Yeah, he should be. Like I said here, some of the polls showing Democrats leading in swing-state races by suspiciously comfortable margins can be reasonably questioned. But I think the data showing John Fetterman with a solid lead over Mehmet Oz is legit.
It might not be nine points, as it is in the current RCP average. But real work needs to be done before November to climb out of this hole. This isn’t a toss-up right now.
Trump isn’t worried that Oz is going to lose and blow the GOP’s chances at a Senate majority, I’m sure. He doesn’t care about that; if he did, he wouldn’t have told Georgia Republicans before the Senate runoffs last year that their state’s elections are rigged. I don’t think he’s even worried that Oz losing will damage his precious endorsement record in GOP primaries, since that record already isn’t pristine.
He’s worried that if Oz loses, he’s going to be blamed. It was Trump’s endorsement, after all, that sent Oz to a *very* narrow win over generic Republican Dave McCormick and MAGA diehard Kathy Barnette. If Trump had endorsed McCormick, it’s a cinch that he’d be outperforming Oz at the moment against Fetterman. If he had endorsed Barnette, he at least would have been true to his brand. Instead he endorsed a celebrity kook whom neither side of the party has much use for. It’s his most inexplicable gesture of support this entire year.
I hope Dr. Oz is prepared for what’s coming. Not defeat — although that’s likely. What I mean is, I hope he’s prepared to have MAGA fans turn on him viciously if he loses as they scramble to scrub their leader’s fingerprints off of his failed candidacy. The blame will fail squarely and entirely on him in order to spare their patron from any accountability for having saddled the Pennsylvania GOP with this dud.
He’s going to “f***ing lose,” unless something drastically changes, Trump has said privately of his chosen man in the Keystone State, according to two sources who’ve discussesd the midterm election with the ex-president.
In recent weeks, some Trump allies have repeatedly flagged polling for the former president showing Dr. Oz down, at times by wide or double-digit margins, to his Democratic opponent. Trump has sometimes responded by asking advisers how it’s possible that someone who was that popular on TV for so long is doing so poorly in the polls. When Trump has inquired if the polling has been “phony” or skewed, multiple people close to him have assured him that — as one of the sources describes to Rolling Stone — “this is not a matter of the polls being ‘rigged,’ there are major problems with this campaign and, more specifically, this candidate.”
This source adds that Trump’s “view is that it would be incredibly embarrassing for Oz if he loses to ‘that guy’ because he thinks so little of [Fetterman]. He thinks Fetterman is in poorer shape than Biden and has hidden in his basement more [than Joe Biden].”…
According to a third source with knowledge of the situation, the ex-president has gone as far as to privately ask in the past two months if it was a mistake to endorse Dr. Oz in the Senate GOP contest.
“Why would voters not want to elect someone who’s famous on TV?” has to be one of the top 10 Trumpiest sentiments Trump has ever expressed.
“Yeah, Trump’s Dr. Oz Endorsement Probably Cost Us the Senate,” Stephen Green wrote in a column for PJ Media yesterday. Oz’s problem isn’t that he’s a ridiculous figure, although he is; Trump is also a ridiculous figure but got himself elected to the presidency. Oz’s problem is that he’s ridiculous in a way that doesn’t appeal to MAGA voters. He’s a touchy feely “miracle cure” quack known for his association with Oprah. When the other side ridicules him, there’s no one to ride to his defense.
And once you’re established as a figure of ridicule, it’s exceptionally hard to undo that perception. A few days ago I posted the viral video of Oz shopping for “crudité” at the “Wegner’s” grocery chain in Pennsylvania. What I didn’t know because I’m not from PA is that there is no “Wegner’s.” There’s “Wegmans” and “Redner’s.” He inadvertently combined the two, an especially bad gaffe given how aggressive Fetterman’s campaign has been in accusing him of being a carpetbagger who knows little about the state. Even Newsmax, where Oz expected a softball interview, felt obliged to press him on it:
Asked about mispronouncing 'Wegmans,' Mehmet Oz: "I was exhausted…I've gotten my kids' names wrong as well. I don't think that's a measure of someone's ability to lead the Commonwealth" pic.twitter.com/OZDjy0iN4d
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) August 17, 2022
The Fetterman camp is also brutalizing him over the revelation that he owns no fewer than 10 properties, some of them in ritzy areas:
Dr. Oz claimed he has only two houses. Survey says…. pic.twitter.com/CLJbhQCH7U
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) August 17, 2022
Team Oz had a decent retort to that attack, that at least he bought his homes with his own hard-earned money instead of mooching off family like Fetterman has done at various points in his life, but which critique is apt to be more relatable to the average Pennsylvania voter? That adults who get help from family are freeloaders or that the mega-rich are out of touch?
Cringy errors like this keep popping up too:
On top of everything else, Dr. Oz was stupid enough to use the same URL for his campaign site as his old medical site — and didn't delete any of the old tweets linking to his medical articles, with some… pretty funny results. pic.twitter.com/PO139IgOVZ
— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) August 19, 2022
The cement is hardening on the perception that this guy is a clown who’s not ready for primetime. I’m not sure there’s anything he can do about it except to go harshly negative on Fetterman and hope that Pennsylvanians will prefer a centrist clown to a leftist radical:
“EVERYONE IS SAFER”: Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman has repeatedly stated he wants to RELEASE “one-third” of the prison population. pic.twitter.com/mToXwliDI2
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 19, 2022
Exit question: Should Trump go to Pennsylvania to campaign for Oz? In most swing-state races the answer to that question would be a hard no. Why bring an unpopular and divisive figure to a battleground when you’re trying to win centrists over? (“I don’t say his name, ever. I just avoid saying his name generally,” said one Republican to CNN of Trump. “I talk about the policies of his that I like.”) The wrinkle in PA is that Oz’s favorable rating in polling thus far is piss-poor, certainly worse than Trump’s is. Maybe having Trump on the trail for him to coax reluctant MAGA voters into showing up for Oz will be a net benefit to the campaign.