Pennsylvania voters support creating more laws that regulate gun ownership, according to a Franklin & Marshall political poll released Thursday.
"A large percentage of registered voters surveyed, 64 percent, believe that gun control ought to be expanded, and this was a result taken this weekend, just before the shootings in Dayton and El Paso," said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll.
Even though Pennsylvania is a strong gun ownership state, given how popular hunting is, Madonna said, "voters by and large say more gun laws need to be created, and that includes supporting expanding background checks and questions about assault rifle ownership."
Sixty-five percent of those surveyed also said the state spends too little on mental health.
"I bring this up because the mental health aspect of the shootings is a huge part of the debate right now," Madonna said. "This 65 percent number was a survey result taken before the shooting. I wonder what it would be now given what we have found out about the shooter in Ohio, who was said to have had previous instances of voices in his head, had put a gun to someone's head, and threatened to kill people."
Property tax very unpopular
Pennsylvania's property tax is the most unpopular tax in the state, voters said in the survey. "Most (61 percent) registered voters said the state's tax system needs a fundamental overhaul. And three-in-five voters believe property taxes would be replaced by broader, statewide taxes — such as on alcohol or gaming.
Overall though, Pennsylvania voters are relatively optimistic — 51 percent of registered voters say the state is on the right track, Madonna noted. "That is tied to the fact that finances are stable, more people think they are better now than last year, and believe they will be better in the future.
"Even though we have a conservative legislature and a liberal governor," Madonna said, "the feuding and differences have not been overtly negative. Wolf doesn't speak that way. So the public doesn't see issues about which our politicians have been screaming and shouting at each other. Yes there are differences, but the last couple of budgets were done on time without a lot of infighting. And there have been no sales tax and no income tax hike."
Trump support solid; Warren rising
Trump's job performance ratings have remained pretty much the same since last year, the Franklin & Marshall poll reveals, although his positives have gone up a few points to 37 percent.
"One of the reasons it is not higher is he doesn't do as well among Republicans as he does in national polls, where he gets 88-90 percent in positive job performance," Madonna said.
As for the Democratic candidates, Biden is in the lead with Elizabeth Warren No. 2. She has made gains nationally and in Pennsylvania at the expense of Bernie Sanders, with liberal voters. Biden still does well with moderate voters, Madonna said.
These numbers match up with another poll released this week, the Quinnipiac University National Poll, where Warren is the big winner in the second round of Democratic presidential debates, but former Vice President Joseph Biden retains his front-runner status with 32 percent of Democrats and independent voters who lean Democratic.
Warren has 21 percent among Democrats, with 14 percent for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and 7 percent for California Sen. Kamala Harris.
"Biden survives, Warren thrives and Harris dives as debate number two shakes up the primary," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"Sen. Elizabeth Warren's policy heavy presentation and former Vice President Joseph Biden's ability to handle the heat from all corners put them on top," Malloy added. "Sen. Kamala Harris, whose 20 percent score put her neck-and-neck with Biden in a Quinnipiac University poll July 2 after the first debate, is now a distant fourth with 7 percent.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Madonna said, "Trump's support base is very strong and reliable. Rock solid. And the people who oppose him are rock solid in their opposition. So the voters who said it was time for a change, 60 percent, 85 percent said they would vote against Trump, no matter who ran against him.
"We are seeing polarization and partisanship the likes of which we haven't seen since the 1930s during the New Deal," Madonna said.