Pennsylvania: PPP: June 2016

Another day. Another poll released documenting the presidential preferences of the citizens from one of the members of my Swing State Symphony.

I find such joy in the little nooks and crannies of life.

Today’s results from a question-and-answer session done over the phone and Internet takes us to Pennsylvania. Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a survey (1,106 registered voters, margin of error 3 percentage points, results here) that showed that between a hypothetical two-person presidential race between Hillary Clinton (Democratic Party) and Donald Trump (Republican Party), the two contestants finish in a 44%-44% tie.*

At this point, I would go into the demographic breakdown of the poll’s results and tease out why Clinton and Trump won the amount of vote that they did. However, the authors of this PPP report about this June Pennsylvania survey explain as well as anyone can when they write…

…Republicans are more unified around Trump (79/8) than Democrats are
around Clinton (75/15). That dynamic is what’s making the state competitive.

The numbers in the parenthesis indicate that 79% of GOP respondents in the PPP poll would vote for Trump while 8% would cross party lines to vote for Clinton. While three-quarters of voters (75%) who identify as members of the Democratic Party would cast their ballot in support of their party’s nominee, 15% of the Democratic respondents say they would vote for Trump.

People were interviewed for this survey before Clinton became the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. That designation happened on June 6 when the Associated Press announced that Clinton had won more than enough delegates to cinch the nomination at the party’s convention in Philadelphia. It will interesting to note if Clinton receives a bump in polls among her fellow party-goers now that she has the word “presumptive” attached to her name. But that’s for another (and future) date.

Another item of note is the gender gap. This is the difference between Clinton’s lead among female voters and Trump’s lead among male voters. The gender gap has been invoked in articles (see here and here and here) saying how it could be Trump’s downfall as he tries to win the White House. The narrative goes that Clinton’s lead among women voters will be greater than Trump’s lead among men voters. Since there are more women in the United States…well, that there spells trouble for Trump with a capital “T”.

However, this latest PPP poll from Pennsylvania has an interesting tidbit. Men support Trump by a margin of 55%-33%, which is a lead of 22 percentage points. Pennsylvania women, sayeth PPP, support Clinton by a margin of 54%-34%, which is a lead of 20 percentage points. Calculating the gender gap as the difference of Clinton’s lead among women (20) and Trump’s lead among men (22) gives a value of -2 (20 – 22 = -2). A negative value in this instance means that the gender gap is a liability for Clinton as Trump’s lead among men overcomes Clinton’s lead among women (hence the overall tie at 44%-44%) even with the fact that more women (53%) were respondents than men (47%)**.

This Trump advantage to the gender gap may not be a one-off phenomenon. A day before PPP released their survey about Pennsylvania, PPP published its results from a poll done in Florida (as seen previously here in this blog). In that PPP Florida survey, men support Trump by a single percentage point (45%-44%), but women also support Trump by a single percentage point (45%-44%). As with Pennsylvania, the gender gap figure is -2 ((-1) [Clinton’s lead among women] – 1 [Trump’s lead among men] = -2). As with the Pennsylvania PPP survey, more women (53%) than men (47%) were respondents, so Trump’s lead among women help to propel him to an overall victory in this hypothetical Sunshine State election by a margin of 45%-44%.

Yes, there is the caveat that these are only two polls taken a day apart in early June.

Yes, there is a caveat that a CBS News/YouGov released June 5 about the presidential preferences of the citizens of New Jersey (and written about here on this blog) showed Clinton not only winning the women’s vote by 24 percentage points (54%-30%), but also winning the men’s vote by 5 percentage points (44%-39%) giving Clinton a gender gap figure of 29.

But, there is also this fact that a June poll released by Franklin Pierce University in conjunction with The Boston Herald (and written about previously here on this blog) showed that the gender gap difference in New Hampshire for Clinton was only 2.2. While she led among women by a margin of 22.1 percentage points (53.8%-31.7%), Trump’s lead among men voters was almost similar at 19.9 percentage points (55.3%-35.4%).

So we have surveys run in three swing states (Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania) in June that show that Clinton’s advantage of the gender gap is not to be seen. Two of these swing state surveys actually show Trump having the advantage among the genders (i.e., his lead among men is greater than Clinton’s lead among women) and the third (New Hampshire) shows her lead to be below her latest national poll figure. FOX News released a poll on June 9 (1,004 registered voters, margin of error 3 percentage points, results here) that gives Clinton a gender gap difference of 3 (Clinton leads women by 18 percentage point 50%-32% and Trump leads men by 15 percentage points 48%-33%)***.

Only time and more surveys will be able to answer the question if the gender gap in swing states has vanished for the (now presumptive) presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.


*Respondents in this poll were also asked who they would opt for given the choices of Trump, Clinton, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. In that hypothetical four-way contest, Clinton wins with 41% of the vote to Trump’s 40%. Johnson takes 6% of the vote and Stein wins 3%.

**In the four-way Clinton/Johnson/Stein/Trump contest, women support Clinton by a margin of 49%-31% (+18 percentage points) and men support Trump by the same 49%-31% margin (+18 percentage points). Though the gender gap difference is zero (18 – 18 = 0), Clinton still defeats Trump by a single percentage point overall (41%-40%) because there were more female respondents than male.

***FOX News also asked respondents who they would choose in a three-way contest between Trump, Johnson, and Clinton. In that race, Clinton’s gender gap difference actually increases to 7 as Clinton leads among women voters by 17 percentage points (47%-30%) and Trump leads among men voters by 10 percentage points (41%-31%).


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