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Two recent polls indicate that support for Pennsylvania Lt. Governor and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman appears to be waning in his race against Republican rival and celebrity cardiologist Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Six weeks before residents of the Keystone State cast their ballots in one of the nation’s most contentious races, Fetterman — the longtime mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, a declining rust belt town east of Pittsburgh — is losing steam. A survey from Fox News released on Wednesday showed Fetterman leading Oz by 45% to 41% — a result within the poll’s margin of error and a significant decline from the 11 percentage point advantage over Oz that Fetterman boasted in the same survey as of late July.
Roughly 34% of voters are “extremely or very worried” that Fetterman’s health will render him unable to complete his duties in the Senate — an 11 percentage point increase since three months ago. Fetterman suffered a stroke days before the commonwealth’s primary election and has since stumbled during speeches at multiple campaign events. Republicans and independents drove the rising concern over Fetterman’s health.
Meanwhile, a poll from Emerson College and The Hill showed Fetterman maintaining a two percentage point lead over Oz, with the two candidates backed by 45% and 43% of likely Pennsylvania voters, respectively. The poll results, which also fall within the margin of error, marked a decline from Fetterman’s four percentage point lead in August. Respondents were similarly concerned about Fetterman’s health, with the share of voters saying that his stroke makes no difference to them falling nine percentage points.
A major criticism of Oz’s candidacy has been his longtime residence in New Jersey. However, the share of voters affirming that they are less likely to support Oz because of his ties to the Garden State has fallen by 12 percentage points since August.
The poll results come after former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, a moderate Republican who backed President Joe Biden two years ago, penned an endorsement for Oz. Ridge, who served as the nation’s inaugural Secretary of Homeland Security, said in a statement that he trusts Oz to handle “the issues facing Pennsylvania and our nation.”
Former President Donald Trump also endorsed Oz. Allies of Oz told The Hill that the endorsements from Ridge and Trump are indicative of a broad Republican coalition forming behind the television doctor — although Oz erased branding related to Trump after he emerged victorious from Pennsylvania’s primary contest.
T.J. Rooney, the former chairman of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party, likewise confirmed to The Hill that Ridge still carries sway in the commonwealth’s political arena. “The notion that well-respected establishment Republicans are supporting Oz definitely sends a signal, there’s no question about it,” he said.
Fetterman has faced criticism for his lengthy history of backing monitored injection sites and drug decriminalization, as well as his support of pro-abortion federal legislative proposals such as the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would supersede state-level abortion regulations.
The Fetterman campaign’s website recently featured a page discussing the nominee’s commitment to Black Lives Matter, although the wording has since been removed. As Democrats battle to retain control of Congress, some officials have walked back their support of reimagined criminal justice systems — with a call from Biden to “fund the police” at the most recent State of the Union address provoking a standing ovation from members of his party.