by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
U.S. political history is rife with instances in which one Senate vote meant the difference between a bill’s passage or its failure.
Had Republicans rallied behind then-Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s January 2021 runoff elections, we could have mitigated much of the damage caused by the Biden administration’s overreach.
Although it’s highly likely that Republicans will win back the House majority in November, control of the Senate is too close to call. While we’d be foolish to put too much stock into pre-Labor Day polls, most are currently predicting that Democrats will retain control of the upper chamber.
Democrats consider the Pennsylvania Senate seat currently occupied by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring, to be the easiest to flip. The Real Clear Politics average of polls in this race shows the state’s current lieutenant governor, the far-left John Fetterman, up by 8.7 points against his Republican opponent, the Trump-backed Dr. Mehmet Oz.
There is a major enthusiasm gap between the two candidates. Despite his three-month stroke-induced hiatus from the campaign trail and his support for reducing the prison population in the Keystone State by one-third, Fetterman is wildly popular. The former longtime mayor of Braddock has repeatedly attacked Oz as a carpetbagger from New Jersey, and those attacks are resonating.
One report found that “by a 16-point margin, fewer Republicans stay loyal to Oz (73%) than Democrats to Fetterman (89%). Same story on favorable ratings, as many more Democrats view Fetterman positively (88%) than Republicans view Oz (67%). Just 35% of those backing Oz say they support him enthusiastically, while 45% have reservations. For Fetterman, 68% back him enthusiastically and only 18% hesitate.”
Much of Oz’s weakness can be blamed on Republicans, many of whom have been slow to warm up to him. Pointing to previous statements he’s made on guns, abortion, and fracking, they don’t consider him to be “conservative enough.”