If the latest polls are any indication, Republicans Doug Mastriano and Dr. Mehmet Oz have their work cut out for them.
A USA Today/Suffolk poll released Wednesday showed they are trailing Democrats Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman in the race for Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Senator.
In the poll of 500 likely voters, Attorney General Shapiro led Mastriano, a state senator from Franklin County, 44 to 40 percent. Minor party candidates totaled 3 percent and 13 percent were undecided. The poll has a 4.4 margin of error.
Oz tallied at 37 percent and Fetterman, now serving as lieutenant governor, at 46 percent. Minor party candidates came in at 16 percent and 13 percent were undecided.
And 26 percent of the voters thought the economy was the most important issue, followed by gun control. And just as in the rest of the country, President Joe Biden’s approval rating is underwater in Pennsylvania.
Some 38 percent approved Biden’s job performance while 54 percent disapproved.
In 2018, 48 percent of Pennsylvania voters were registered as Democrats and 40 percent were Republicans. Today, the Democratic Party registration advantage has been reduced to 45 percent-41 percent among active voters, said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
“Even with Democratic party registration dwindling in Pennsylvania, both Fetterman and Shapiro are adopting a more populist approach to midterm voters and winning independents,” Paleologos said. “Voters say they are unhappy with the economy in Pennsylvania and President Biden’s job approval, yet these particular Democrats are threading the needle thus far.”
Robin Kolodny, chair of the political science department at Temple University, thinks voters have a lot of information about the candidates already.
“What these polls show is that most Pennsylvanians are already familiar with the candidates and have formed opinions about them,” she said. “The campaigns still have months to go to try to change voters’ minds, but these early polls underscore how competitive both races will be.”
However, Liz Preate Havey, who chairs the Montgomery County Republicans, believes the Republicans will prevail this year.
“I think people will vote their pocketbook,” said Havey. “There’s a lot of energy upset and anger against the Democrats in general and, according to polls, independents are dramatically breaking for Republicans two and three to one at this point.”