Harrisburg, Pa., December 7, 2023 – As President Biden prepares for his ninth visit to Pennsylvania in 2023—his most-visited state aside from Delaware, his home state—he is struggling to connect with state voters, according to public opinion survey data from the Commonwealth Foundation’s quarterly tracking poll.
Pennsylvania is the largest swing state in the nation, and the road to the White House runs through its borders. Since 1860, there have only been two elections in which a Republican has won the presidency without winning Pennsylvania. No Democrat has been elected to the White House without winning Pennsylvania since 1948.
President Biden’s approval rating among Pennsylvania voters has remained underwater by double digits throughout 2023, settling in at 42 percent in the Commonwealth Foundation’s September survey. Despite his consistent support, the president’s disapproval was 56 percent, with more than 1-in-5 Democrats (21 percent), 6-in-10 Independents (62 percent), and 8-in-10 Republicans (89 percent) disapproving of the job President Biden is doing.
In the same September survey, over 7-in-10 registered voters in Pennsylvania (72%) said the country has fundamentally gotten off on the wrong track, with over half of Democrats (51 percent), over three-quarters of Independents (76 percent), and over 9-in-10 Republicans (91 percent) sharing this sentiment.
Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, is the candidate 31 percent of voters would like to run for president, while 28 percent said they would like to see Biden run. While Trump enjoys a slight lead, 47 percent of voters indicated they prefer a generic Democrat compared to 45 percent who back a generic GOP candidate. However, from Q2 to Q3, self-identified Independents went from favoring the Democratic candidate (D+6) to favoring the Republican candidate (R+4).
“The path to the presidency runs through Pennsylvania as perhaps the most consequential state in the union in determining who will control Congress and the White House after the 2024 elections. While this is poised to be a historically competitive election, it is becoming clear that President Biden is struggling in this key swing state,” Jennifer Stefano, executive vice president of the Commonwealth Foundation, said. “Even in an electorate that is leaning Democratic, voters are clearly holding the White House accountable for the inflation and the pocketbook challenges they face.”
The GOP holds a six-point advantage over Democrats (46-40) when it comes to which party voters trust more on economic policy as pocketbook issues continue to dominate voters’ concerns. Nearly a third (29 percent) of respondents cited high cost of living, inflation, or the economy in general as their most pressing problem—more than four times higher than any other issue.
Within the GOP presidential field, support for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has weakened, while former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy have achieved modest polling gains that remain overshadowed by Trump’s double-digit lead.
The results come from the third statewide “Common Ground in the Commonwealth” tracking poll (conducted Sept. 21-24) released by the Commonwealth Foundation. Future editions of the poll will continue to be released on a quarterly basis through 2024.
Previous Common Ground Poll results can be found at CommonGroundPoll.com.
The upcoming Q4 poll will be released on December 19, 2023. Register for the upcoming poll webinar here.
The Commonwealth Foundation turns free-market ideas into public policies, fostering prosperity for all Pennsylvanians.