Fetterman opens wide lead in Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary, GOP race split: poll

Associated Press/Keith Srakocic

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) has opened a wide lead over his nearest rival in the state’s Senate Democratic primary about a month before voters head to the polls to pick nominees in one of the most closely watched contests of the year.

A new survey conducted by Franklin & Marshall College finds Fetterman claiming 41 percent of the vote ahead of the May 17 primary, well ahead of Rep. Conor Lamb (D), who takes 17 percent of the vote. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D) takes 4 percent, and 37 percent said they were either undecided or favored someone else.

Fetterman has led all three previous Franklin & Marshall polls, though by smaller margins over Lamb.

Fetterman has become a star of the progressive left, pulling in more than $15 million since he began his campaign last year. His campaign said last week it still had $4.1 million in the bank for the final stretch run to the primary elections. Lamb has not released his fundraising results from the first three months of the year, though he ended 2021 with about $3 million on hand.

The battle for the Republican nomination is far less clear, even after millions of dollars spent on airtime by the two leading contenders.

Mehmet Oz, the celebrity physician, has the support of 16 percent of Pennsylvania Republican voters, essentially tied with wealthy hedge fund manager David McCormick, who stands at 15 percent.

Several other candidates — 2020 U.S. House candidate Kathy Barnette, real estate developer Jeff Bartos and former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands — all register in the mid-single digits. Just under half of Republicans say they remain undecided in the race.

The poll surveyed 356 Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, along with 317 Republicans and Republican leaners. The margins of error on each sample was just north of 5 percentage points.

Pennsylvania is one of just six states that is represented in the Senate by one member of each party. Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R) retirement has opened an opportunity for Democrats to reclaim a seat they have not won since Sen. Joseph Clark (D) won reelection in 1962; the last Democrat to hold the seat was Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched parties in 2009 before losing renomination.

But the poll is full of warning signs for Democrats, who face headwinds across the country this year. Just 29 percent of Pennsylvania voters think the country is headed in the right direction. Only 38 percent of voters think Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is doing an excellent or good job, while 34 percent said he was doing a poor job.

Crucially for the party in power, only 33 percent said President Biden is doing an excellent or good job, while 50 percent rate his performance as poor.

Forty-four percent of voters said they would vote for a generic Republican running for Congress, while 39 percent said they favored a Democratic candidate. In 2020, Pennsylvania Republicans running for U.S. House seats won about 85,000 more votes than did Democratic candidates, a margin of just over 1.2 percentage points; the two sides split control of the delegation, with nine seats each.

Franklin & Marshall College surveyed 785 registered voters from March 30 to April 10. The overall sample carried a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Tags Conor Lamb Conor Lamb David McCormick John Fetterman John Fetterman Malcolm Kenyatta Mehmet Oz Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Senate primary Pennsylvania Senate race Tom Wolf
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