Democratic voter enthusiasm could swamp and then sink the Republican campaigns for the U.S. Senate and governor in Pennsylvania, according to a new Franklin & Marshall College Poll.
The "blue wave" projected to help the Democratic Party in the midterm general election is being propelled in great part by President Trump's actions and administration, according to G. Terry Madonna, the poll's director.
"The blue wave that we see nationally is in this state," Madonna said of his poll results, released Thursday. "The only question is on Nov. 6 will it be light blue, medium blue or heavy blue?"
With the general election 40 days away, the Republican candidates are still unknown to about half the voters in the state.
Fifty-seven percent of the voters in the poll were undecided or had no opinion about U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Hazleton Republican challenging Sen. Bob Casey's bid for a third term. Twenty percent had a favorable opinion of Barletta while 24 percent had an unfavorable opinion.
Casey, who has held statewide public office in Pennsylvania for two decades, remains an unknown quantity to about a third of the voters in the poll — 32 percent were undecided or had no opinion while 40 percent held a favorable view and 28 percent held an unfavorable view.
Among likely voters in the poll, Casey led Barletta by 17 points, 50 percent to 33 percent, with 15 percent undecided. Libertarian nominee Dale Kerns and Green Party nominee Neal Gale were in low single digits.
Former State Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican challenging Gov. Wolf's bid for a second term, was unknown to 46 percent of the voters in the poll, while 22 percent had a favorable opinion of him and 31 percent had an unfavorable opinion.
Wolf was viewed favorably by 54 percent and unfavorably by 33 percent. Thirteen percent were undecided or didn't know enough to say.
That left Wolf with a 22-point lead over Wagner among likely voters, 52 percent to 30 percent, with 15 percent undecided. Libertarian nominee Ken Krawchuk and Green Party nominee Paul Glover were in low single digits.
Madonna called Trump "an essential motivating force" in the midterm elections. Nearly three in five voters surveyed, 59 percent, held an unfavorable view of the president while 40 percent held a favorable view and 1 percent were undecided.
That is driving Democratic enthusiasm, with 49 percent of the likely voters polled supporting Democrats in U.S. House races, and 38 percent supporting Republicans.
The poll found 74 percent of voters supporting a Democratic congressional candidate see their vote as opposition to Trump and the Republicans who control Congress. Eighty percent of the voters supporting a Republican congressional candidate see their vote as support for Trump and the party's congressional majorities.
Madonna's findings were in line with a Muhlenberg College poll released last week that showed Wolf leading Wagner by 55 percent to 36 percent and Casey leading Barletta by 53 percent to 35 percent.