Pennsylvania Poll: ‘Scranton Joe’ Barely Edges Out Elizabeth Warren

"I’m a lot closer than I was before Christmas and we’ll make the decision soon," former Vice President Joe Biden said of a potential run for the White House in 2020. | Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who claims Pennsylvania as his home turf, leads Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) by single digits within the state.

A poll released by Franklin & Marshall College on Thursday shows the frontrunner leading his nearest challenger, Warren, by a small margin. Conducted between July 29 through August 4 by surveying 627 registered voters, the poll is only one of a handful released to the public showing how the contest for the Democrat nomination is shaping up within the Keystone State.

Biden, known to refer to himself as “Joe from Scranton” on the campaign trail, only took 28 percent support among Pennsylvania Democrats when polled against the rest of the field. Warren, who has been rising in the polls for months, landed in second place at 21 percent. In third was Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) with 12 percent, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) in fourth with eight percent. Rounding out fifth place was South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at six percent support.

Underscoring the results, according to the poll, is well documented “tension between moderate and liberal Democrats.” Among self-described liberals, Warren commanded a sizable lead over her competitors with 31 percent — nearly double the 16 percent support elicited by Sanders, who was the progressive torchbearer in 2016. Even demoralizing for Sanders was that he only marginally beat out Biden (13 percent) for second place with liberals. Harris took fourth place at 11 percent support.

With self-described moderates, Biden dominated his fellow White House hopefuls. The former vice president received 47 percent support outright. Warren and Sanders tied for second place with a meager seven percent support, with Harris closely behind at six percent.

Surprisingly, the poll also found a gender divide between Pennsylvania Democrats, though not in the conventional sense. Male Democrats named Sanders as their preferred nominee, with the senator receiving 27 percent support. Among the demographic, Biden came in second with 20 percent, with Warren trailing closely behind at 18 percent.

Women, on the other hand, named Biden as their top choice with 34 percent. Warren placed second with female Democrats at 23 percent, followed by Harris in third at 13 percent. The results seem to indicate female Democrats are unbothered by the numerous accusations of unwanted touching brought against Biden earlier this year.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 8.7 percentage points.

Biden’s single digit lead over Warren does not bode well for a man who has premised his campaign on being able to win back a state like Pennsylvania — as well as Michigan and Wisconsin — after it went for President Donald Trump in 2016. The narrow margin between Biden and Warren is also remarkable within the context of the former vice president’s personal ties.

Not only was Biden born in the state, but he lived there with his family until the age of 11, when they moved to neighboring Delaware. Although Biden remained in Delaware for the rest of his life and built a successful political career, Pennsylvania, by his own admission, held a special place in his heart. During his nearly 40-year congressional career, Biden’s advocacy on behalf of the state and it’s interests earned him the nickname of the “third senator from Pennsylvania.”

“For the last thirty-five years, any time Scranton needs something… I don’t know how to say no to them,” Biden told GQ magazine in 2010. “For real. I really don’t. You know, it’s still home”

Apart from looking out for the state in Congress, Biden also frequently used the state and Scranton, specifically, to legitimize his middle-class bonafides.

“For those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream,” Biden said when accepting the Democrat’s vice presidential nomination in 2008. “But today that American dream feels as if it’s slowly slipping away. I don’t need to tell you that. You feel it every single day in your own lives.”

Since announcing his candidacy, the instances in which Biden has evoked the state have become more frequent, even to the point of drawing derision from Trump, who was the first Republican to carry the state since 1988.

“He’s not from Pennsylvania,” the president said during a May campaign swing through the state. “I guess he was born here, but he left you folks. … He left you for another state, and he didn’t take care of you, because he didn’t take care of your jobs. He let other countries come in and rip off America.”

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