Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz is narrowing the polling lead of Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the Pennsylvania Senate race, according to a new Emerson College survey released on Friday.
Oz garnered 43% support to Fetterman’s 45%, a difference within the margin of error, while 8% of respondents were undecided, according to the survey. Fetterman’s 2% lead is a decline from the last edition of the survey, conducted in August, which showed him ahead by 4%.
Oz had a large lead among independent voters, considered crucial to winning elections in “swing states” like Pennsylvania, the survey also showed. Oz gained the support of 46% of them compared to Fetterman’s 34%, a 12% difference, while 12% remained undecided.
Spencer Kimball, Emerson’s Director of Polling claimed that there was a big gender divide among respondents. “Men break for Oz over Fetterman by six points, while women voters break for Fetterman by seven,” he said.
The Pennsylvania Senate race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is considered among the most competitive in the country during the 2022 midterms. It has also attracted controversy following Fetterman suffering a stroke in May and spending four months away from campaigning to recover.
Fetterman returned to the campaign trail in August, though initially declined to participate in debates against Oz prior to November’s election. Though the candidate has since consented to one televised debate on Oct. 25, more than one month after early voting, Oz has pressed for at least three debates and claimed that the dispute means Fetterman is unfit for service.
“Fetterman is either healthy and he’s dodging the debates because he does not want to answer for his radical left positions, or he’s too sick to participate in the debate,” Oz said in an appearance with Toomey on Sept. 6, where both criticized Fetterman’s health. Republicans have used social media to highlight Fetterman’s speech mistakes to show that his stroke damage is significant.
Of the respondents, 83% believed it was important for candidates to participate in a debate prior to the November election, though 68% said that Fetterman’s stroke would make “no difference” to whether or not they’d support him in the election, the survey showed.
The survey also revealed that Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro has increased his lead over Republican State Sen. Doug Mastriano in the state’s gubernatorial race, rising to 10%. It also showed President Joe Biden’s approval rating rising to 43%.
The survey polled 1,000 registered voters who claimed they were “very likely” to vote in November and had a margin of error of 3%.
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