Trump-Backed Doug Mastriano's Chances of Beating Josh Shapiro: Polls

Republican Doug Mastriano aims to flip the governor's residence in Harrisburg red, but recent polls suggest that his Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, is leading in the Pennsylvania midterm contest.

Mastriano, a state senator who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is a prominent promoter of claims that the 2020 election was "rigged" or "stolen" in favor of President Joe Biden. He also participated in the pro-Trump riot outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, reportedly crossing police barricades. Mastriano has said he steered clear of the barricades, but images and video show he passed them.

In Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the state's top elections official, the secretary of the commonwealth. As a result, critics have warned that a Mastriano victory could potentially have dire consequences for future elections.

Recent polls show that Shapiro, Pennsylvania's attorney general, is leading the race. A survey conducted from June 12 to 19 by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates/Impact Research for AARP showed the Democrat ahead by 3 points. Shapiro was supported by 49 percent of likely Pennsylvanian voters to Mastriano's 46 percent. The poll surveyed 500 respondents and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Mastriano and Shapiro
Pennsylvania's Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Josh Shapiro (right), is leading his Republican opponent, Doug Mastriano, in recent polls. Above, Mastriano gives a victory speech at his primary election-night party at The Orchards on May 17 in Chambersburg. Shapiro speaks with people as he awaits a speech from President Joe Biden at Mack Truck Lehigh Valley Operations on July 28, 2021, in Macungie. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Another recent survey carried out by Suffolk University/USA Today showed Shapiro ahead by 4 points. Shapiro had the support of 44 percent of likely voters compared to 40 percent for Mastriano. That poll was conducted from June 10 to 13 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points among 500 respondents.

Pennsylvania went for Biden by 1.2 percent in 2020. He won the state with 50 percent of the vote compared to 48.8 percent for Trump. Trump had narrowly won the state in 2016, but prior to that, Pennsylvania had gone for Democratic presidential candidates in every race going back to 1992.

In the wake of the 2020 election, Pennsylvania became a key focus of Trump's claims that the results were "rigged" against him. No evidence has emerged corroborating the allegations, but the former president and Mastriano continue to promote them.

Trump's former attorney general, William Barr, who was widely viewed as one of the former president's most loyal Cabinet members, testified before the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, saying that the rigged election claims are "bulls**t." He explained that he told Trump this to his face after having the Justice Department look into them.

"I thought, 'Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with—he's become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,'" Barr told House investigators.