In a speech Wednesday in South Carolina, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump argued he’s more electable than his opponents because he could win solid Democratic states like New York and Michigan.
Maybe, but when it comes to Pennsylvania he probably has some work to do.
Now keep in mind I’m basing this on an October Quinnipiac University poll. In the polling world, that’s a really old poll. Lots has happened since. Voters might be thinking a whole lot differently now. Polls are just snapshots in time. We forget that a lot.
Back then, Mr. Trump was topping the Republican charts nationwide, but Pennsylvanians were a whole lot more skeptical.
Quinnipiac asked voters about head-to-head matchups between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and five Republican contenders – Mr. Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
Mr. Bush led Mrs. Clinton 44 percent to 43 percent, and Mr. Rubio led her 45-44.
Mrs. Clinton led Mr. Carson 45-43 and Mrs. Fiorina 44-42.
Now, if you understand how polls work, you know those are virtual ties because that Quinnipiac poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. That means you can add or subtract up to 3 points from either number and get alternate results.
Actually, Mrs. Clinton’s matchup with Mr. Trump also within the margin of error, but look at the numbers: She led him 46-41. So while she was a point or two behind or ahead of the others, she had a fairly solid lead on Mr. Trump. With the margin of error, he could actually be leading her 44-43, but his electability in Pennsylvania certainly remains unclear.
The poll did not pit Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders against the Republicans. No one was taking him seriously then.
One other warning about this poll: it surveyed only 15 more Democrats, which means a roughly 50-50 mix of Democrats and Republicans. Based on voter registration in the last election, Pennsylvania had 49 percent Democrats, 37 percent Republicans and 14 percent independents and third parties.
— BORYS KRAWCZENIUK