Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro have double-digit leads in key races for the U.S. Senate and governor, respectively, while their Republican opponents face challenges in the voter turnout, according to a new poll by Franklin and Marshall College.
Both races have drawn national attention, and political pundits see them as litmus tests of former President Donald Trump’s electoral influence and the potential for a Republican wave this fall.
Burwood Yost, director of the poll, said that Democrats are currently ahead, despite the fact that everything is set up for Republican success.
“One takeaway from the survey is that the electoral landscape has changed little since the spring,” he said. “The electoral landscape favors Republicans because the economy remains a concern, Biden’s job ratings are low, and people are mostly concerned about their finances and the economy.”
But even despite the seemingly welcoming environment, Republican Senate and gubernatorial candidates are far behind their Democratic rivals. The poll seems to show that people just aren’t interested in Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano.
“With this environment clearly favoring Republicans, the primary considerations this fall will likely hinge on the experience and qualifications of the candidates,” Yost said. “Neither Mastriano nor Oz are particularly popular with voters, and both are lagging behind independents.”
However, Oz and Mastriano still have time and opportunity to turn their races around. About a fifth of the respondents said that they have not yet decided on each of their competitions.
“If they can refocus their races on the economy, they have a path to victory,” Yost said. “But it’s also telling that Democrats are more interested in midterm races now than they were in May.”
Fetterman hosts Oz
Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor, is facing Oz for the open Senate seat, a celebrity doctor who won the GOP nomination in a tight race and has Trump’s endorsement.
Despite Oz’s success in the primaries, a new poll shows a different story leading up to the general election.
Fetterman currently holds a double-digit lead over Oz. The poll shows that 43% of registered voters support a Democrat, while only 30% say they will vote for Oz.
Oz has an opportunity to close that 13-point gap, but 20% of voters are still undecided, the poll shows.
The poll offered some insight into why that support for Oz may be lagging.
43% of state voters approve of Fetterman and 36% disapprove. On the other hand, Oz is rated unfavorably by 57% of voters and favorably by 27%.
On specific questions about how voters like each candidate, Fetterman consistently outperforms Oz.
More voters believe Fetterman best understands the concerns of Pennsylvanians (52% vs. 28%) and is closest to their views on social issues (46% vs. 32%). And while Fetterman is also ahead of Oz when it comes to policies that will improve economic circumstances, the gap between the two candidates is relatively narrow (37% for Fetterman vs. 33% for Oz).
Shapiro leads Mastriano
The race for Pennsylvania’s next governor also shows a wide gap in a new poll.
Shapiro, the state attorney general, has the upper hand over Mastriano, a state senator from Franklin County. The poll shows that 44% of registered voters support the Democrat, while only 33% say they will vote for Mastriano.
But Mastriano has a chance to come back, as 19% of voters are still undecided, the poll shows. However, he will have to work hard to win over these voters.
The poll shows that 49% of state voters disapprove of Mastriano and only 28% approve.
However, 44% of voters approve of Shapiro and 32% disapprove.
And like Fetterman, when it comes to specific questions about what voters like about each candidate, Shapiro has an advantage over his Republican rival.
More voters say Shapiro best understands the concerns of Pennsylvanians (47% to 33%) and is closest to their views on social issues (45% to 32%), but the two candidates are relatively close when it comes to that they consider policies that will improve the economic situation of voters (36% for Shapiro to 33% for Mastriano).
How the survey was conducted
The latest survey from Franklin and Marshall College includes a detailed explanation of how the survey was conducted:
The survey results presented in this issue are based on the results of interviews conducted between August 15 and Sunday. Interviews were conducted at the Center for the Study of Public Opinion at Franklin and Marshall College on behalf of the Center for Policy and Public Affairs.
The survey was prepared and conducted by the staff of the Center for the Study of Public Opinion. The data included in this release represent responses from 522 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 234 Democrats, 214 Republicans and 74 independents.
The sample of registered voters was obtained from the Marketing Systems Group. All sample respondents were notified of the survey by mail. Interviews were conducted over the phone and online depending on the preferences of each respondent.
Poll results were weighted (age, gender, education, geography, and party registration) using an algorithm to reflect the known distribution of these characteristics among the state’s voters. Estimates of age, geography, and party registration are based on active voters in Pennsylvania Department of State voter registration data.
The sampling error for this survey is 5.3 percentage points when the weighting effect is taken into account.