Campaigns & Elections

GOP gubernatorial poll shows Barletta with early lead; most undecided

GOP gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta

GOP gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta Lou Barletta Campaign

new poll on the Republican primary race for governor has revealed that a large majority of Pennsylvania voters are undecided with about seven months until the 2022 primary election, though former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta holds an early lead among candidates that have entered the race. 

The poll, which was conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research, found that Republican voters are largely undecided on the slate of nine GOP candidates that have entered the race thus far, with 60% of respondents not sure who they would support. The poll surveyed voters on nine candidates that have either entered the race or announced the formation of exploratory committees. 

Barletta, who has had stints as a congressman and mayor of Hazleton, Penn., has support from 27% of Republicans, according to the poll, topping the nine candidates that were part of the survey. Barletta holds a 21-point lead over state Sen. Scott Martin, who ranked second among the candidates with 6% of voters’ support.

In a statement to City & State, Barletta downplayed the importance of the poll’s findings. “Since I launched my campaign, I’ve been working as hard as I can, traveling to all parts of Pennsylvania, to try to bring change to Harrisburg,” he said. “Polls don’t motivate me, my four daughters, ten grandchildren, and almost 13 million Pennsylvania residents motivate me to fix what’s wrong in the Commonwealth.”

Some voters didn’t prefer any of the candidates listed, with 4% choosing “none” or “other.” Pittsburgh attorney Jason Richey received 1%, as did Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale. Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry President Guy Ciarrocchi, political strategist Charlie Gerow, surgeon Nche Zama, state Sen. Dan Laughlin and former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain all received 0%. 

The poll did not include some high-profile GOP candidates who have been rumored to run for governor, such as state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, as neither of them have formally entered the race. 

An earlier poll released by Susquehanna Polling and Research in March found that Barletta had the highest name recognition among five prospective gubernatorial candidates. 

That poll also had Barletta at the top of the prospective GOP field, with 20% of voters preferring Barletta. Mastriano was second, with 11% of support from voters. U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser and McSwain received 3%, while former Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley received 2%. In that poll, 60% of voters were undecided.

Jim Lee, the president of Susquehanna Polling and Research, said Barletta’s performance in the most recent poll can likely be attributed to his name recognition, which he has developed during both time in office representing large geographical swaths of the state, as well as his run for U.S. Senate in 2018.

"Barletta is leading because he is the only candidate with statewide name ID, partly from his prior run for U.S. Senate,” Lee told City & State in an email. “But keep in mind, he also served in Congress and represented parts of both the Wilkes Barre/Scranton media markets as well as the South Central PA/Harrisburg market when his district got gerrymandered to span all the way from Hazleton to Carlisle.”

Lee added that Barletta has the largest footprint of all the candidates in the race, in terms of who he has represented in office. 

The Susquehanna Polling and Research poll surveyed 313 Republican voters by telephone from Sept. 24 to 30. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points.