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Poll: Pennsylvanians give low marks to Trump and tariffs

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey both hold double-digit leads over lesser-known opponents in new NBC News/Marist poll.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump during a political rally on Aug. 2, 2018, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.Carolyn Kaster / AP file

WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania, a state that helped put President Donald Trump in the White House, isn’t too keen on the president’s tariff push, a new NBC News/Marist poll finds, as a near majority fears that the ongoing trade war will ultimately damage the U.S. economy.

Forty-five percent of Pennsylvania adults believe that tariffs and other import barriers will raise costs of consumer goods and hurt the country’s economy. By comparison, 27 percent believe they will protect American jobs and help the economy.

The administration’s trade policy is unpopular across virtually all demographic groups in the NBC/Marist poll — the only groups where a majority supports the tariffs are self-identified Republicans and Trump supporters.

Trump’s job approval rating among adults in the state stands at 38 percent, with 52 percent disapproving of his job performance. Among registered voters, 37 percent approve of Trump’s job and 53 percent disapprove.

This is a slight uptick from his marks in the last NBC/Marist poll of the state from last August, when just 33 percent of adults and 35 percent of voters approved of his job performance.

NBC/Marist poll

Trump’s highest marks come from Republicans (80 percent approval), white evangelicals (59 percent), rural adults (58 percent) and whites without college degrees (49 percent).

But he fares poorly with African Americans (90 percent disapprove), adults between the ages of 18 and 29 (66 percent disapprove), white college graduates (60 percent disapprove), and women (59 percent disapprove).

Just 10 percent of Philadelphians approve of Trump, and things aren’t much better in the suburbs, where Trump has a 30 percent approval rating and a 64 percent disapproval mark.

Support for Trump is higher in the central and western part of the state, where pluralities approve of his job performance.

Democratic incumbents cruising

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey are both sitting comfortably ahead of their Republican opponents in NBC/Marist’s new poll.

Wolf leads Republican Scott Wagner by 14 points among registered voters, 54 percent to 40 percent.

The majority of voters — 51 percent — have a favorable view of the incumbent governor, while 39 percent of voters view him unfavorably. Just 10 percent of voters couldn’t decide.

Three in 10 voters either don’t know enough about Wagner to render judgment or were unsure. Thirty-six percent of voters view him favorably and 34 percent have an unfavorable view.

Casey leads Republican Rep. Lou Barletta by 15 points among registered voters, 53 percent to 38. A near-majority — 48 percent — hold a favorable impression of Casey, compared with the 34 percent who view him unfavorably. Eighteen percent couldn’t decide how they view him.

By comparison, 30 percent of voters give Barletta a thumbs-up, 24 percent give him a thumbs-down and 45 percent are unsure about the Republican.

That massive gap in name identification comes as Casey has dwarfed Barletta in ad spending. The Democrat’s campaign has spent more than $1.5 million on the air so far this cycle, according to Advertising Analytics. Barletta’s campaign has spent just shy of $60,000.

Pennsylvanians prefer a Democratic Congress

More Keystone State voters are siding with Democrats in the new poll, preferences that could help to shape key House races.

Forty-seven percent of registered voters prefer that Democrats win control of Congress after the November elections, while 41 percent want Republicans to maintain control of the body.

Asked in a different way, 51 percent of voters plan to support the Democrat in their congressional district, while 39 percent expect to back the Republican.

As with Trump’s approval rating, there are stark splits based on region, gender, education and race. For example, Democrats have a 18-point advantage with women on the congressional control question and a 26-point advantage on the generic ballot.

The survey of 825 adults (713 registered voters) was conducted Aug. 12-16, 2018. The margin of error for all adults is +/- 3.9 percentage points. The margin of error for registered voters is +/- 4.2 percentage points.