Jan. 30--President Trump has grown stronger with Pennsylvania voters despite ongoing impeachment proceedings, a poll finds.
A majority of the 628 registered Pennsylvania voters who responded to a Jan. 20-26 Franklin & Marshall Poll said it is time for a change in the White House. Still, 38% of them said President Trump is doing an "excellent" or "good" job as president. That's a 3% increase from his 35% favorability rating three months earlier.
And 41% said he is doing well enough to be reelected, an increase of 4% from October.
The poll had a margin of error of 6.2 percentage points.
Poll respondent Charles Smail, 65, of Kittanning said there was never any question in his mind that he would stick with the president he voted for in 2016.
"Trump's kept his promises that he made, and he's done a lot more. For one thing, he's getting tough on Iran. And then he's trying to work with North Korea not to have nuclear weapons. ... He's done well for the economy," the retired maintenance mechanic said.
Smail, a Republican, said he sees impeachment as a reaction to Trump's anti-establishment stance.
"He's trying to clean out the swamp," Smail said. "That's the problem -- the swamp is dug in. If Trump passes gas, they're going to try to impeach him for polluting the air."
A majority of Pennsylvania voters, 57%, nonetheless maintained it is time for a change. That seems to reflect the results of an October poll. During that poll, 57% of those questioned supported what was then simply an impeachment inquiry -- based on the president's telephone conversation with Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during which Trump requested Ukraine launch an investigation into a natural gas company that named Hunter Biden to its board and possible meddling in the 2016 election.
Polling results in Pennsylvania, one of three swing states that put Trump over the top in 2016, reflect the president's stability in national polls. A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls showed Trump's approval rating at 44.9%, up from 41.6% in late October.
Political scientist G. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall Poll, said GOP supporters who have remained unmoved during impeachment proceedings appear to have a lot to do with those numbers.
"Republicans have really rallied to him," Madonna said. "Eighty-nine percent of them in the RealClearPolitics average oppose impeachment and his removal from office. Independents are about evenly divided."
Regardless of their leanings, voters indicated a keen interest in the upcoming election, with 94% saying they are certain to vote, 4% saying they will probably vote and 1% rating their chances of voting at 50%.
As Trump's ratings edge upward, other factors that have dogged his presidency, including questions about his veracity, are rising to the forefront among voters.
Asked what personal characteristic they consider most important in a presidential candidate, 42% said honesty and truthfulness. That's up from 35% in October and 22% in July. Health care and insurance remain the most important issue voters said they will consider this fall, with 20% pointing to it as their primary concern.
Aleen Hennemuth, 90, of Oakdale said she has nothing but respect for the presidency but has serious concerns about Trump's performance.
"He can't be truthful when doing things against another government, good or not," she said.
The Allegheny County Democrat speculated that a strong economy is propping up the president's popularity among those who supported him in 2016.
"I just don't like the way he talks," she said. She added that she is leaning toward Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the primary.
Alexis Nigro, 23, of Philadelphia said she was never one of the president's supporters.
"As time goes on, I've become more and more opposed to him," Nigro said. "I was never a supporter. But even as time goes on, I get more against him."
A part-time student and retail worker, Nigro said she's offended by the president's stance on immigration and environmental issues and rollbacks involving industrial regulations.
"I was just listening to a podcast about how we're such a swing state, and how fracking has been such a big thing here," she said. "It doesn't surprise me that people in rural areas support him, because I feel people in rural Pennsylvania rely a lot on those industries for a living. I understand why some people do support him."
In 2016, Pennsylvania voters, who cast more than 6 million ballots, gave Trump a 44,292-vote margin over Hillary Clinton.
Calynda Hineline, 57, of York contributed to Trump's victory that year and said she will vote for him again. Nothing has come out during the House impeachment hearings or in the Senate trial to change her mind.
A mother of two grown children and grandmother of three, Hineline, a Republican, likes what she sees.
"He's doing a great job for our country, more than others have done," she said. "Look at the economy. I like where he stands on abortion. He's promoted pro-Christian values, so people are not being bashed for being Christians."
Christopher Hollenbeck, 50, said he's not surprised that Trump supporters are sticking with the president.
"I think what you're seeing is pretty indicative of his base: The people who like him are going to like him regardless," he said.
Hollenbeck, a professor of health policy and economics at Penn State, said he was not a Trump supporter in 2016.
"But I was willing to give him a chance," Hollenbeck said. "I'm willing to give anyone a chance. But now I think anyone trying to look objectively at the morality of things would be hard pressed to support him."
The father of four said he's torn about which Democrat he'll support. He's leaning toward Warren, Sanders or (Pete) Buttigieg.
"I'm not a huge (Joe) Biden fan," Hollenbeck said. "But if he was the only one, I'd vote for him. ... It's hard to put a finger on one candidate or one thing right now.
"I'm looking for a compassionate leader. That's what I'm looking for."
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .
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