Suffolk University Poll Shows Clinton Leading Trump by 9 Points in Pennsylvania

61 percent of Keystone State voters support ban on assault weapons

Just hours before Democrat Hillary Clinton is set to make history in Philadelphia as the first woman to accept her party’s U.S. presidential nomination, a new Suffolk University poll of likely general-election voters in Pennsylvania shows Clinton with a commanding lead over Republican Donald Trump. In a two-way matchup, she led Trump 50 percent to 41 percent, with 8 percent undecided.

Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race.

In a four-way scenario, with Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson added into the mix, Clinton led Trump 46 percent to 37 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 5 percent, Green Party nominee Jill Stein receiving 3 percent, and 9 percent undecided.

“Hillary Clinton is flirting with fifty thanks to Philly,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Research Center in Boston. “At this point Clinton’s large lead in the Philadelphia area is offsetting losses to Trump in other parts of the state. She also is amassing the support of women and thus drowning out Trump’s marginal lead among men.”

In the four-way ballot test, Clinton led by 19 points among women (50 percent to 31 percent) and trailed Trump by 3 points among men (44 percent to 41 percent).

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was the most popular figure among Pennsylvania voters, ahead of President Obama, nominees for president and vice president, and the candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Sanders was seen favorably by 60 percent of voters, while 29 percent had a negative view of him. He was followed by Obama (52 percent favorable-44 percent unfavorable), Clinton (44 percent favorable-48 percent unfavorable), and Trump (33 percent favorable-57 percent unfavorable).

“Sanders is immensely popular in every part of the state, even higher than the president and the nominee of his own party,” said Paleologos. “As he prepares to leave the convention tonight, he can hold his head high thanks to the resounding goodwill of Pennsylvania voters in all parties.”

Asked if they feel more or less safe living in America than they did five to 10 years ago, 56 percent of Pennsylvanians said less safe, 13 percent more safe, and 29 percent said there was no change. Likely voters said that the number one issue facing the next president is terrorism and national security (31 percent), followed by jobs/economy (21 percent), and nominating Supreme Court justices (8 percent).

Sixty-one percent of Pennsylvania voters said they support Clinton’s proposed ban on assault weapons, while 34 percent were opposed, and 6 percent undecided.

Asked whether the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email protocol during her service at the Department of State should have led to her indictment, 49 percent said she should not have been indicted, and 45 percent disagreed. Sixty-three percent of voters said they trust the FBI overall, while 24 percent said they do not. Two other federal agencies/branches scored higher in regard to trust: the U.S. Armed Forces (93 percent) and the Post Office (87 percent).

U.S. Senate race

In Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate contest, Democrat Katie McGinty (43 percent) led incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (36 percent), with a considerably high 20 percent still undecided or refused.


In 2010, the final Suffolk poll predicted a 5-point win for Republican Pat Toomey over Democrat Joe Sestak for U.S. Senate. Toomey prevailed by 2 points. Earlier that year, Suffolk polling predicted a 9-point upset win in the Democratic primary by challenger Joe Sestak over incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter. Sestak prevailed by 8 points.


The Pennsylvania survey of 500 likely voters was conducted July 25-27 using live telephone interviews of households where respondents indicated they were very or somewhat likely to vote in the 2016 general election. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, [email protected].



Greg Gatlin
[email protected]


Suffolk University Political Research Center