Coronavirus is a major factor for voters in key state of Pennsylvania: "I really think our president dropped the ball"

Election outcome in Penn. may be razor-thin
Election outcome in Penn. may be razor-thin 04:10

The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker shows Joe Biden is still ahead in the key state of Pennsylvania. The Democratic nominee leads President Trump 51 to 44%. 

The survey was taken after last week's debate, but before Mr. Trump was hospitalized with COVID-19. The poll also found that the coronavirus is a major factor for two-thirds of voters in that state, which the president won narrowly in 2016.

In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the president's health was on voters' minds, even on the sidelines of little league soccer.

"Our national defense depends on him, his health and the people around him," Trump supporter and teacher Nicholas Ametrano told CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste.

Chris Smith, who coaches his son's team, is a firefighter. The Biden supporter works overtime to rescue his family's finances after COVID-19 forced his wife to close her small business.

"Our business lost over $30,000," Smith said. That loss is impacting his decision on Election Day, he said. 

"I really think our president dropped the ball big time on that," he said. "Here we are, six, seven months later, and we're no better off now today than we were back in March."

Nick Arnone, a self-employed engineer, is among those defending the president's handling of the pandemic.  

"I believe that the government's doing everything they possibly can," he said. 

Arnone said he has his own prescription for curing COVID-19: "If you do not have a good economy, you cannot save anything." 

Pennsylvania's strict COVID-19 restrictions may have kept cases per capita lower than many other highly populated states, but unemployment is just above 10%, higher than the national rate.

Along the Susquehanna River in Wilkes Barre, voters CBS News spoke with at a chalk fest are seeing blue.

"I'm voting for Joe Biden, and I'm not really a straight party person," said Paula Dunn, a teacher. 

Asked what was motivating her going into the election, she said, "COVID, big time."

Wilkes Barre is in Luzerne County, which proved pivotal last election, voting for a Republican for the first time since 1988.

"I'm sort of leaning towards Joe Biden. I did vote for Donald Trump last time," said Patrick Purcell, a custodian.

Asked why, he replied, "the coronavirus."

This year, farmer Robert Graves says the division is personal. 

"I'm a registered Republican. I voted for Donald Trump. But I'm very disappointed in his performance and his conduct in office, and he won't get my vote again," Graves said.  

He will be voting for Joe Biden, he said, but he says his wife of 40 years is sticking with Mr. Trump.

"I'm going to cast mine the way I want and she can hers the way she wants," he said.

In Pennsylvania, nearly 750,000 more Democrats are registered to vote than Republicans, but Republicans have been gaining ground since 2016, narrowing the gap by almost 200,000.