PA Senate Primary Polls: Who will be the GOP Senate Nominate?

PA Senate Primary Polls: Mehmet Oz is ahead in polls but the majority of Republican voters are undecided.

As has previously been mentioned, Pennsylvania was once considered to be part of the “blue wall”. This was a region of states that traditionally voted for Democratic Presidential Nominees since the Clinton Administration, which was a crucial part of President Donald Trump’s upset victory in 2016. Since that election, where he won Pennsylvania by less than a percentage point, Democrats have rebounded in the state with strong electoral performances by each statewide candidate since 2018.

Now with the retirement of Senator Pat Toomey, Republicans find themselves in the strange position of playing defense, in a year they are expected to make significant gains in the legislature. This primary offers a plethora of interesting candidates, each with significant strengths. Although it appears that the significant competition will be between Memet Öz, (better known as Dr. Oz), Kathy Barnette, Carla Sands, and David McCormick.

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PA Senate Primary Polls: Who are the Favorites?

The widely accepted favorite is Dr. Oz, given his nationally known TV personality and a massive swath of wealth that may be used on campaign expenditures. He has already loaned his campaign $5.8 million dollars and may contribute significantly more as the season kicks into full swing. The true size of his war chest is unknown given the difference in reporting requirements for personal expenditures as compared to fundraising, but it can be assumed that it is quite large.

David McCormick entered the race in early January and immediately shook up the dynamics of the race, with both McCormik and Oz spending millions on attack advertisements and self-promotions. His campaign finances are also unknown given his recent entry, yet the PAC backing his campaign has reported that it distributed $5.5 million dollars his direction. Thus the advertising war between the two is likely to intensify and shape the race through May.

However, Kathy Barnett has significant fundraising herself and some endorsements from GOP stars General Michael Flynn and Burgess Owens. Carla Sands, an advisor to the Trump campaign and former ambassador, entered the race with $4.2 million raised so far and approximately $1.5 million left on hand. Yet she and Mrs. Barnett are likely to take a backseat to the PAC fight that will occur between Oz and McCormick.

PA Senate Primary Polls: What does the Poll Suggests?

Poll sourcesDatesKathy BarnetteMehmet OzCarla SandsUndecided
The Trafalgar GroupDec 13 -16,20218%19%7%51%
Echelon InsightsDec 1-3, 20217%11%5%63%
AverageDec 20217.5%15%6%57%

Early polling by Trafalgar Group suggests as such, with Oz leading the early race with 18.8% of and McCormick likely holding much of the 10.8% ‘other candidate’ choice (as this poll was run right as he announced his campaign). Kathy Barnette and Carla Sands are both hanging around 8% each, with two other competitors at 3.2% and below.

However, with 50.8% of likely Republican voters still undecided this race could easily change at any minute depending on the news cycle. However, if McCormick and Oz hang on to local media attention and keep their ad pressure high, it is hard to see how other candidates will be able to gain a significant foothold.

Figure 1: GOP Primary polling by Trafalgar Group (Jan ‘22)

PA Senate Primary Polls

Google Trends shows a similar picture to polling and financial trends, as Dr. Oz has dominated interest in Pennsylvania, only ceding ground in early January corresponding with the announcement of David McCormick’s campaign. Since then, Oz’s interest has picked up although in the past week it appears that all four candidates are conforming to a similar level of interest at 9% of the peak of Oz’ trend in mid-January.

This likely indicates stagnation in advertisement effectiveness, a lull in advertising, or a moderate drop in interest as all the candidates are now properly introduced and the primary is still four months away. It also appears that Carla Sands and Kathy Barnett are running for third, although it appears Carla Sands is holding significant interest over Kathy Barnett. All things considered, there is still a lot of time left in the race for trends to develop but it appears that Oz has a significant messaging advantage and may be able to run the race on his terms.

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