A new WHTM/Emerson College poll has Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano leading the Republican gubernatorial field. Mastriano leads with 16.2% over Lou Barletta’s 12.4%. A large number of voters remain undecided as well, according to the poll.
Mastriano and Barletta were the only candidates to achieve more than 10% of the vote. Trailing them is former Federal Prosecutor Bill McSwain with 6.4% and Delaware County Commissioner Dave White at 5.7%. Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale received 3.3% while PA Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, who has a sizable war chest, garnered 2.3% of the vote.
A large chunk of the Republican electorate remains undecided, with 48.8% of 371 likely voters indicating as much in their responses. Emerson College will be releasing a second poll of Republican voters in early April. Candidates who receive at least 5% in either poll can qualify for a debate hosted by Nexstar Media Inc. and WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh.
In a further breakdown of the poll, Mastriano leads among those with a high school education or less and those with a college degree. Barletta holds a slim lead among those with some college education and a 2% lead among post-graduate degree voters, according to WHTM.
The poll also shows Mastriano commanding a sizable lead among rural voters with 27.3% support, a 16% lead over Barletta. Barletta leads among suburban and urban voters with 20%, though White and Gale trail closely behind with 14.5%.
President Trump has yet to make an endorsement in the race, though it has long been speculated that the nod would go to one of the two frontrunners. Mastriano has made election integrity a focal point of his campaign and has pushed back hard against Pennsylvania’s official results in the 2020 election. The former U.S. Army Colonel gained national recognition after presiding over a hearing in Gettysburg shortly after the election, where numerous election irregularities were presented.
“We can send – 50 years ago – men to the moon but we can’t have a safe, secure election in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania? What’s going on here?” Mastriano said in a viral speech at the conclusion of the hearing. “It’s gotta be by design, because we have the technology… we have stealth aircraft that are the envy of the world, but we can’t run an election better than Afghanistan?”
Mastriano went on to head up the state’s election audit efforts, though he was ultimately removed after Corman hijacked the effort.
As for Barletta, the former Hazleton mayor is hoping that his early endorsement of Trump in 2020 will play a role. Barletta served in the U.S. House from 2008 through 2016 and endorsed Trump early on in the latter’s initial presidential run. Barletta has also run for statewide office before, challenging U.S. Senator Bob Casey in 2016. The former congressman was ultimately trounced in the race, losing by a whopping 13 percentage points.