Democrats Fetterman, Shapiro show early leads in USA Today Network/Suffolk University poll
A USA Today Network/Suffolk University poll in Pennsylvania released this week suggests a clear U.S. Senate frontrunner -- with a tighter race for governor.
According to the Suffolk University Political Research Center, Democrat John Fetterman holds a 9-point lead over Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania's closely watched U.S. Senate race. The two are seeking to fill the seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.
In the state's gubernatorial race, Democrat Josh Shapiro has a 4-point advantage over Republican Doug Mastriano, which is within the poll's plus or minus 4.4-percentage-point margin of error. Green Party candidate Christina “PK” DiGiulio and Libertarian Party candidate Matt Hackenburg are polling at just 1% each.
The early leads for Fetterman and Shapiro come despite a Republican surge that's reduced Democrats' registration lead from 8 percentage points to 4 percentage points since 2018 in the state.
Fetterman and Shapiro also seem to be bucking the headwinds of a poor economy and disapproval of President Joe Biden. More than 44% of poll respondents said economic conditions in Pennsylvania are poor, while 36% said they are fair and just 16% said they are good.
"I use the words 'thread the needle' because I always think of campaigns as patchwork, as a political fabrics," Suffolk University Political Research Center Director David Paleologos said. "It's really a fine line given Biden's disapproval rate and the dire state of the economy."
High-profile PA elections
Likely voters appear to be strongly engaged with these races.
In reference to the U.S. Senate race, 91% said they were at least "somewhat" interested. Just 8% indicated that they were not very or at all interested.
Focus was even higher on the gubernatorial contest.
Regarding the race for goveror, only 5% indicated that they were not very or at all interested in the outcome, with 94% expressing "somewhat" of an interest. Approximately 41% said they were "extremely" interested in this election.
In the Senate race, Fetterman has much broader appeal than his opponent. His favorable rating is at 45% compared to 27% who view him unfavorably. Half of all respondents view Oz unfavorably, while 28% have a favorable opinion of him.
"There may be some bitterness within Republican circles," Paleologos said. "It's taken its toll on Oz's popularity in this primary."
Toomey -- who is retiring from the Senate -- is seen favorably by 26% and unfavorably by 43%.
On the gubernatorial side, Shapiro's favorable/unfavorable ratio is 45/28. Mastriano's is 36/37.
Paleologos noted that polls are a "snapshot" in time and that much can still change between now and November.
"Things could get really bad. We could go to a recession or a deep recession, or from a recession to, God forbid, a depression," he said.
On the other hand: "What happens if it stabilizes -- prices normalize or even come down a bit?"
Wolf, Biden & Trump
Potential voters also expressed some dissatisfaction with the current governor.
Gov. Tom Wolf's performance was considered "poor" (38%) or "fair" (22%) by respondents. An additional 30% say he's done a "good" job, while 8% say he's been "excellent" for Pennsylvania.
President Joe Biden isn't faring as well.
A majority (54%) say that they disapprove of the job the president has done and (55%) that he hasn't kept his promises to Pennsylvanians. Biden's favorable/unfavorable ratio is 43/53.
Nor are respondents overly fond of his predecessor: A Donald Trump endorsement would make 47% of them less likely to vote for a candidate. Trump's endorsement would make 22% "more likely" to vote for someone, while 27% say his opinion makes no difference.
Suffolk University polling
The Suffolk University Political Research Center/USA Today Network poll included 500 Pennsylvania residents who say they are extremely or very likely to vote in the mid-terms this fall.
Respondents were called via cellphone and land line between June 10 and June 13. Their demographics were: 50/48 female/male; 43/39/14 Democrat/Republican/independent; and 75/13/7/1 white/Black/Hispanic/Asian.
The age range was a wide and fairly even disbursement that spanned multiple voting-age generations.
Bruce Siwy is a reporter for the USA Today Network's Pennsylvania state capital bureau. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @BruceJSiwy.