Pennsylvania swing voters aren’t sold on a switch

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Trump voters in Biden, Pennsylvania in our latest Axios Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups favored Democrats or midterm ballots, saying if Republicans regain power, they will push for a national abortion ban and will focus on “revenge” investigations against President Biden and his party.

Driving the news: These are the main findings of our two online focus groups held on October 11 – our last voter panels ahead of the November 8 election.

Why is it important: These voters’ disappointment with Biden and the economy, and growing anxiety about crime, are not persuading them to embrace the Republicans at the top of their state’s ticket.

How it works: The 13 participants voted for former President Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020. The panels included six Registered Republicans, six Democrats and one independent.

  • Although a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, the responses show how some voters think and talk about current events.

The big picture: Nine of the 13 entrants favored Democratic nominee for the open Senate seat, John Fetterman, while two favored Republican Mehmet Oz. Two said they would not support either.

  • In the race for governor, eight of 13 favored Democrat Josh Shapiro, while only one backed Republican Doug Mastriano.
  • Four said they knew they wouldn’t support Mastriano — a Trump-backed candidate who has come under fire for reporting anti-Semitic slurs — but were undecided what to do. would have do.

What they say : “I’ve seen what happens when celebrities are in a position of power, and I didn’t like it,” said Stephanie S., a Democrat, citing Trump as an example.

  • Some have questioned Oz’s allegiance to Pennsylvania given his ties to New Jersey or questioned his credibility as a doctor. “Growing up, I saw him on TV pushing, you know, ‘Take this little pill and you’ll lose weight,'” said Joshua J., a Democrat. “I really don’t believe anything he says.”
  • Brandon I., a Republican, said he leans toward Fetterman but worries about his health after the Democrat suffered a stroke in May. “Especially next month, if anything else happens,” Brandon said.
  • Bob G., a Republican who has said he’s not “a MAGA Republican,” wants to see his party separated from Trump and worries about who drives the GOP agenda. Still, he supports Oz. “I would like to see the Republicans take [Senate control] just depending on the economy.”
  • He said he found Mastriano’s extremism so troubling that if it was a close race he would vote for Shapiro to keep Mastriano out.

The bottom line: “While specific issues are important to these Pennsylvania swing voters, a more important consideration appears to be the character of the candidate. In the case of the Senate race, it’s also which party will be in control in 2023,” said Engagious President Rich Thau, who moderated the focus groups.

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