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March 24, 2016

New Pa. poll: Clinton up 25 points over Sanders, Kasich three points behind Trump

The latest Franklin & Marshall College poll of Pennsylvania voters shows Donald Trump and John Kasich running almost neck and neck in the upcoming primary, with 33 percent of registered Republicans supporting Trump and 30 percent supporting Kasich. Twenty percent support Ted Cruz.

In the Democratic Race, Hillary Clinton has a comfortable lead over Bernie Sanders. Fifty-three percent of registered Democrats support her, 28 percent support him, and 11 percent are undecided.

And in a sign of how unhappy voters are with the political system, 45 percent of all respondents listed "government" or "politicians" as the most important problem facing Pennsylvania today.

Franklin & Marshall conducted their survey from March 14 to 20 and released it on Thursday. The poll had 828 respondents and a sampling error of +/- 3.3 percent.

Kasich benefits from Rubio's exit

While the numbers for Clinton and Sanders are not very different from last month's poll, the Republican side of the race has seen a huge shift since Marco Rubio dropped out after losing in Florida.

Kasich's support among Republicans doubled from 15 percent to 30 percent. Support for Trump and Cruz also grew, with Trump going from 22 percent to 33 percent and Cruz going from 12 percent to 20 percent.

John Kasich's bounce is "certainly the biggest movement we saw in the poll," noted Berwood Yost, director of Franklin & Marshall's Center for Opinion Research. 

"We were in the field in the days after his victory in Ohio and he was also the first candidate really to visit the state...I think Pennsylvania is a good state for Kasich, in that compared to other states we have some more moderate Republican voters," he said. 

Whoever is in the lead, Republicans seem a lot less happy with their candidates than Democrats do. While Clinton and Sanders enjoy favorability ratings within their party of 67 percent and 64 percent, respectively, Trump and Cruz have favorability ratings of just 46 percent and 48 percent.

"Neither candidate seems widely accepted by the Republican voters....That's a real problem for the general election for those candidates, there's no doubt about it," said Yost.  

In a head-to-head matchup, Clinton leads against Trump 46 percent to 33 percent, and she leads against Cruz 45 percent to 35 percent. However, her favorability ratings with the general electorate are negative, with 52 percent of Pennsylvania voters finding her unfavorable. 

She's still Miss Popularity compared to Trump (65 percent unfavorable) and Cruz (54 percent). The same number of voters found Bernie favorable and unfavorable: 44 percent.

Due to time constraints, the poll didn't ask about other head-to-head matches between Sanders and Republicans, or about Kasich's favorability ratings. Yost said that his team originally asked questions about Rubio but dropped those results for obvious reasons. They will include a question about Kasich's favorability ratings in the next poll, which should be released around April 20, and may ask about a Sanders vs. Trump match-up "depending on how Sanders does in the next month."

Both Sanders and Trump have strong support from people under age 35. Sixty-five percent of Democrats that age support Sanders, while 44 percent of young Republicans support Trump.

On the local level, Gov. Tom Wolf has a favorability rating of only 40 percent. Thirty-five percent of the electorate blamed him for the budget stalemate, while 50 percent blamed the state Legislature. Now that the stalemate is finally over, perhaps his ratings will improve.

Find the full results here.