Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate hopeful Kathy Barnette has seen her support surge in recent polls, drawing speculation that she could potentially defeat Dr. Mehmet Oz, who former President Donald Trump endorsed, as well as more establishment-backed David McCormick in the GOP primary next week.
Trump’s endorsement of Oz, a popular television personality and physician, has drawn substantial backlash from Republicans in Pennsylvania and across the country. Even Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has come out against Oz as he backs McCormick in the race. Meanwhile, Barnette, a conservative commentator and author, has been described by right-wing strategist Steve Bannon as “ultra-MAGA” (MAGA is an acronym for Make America Great Again) and seen her support jump in recent polls.
As of now, polls show an essentially three-way race with only a narrow advantage for Trump’s preferred candidate, Oz. With Pennsylvania’s primaries taking place on Tuesday, there’s no clear leader among the top three contenders for the Republican nomination.
The current Real Clear Politics average of recent Pennsylvania polls currently shows Barnette as the second-place GOP candidate. While Oz enjoys the support of about 23.2 percent of Republicans, Barnette is backed by 21 percent and McCormick is right behind with about 20.3 percent.
Polling conducted among 750 likely voters by InsiderAdvantage/FOX 29 Philadelphia showed Barnette in second place. That survey, which was conducted from May 7 to 9, had Oz narrowly leading the pack with 23 percent, followed by Barnette at 21 percent and McCormick at 19 percent. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.6 percent, meaning the race is essentially a statistical tie.
Survey results by Trafalgar Group from May 6 to 8 showed similar results. Some 1,080 likely GOP voters were polled, with 25 percent backing Oz and 23 percent supporting Barnette. McCormick was right behind Barnette at 22 percent. Again, these results showed a nearly tied raced between the three contenders when considering that the margin of error was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.Another poll carried out by Fox News from May 3 to 7 put Barnette in third place. That poll had Oz at 22 percent and McCormick at 20 percent. Meanwhile, Barnette had the backing of 19 percent of Republicans. The survey of 1,001 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points
“Even though Oz got Trump’s endorsement, Barnette has more momentum,” Democrat pollster Chris Anderson, who helped conduct the Fox News poll, told Fox News. “Her support doubled in two months, her supporters are the most interested, and her negatives are much lower than Oz or McCormick.”
Nearly half (46 percent) of Pennsylvania Republicans viewed Oz unfavorably in the Fox News poll. McCormick’s unfavorables were substantially lower at 27 percent, but Barnette’s were by far the lowest of the three, at just 12 percent.
How these dynamics ultimately will play out on Tuesday remains to be seen. Barnette’s surge has caught the attention of Trump, however. The former president released a Thursday statement knocking her chances of winning against Democratic opponents in November.