A new poll from Franklin & Marshall College shows a large majority of Pennsylvanians disapprove of the vote by eight Republican congressmen to object to the 2020 election results.
The vote supported then-President Trump’s election-fraud lie as he attempted to overturn his loss to Joe Biden.
In all, 147 members of Congress objected to certifying Pennsylvania’s results on Jan. 7, in the immediate aftermath of an attack on the U.S. Capitol led by pro-Trump extremists. The vote occurred despite no evidence that would have called the results into question, and after state and federal judges and election officials of both parties all concluded the 2020 contest was fair and free.
Both GOP Sen. Pat Toomey and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick broke with their party and voted to certify the results.
Six in 10 of the 588 registered voters surveyed by Franklin & Marshall College pollsters during the first week in March thought the lawmakers who voted against certifying the results should not have done so. Fifty-one percent strongly disapproved while another 10 percent somewhat disagreed.
Berwood Yost, who directs F&M’s Center for Opinion Research, said it’s not likely that vote alone will stop the GOP congressmen from earning re-election.
“One of the mismatches that comes up between the way Congressional districts are constituted, and general public perception overall, is that most of these districts are not that terribly competitive,” Yost said. “This isn’t…likely [to] be an issue for many of these candidates.”
The trouble could come if any of them seek to run for statewide office. Toomey’s U.S. Senate seat and the Governor’s office are up for grabs in next year’s general election. Several candidates have already announced they’re running for the Senate seat.
“If some of these folks have statewide aspirations, that is at least potentially an issue that could come back to be a liability in a statewide race,” Yost said.
U.S. Reps. Dan Meuser, Scott Perry, Lloyd Smucker, Fred Keller, John Joyce, Guy Reschenthaler, Glenn Thompson, and Mike Kelly all voted to object to the 2020 vote.
The poll also showed dissatisfaction with state government is at its highest level in four years. Fifty-four percent of respondents said Pennsylvania is headed in the wrong direction — up from 44 percent last October.
“There’s an economic element to this,” Yost said. “The last time we saw people saying the state was headed in the right direction, the economy was pretty good. I think there’s going to have to be some real improvement in where we are economically for these numbers to turn around and less partisan fighting about the solutions to these problems.”
Public health experts have been warning for months that vaccination efforts could be complicated by those who outright refuse to receive a shot when offered one. Poll results show only 36 percent of Republicans said they would get a shot when one becomes available.
“That’s a big issue and we’ve got to figure out a way to get those people to see the benefits of vaccination,” Yost said.
A majority of voters who took the survey also indicated they support raising the minimum wage and legalizing recreational marijuana — two cornerstone agenda items for Gov. Tom Wolf which the Republican-controlled legislature have not acted on yet this session.
While 57 percent also said the commonwealth should do more to address climate change, fewer people express that viewpoint than they did 2019, when 68 percent thought more should be done.
Yost said the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic is likely a cause of the drop.
“This is not unusual. When we do polls, if there’s a big issue you often see environmental issues fade in importance or priority. I think this is one of those circumstances where you have a [more] immediate issue.”
Pollsters surveyed 269 registered Democrats, 236 Republicans, and 83 independents either online or by phone. The poll was weighted for demographic accuracy and its margin of error was +/- 5.5 percentage points.
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