- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2022

A new Pennsylvania poll shows Trump-endorsed Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz stalled in a dead heat against top challenger David McCormick.

Dr. Oz, a celebrity physician who hosted a television show, is edging out investment consultant David McCormick by 18% to 16%, according to a Franklin and Marshall University Poll released Thursday.

The results show the two men in a statistical tie nearly three weeks after Mr. Trump’s endorsement, with almost no upward movement for Dr. Oz since the last Franklin and Marshall Poll was conducted between March 30 and April 10. In that survey, Dr. Oz led Mr. McCormick 16% to 15%.

The two lead a crowded field of candidates who will face off in the May 17 Republican primary. 

The poll shows Republican Kathy Barnette trailing Dr. Oz and Mr. McCormick with 12% of the vote, an increase from 7% in April. Candidate Carla Sands remained stalled at 5%.

“The Republican senate primary field has no clear frontrunner at the moment,” poll director Berwood Yost wrote. 

SEE ALSO: Pa. GOP Senate contender Kathy Barnette: I am the ‘byproduct of a rape’

Mr. Trump’s endorsement has not pushed the undecided into backing Dr. Oz, or any other candidate. In April, 43% of Republican voters said they didn’t know whom they would vote for in the upcoming primary. A month later, 39% remained undecided.

The polling data follows big wins for Mr. Trump in Ohio and Indiana, where all 22 of his endorsements won in GOP primaries, although most were unopposed or incumbents. His last-minute endorsement of Republican J.D. Vance in Ohio’s Senate primary bolstered the candidate from the middle of a pack of Republican candidates to a 9-point victory on Tuesday.

But Mr. Trump’s endorsement hasn’t done much to budge Dr. Oz, who faces skepticism from the state’s conservative, rural residents who will make up the bulk of primary voters, according to Mr. Yost. 

“Dr. Oz is not particularly popular among Republican voters,” Mr. Yost said. 

Dr. Oz, a former heart surgeon, has voiced support for abortion and some restrictions on gun ownership, although he now says he is a pro-life candidate who backs gun rights. 

His popularity drastically trails the former president’s among the state’s registered Republicans, a signal that his past views may be clashing with GOP primary voters.

Republican voters list conservative credentials as the third most important issue when choosing a candidate. The economy was listed first, followed by immigration and border security.  

The poll found that 48% of Republicans held a strongly favorable opinion of Mr. Trump, while 22% viewed him somewhat favorably. Only 9% held a strongly favorable view of Dr. Oz, and 20% held a somewhat favorable view. Among those voters, 21% said they didn’t know enough about Dr. Oz to make a judgment. 

Mr. McCormick’s favorability rating was about the same as Dr. Oz’s. Among Republican voters, 38% said they knew too little about Mr. McCormick to determine favorably.

Mr. McCormick is a former Army Ranger who served in the Treasury Department during the George W. Bush administration. He served as the CEO of Bridgewater Associates, a large hedge fund. 

Mr. Trump’s decision to endorse Dr. Oz stunned conservatives. 

“It’s like Donald Trump’s staff is sabotaging Trump by convincing him to make the worst possible endorsements,” conservative radio talk show host Erik Erickson tweeted.

In his statement endorsing Dr. Oz, the former president cited his electability and likable TV persona. His television program, “The Dr. Oz Show,” ran from 2009 until 2022. 

“I have known Dr. Oz for many years, as have many others, even if only through his very successful television show,” Mr. Trump said. “He has lived with us through the screen and has always been popular, respected, and smart.”

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

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