Brian X. McCrone

Tight Race for Pa. Governor; Fetterman Leads Oz in Senate Battle, New Poll Finds

The first poll since the May 17 primary shows that a fierce fight is unfolding in the November general election between Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican Doug Mastriano.

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The Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, Doug Mastriano, who stunned his own political party by winning the primary last month, appears poised to be a force in the November general election, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

Mastriano, an arch-conservative state senator who was in Washington D.C. for the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol Riot, trailed Democrat Josh Shapiro by just 4% in the Suffolk University/USA Today Network poll of 500 Pennsylvania likely voters, with 13% undecided.

Shapiro, the state's attorney general, has millions more in his campaign warchest and faced no competition in the May Democratic primary.

But Mastriano, who represents a portion of rural central Pennsylvania, proved to be a sensational grassroots campaigner in winning a crowded Republican primary. He traveled extensively throughout the state and held rallies without allowing the media to attend.

He has yet to provide comment to NBC10 when asked about numerous policy positions, but a reporter did track him down following an event in Harrisburg earlier in June. She spoke with Mastriano and his wife briefly before the candidate walked into his office.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who is the Republican nominee for governor in the November general election, talked to NBC10 reporter Lauren Mayk briefly in the State Capitol in Harrisburg on May 23.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania's race for an open U.S. Senate seat, Democrat John Fetterman is ahead of Republican Mehmet Oz by 9%, according to the Suffolk/USA Today poll.

Likely voters picked Fetterman over Oz, 46% to 37%, the poll found.

“Even with Democratic party registration dwindling in Pennsylvania, both Fetterman and Shapiro are adopting a more populist approach to midterm voters and winning independents,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, referring to an increase in registered Republicans compared to Democrats in the state in recent years. “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.

In 2018, 48% of Pennsylvania voters were registered as Democrats and 40% were Republicans. Today, the Democratic party registration advantage has been reduced to 45%-41% among active voters, Paleologos said.

President Joe Biden is not well-liked in Pennsylvania, according to the poll. Only 39% of those polled approve of his job performance while 54% disapprove.

Aiding Fetterman in the Senate race is voters' unfavorable feelings toward Oz, according to the poll.

Only 28% of voters gave Oz a favorable rating while 50% think of him unfavorably, the poll found.

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