Mehmet Oz and Kathy Barnette gain significant ground as support for David McCormick dips, making it a tight three-way race in Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
In March, businessman McCormick led television celebrity Dr. Oz by 9 points (24%-15%). A new Fox News survey of Pennsylvania GOP primary voters shows the candidates trading places, with Oz receiving 22% to McCormick’s 20% and political commentator Barnette right with them at 19%. Next, is businesswoman Carla Sands at 8% and real estate investor Jeff Bartos at 7%.
The race remains wide open as the top three candidates are within the survey’s margin of sampling error, and 18% are undecided on who they will back in the May 17 primary.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring, leaving the seat open.
"Oz has closed the gap, and the parallels with J.D. Vance in Ohio are obvious," says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson. "But McCormick and Barnette have considerable support, and with one out of five voters uncommitted, odds are that the vote will be very close."
"Even though Oz got Trump’s endorsement, Barnette has more momentum," says Anderson. "Her support doubled in two months, her supporters are the most interested, and her negatives are much lower than Oz or McCormick."
Among the subgroup of voters who are extremely interested in the election, Barnette (25%) is narrowly preferred over Oz (22%) and McCormick (21%).
McCormick (+22 points) and Barnette (+29) have strong favorable ratings, with voters viewing both of them more positively than negatively by over 20 points. Conversely, the net difference between favorable and unfavorable views of Oz is negative by 1 point.
Of course, the television personality is also much better known, with only 10% unable to rate him. Almost half of PA GOP primary voters, 47%, say they have no opinion or have never heard of Barnette and 23% say the same for McCormick.
The candidate ratings don’t come anywhere close to matching former President Trump’s +62 personal favorable rating (80% vs. 18%).
Trump endorsed Oz on April 9. The poll finds 37% say the endorsement makes them more supportive of Oz, while 22% say less supportive -- with another 37% saying it makes no difference.
Trump’s former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo endorsed McCormick and has actively campaigned for him – including an event Friday where he questioned Oz’s "close ties to the Turkish government and military."
The poll finds a candidate being close to Trump isn’t the most important factor for voters. For a majority, picking a candidate who can win in November (62%) is extremely important to their vote choice. That is far more than feel that way about choosing a candidate who is really from Pennsylvania (35%) or is a strong supporter of Trump (27%).
Some, including Barnette, call Oz and McCormick "carpetbaggers" for living outside Pennsylvania for many years.
Voters who say a candidate being a true Pennsylvanian is extremely important to their decision back McCormick (24%) and Barnette (21%) over Oz (14%).
Those prioritizing winning in November narrowly prefer Oz (25%) over McCormick (21%) and Barnette (20%), while those wanting a strong Trump supporter back Oz over others by at least 15 points.
Oz (56%) and Barnette (51%) have a larger share of supporters who feel certain they will back them than McCormick has committed to him (39%).
Overall, half, 51%, say they could change their mind about their Senate primary vote and nearly half, 45%, say the same about their candidate preference in the gubernatorial primary.
In the GOP gubernatorial primary, Doug Mastriano has broken away from the pack and now leads with 29% support. The next tier includes Lou Barletta at 17%, Bill McSwain at 13%, and Dave White at 11%.
Fifteen percent remain undecided, down from 25% in March. At that time, Mastriano (18%) and Barletta (19%) were ahead, followed by White (14%) and McSwain (11%).
Mastriano’s lead is outside the poll’s margin of sampling error.
Conducted May 3-7, 2022, under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes telephone interviews (landline and cellphone) with live interviewers among 1,001 Pennsylvania Republican primary voters and has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. Randomly selected from a statewide voter file of registered Pennsylvania voters, respondents were screened to identify potential participants in the Republican primary elections.
Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.