With a little more than a month to go until Pennsylvania’s primary election, the only thing GOP voters have decided is that they haven’t decided anything.
In an EagleView poll released Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain has moved into second place in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, while state Sen. Doug Mastriano remains in first place. The survey of 502 likely GOP voters showed Mastriano with 19 percent and McSwain with 12.7 percent. Former Congressman Lou Barletta dropped to third with 11 percent and Dave White, a former Delaware County councilman and small business owner, was fourth with 7 percent.
However, 44 percent remained undecided and the other five Republican candidates came in at less than 2 percent each.
McSwain’s surge happened before former President Donald Trump delivered his scathing anti-endorsement. “One person in Pennsylvania who I will not be endorsing is Bill McSwain for governor,” Trump said Tuesday. “He was the U.S. Attorney who did absolutely nothing on the massive election fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth.”
The question now is, how will Keystone State Republicans react?
“Our GOP poll can serve as a benchmark in the gubernatorial primary, coming as it did just prior to former Pres. Donald Trump’s unexpected smackdown of McSwain,” said Christopher Nicholas, veteran Republican political consultant and president of Eagle Consulting Group. “This poll shows the millions that McSwain and his backers have spent on TV ads is starting to boost his stock in the primary.”
White took advantage of Trump’s broadside against McSwain to release a new TV commercial titled “Never, Ever Vote for Bill McSwain.”
A new Franklin & Marshall College Center for Opinion Research poll also found McSwain in second place with 12 percent, trailing first-place finisher Mastriano with 15 percent of the vote. Barletta is in third place at 10 percent.
The F&M poll also found a large number of Republicans –40 percent — still undecided.
“We have been blessed to be consistently ahead in most of the polls since last May, with the lead growing since this past November, when a Democrat Legislative Committee Poll (DLCC) confirmed my lead two months before my announcement of entering the gubernatorial race,” said Mastriano. “We are thankful to have the support of the people from around the state. Several of the other campaigns have spent literally millions of dollars to boost their names, only to remain in the single digits. What we are seeing in this campaign cycle is breaking all the norms. This is because of the suffering that we endured over the past year.”
“People are looking for demonstrated and proven leadership, not just more empty talk, and meaningless slogans. The key difference is that of all the gubernatorial candidates, Doug Mastriano was the only one that stood and fought for people’s families, businesses, livelihoods, and freedoms. When they hear the hollow promises of others, they walk away saying, where have you been and what have you done? Our vision for Pennsylvania is to restore freedom, rebuild families and to revive the economy. We are together looking forward to a new day for PA where we can once again walk as free people,” Mastriano said..
“We are proud to have the support of conservative patriots from across the commonwealth who share Bill’s vision for a safer, freer, more secure Pennsylvania,” said James Fitzpatrick, McSwain’s campaign manager. “Bill’s growing strength among primary voters confirms that Pennsylvanians are ready to nominate a conservative outsider who will fight for them as governor. A McSwain primary victory is just weeks away.”
Only one Democrat is running for governor, Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
The F&M poll also included the Democrats vying for the U.S. Senate nomination.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is in first place with 41 percent; Congressman Conor Lamb has 17 percent and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta was at 4 percent. Nine percent of respondents said someone else, 2 percent said none, and 26 percent said they do not know.
Conversely, 43 percent of the Republicans polled said they did not know who they will vote for Senate.
The poll put Dr. Mehmet Oz in the lead with 16 percent, and former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick in second at 15 percent. Commentator Kathy Barnette came in third at 9 percent and former Ambassador Carla Sands was fourth at 5 percent, with Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto at 2 percent.
The F&M poll lists a sample error rate of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.