While recent polling shows that Senate candidate John Fetterman is leading his Republican opponent, voter registration data indicates that the Democrat should not count Dr. Mehmet Oz out of the race just yet.
On May 17, the day of the Pennsylvania primary elections, there were 4,000,436 registered Democrats and 3,450,289 registered Republicans in the state. As of August 29, a little more than three months later, there were 4,001,568 registered Democrats and 3,461,215 registered Republicans.
While Pennsylvania still currently has more registered Democrats than Republicans, more than nine times more Republicans than Democrats were added in the period between the May 17 primary and August 29. Democrats added 1,132 voters, while the GOP added 10,926. Continued registration for both parties at these rates could potentially chip away at some of the Democratic registration lead in the roughly two months until the November midterm elections.
Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s current lieutenant governor, and Oz, a retired surgeon turned television personality, have been locked in a contentious race as both parties seek to secure more U.S. Senate seats in the crucial midterms. Fetterman, who easily won his primary with about 59 percent of the vote, has been leading Oz in recent polls. As of August 31, FiveThirtyEight’s polling average showed Fetterman with support from 48.3 percent of voters compared to 40.2 percent supporting Oz, a lead of 8.1 points.
But the quicker-by-comparison GOP registration raises questions on whether Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and won his primary by a razor-thin margin, can narrow Fetterman’s lead.
The difference between the Democratic and Republican registration pace since the primaries is especially evident when taking three specific counties into account.
In Erie County, Democrats had 84,585 registered voters on May 17, but had 84,198 as of August 29, a decrease of 387. In Luzerne County, Democrats had 93,411 registered voters in May, but had 93,076 as of August 29, a decrease of 335. And in Northampton County, Democrats had 97,710 registered voters in May, a number that increased to 98,057 on August 29.
Altogether, Democratic registration decreased by 375 across these counties, while GOP registration saw a sharp uptick of 1,285.
In Erie, Republican registration increased from 67,724 in May to 67,867 on August 29, a boost of 143. In Luzerne, GOP registration went up from 82,751 in May to 83,329 on August 29, an increase of 578. And in Northampton, Republican registration increased from 80,198 in May to 80,762 on August 29, a boost of 564.
While Democrats lost hundreds of registered residents in those counties and Republicans added more than 1,200, registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans in each.
Newsweek contacted Fetterman’s campaign for comment, but was not immediately able to locate direct contact information for Oz’s campaign.