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Trump gains ground in Pennsylvania, new poll shows | TribLIVE.com
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Trump gains ground in Pennsylvania, new poll shows

Jason Cato
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Reuters
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 31, 2016.

Donald Trump has narrowed Hillary Clinton’s sizable lead among Pennsylvania voters, a new poll by Franklin & Marshall College shows.

After building an 11 percentage-point advantage following the Democratic National Convention in July, Clinton is up by 7 percentage points among 736 likely, registered voters polled statewide from Aug. 25-29.

The group overall showed 47 percent support for Clinton, compared with 40 percent for Trump. Those figures stood at 49 percent and 38 percent, respectively, in Franklin & Marshall’s poll in July.

Six percent of respondents in the latest poll said they supported other candidates, and 7 percent said they remained undecided.

“We’ve had a tightening of the race,” said pollster G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs.

Though the shift isn’t seismic, Madonna said Clinton’s camp might be somewhat concerned.

“It’s not panic time, but the trend is not good,” he said.

Some reasons for the 4 percentage-point change in the past month are Trump’s attempts to be less controversial lately and increasing unfavorable ratings for Clinton — fueled in large part by negative publicity regarding the Clinton Foundation, continued questions about her use of a private email server and her lack of access by the media, Madonna said.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday showed Clinton is as unpopular as Trump — with less than 40 percent of voters saying they view either candidate favorably.

Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes up for grabs in the Nov. 8 election. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

“Almost anything can happen now to change this election,” said Madonna, adding that he still senses unease among voters and thinks there is some volatility left in the campaign.

Trump has narrowed the gap in Pennsylvania by gaining traction among women voters and in suburban Philadelphia, Madonna said.

Judith Wasil of South Union, Fayette County, participated in the Franklin & Marshall poll. She said she has been a Trump supporter for several months, calling his candidacy “refreshing.”

Wasil, 73, said she has a hard time believing he is trailing Clinton, whom she strongly opposes.

“I think a lot of my friends and family fall into that camp,” she said. “But I think people are fed up with both parties, really.”

Onetime Republican John Imsenik, 75, of Fleetwood, Berks County, said he intends to vote for Clinton, though he senses a lot of support for Trump in his part of the state.

“In my particular area, they are hard-core Republican supporters, regardless of who the candidate is,” Imsenik said. “But if Trump gets elected, I’m not going to be too worried about it. He just isn’t going to get very much done.”

In the U.S. Senate race, the Franklin & Marshall poll showed Democrat Katie McGinty up 43 percent to 38 percent over Republican Sen. Pat Toomey — a 1 percentage-point increase among likely voters over last month.

One in five people polled said they were undecided in that highly contested race.

A third of respondents said they thought Toomey had done enough to be re-elected, up from less than a quarter in July. Of undecided voters, 28 percent said they were leaning toward voting for Toomey, compared with 26 percent for McGinty.

In the presidential race, 27 percent of undecided Pennsylvania voters polled said they were leaning toward supporting Trump compared with 19 percent for Clinton.

Jason Cato is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7936 or [email protected].

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