WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is facing a motivated opposition in critical battleground states, including Pennsylvania, though a sizable share of voters remain up for grabs, according to a new poll.
About 41% of registered voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin say they are definitely or probably going to vote against Trump next year, while 33% are definitely or probably going to support him, according to the survey released Thursday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation and Cook Political Report. The poll focused on states that served as a Democratic bulwark until 2016.
Pennsylvania’s numbers tracked with the overall survey: 40% in the Keystone State say they will definitely or probably vote for the Democratic nominee in 2020, compared with 33% who say they will definitely or probably support Trump.
But the poll also found that 41% of voters in the four states are either undecided or only “probably” set in their views, leaving the possibility of significant swings by Election Day 2020.
The four states are crucial to Trump’s reelection. He narrowly flipped Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin in 2016, enabling him to win the Electoral College and the presidency despite losing the national popular vote. With those states decided by slim margins, even small shifts could alter the outcome of the 2020 race.
Another recent poll, by the New York Times and Siena College, had better news for Trump. In a different test in many of the same states, that poll found the president highly competitive against the top three Democratic contenders — so the latest survey is just one data point among many.
The new Kaiser/Cook poll also found Joe Biden leading the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, and showed some warning signs for Democrats. Trump remains strong in rural areas, and some of the high-profile proposals touted in the Democratic primary, including Medicare for All, received deeply negative receptions from potential swing voters.
The poll surveyed 3,222 registered voters in the four states, including 752 in Pennsylvania, from Sept. 23 to Oct. 15. It has a margin of error of 2 percentage points overall, and 4 percentage points in Pennsylvania.
Among the key findings:
Voters are motivated by the president: 21% in the four states said defeating Trump was their primary concern in the 2020 election. Only 8% said reelecting Trump was their top issue.
Overall, 50% of voters in the four states strongly disapprove of Trump’s job performance, while 25% strongly approve. In Pennsylvania the numbers were 51-26.
The economy was Trump’s brightest spot, although even there, opinion was a roughly even split. Majorities in the four states disapproved of Trump’s performance on trade, immigration, health care, and foreign policy.
The poll found that the Scranton-born Biden leads among Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, with 27% listing him as their first choice, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 18% and Sen. Bernie Sanders at 14%. No other candidate was listed as the first choice by more than 4% of voters.
But Warren, of Massachusetts, leads in the other three states polled, even topping Sen. Amy Klobuchar in her home state of Minnesota.
As Democrats continue racking up big wins in suburban areas, Trump needs to hold onto his support in rural areas. The poll suggests he remains strong in those regions.
In Pennsylvania, 46% of rural voters said they would definitely or probably support the president in 2020, compared with19% who said they would definitely or probably vote against him. About 27% were undecided.
Overall, 57% of voters in those areas approved of Trump’s job performance, a contrast with the 56% of suburbanites and and 76% of urbanites who disapprove.
Almost 90% of Trump voters approve of his job performance, according to the poll.
Medicare for All, an issue that has dominated Democratic primary debates, polled relatively poorly, as did a proposed fracking ban supported by several Democrats.
On a list of six health care policies, Medicare for All received the least support across the four states.
A narrow majority, 52%, rated it as “a top priority” or “important,” but there was far more agreement around reducing prescription drug costs (95%) and retaining protections for people with pre-existing health conditions (93%). A public option to allow people to obtain government-backed insurance if they choose was rated as “a top priority” or “important” by 66%.
In Pennsylvania, only 36% of Democrats labeled Medicare for All a top priority.