New poll: Biden leads Warren among PA Dems

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

Former Vice President Joe Biden is the favorite presidential candidate of registered Democrats in Pennsylvania according to a new Franklin & Marshall College poll.

Of the 295 registered Democrats surveyed, 28% said they would choose Biden for the Democratic nomination. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took second place with 21% of respondents choosing her as the nominee.

"There’s no big surprise there," said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll. "I mean, Joe Biden would have the lead. He’s led in every match-up in our state in various polls."

Biden was born in Scranton, Lackawanna County, and lived in Wilmington, Delaware — not far from Philadelphia — for more than 30 years, Madonna said.

Warren had two strong debate performances and has been gaining in national polls, Madonna said, so he wasn't surprised to see her perform well among Pennsylvania Democrats.

The Massachusetts senator has poached some of the more progressive base from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Madonna said.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., answers questions after a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Support for Wolf's gas tax: The poll also covered a number of other state issues.

Among the Republicans, Democrats and independents surveyed, 69% of respondents support Gov. Tom Wolf's plan to fund $4.5 billion in infrastructure improvements via a natural gas severance tax.

"What’s important about this is that Republicans and Democrats support it," Madonna said, adding that supporters in the survey included men and women, old and young and liberal and conservative voters.

But the plan, dubbed Restore Pennsylvania, has little support among Republican state legislators.

The poll also found that 61% of respondents believe municipalities that rely on state police coverage in their area, in lieu of a local or regional police force, should reimburse the state for the cost of that service.

"The problem, of course, is some small counties simply don’t have the resources to do it, and they have limited ways to raise the money," he said.

To help cover the state police funding shortfall, the state has been diverting money from the motor license fund, which is supposed to be used to maintain roads and bridges, Madonna said.

Only 23% of respondents said they support using the motor license fund to pay for state police coverage.

Methodology: Madonna and his team surveyed 627 registered voters, comprising 295 Democrats, 251 Republicans and 81 independents.

The interviews took place over the phone and online, and the results were weighted based on age, gender, education and party registration, using an algorithm "to reflect the known distribution of those characteristics as reported by the Pennsylvania Department of State and Pennsylvania exit polls."

The results have an overall margin of error of +/- 6.0 points, with a margin of error of +/- 8.7 points among registered Democrats.

More:Gov. Wolf is confident he has the votes for gas tax, but Republicans beg to differ

More:New Pennsylvania school property tax elimination bill seeks 'permanent fix'

More:Biden opens with pitch to labor in battleground Pennsylvania