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Republicans cite inflation as top concern; Democrats want focus on gun safety
There are fewer than five months to go until the November general election, in which Pennsylvania voters will select a new governor and U.S. senator.
A new poll commissioned by AARP Pennsylvania showed how residents over 50 are feeling about the candidates and the issues.
In the 2018 midterm elections, Pennsylvanians age 50 years and older made up 61 percent of all voters in the state.
The AARP poll includes views about this year’s political races, including the contest for governor, with Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Sen. Doug Mastriano, Republican from Franklin.
Shapiro leads Mastriano by three points.
Bob Ward, partner and pollster at Fabrizio Ward, said for voters over 50, it is an even closer race.
“There’s a one-point lead for Shapiro over Mastriano,” Ward said. “And so, 50-plus voters, due to their size but also sort of the competitive nature of where the election is in the governor’s race, will be impactful. Candidates need to pay attention to what’s important to these voters.”
In the Senate race, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has a six percentage-point lead over the Republican candidate, TV personality Mehmet Oz.
The poll also indicates that 77 percent of those who responded believe the state is “moving in the wrong direction.”
Approximately 30 percent of Pennsylvania voters polled said the economy is working well for them. However, one of their biggest concerns, which may influence their votes in November, is rising prices.
For Republicans higher prices are their highest priority, while Democrats cited gun safety as their top issue.
Matt Hogan, partner and pollster at Impact Research, said the results show inflation is a cross-party worry.
“When we test it on its own and ask them to rate the importance, we certainly see it’s a dominant issue with Democrats as well, it just doesn’t rise to quite the top when we ask them to pick which is the most important,” Hogan said. “We definitely see a surge in guns [as an important issue] following Uvalde.”
Other issues emerging as important to voters include immigration for Republicans, and abortion access and honesty in government for Democrats. The survey, which reached nearly 1,400 likely Pennsylvania voters, was conducted this month via landline, cellphone and text message.
Emily Scott is a reporter and producer in Philadelphia for Public News Service, where this story first appeared. She previously worked at WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station and is a 2018 graduate of Temple University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Originally published June 23, 2022.