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Pennsylvania Republicans: More of the Same, Please!

Political parties' worst nightmares are candidates who can command a majority or near-majority of the primary vote, but have virtually no chance of expanding on that in the general. This is how a William Jennings Bryan, to take the most famous example, gets nominated for president three times and then gets trounced three times.

The Republican pooh-bahs would very much like to move on from Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania. He's so far-right that he turns off a lot of moderate Republicans, not to mention virtually all independents and Democrats. And the proof is definitely in the pudding; during his failed gubernatorial bid last year, he got absolutely shellacked by Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-PA), 56% to 41%. Do you know how bad a candidate you have to be to lose by 15 points to a (then) non-incumbent in a purple state? And not only did Mastriano lose his own race in spectacular fashion, he almost certainly helped drag down the entire Republican ticket in the Keystone State.

In view of this, Republican officials would prefer that their candidate in next year's U.S. Senate race be a nice, safe, bland, moderate Republican like David McCormick. Of course, McCormick is no great shakes, either, having been defeated by Mehmet Oz in the Republican U.S. Senate primary last year. Still, he'd have a puncher's chance if he ran against Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), whereas Mastriano might well lose by 25 points.

A new poll from Public Policy Polling gives insight into how rank-and-file Republicans feel about all of this. In short, they want Mastriano. In a multi-person field, he has the support of 39% of the GOP electorate, which puts him up nearly 20 on any other candidate that PPP asked about. In a head-to-head matchup, Mastriano easy beats McCormick, 42%-28%. You don't normally want to put a lot of stock in polls this far out, but both men are known commodities to Pennsylvania Republicans, and 14 points is a very large lead.

McCormick has never seemed all that enthusiastic about being a senator, and polls like these are likely to make him take a pass on a second run. As to Mastriano, he's presumably still waiting to hear from Jesus and his wife, in some order, as to whether he should take the plunge again. Assuming that Mrs. Mastriano gives the thumbs up, we assume that Mastriano will quickly discover that Jesus has fallen into line. And then Pennsylvania Republican voters will be in position to remind us all of the old aphorism: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result." (Z)

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