Voices: The biggest problem for Dr Oz and JD Vance? Their own party doesn’t like them

Senate candidate JD Vance speaks to supporters of former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally to benefit Pennsylvania Republican US Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz (Getty)
Senate candidate JD Vance speaks to supporters of former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally to benefit Pennsylvania Republican US Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz (Getty)

On Monday evening, a new poll from InsiderAdvantage/FOX 29 showed that Republican Senate nominee Mehmet Oz narrowed the gap among likely voters in Pennsylvania in his race against Democratic nominee Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.

While the man President Joe Biden has called “that big ol’ boy” only continues to lead the former television doctor, his 3-point advantage is well within the 4.2 per cent margin of error.

All of this comes as Republicans have zeroed in on Fetterman’s record on crime. While Fetterman has defended his record, most recently touting the endorsement of a sheriff of Montgomery County — home of many suburbs of Philadelphia where Joe Biden dominated — he will need to run up the score. (The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Dr Oz even as it also endorsed Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for governor).

Similarly, in Ohio, a new Siena College poll of the state’s Senate race showed that Representative Tim Ryan has a 3-point lead against venture capitalist and Republican nominee JD Vance. Polling has been inconsistent in the race, with some surveys showing Vance with the lead and others giving Ryan the advantage. The poll had a 4.4 per cent margin of error, meaning that the race is still a toss-up.

In addition, anyone reading polls from Ohio should factor in that Donald Trump won the state by eight points both times. A Ryan victory would require massively overperforming the top of the ticket. The same poll found that 39 per cent of people had a favourable opinion of President Joe Biden in the Buckeye State (Trump for his part clocked in at 44 per cent).

Nevertheless, Ryan’s encouraging numbers have given Democrats hope they might flip the seat. Ryan has tried to sell himself as a different type of Democrat, noting how he voted for Trump’s renegotiated trade deal with Mexico and Canada while also distancing himself from left-wing rhetoric about defunding the police.

Both Ryan and Fetterman have tried to tout their abilities to appeal to red-state, white working-class voters who have abandoned the Democratic Party. But an examination of both polls shows there is shallow evidence of such an appeal; the Pennsylvania poll showed only 12.1 per cent of likely GOP voters would choose Fetterman if the election were held today, while the Ohio poll showed that only 8 per cent of Republicans would pick Ryan.

The real weakness for both Oz and Vance lies in their lack of support among their own party’s voters. The Pennsylvania poll showed that only 75.1 per cent of Republicans would vote for Dr Oz, compared to 80.4 per cent of Democrats who would vote for Mr Fetterman.

This tracks with your reporter’s experience in Pennsylvania, where Dr Oz received a relatively chilly reception compared to Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano. One attendee even yelled at a recent Dr Oz event: “He’s a RINO!” [Republican In Name Only].

In Ohio, 95 per cent of Democrats would vote for Ryan but only 87 per cent of Republicans would vote for Vance. Even just a few more Republican voters who would support either candidate would help them put away their Democratic opponents.

Both candidates came into the race with little conservative pedigree. Dr Oz stepped in after years of being on television and after Trump’s preferred candidate bowed out. Meanwhile, Vance went from being a critic of Trump’s when he was promoting his bestselling book Hillbilly Elegy to a full-throated Trumpist. Despite the fact that both won their primaries, many voters in their respective coalitions still seem to harbour mistrust.