Trump and Clinton remain presidential frontrunners, recent F&M Poll reveals

By Steven Viera || Senior Editor

According to the most recent F&M Poll, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton remain the respective frontrunners in the race for the presidential nominations of the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively.

Since the previous poll in October, Trump has gained one percentage point, bringing him to 24 percent and the forefront amongst other Republican contenders for the Oval Office. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, lost six points and now maintains 46 percent, although she is still ahead of any other candidate running for president within the Democratic Party.

“This is a mirror image of what’s going on nationally,” said Terry Madonna, director of the F&M Poll and the Center for Politics and Public Affairs.

Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, who are Trump and Clinton’s closest competitors, respectively, are also gaining ground: Cruz has surged from four to 14 points and Sanders jumped by 11 points to 29 percent.

In state politics, 67 percent of voters–up five points from October–think Pennsylvania “is on the wrong track,” while another 38 think politicians and government are the state’s greatest issues. Madonna pointed out that, notably, these responses completely overlook the economy.

The Poll also indicated tensions between the Tom Wolf, governor of Pennsylvania, and the State Legislature over the state’s 2016 budget, which is currently seven months overdue. Fifty-two percent of voters blame the Legislature and 32 percent blame Wolf for the delay, and 42 percent report trust in the governor compared to 39 percent trust in the Legislature in terms of making final decisions about the budget. More generally, 33 percent rate Wolf’s job performance as “excellent”–a dip from previous polls.

In the Pennsylvania Senate race, the Poll found that Joe Sestak leads the pack with 17 percent of the vote; Katie McGinty and John Fetterman trail at 13 and six percent, respectively. 

Meanwhile, 88 percent of voters support a federal law mandating background checks on all gun buyers, even at gun shows, and another 85 percent want checks that would provide greater information about the mental health of buyers.

The F&M Poll is conducted in conjunction with several local newspapers and television stations and under the direction of Madonna; Berwood Yost, chief methodologist and director of the Center for Opinion Research; and Jacqueline Redman, project manager. The most recent poll, conducted between Jan. 18 and 23, is based on interviews with 732 registered Pennsylvania voters and has a has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

Senior Steven Viera is the Senior Editor. His email is sviera@fandm.edu.

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