I’ve been very honest about my lack of confidence in the GOP in Pennsylvania this cycle. As a key battleground state, it is impossible to overstate the importance of this state this year. The battle for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) could decide control of the U.S. Senate, and the gubernatorial race could have major implications for the 2024 presidential election.
The problem is that the Trump-endorsed candidates for Pennsylvania governor and the U.S. Senate haven’t been doing well in the polls for some time. Both Doug Mastriano, who’s running for governor, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who’s running for Senate, have lagged behind their general election opponents by double digits.
However, the landscape has shifted, and now both elections appear to be within reach for the GOP as we enter the final stretch of the campaign. Two new polls put Mastriano within three points of his Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro. The most recent Emerson polls put Shapiro up three, and the most recent Trafalgar Group poll has Shapiro up by only two points — well within the poll’s 2.9-point margin of error.
So things look pretty good for Mastriano.
It’s true that the latest CBS poll has Shapiro up by 11 points, and other polls have similarly shown him up by double digits, but the Trafalgar Group has a solid reputation for accurate polls, which means that there’s reason to feel confident that this race is a close one.
And then there’s the Senate race. The latest poll from the Trafalgar Group has Democrat John Fetterman leading 47.7% to 45.9% against Oz. Not only has Oz closed the gap with Fetterman, but this latest poll has Oz within the poll’s 2.9% margin of error — making this race statistical dead heat, just like the gubernatorial race.
Did I mention Trafalgar Group’s reputation for being accurate?
Other surveys have shown this race tightening as well. The four most recent polls show the race within five points. So it’s very possible that this race is even closer than the polling average indicates, especially if most pollsters are still using the same models from past election cycles because Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states where polling has grossly overestimated Democrat support.
Perhaps the most amusing part of Pennsylvania appearing to be winnable for both Oz and Mastriano is that it’s probably because of Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, which appears to be hurting midterm candidates who support it — and could cost the Democrats the U.S. Senate.
A new poll shows that independent likely voters are nearly as apt as Republicans to oppose a candidate who supports President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Less than one-third of likely voters say student loan forgiveness would make them vote for a candidate. In short: Biden’s vote-buying effort appears to have backfired.
Robert Cahaly, Trafalgar Group’s chief pollster, first noticed the impact of the student loan forgiveness plan on polling in the Georgia Senate race — where Herschel Walker has taken the lead in three of the four most recent polls, and the new poll showing Democrat Raphael Warnock ahead is extremely suspect.
I’ve had my doubts about Pennsylvania, but these recent polls show that momentum is on our side. Still, races in battleground states change easily, and there’s little room for error.