Latest F&M poll shows more than half of Pa. voters will cast ballots in-person on Election Day

An early election ballot completion area is being prepared at a collection location at the North Park Ice Skating Rink Lodge area, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in McCandless, Pa. (Keith Srakocic / AP Photo)

An early election ballot completion area is being prepared at a collection location at the North Park Ice Skating Rink Lodge area, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in McCandless, Pa. (Keith Srakocic / AP Photo)

Ask us: What do you want to know about voting and the 2020 election?

This story originally appeared on WITF.

Just over half of Pennsylvania voters plan to cast their ballot in-person rather than by mail, according to the latest poll from Franklin & Marshall College.

Researchers conducted interviews between Oct. 19-25, speaking online and by phone to 268 Democrats, 229 Republicans and 61 who identified as independent. The results were weighted for things like age, education and geography to help pollsters achieve a representative sample.

Pollsters have been criticized for not accounting for the latter two in 2016, which was one of the reasons forecasts for the presidential race that year were significantly off.

Studies have shown a failure to account for education, for example, was one of the reasons some state forecasts for the 2016 presidential race were off.

F&M’s poll shows 98 percent of Pennsylvanians have their mind made up about which presidential candidate they’re voting for, and most have decided how they plan to do it.

Kimberly Bell of Millersville, a Republican voter, says she’ll be among those braving the lines on Election Day to cast her ballot. She said though she’s lived in Pennsylvania her whole life, she’s much more politically active this year than in the past.

“This is pretty much all I talk about when I talk to friends [and] family,” Bell said. “I watch a lot of TV. I watch all the debates [and] I’m very concerned for my grandchildren over what this country will become.”

More than three-fourths of Republicans are planning to vote in person, according to the polling data, while a majority of Democrats said they have or will cast a mail-in ballot.

The poll also asked voters about the issues that are concerning them in the final days before voting ends. More than a quarter indicated the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s response to it was top of mind.

Doug Macbride of Philadelphia, a volunteer with the Democratic Party, answered the survey. He said he’s paying attention to state legislative races, out of concern for how the General Assembly has approached problems facing the city.

“The state is continuing to ignore the realities in Philadelphia,” Macbride said. “I think the local legislators understand clearly what our needs are and I believe they’re pushing hard to push the state legislature in the direction we need.”

More than three fifths of Pennsylvanians said mail-in votes will be accurately counted once tabulation starts on Election Night, despite the claims President Trump has made on the campaign trail, falsely saying those ballots are subject to fraud.

A third of the Republicans researchers surveyed said they doubt mail-in votes will be counted accurately.

The Franklin & Marshall poll shows Democrat Joe Biden with a 50 percent to 44 percent lead over President Donald Trump, with just days until the polls close.

When Hillary Clinton was showing similar poll numbers against Trump in the 2016 election, Franklin & Marshall researchers had surveyed Pennsylvania voters several weeks before the election.

Research director G. Terry Madonna said the timing of this poll and the fact that it showed Biden still ahead by several points could be indications of a more reliable reading of voter sentiment in this battleground state.

“There probably were some voters who wouldn’t tell pollsters that they were going to vote for Trump. But the biggest difference now is that he’s an incumbent,” Madonna told WITF’s SmartTalk program Thursday. “He has a record, and for the most part, his voters have not been reluctant to show up at rallies and talk about their support for him. That’s much more common than it was in 2016.”

Which way will Pa. vote?

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal