The seemingly long-shot campaign of Mehmet Oz for the U.S. Senate appears in this final stretch to be a lot tighter than most observers expected.
On Wednesday, the GOP pulled ahead of the Democrats in the Generic Congressional Ballot average, and at the time one of the biggest warning signs for the Democrats was the fact that their polling in the Generic Ballot has pretty much flatlined, suggesting they may have hit a ceiling. The same appears to be the case for John Fetterman, the Democrat running against Oz.
Fetterman has been polling pretty consistently in the 47-49 percent range. However, Oz has been on the rise, from his lowest point in August (below 40 percent) to hovering near the mid-40’s in recent weeks. But a new Emerson College poll has some interesting data that should definitely worry the Fetterman team.
In a poll of 1000 “very likely voters,” Emerson found that 45 percent plan to vote for Fetterman and 43 percent plan to vote for Oz. That is one of the narrowest leads Fetterman has had all campaign season, and with a margin of error at 3 percent, that should raise red flags all on its own. But there is another batch of data from the poll that suggests the GOP can expect to do better than expected in November.
In a hypothetical election between President Biden and former President Trump, Trump leads Biden among Pennsylvania voters 46% to 45%; 6% would support someone else and 3% are undecided. Concerning the recent FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate 38% of voters said it makes them more likely to support Trump in 2024, 33% say it makes them less likely to support Trump in 2024, and 29% say it makes no difference on their vote.
The economy is the most important issue for 39% of Pennsylvania voters, followed by threats to democracy (14%), and abortion access (13%).
That right there could be the difference at the ballot box for Republicans in Pennsylvania.
Biden’s unpopularity is one thing, but if Pennsylvania prefers Trump to Biden, Democrats have a problem. It’s one thing for someone like Josh Shapiro to be ahead by ten points in a gubernatorial race against Doug Mastriano, but in a federal race like Senate, where those types of presidential politics have a bigger impact, that has the potential to be all you need to flip the race on its head.
The poll also shows that Oz’s New Jersey residency does not seem to have as much of an impact as Fetterman’s team might like. But you know what is important to most voters? Having an actual debate.
“Eighty-three percent of voters find it somewhat important (18%) or very important (65%) for the candidates running for either Governor or US Senate to participate in a debate prior to the November election,” the poll found. “Seventeen percent find it not too important (11%) or not at all important (6%).”
The Fetterman team has accepted a debate against Oz, scheduled for late October, but the two sides were last seen arguing over the details. But while they delay a debate, more and more people are growing concerned with Fetterman over his stroke and subsequent speech and processing issues on the campaign trail.
The longer it takes for Fetterman to prove he can debate someone, the more time people have to speculate on whether or not he can. On the flip side, if he does debate and his performance is terrible, those speculations become fact. Either way, Oz wins that fight.
This poll, along with other recent polls, shows that not only is Pennsylvania within reach for Oz, it’s entirely winnable. And if the GOP hold on to that seat, that does not bode well for Democrats across the country.