Pennsylvania voters prefer Democrats for Congress after choosing Trump in 2016: NBC/Marist poll

Key Points
  • Voters in Pennsylvania favor Democrats in the battle for Congress, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll. 
  • The current minority party in Congress is trying to pick up multiple House seats in the state. 
  • The poll found that President Donald Trump is unpopular in the state, which he won narrowly in 2016. 
A man walks past a 'Stand Up For Steel, Stand Up For America' sign while arriving at the United States Steel Corp. Clairton Plant coke manufacturing facility as emissions rise in Clairton, Pennsylvania.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

One of the critical states in propelling President Donald Trump to the White House now appears to favor a Democratic Congress.

Forty-seven percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania prefer Democratic control of the legislative branch, versus 41 percent who would rather see Republicans in charge, according to an NBC News/Marist poll released Thursday. Separate questions in the survey also bode well for Democrats as they try to pick up multiple House seats from Republicans in the Keystone State.

Asked which party they are more likely to support in their district, 51 percent of registered voters responded that they would back a Democrat, while 39 percent said a Republican. Meanwhile, 55 percent of registered voters answered that they want their vote to send a message that Congress needs more Democrats to check Trump, while only 35 percent said they hope to see more Republicans to aid the president in passing his agenda.

Much can change between now and the Nov. 6 election, and the poll did not ask about preferences in specific House district races. Some Republican incumbents in Pennsylvania have also tried to build centrist brands in their districts, which may make independents or even some Democrats more likely to support them.

Sen. Barrasso: President Trump needs 'reinforcements' on Capitol Hill
Sen. Barrasso: President Trump needs 'reinforcements' on Capitol Hill

Still, the results suggest the state broadly prefers Democrats, as the current minority party tries to pick up a chunk of the 23 GOP-held seats it needs to take the House in Pennsylvania alone.

The Republican Trump may not help his party in Pennsylvania this year, despite the fact that he narrowly won the state in 2016. Only 37 percent of registered voters there approve of the job he is doing, versus 53 percent who disapprove, according to the NBC/Marist poll. Just 35 percent of registered voters view him favorably, while 56 percent see him unfavorably.

The Democratic edge extends to Senate and gubernatorial races. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and Gov. Tom Wolf have advantages of 15 and 14 percentage points, respectively.

Earlier this year, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court tossed out a GOP-drawn congressional map, making new lines for the state's districts. The revised map, combined with the retirement or resignation of Republican incumbents in three competitive districts, has made Democrats optimistic that they could pick up multiple seats in Pennsylvania.

Currently, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report lists Democrats as favorites to win four GOP-held seats: the 5th, 6th, 7th and 17th Districts. Republicans are currently expected to win the Democratic-held 14th District, as incumbent Rep. Conor Lamb runs in the redrawn 17th District.

The president's tariffs imposed on major trading partners may not help him in the state, either. Only 28 percent of registered voters said the duties will help to protect American jobs and boost the economy, while 46 percent said they will raise the costs of consumer goods and damage the economy.

The survey of 825 adults (713 registered voters) was conducted Aug. 12-16, 2018. The margin of error for all adults is +/- 3.9 percentage points. The margin of error for registered voters is +/- 4.2 percentage points.