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Clinton, Sanders lead Trump, Cruz in new MCAP poll

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pennsylvania voters have little positive to say about the 2016 presidential campaign – expressing words like ‘disgusting” and “embarrassing” – but of both parties’ frontrunners, Pennsylvanians pick Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

The Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics released the findings today as part of a new poll surveying 421 registered voters in Pennsylvania (MOE =/- 4.8%) taken March 1-11.

In hypothetical election match-ups, Pennsylvanians voted as follows: Clinton 43% v. Trump 35%; Clinton 45% v. Cruz 42%; Sanders 49% v. Trump 37%; Sanders 48% v. Cruz 40%.

However, in head-to-head match-ups with the other Republican candidates, Clinton and Sanders do not fare well. In fact, Marco Rubio and John Kasich best their potential Democratic Party rivals, with Kasich leading Clinton by double digits (Clinton 39% v. Rubio 47%; Clinton 36% v. Kasich 49%; Sanders 41% v. Rubio 46%; Sanders 42% v. Kasich 46%).

"Pennsylvania has not voted for a Republican president since 1988," noted MCAP Director Joseph Morris. "The fact that we have two Republican candidates leading the two potential Democratic nominees is worth noting. If Republicans hope to win Pennsylvania in November, they would do well to give Kasich and Rubio another look."

In the Pennsylvania Senate race, registered voters favor incumbent Senator Pat Toomey over both his potential Democratic Party rivals (Toomey 47% v. Katie McGinty 34%; Toomey 43% v. Joe Sestak 38%).

Regardless of which candidate they are supporting, when asked to choose a single word to describe the campaign, voters most frequently chose “ridiculous,” “joke,” “disgusting,” “embarrassing,” and other words that express negative sentiments.

In contrast to their dissatisfaction with the tone of the 2016 presidential election, Pennsylvania voters appear to be increasingly satisfied with the state of the nation’s economy and availability of jobs in their community. When asked to describe the state of the nation’s economy, a plurality (40%) say “good.” This compares favorably to 2011, 2013 and 2014 when pluralities of voters described the state of the nation’s economy as “not so good” or “poor.” While a plurality of voters (53%) say that jobs are “somewhat difficult to find” in their community, the percent saying that there are “plenty of jobs” in their community today has increased from 9% in 2014 to 19%.

Despite voters’ more positive perceptions of the economy and the availability of jobs, the issue remains at the forefront of voters’ minds as they evaluate the candidates for President. When asked the importance of a variety of issues for determining their vote for President this November, three out of four voters (76%) say the economy and jobs are “very important.” Other issues frequently identified as “very important” are terrorism/ISIS (71%), the way Washington operates (71%), healthcare policy (67%), and moral values (63%).