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RMU Poll shows large Biden vote up for grabs

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 21, 2015 — Vice President Joe Biden’s decision to not seek the Democratic presidential nomination next year now raises the question of where his supporters will land — and whether front-runner Hillary Clinton or rising challenger Bernie Sanders will harvest those votes.

A just-completed nationwide poll by Robert Morris University Polling Institute shows that Biden held a strong second place, with the support of 18 percent of likely voters surveyed, a standing that rose to 1-out-of-5 voters in Pennsylvania. 

Hillary Clinton was supported by 45.5 percent nationwide and 42.8 percent in Pennsylvania among likely voters. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders polled 15.6 percent nationally and 16.4 percent in Pennsylvania among likely voters.

The poll was conducted Oct 10-15 and employed an online survey of 1,000 respondents nationwide (including 244 likely Democratic voters) and a separate but identical survey of 523 Pennsylvanians (including 201 likely Democratic voters). The national survey has a 3.5 percent margin for error and the Pennsylvania sample 4.5 percent.

RMU political science professor Philip Harold says a deeper dig into the polling cross tabulations suggests that Biden’s voters will likely tilt toward Clinton.

The survey shows that the pattern of support for both Clinton and Biden matches in age groups. Nearly 58 percent of Clinton supporters are under age 45, and 54 percent of Biden’s supporters came from that group. The pattern largely matched in remaining age groups. For example, 30 percent of Clinton supporters reported being middle aged, as compared to 28 percent of Biden’s.

“Looking at the demographics, they both appeal to the same proportion of whites and blacks, the same proportion by age,” Harold said. “Bernie Sanders is more white, younger voters. 

To mount a credible challenge to Clinton at this point, Harold said, Sanders needs to build on his base and attempt to expand his support to seniors and African-Americans. To date, the RMU poll finds that 71.4 percent of those surveyed who favor Sanders are under age 45.

For additional poll details and data and to interview Professor Harold, contact Jonathan Potts at Robert Morris University 412-397-5291 or potts@rmu.edu.

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ABOUT THE POLL: The poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute. Polling by the institute is conducted on a regular basis and may also include spontaneous polling on occurring events. RMU polls have been featured in national media outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and Huffington Post. Go to rmu.edu/poll for more information.

METHODOLOGY: The poll sampled opinions of 1,000 adults approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide. The survey was conducted Oct. 10-15, 2015. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.5-percentage point margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis. The poll separately sampled opinions of 523 Pennsylvania residents statewide during the same time period and employing the same methodology. The Pennsylvania results have a +/- 4.5-percentage point margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis. 

ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY: Through 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs across five academic schools, Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh, Pa., works to change its students' lives so that they can go out and change the lives of others for the better. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate, nontraditional and online students from 45 states and 41 nations are enrolled at RMU, which sits on 230 scenic acres just 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. Emphasizing experiential learning, Robert Morris focuses on professional development, service learning, global awareness, undergraduate research, campus leadership, and cultural experiences, all of which are documented on our innovative Student Engagement Transcript. More than 100 clubs and organizations help students to develop leadership skills, network professionally, and meet friends. RMU also has 16 NCAA Division I athletic programs, including football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more at rmu.edu.