CNN Polls: Majorities of Michigan, Pennsylvania Voters Unhappy With Their Presidential Election
CNN Polls: Majorities of Michigan, Pennsylvania Voters Unhappy With Their Presidential Election



CNN

Voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania — two states that flipped from red to blue in the 2020 presidential election — are entering this year’s general election campaign more dissatisfied than satisfied with the candidates they have to choose from, as a relatively small, but a crucial share say they’re open to changing their minds about the race, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

Polls of registered voters find a tight race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in Pennsylvania (46% each), with Trump leading in Michigan (50% Trump to 42% Biden). Both polls were conducted after Trump and Biden won enough delegates to win their party’s nomination for president, according to CNN estimates.

Polls suggest that in this rematch with Trump, Biden’s winning coalition in 2020 may be more intact in Pennsylvania than in Michigan. The Pennsylvania poll found Biden leading among women, voters of color, college graduates and independents, and tied with Trump among voters under 35. In Michigan, however, women are evenly split, with Biden’s margin among people of color narrower and he trails Trump by a significant margin among independents and young voters. In both states, Biden holds about 9-in-10 of his self-determined 2020 supporters, while Trump retains slightly more of his own 2020 voters.

Assessing their choices in the Biden-Trump rematch, most voters in both states say they have already made up their minds, but about a quarter in each state say they may change their minds between now and the election. That’s more than enough to swing the final outcome in those two key states, both of which Biden won by slim margins in 2020.

There’s even more wiggle room among several key subgroups: In Michigan, 45 percent of independents and 41 percent of voters under 35 say they’re undecided, and 32 percent of independents and 34 percent of younger voters in Pennsylvania.

Less than half of voters in both states say they are satisfied with their choice in the presidential race (47% in Pennsylvania, 46% in Michigan). In Michigan, satisfaction dipped after a fall survey was conducted as former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s now-stalled campaign for the GOP nomination gained steam, but before nominating contests were held (53% were satisfied in this survey ). That drop was steepest among independents (from 46% satisfied in the fall poll to 29% satisfied now), with a smaller drop among Republicans (from 71% to 65%).

Majorities of voters in both states say a second Trump term would bring fundamental changes to the US, while only about a quarter say the same about a second term for Biden. Biden supporters are less likely than Trump supporters to say a second Biden term would bring fundamental change, while supporters of both Biden and Trump say a second Trump term would bring dramatic changes to the country. In both states, more see the change Trump can bring as a good thing than a bad thing. For Biden, just over 4 in 10 in each state say a second term wouldn’t make much of a difference at all, and those who see a change are a bit more evenly split on whether it’s for better or worse.

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In both states, the race is shaping up more like a referendum on the former president than the current one. Majorities of Trump supporters in both seats say they are voting largely to support him rather than oppose Biden, while Biden supporters say they are motivated more by opposition to Trump.

And despite Biden’s tepid approval ratings in both states (only 40% of voters in Pennsylvania approve of his performance and just 35% in Michigan), he clings to the support of double-digit shares of those who disapprove of his job as president ( 12% who disapprove of him in Pennsylvania support him in a matchup with Trump, as do 13% in Michigan). In 2020, according to exit polls, Trump won just 2 percent of those who disapproved of his performance as president in each of those states and turned out to vote.

A hypothetical four-way matchup involving Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Cornelius West in addition to Trump and Biden would suggest significant support for Kennedy in both states. In Pennsylvania, 40% chose Trump, 38% Biden, 16% Kennedy and 4% West, while in Michigan it was 40% Trump, 34% Biden, 18% Kennedy and 4% West. In both states, less than a fifth of those supporting candidates other than Biden or Trump say they are enthusiastic about their choice, with about half in each state saying they support their candidate mostly because they don’t like their other options .

Both Biden and Trump are viewed unfavorably by majorities of Michigan and Pennsylvania voters, and about 1 in 6 in each state are so-called “double-haters,” holding an unfavorable opinion of both Biden and Trump (17% in Michigan, 18% in Pennsylvania). In the hypothetical matchup involving third-party candidates, scores of those double-negative voters in each state voted for Kennedy, even though large shares of that group also said they didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion.

Most voters say they expect Biden and Trump to still be their party’s nominees by the time the presidential election is held (55% say it’s extremely likely in Michigan, 60% in Pennsylvania). About two-thirds of Biden supporters say it is extremely likely in both states, while 56 percent of Trump supporters in Pennsylvania and 49 percent in Michigan think the same.

Asked to rate how well each candidate meets their expectations of policy positions, empathy, temperament, acuity and resilience, registered voters in each state are equally negative about Biden’s and Trump’s policies and their ability to understand the problems of people like them. Biden scores particularly poorly on sharpness and stamina, and Trump scores worst on temperament. Roughly two-thirds in each state say Biden’s grit and toughness are not what they want to see in a president (69% in Michigan, 64% in Pennsylvania), and large majorities, 61% in both states, say that Trump’s temperament is not what they want in a president.

About half of voters in Pennsylvania and 44% in Michigan say that, if true, the charges Trump faces related to trying to overturn the 2020 election disqualify him from serving as president, ahead of roughly 4 in 10 in each state who believe the charges are not relevant to his ability to serve, with the rest saying they question his fitness for the job but are not disqualifying.

Trump’s false claims after 2020 that the election result was rigged against him raised widespread doubts among his supporters about the validity of the election process this cycle. More than 7 in 10 Trump supporters in each state say they believe the false claim that Biden did not legitimately win enough votes to become president in 2020. And looking ahead, Biden supporters in both states are by about 60 points more likely than Trump supporters to say they are very confident that votes in this year’s presidential election will be accurately cast and counted.

About 4 in 10 voters in both states cite the economy as a top issue when considering their choice for president, while protecting democracy, with about a quarter citing it as a close second. Immigration and abortion are also cited by more than 10% of voters in each state. Protecting democracy is the top issue for Biden voters in both states, while for Trump voters it’s the economy by a wide margin. More than 20 percent of women who support Biden in both states say abortion and reproductive rights are the most important issue to them, significantly higher than other voters.

Asked which of the two primary candidates would do a better job of dealing with several important issues, voters favored Trump over Biden with wide leads in both states on the economy, immigration and the situation in Israel and Gaza. Trump has a slightly smaller edge over Biden on the US role in world affairs. Biden leads Trump by a wide margin in both states as more capable of handling abortion policies, and he is more trusted than Trump in Pennsylvania to handle US democracy. Michigan voters, however, split evenly between the two on the issue.

Both states each have Democratic-held U.S. Senate seats on their ballots this fall. Democrats’ narrow majority in the chamber means the GOP could win control of the Senate by just one flip, depending on the outcome of the presidential race. Voters in both states differ on whether a GOP takeover of the Senate would be good or bad for the country: 45% of Michigan voters say the country would be better off if Republicans win control of the Senate in November, 35% say , that the country will be worse and 20% no difference, while in Pennsylvania it is 42% worse, 38% better and 19% no difference.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, who is running for re-election, is largely viewed favorably (33% favorable, 25% unfavorable, 42% undecided), while his primary opponent, Republican David McCormick, remains largely unknown (13% positive, 17% unfavorable, 70% have no opinion).

In Michigan, none of the main candidates for what will be an open seat — Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced her retirement last year — are particularly well-known, and neither are their best-known rivals. Majorities say they have no opinion of Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin or former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, and those who do are largely split on whether it’s positive or negative. Actor Hill Harper, who is running for the Democratic nomination, is even less popular than Slotkin (about 86% have no opinion). On the GOP side, former Rep. Peter Meyer has a similar name to Rogers, but former Rep. Justin Amash, who became an independent before leaving the House but is running for the GOP nomination, is generally unknown (83% have no opinion of him ).

These CNN polls were conducted online and by phone by SSRS from March 13-18. In Michigan, a random sample of 1,097 registered voters was polled, and in Pennsylvania, it was a random sample of 1,132 registered voters. Results for the full Michigan sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points; that’s 3.8 points for Pennsylvania scores.

CNN’s Ed Wu and Nicholas Anastasio contributed to this report.

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