Highlights from the January 2012 Franklin and Marshall College Poll:
1. Most (47%) of the state’s voters believe Pennsylvania is headed in the wrong direction, a sentiment little changed during the past two years. The last time a majority of the state’s registered voters believed the state was headed in the right direction was September 2006.
2. More voters report they are worse off financially than are better off financially (26% and 15%, respectively) compared to one year ago, although most (60%) say their finances are the same as last year. Fewer voters expect to be worse off financially next year (13%) than they were last March (26%), the last time this question was asked. Most (51%) respondents report economic and financial issues are their most pressing personal problems.
3. President Obama has seen a minor improvement in his job performance ratings compared to the October 2011 Franklin and Marshall College Poll, rising from 37% positive to 40% positive. Voters’ rating of his handling of the economy, with only 29% providing a positive rating, is lower than his overall job performance rating. Generally speaking, more voters in Pennsylvania still believe it is time for a change (49%) than believe the president deserves re-election (44%).
4. Despite President Obama’s tepid job approval ratings, he continues to lead his Republican challengers in the state. Obama’s lead over both Romney and Santorum is still more than 10 points. The president is up two points on Romney from October; however, his lead over Santorum has remained stable at 13 points.
January 2012: Obama 41%, Romney 30%, other 8%, don’t know 24%
October 2012: Obama 35%, Romney 26%, other 10%, don’t know 30%
January 2012: Obama 43%, Santorum 30%, other 8%, don’t know 19%
October 2012: Obama 38%, Santorum 25%, other 11%, don’t know 26%
5. The explanation for the president’s current advantage may stem from several sources. First, less than half (46%) of voters are very interested in this year’s election; in January 2008, three in five (60%) voters were very interested in that year’s election. Second, President Obama is more personally appealing than either of the two Republican challengers tested with nearly half (45%) of voters having a “favorable” opinion of the president compared to around one-quarter who have a favorable opinion of Mitt Romney (25%) and Rick Santorum (29%). Importantly, this pattern holds true among independent voters.
Read the full poll results here.