hold a sizable lead in the presidential race among registered Democrats in Pennsylvania. Secretary Clinton leads Senator Bernie Sanders, 53% to 28%, with 11% reporting they are still undecided.

• Donald Trump (33%) leads in the state as he has since October, but John Kasich (30%) is now a close second, and Ted Cruz (20%) is third, while about one in six (17%) remains undecided about their preference.

• In a general election match-up Hillary Clinton currently leads both Donald Trump (46% to 33%) and Ted Cruz (45% to 35%) by double digits in Pennsylvania.

• Neither Republican candidate is personally popular in Pennsylvania – twice as many Pennsylvania voters rate Donald Trump (27% favorable, 65% unfavorable) and Senator Cruz (27% favorable, 54% unfavorable) unfavorably as favorably. Hillary Clinton’s ratings are also negative (41% favorable, 52% unfavorable) among Pennsylvania voters, although not as negative as the Republican candidates.

• Joe Sestak continues to lead the Democratic U.S. Senate primary with 31% over Katie McGinty (14%) and John Fetterman (7%). A large number (46%) of Democratic voters still remain undecided.

• More registered voters hold the state legislature (50%) than the governor (35%) responsible for the state’s late budget, a proportion that has remained consistent since August. More (79%) voters believe that elected leaders should compromise to complete the budget than believe they should stand firm on their principles even if a budget does not get passed (17%).

• More registered voters believe the state should enact a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to balance the budget (44%) than believe that only program cuts (35%) or increased taxes (12%) should be used. Large majorities support taxing companies that extract and sell natural gas (73%) and increasing tobacco taxes (79%) as a way to balance the state budget.

This survey reflects interviews with 828 Pennsylvania registered voters conducted by the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College from March 14-20, 2016 (sample error of +/-3.4 % percentage points). The sampling error is +/- 4.7 percentage points for the sample of Democrats and is +/- 5.4 percentage points for the sample of Republicans.

The Franklin & Marshall College Poll is produced in conjunction with the Philadelphia Daily News, WGAL-TV (South Central PA), Pittsburgh Tribune Review, WTAE-TV (Pittsburgh), WPVI-TV6/ABC (Philadelphia), Times-Shamrock Newspapers, Harrisburg Patriot-News/PennLive, LNP media group, and the Reading Eagle. It may be used in whole or in part, provided any use is attributed to the college.

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