Election forecaster Sabato’s Crystal Ball on Wednesday shifted the closely watched Senate race in Pennsylvania from “toss ups” to “lean Democratic.”
Sabato’s Crystal Ball editors Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman said they made the change based on an improving political environment for Democrats and the weaknesses of Republican candidate Mehmet Oz in the race.
Democrats see new glimmers of hope for their chances in November’s midterm elections after a string of legislative victories, easing inflation and an increased emphasis on abortion following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. They are particularly hopeful about keeping the Senate.
“Oz does seem to be putting in the legwork by keeping an active schedule, but some of his self-inflicted wounds have often enabled the Fetterman campaign to control the narrative,” they wrote in their analysis.
The campaigns have sparred, with Fetterman trying to paint Oz as out of touch and with a tenuous connection to Pennsylvania. The back-and-forth accelerated after Oz posted a video making a reference to crudités, or raw vegetable trays, and giving the incorrect name of a Pennsylvania grocery store chain.
Fetterman’s campaign made fun of Oz for the French reference, prompting a member of Oz’s campaign team to mock Fetterman for a stroke he suffered earlier this year.
“It is not as though Republicans have nothing to use against Fetterman — despite his well-crafted, burly image, he is not particularly moderate,” the editors wrote. “But image does matter in politics, and Fetterman’s is just stronger than Oz’s, at least for now.”
The move brings the forecaster’s rating in alignment with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which similarly changed its rating of the race to lean Democrat earlier this month.