Preview of US Senate Races in Pennsylvania and Georgia
Elections & Politics Policy Brief #38 | By: Ian Milden | June 22, 2022
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Control of the U.S. Senate will be up for grabs in the 2022 mid-term elections. Competitive races in key states will determine the balance of power. In this brief, I will preview the competitive races in Pennsylvania and Georgia.
In Pennsylvania, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman (D-PA) will face Dr. Mehmet Oz (R-PA) in the general election for the US Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). Fetterman has been elected statewide, initially winning his current job in the 2018 midterm elections. Fetterman hails from Braddock, Pennsylvania in the western part of the state. He has not been campaigning as he recovers from a stroke. Dr. Oz is well-known due to his television show, although he is relatively untested as a candidate for public office. Dr. Oz has faced scrutiny over his business dealings. For example, his family business was fined for hiring undocumented workers. Dr. Oz won his primary over David McCormick by less than 1000 votes.
A recent poll from USA Today and Suffolk University has Dr. Oz down by nine percentage points due to Republicans not being fully consolidated behind Oz’s candidacy after a tense primary. Dr. Oz will have some work to do over the next several months to convince Republicans to support him in November. Expect the race to get tighter in the coming months as Dr. Oz works on repairing the fractures within his own party.
In Georgia, incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is running for a full term against former NFL player Herschel Walker (R-GA). Warnock won the special election to replace retiring Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) after ending up in a runoff with appointed Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA). Warnock is the pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
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During his time in the Senate, Warnock has advocated for raising the minimum wage and reinforcing voting rights through the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. His opponent, Herschel Walker. became famous for playing college football for the University of Georgia. He later played in the NFL, most notably for the Dallas Cowboys. Walker is untested as a candidate for public office.
Republicans in Georgia largely threw their support behind him after he was endorsed by Donald Trump. A lack of serious vetting of Walker has led to media scrutiny of his personal life. It was discovered that Walker fathered a child with a woman who was not his wife and whom he has largely not been present for. Walker’s campaign later admitted to two additional children that Walker fathered. Walker had previously criticized men who leave their children in a radio interview. He has also been scrutinized for false statements about his career. A recent poll from East Carolina University’s survey research center finds that the race is tied.
According to the poll’s data, Walker has less support than Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) among non-college-educated voters and voters under the age of 65. These could be signs that Walker’s flaws as a candidate are weighing him down, but it is too early to tell. More time and additional data could provide additional insight. Even with Walker’s flaws as a candidate, Warnock will have a tough race in November due to the demographics of Georgia’s electorate, historical midterm trends, and Georgia having a runoff election if nobody gets a majority of the vote.