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A majority of Pennsylvania voters support the Trump impeachment inquiry, poll says

Also, 71% of Pa. voters in the Franklin & Marshall College Poll say it is not acceptable for an American president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent.

President Donald Trump speaks at the ninth annual Shale Insight Conference in Pittsburgh last week.
President Donald Trump speaks at the ninth annual Shale Insight Conference in Pittsburgh last week.Read moreEvan Vucci / AP

A majority of Pennsylvania voters — 57% — support the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, though his supporters in the state back his claim that it’s a partisan “witch hunt.”

Those are among the findings of a Franklin and Marshall College Poll being released Thursday, the first survey of the state since House Democrats formally launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The poll also found former Vice President Joe Biden as the front-runner in Pennsylvania’s Democratic presidential primary, which was the same as in the last survey, in July.

On impeachment, 47% of voters responding to the poll strongly support the inquiry, while 10% somewhat support it, 37% strongly oppose it, 5% somewhat oppose it, and 1% had no opinion.

“It’s heavily partisan, the question of impeachment,” said pollster G. Terry Madonna. “Obviously the Democrats overwhelmingly support it and the Republicans overwhelmingly are against it. Voters who are independent are more likely to support it.”

Eighty-four percent of Democrats support the inquiry, while 21% of Republicans and 61% of independents say it is warranted.

An average of national impeachment polls compiled by the website RealClearPolitics put overall support for the inquiry at 48.8% and opposition at 42.5%.

Whatever happens with the Democrats’ inquiry, Pennsylvania voters have character on their minds heading into the 2020 election, listing honesty and truthfulness highest, at 34%, when asked an open-ended question about what they are looking for in a presidential candidate. That was followed by leadership (11%) and integrity (10%).

Just 37% say Trump deserves reelection while 59% say it is time for a change. A majority, 54%, say Trump has done a “poor job” as president. That number has remained higher than 50% in 10 of the 11 F&M Polls conducted since February 2017.

On impeachment, just 29% of those polled said they knew specific elements of the inquiry, including Trump’s request to the president of Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election and the actions of Biden’s son, Hunter, in that country, while 17% said they had heard about the inquiry in general.

Among Trump supporters, 9% dismissed the inquiry as partisan politics while 8% said Trump had done nothing wrong.

Asked if it was acceptable for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent, 71% overall said no while 21% said yes and 8% were undecided.

Pennsylvania played a decisive in Trump’s 2016 victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, though he won the state by just 0.73%. Trump last week made his second visit to Pennsylvania in the last three months, speaking to a natural gas industry group in Pittsburgh, where he derided “do-nothing Democrats” in Congress.

F&M interviewed 482 Pennsylvania registered voters from Oct. 21 to 27. Results are subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 6.1 percentage points. Sub-samples of Democrats and Republicans are smaller and have a higher margin of error.

In the Democratic field, Biden, a Scranton native, led with 30% support from his party’s voters in the state, while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts took 18%, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont took 12%, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., took 8%.

That tracks with an average of national polls compiled by RealClearPolitics, which puts Biden in the lead, followed by Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg.

Pennsylvania’s primary election is scheduled for April 28.

Eight other Democrats ranked at 2% or lower in the F&M Poll. Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak of Delaware County was not listed in the results.