The progressive movement within Pennsylvania's Democratic Party is showing strong in the U.S. Senate primary with only weeks to go before the May 17 election, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
The state's Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who has positioned himself as the choice for liberal voters in a four-way race in the Democratic primary, has "very likely" support of 44% of Democratic voters polled by Monmouth University earlier this month.
He's leading U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a congressman from western Pennsylvania, with 23%, Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta with 14% and activist and Jenkintown borough councilor Alexandria Khalil with 8%.
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The Republican primary is considerably tighter with just under three weeks to go before May 17 when Pennsylvania voters head to the polls.
Television celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz has "very likely" support of 22% of Republican voters, followed by 19% for former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick, 18% for television news commentator Kathy Barnette, 9% for Carla Sands, 7% for Jeff Bartos and two others, attorneys Sean Gale and George Bochetto with less 5% each.
“In the Democrats, you have an ideologically divided party that is leaning toward a progressive candidate. While in the Republicans, you have a strong ideological bent but no agreement on which candidate best fits that bill. Even Trump’s endorsement has not brought clarity to the field,” Monmouth Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said, referencing Oz's recent endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
A poll released earlier in April from Franklin and Marshall College reported similar results in the U.S. Senate race for both parties, with Fetterman holding a commanding lead in that survey, and Oz and McCormick in a tight race for the Republican nomination.
Whoever wins their party's nomination in the May 17 primary will face off in the November general election to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican who is resigning after two terms.
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While Oz holds a slim lead, voters also gave him the highest "unfavorable" ratings among all the Republicans, leaving open a chance for one of the other candidates.
"This is the kind of environment where a number of candidates could emerge as the nominee. Oz has the highest name recognition but also the highest negatives," Murray said. "If McCormick and Oz beat each other up, though, Barnette could realistically end up on top."
Voters at a recent Oz campaign event in Bucks County told NBC10 that the Trump endorsement raised Oz's stature as a candidate, but did not guarantee him their votes.
“If Dr. Oz thought Trump’s seal of approval was going to lock this nomination up for him, he was mistaken. It may help Oz on the margins, but it doesn’t completely erase his negatives," Murray said. "And other candidates have earned their Trumpian bona fides with Republican voters."