(The Hill) – The nonpartisan Cook Political Report is changing its rating of Pennsylvania’s Senate race from a “toss up” to “lean Democrat” fewer than three months before the November midterms.
The development comes against the backdrop of the social media campaign that Democratic candidate John Fetterman has waged against opponent Mehmet Oz (R) that has sought to portray the celebrity as a carpetbagger from New Jersey who is out of touch with voters.
Fetterman’s campaign has enlisted big New Jersey names like former “Jersey Shore” cast member Nicole “Snooki” LaValle and musician Steven Van Zandt to troll the celebrity doctor while raising funds off of an April video in which Oz mispronounces the name of a regional grocery store while speaking to voters about inflation as he shops for crudité ingredients.
“Fancy French appetizer plates aside, a simple glance at Oz compared to the hoodie-and-shorts clad tattooed Fetterman, and it’s not surprising to discern who comes across as more authentic and relatable to voters,” the nonpartisan election handicapper wrote.
Its update on the Pennsylvania race also comes despite the fact that Oz has former President Trump’s endorsement for a seat currently held by a Republican, retiring Sen. Pat Toomey. Additionally, Oz has had more time to meet with voters on the trail than Fetterman, who suffered a stroke earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the Cook Political Report shifted its Senate race ratings in Colorado from “likely Democrat” to “lean Democrat” and in Utah from “solid Republican” to “likely Republican.”
It also said it was rating Senate control as a “toss up,” noting that the landscape had changed since prior to the start of the primaries, when it believed Republicans were more than likely to flip control of the upper chamber.
The nonpartisan election handicapper noted that Trump would likely be to blame if Republicans lost their opportunity to seize the Senate given that he waded into several competitive battleground states, stopping stronger candidates from running.