The Lead

F&M poll shows Fetterman leads in Democratic U.S. Senate primary, Republican race remains wide open

By: - April 14, 2022 10:31 am

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller)

With just more than a month to go until the May 17 primary election, a Democrat vying for the party nomination in the race for U.S. Senate has pulled ahead. Meanwhile, the Republican primary remains wide open, according to a Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has pulled ahead of U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, with 41 percent of registered Democrats saying they’d support him in the upcoming election. Fetterman jumped by 13 percentage points since last month’s Franklin & Marshall College poll.

Seventeen percent of voters said they’d support Lamb, D-17th District, and 4 percent said they’d vote for state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia. Twenty-six percent of voters say they’re still undecided.

Nearly half — 47 percent — of those who reported a preference in the Democratic primary said they could change their mind about their candidate selection.

According to the poll, Fetterman is “much better known” among Democratic voters than Lamb, with 29 percent saying they don’t know enough to have an opinion about Fetterman and 44 percent saying they don’t know enough to have one on Lamb.

A Franklin & Marshall College poll found that Fetterman had an early lead in the race in February.

However, voters are still undecided. The Democratic primary race has since seen a shift in tone, beginning with accusations from Lamb and Kenyatta that Fetterman has skipped candidate forums to avoid answering questions.

Lamb also revived a 2013 incident where Fetterman confronted a Black man with a shotgun after suspecting he was involved in nearby gunfire. During a forum last week, Kenyatta asked why Fetterman has not apologized for the incident and noted changing stories on what happened.

Fetterman, however, defended his actions — saying it was an “active shooter situation.”

“There was only one individual out running from the scene of gunfire, wearing a ski mask, of unknown race, running from the gunfire. And as Braddock’s chief law enforcement officer, I made a split-second decision to intervene for the safety of our community,” Fetterman said, refuting claims that his story has changed over the years.

With 43 percent of voters undecided on who they’ll support, the Republican primary is wide open.

Despite ads attacking each other, celebrity doctor and TV host Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick only earned 16 percent and 15 percent support, respectively. 

Sixty-six percent of voters said they could still change their minds on which candidate they’ll support.

Data for the poll was almost finished when former President Donald Trump endorsed Oz in the race.

Oz was leading among voters — 22 percent — who identified with the Trump faction of the party, while many — 36 percent — of those voters were still undecided about who to support.

The Franklin & Marshall poll was conducted between March 30 and April 10. It included the opinions of 785 registered voters, including 356 Democrats, 317 Republicans, and 112 independents, for an overall margin of error of 4.2 percent. The margin of error among Republicans was 6.6 percent and 6.2 percent for Democrats.

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