John Fetterman, Josh Shapiro lead in new Franklin & Marshall College poll | Pittsburgh City Paper

John Fetterman, Josh Shapiro lead in new Franklin & Marshall College poll

click to enlarge John Fetterman, Josh Shapiro lead in new Franklin & Marshall College poll (2)
Photos: Governor Tom Wolf Flickr
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Attorney General Josh Shapiro

A new Franklin & Marshall College poll shows Democrats Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman with double-digit leads over their Republican rivals, even as President Joe Biden’s approval ratings remain underwater with voters in a key 2022 battleground state.

In the state’s nationally watched U.S. Senate race, Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor, leads Republican Mehmet Oz, a celebrity physician, 43% to 30%. But the race tightens to 45-36% when people who are leaning toward a particular candidate are included.

Fetterman, who has wielded social media to troll Oz, has deeper support among Democrats (76%) than Oz does among Republicans (62%), and leads among independent voters 34-17%, according to the poll.

Fetterman also is viewed more favorably (43-36%) among state voters, while Oz, who has faced questions about his residency, is viewed more unfavorably (57-27%).

More Pennsylvania voters believe Fetterman understands their concerns (52-28%), and shares their views on social issues (46-32%). But the two candidates are closer together (37-33%) on whether they are best suited to dealing with economic issues, according to the poll.

Meanwhile, Shapiro, the two-term state attorney general, leads Republican Doug Mastriano, a state senator, 44-33%, according to the poll.

As is the case with Fetterman, Shapiro also leads among independent voters (40-24%). He also is viewed more favorably by state voters (44-32%), while Mastriano, a former Army colonel who has spread baseless claims of election fraud, is viewed more unfavorably (49-28%).

And, like Fetterman, more voters believe Shapiro understands their concerns (47-33%) and shares their views on social issues (45-32%). The candidates are closer together on whether they’re best suited to deal with the economy (36-33%).

“Neither Mastriano nor Oz is particularly well liked among voters and both are lagging with independents,” pollster Berwood Yost said in a statement. “If they can refocus their races to be mostly about the economy, though, they have a path to victory. But it is also notable that Democrats are more interested in the mid-term races now than they were in May.”

Despite recent gains, the poll still points to some structural problems for Democrats and President Joe Biden, with more than two in five (43%) respondents saying they are “worse off” financially than a year ago.

“Many Republicans and conservatives say they are ‘worse off’ than last year, but a quarter of Democrats [24%] and almost half of independents [47%] also say they are ‘worse off’ financially,” the poll notes.

About a third of respondents (34%) say they believe Biden is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as president — a rating that’s unchanged since the last F&M poll in May. Republicans hold a statistically insignificant 44-42% lead on the so-called “generic ballot” pitting a hypothetical GOP candidate against a hypothetical Democrat.

“The electoral environment favors Republicans because the economy is still a concern, Biden’s job ratings are low, and people remain mostly concerned about their finances and the economy,” Yost said. “Since this environment clearly favors Republicans, the main considerations this fall will likely turn on the experience and qualities of the candidates.”

The poll, conducted from Aug. 15 to Aug. 21, sampled the opinions of 522 registered voters. The sample includes 234 Democrats, 214 Republicans, and 74 independents. The margin of error was 5.3%.

John Micek is the Editor in Chief of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.