The Race For PA Governor: Expert Insight, Polls, and Debate Demands

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – The general election is now eleven-weeks away. Pennsylvania races, like those for U.S. Senate and governor are heating up and receiving a lot of national attention.

The race for governor will be determined in about two-and-a-half months. Experts like Dr. Jeffrey Bloodworth, a History Professor at Gannon University in Erie, say these final weeks are crucial for both State Senator Doug Mastriano and Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

For Mastriano, Dr. Bloodworth says fundraising and reaching more Pennsylvanians through media are two things the Republican nominee needs to hone in on during the next eleven weeks.

“He needs money,” said Bloodworth. “He won the nomination as a grassroots candidate. You can’t win Pennsylvania that way, I mean, you have to be on the air everywhere,” Bloodworth added.

Money is not an issue for Shapiro, who as of June, had roughly $13 million more in the bank than Mastriano, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. Despite a healthy bank account, Bloodworth says Shapiro is running in a tough climate for Democrats.

“It’s not a great environment for Democrats. So, the polls will probably tighten a little bit,” said Bloodworth, who added that the race could be determined by job growth, inflation, and especially gas prices this fall. “That’s a barometer,” he added.

The party that does not hold the executive branch, historically, tends to fair better in midterm elections. This year, that would be the Republican Party.

However, Bloodworth says if gas prices continue to level off, or even go lower, more voters will focus on issues like protecting democracy and abortion rights.

“The environment in Pennsylvania, I think, is not necessarily tilted towards the Republicans to the extent that we thought maybe four months ago,” said Bloodworth, adding that uncertainty abroad could quickly change that. “If there’s something in Ukraine and it makes them spike, that’s good for Republicans. If gas prices go back to $4.50 a gallon or five bucks or if you’re in Philly six bucks, you know, then I could see Mastriano actually maybe eking out a victory,” he added.

The FiveThirtyEight updated polling average from Tuesday shows Shapiro ahead by 8.6 percent.

According to Bloodworth, midterm polls tend to be more accurate than those during presidential elections, like in 2016 or 2020.

“Pollsters have had a really hard time tracking the non-college white vote,” said Bloodworth. “If you look at 2018, they didn’t have that problem. I suspect what we are going to see, is that the midterm poll of 2022 being like 2018, and you’re not going to see the polling errors in the same way because Trump is not on the ballot,” Bloodworth added.

Another important topic regarding the race for Pennsylvania governor: Debates.

Last week, the Mastriano campaign sent a letter to the Shapiro campaign challenging the Attorney General to two 90-minute debates, but under specific conditions.

In part of the letter, Mastriano states:

“Typically, Republican statewide candidates fall prey to the trap of debates that are effectively a two-against-one matchup, in which the mainstream media, who moderate the debates, are unpaid advocates and ideological allies of the Democrat candidates.”

“I challenge you to two 90-minute debates in the month of October, one at a location of your choosing, and one at a location of my choosing. Each debate will have two moderators … who will be allowed an equal number of questions asked of each candidate. The topics for the debates can be open-ended with no limits.”

Shapiro for Pennsylvania Spokesperson, Will Simons, responded to the letter last week with the following statement:

“Doug Mastriano’s unserious proposal is an obvious stunt to avoid any real questions about his extreme agenda and record of conduct by dictating his own rules for debates. Mastriano has spent his entire campaign refusing to answer questions from local outlets across Pennsylvania – refusing to leave his echo chamber of extremists on alt-right media.

“In Pennsylvania, there is a long history of media outlets and independent moderators asking candidates of both parties fair, direct questions about their track records and plans if elected – nobody gets to pick their own moderators or set their own terms.

“It’s unfortunate that Doug Mastriano has recklessly decided to blow up good faith debate negotiations with media outlets across the Commonwealth. If he’s ever ready to step up and finally answer questions about his reckless agenda, we look forward to comparing Josh Shapiro’s long record of bringing people together and delivering results for Pennsylvanians with Mastriano’s record of dangerous extremism.”


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