This is one in a series of stories that are part of Swing County, Swing State, a collaborative project between PennLive’s sister publications, lehighvalleylive.com and nj.com, that explores Northampton County’s critical role in the upcoming presidential election.
In a critical swing region in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a 7 point lead over President Donald Trump in the race, according to a new lehighvalleylive.com/ Franklin & Marshall College poll of likely voters in the 7th Congressional District.
Biden is ahead of Trump 51% to 44% in the district, which covers Lehigh and Northampton counties and a sliver of Monroe County. Franklin & Marshall’s September statewide poll shows Biden leading Trump, 49% to 40% among registered voters and 48% to 42% among likely voters.
With just two weeks before the election, only 3% of voters report that they’re undecided. Trump won the state’s riches of 20 electoral votes in 2016 by less than a point.
The poll of likely voters in the 7th District was conducted by the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College, in partnership with lehighvalleylive.com, from Oct. 12-18, 2020, on the heels of the first presidential debate and Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis. The margin of error is +/- 5.8. Read more about the methodology here.
The opinion poll analysis website FiveThirtyEight has Biden currently favored to win Pennsylvania with 53% of the popular vote compared to Trump at 47%.
The poll was conducted as part of the Swing County, Swing State project, a collaboration between lehighvalleylive.com and nj.com that takes a deep dive into one of the country’s pivotal swing counties with the support of The John Farmer Memorial Journalism Fund. Northampton County’s status as a political bellwether’s been hard earned over the last century as voters almost always predict how Pennsylvania will swing, even when they back the loser, and often the nation.
It cemented that standing in 2016 when it became one of 206 counties in a nation of 3,141 counties that went for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 then flipped to President Donald Trump.
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Biden holds a 12 point lead over Trump in Northampton County with 42% of county voters supporting the president. The gap is much narrower in neighboring Lehigh County where Biden has just a 2 point lead at 48% to 46%. (The smaller sample size means there’s a higher margin of error.)
The president won Northampton County by 4 points in 2016 while Hillary Clinton won Lehigh County by 4.5 points.
The president still holds an edge among men (54% to 42%) in the congressional district, while Biden claims a commanding share of women (59% to 34%). (This trends with 2016 support for Trump and Clinton.) There’s an identical split among college-educated voters with nearly 6 in 10 in the district backing Biden.
The 7th District’s incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Susan Wild holds an 8 point overall lead