https://www.fltimes.com/news/nation/fetterman-and-shapiro-lead-oz-and-mastriano-in-key-pa-races-despite-headwinds-against-democrats/article_f9fae747-4534-55de-897d-a58f63fdbaa8.html

PHILADELPHIA — Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro hold big early leads in Pennsylvania’s critical races for U.S. Senate and governor, while their Republican opponents face significant skepticism from voters, according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.

Despite Pennsylvanians’ worries about the economy and deeply negative views of President Joe Biden, Fetterman, the Democratic lieutenant governor, leads Republican Mehmet Oz 47% to 36% in the race for U.S. Senate, the poll found.

In the gubernatorial contest, Shapiro, the state attorney general, leads GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano 50% to 40%, a wider margin than other early polls had found.

Pennsylvania’s Senate race is among the most crucial in the country, and could decide control of the chamber and, with it, major national policy decisions. The gubernatorial race could shape the future of Pennsylvania laws on abortion and voting, and state oversight of the 2024 presidential election.

The poll is early — more than three months before the Nov. 7 Election Day — and comes after both Republican nominees faced competitive primaries, during which the Democrats were mostly unscathed. Insiders in both parties expect the races to tighten, given Pennsylvania’s narrow political divide and the headwinds that appear to be confronting Democrats. They believe most Republican voters will eventually come around to their nominees as wounds heal after the primary.

But Oz and Mastriano are also each carrying unique liabilities, and the poll suggests they face doubts from the broad electorate, and within their own party.

Some 41% of voters have a “strongly unfavorable” view of Oz, the celebrity surgeon known as “Dr. Oz.” For Mastriano, 39% of voters view him strongly unfavorably.

Overall, 35% see Oz somewhat or strongly favorably, while 55% see him unfavorably. Fetterman is seen favorably by 49% of Pennsylvanians, against 34% who see him negatively.

Even among Republicans, just 73% back Oz, compared to 89% of Democrats who favor Fetterman.

Despite a stroke that has kept Fetterman almost entirely out of the public eye since May, only 23% of voters raised concerns about his being able to do the job of senator.

Oz faced sharp questions during the GOP primary about his commitment to conservative beliefs and had to explain older, more moderate, or liberal statements on issues such as abortion and guns. Even after former President Donald Trump endorsed him, some prominent conservatives balked.

Fetterman has also relentlessly hammered Oz over his decades-long residency in New Jersey. Oz moved to Pennsylvania, to his in-laws’ home in Montgomery County, in late 2020, and purchased a property there earlier this year, though he has still made social media posts from his North Jersey mansion.

The governor’s race had appeared neck-and-neck in some early polls. But Mastriano, a far-right Republican who was a leading denier of the lawful 2020 election result and who has often delivered a Christian nationalist message, is also carrying political baggage.

His overall favorability rating is 38% positive, 47% negative. Shapiro is seen favorably by 51% of voters, and unfavorably by 34%.

Asked about their top concerns, 27% of voters named inflation and the economy, 14% abortion, 11% election integrity, and 8% guns. Crime, the focus of Oz’s first general election television ads, was named as the top concern by 4% of voters.

Along with the economic worries, Democrats will also have to run ahead of an unpopular president in order to win these races. Biden has a 42%-57% favorability rating. That’s similar to and within the margin of error of the 44%-55% rating for former President Donald Trump.

The survey interviewed 908 Pennsylvania voters. It was conducted for Fox by one Democratic and one Republican pollster and has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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