HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A month out from the Pennsylvania Governor election, forecasters are projecting Democrat Josh Shapiro will run away with the governorship over Republican Doug Mastriano.
Election forecaster FiveThirtyEight gives Shapiro a 96% chance of winning, saying he is “clearly favored” to win.
The race is one of 11 that FiveThirtyEight projects to be an overwhelming Democrat victory, though a majority of those included in the projection are incumbents.
Shapiro has also out-fundraised Mastriano by a reported 8-1 margin. According to a September report from The Hill citing campaign finance records, Shapiro raised about $25.4 million between June 7 and Sept. 19, while Mastriano raised almost $3.2 million.
Mastriano launched his first general election television ad in early October in a $1 million ad buy.
Despite trailing in the polls and in the bank, where Mastriano has outpaced Shapiro is in Google searches.
The chart below shows Google search trends within Pennsylvania for both Shapiro and Mastriano since April 1, 2022, with newsworthy events from the campaign noted.
According to Google, the Google Trends tool “normalizes search data to make comparisons between terms easier. Search results are then normalized to the time and location of a query by the following process:
- Each data point is divided by the total searches of the geography and time range it represents to compare relative popularity. Otherwise, places with the most search volume would always be ranked highest.
- The resulting numbers are then scaled on a range of 0 to 100 based on a topic’s proportion to all searches on all topics.
- Different regions that show the same search interest for a term don’t always have the same total search volumes.”
Peak interest in both candidates came on election night, May 17, 2022. Shapiro, who ran unopposed, announced the morning of election day that he tested positive for COVID-19 and would not participate in any public election night events.
Mastriano, on the other hand, was competing against a slew of Republican candidates. After receiving an endorsement from former President Donald Trump days before the election several Republican candidates dropped out, but several voters already returned their mail-in ballots.
Mastriano won nearly 44% of the vote with more than twice as many votes as second place finisher Lou Barletta.
The remainder of the race was marked by headlines surrounding Mastriano despite his campaign remaining quiet and avoiding most traditional media outlets. Searches for Mastriano increased following reports regarding his ties to the website Gab, which allegedly promoted anti-Semitic content. Reports show Mastriano paid the website $5,000 for advertising consulting.
Google searches for Mastriano also increased in August when a photo was released of him wearing a Confederate uniform for a 2014 Army War College staff picture.
In a statement, the War College said that in 2020 a team was created to assess all images being displayed at the school for appropriateness. The picture of Mastriano was one of the images removed.
In the past 12 months, Google Trends data shows interest in Mastriano across the nation. The Republican nominee led Shapiro in Google searches in all but eight states.
The topic of abortion was among the top two related Google queries for Shapiro and Mastriano. The most searched-related query for Shapiro was his Lieutenant Governor candidate Austin Davis, while Mastriano’s position on abortion was number one.
Pennsylvania’s general election is on November 8.