Pennsylvania Governor Odds: Josh Shapiro Headed For Victory?

Written By Evan Scrimshaw on September 19, 2022
Josh Shapiro

With some more polling out of the Keystone State, there’s a chance to really dig into the race for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Mansion there. With Democrat Josh Shapiro leading in the polls and the odds, now is as good a time as any to look at whether that’s a fair assessment – and whether his Republican opponent has a chance at a comeback.

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Who will be the next Governor of Pennsylvania?

Below are the odds on which party will win the PA gubernatorial race.

PartyPredictit PriceImplied Odds

Josh Shapiro

Shapiro, the current Attorney General of Pennsylvania, is the most conventional of statewide candidates in American politics – he was a State Rep, then served locally in the Philly suburbs, before parlaying that prominence to a statewide win as Attorney General, then winning again, and being the consensus choice to replace the current Democratic Governor.

Shapiro’s generally been an impressive electoral performer – winning as a Democrat in 2016, a year when Democrats lost the state at both a Presidential and Senatorial level, and then being the best performing Democrat in the state in his 2020 re-election bid.

It’s been obvious that Shapiro eventually wanted to run for Governor, and as such has been a much less high profile Attorney General than his predecessor, who left office under an indictment.

He’s also managed to avoid any potential political fallout from the way that Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner has managed that city – avoiding any of the “soft on crime” attacks from being a fellow law enforcement officer in the same state.

Shapiro has been a bit of a Democratic golden goose, with state Democrats excited to have him running for the Governorship this year while some federal Democrats wished he would have run for the Senate instead.

Doug Mastriano

If Democrats’ line of succession to replace Tom Wolf was sensible, and frankly almost a bit too clean, the GOP side has been anything but.

The original GOP plan was to nominate Lou Barletta, who has the ignominious distinction of being the sacrificial lamb Pennsylvania Republicans put up to run against Bob Casey in 2018, and who lost by double digits.

Barletta faded down the stretch of that primary as Donald Trump made it clear he wasn’t going to endorse Barletta for the sin of being a loser, and then Trump’s wandering eyes fell upon Doug Mastriano, a State Senator in south-central Pennsylvania.

Mastriano attracted Trump partially out of policy convergence, but also because Mastriano was literally at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, and is entirely in step with Trump’s (entirely wrong) belief that the 2020 election was stolen.

Mastriano has claimed that there are “better” elections in Afghanistan than in Pennsylvania, and that he would appoint an incredibly right-wing Secretary of State – the office that oversees the conduct of elections, and which in the wrong hands could stop the state certifying the votes of Philadelphia for the non-existent crime of being full of Democrats.

Unlike Shapiro, who has gone out of his way to prepare for this run by being as inoffensive as possible, Mastriano has courted controversy wherever he goes, mostly by continuing to insist on a flat-out lie.

Shockingly, that isn’t exactly working.


Mastriano had started the cycle polling better than Dr. Oz, the struggling US Senate candidate for the GOP, but that was because Oz was struggling to consolidate the GOP base against the dual threats of an insurgent full election denier on his right and a moderate on his left, while Mastriano united the party easier.

Now, polling better than Dr. Oz might be best described as a better 3 point shooter than Ben Simmons, but he was more competitive than Oz in the spring and summer polls, but that’s mostly flipped in recent weeks.

Oz has now consolidated the Republican base behind him, and has shown (some) signs of life, with a CBS/YouGov poll showing Oz only down 5. That same poll? Mastriano’s down 11. Monmouth doesn’t show any better numbers for him, with Shapiro winning that 54-36 at this stage, and with Mastriano having a -12 net favorable rating, whereas Shapiro has a 55/33 favorable edge.

The only thing that could possibly suggest that this race could change is a heavy deluge of spending down the stretch, but the problem is the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) can look at the same polls the rest of the world does, and they aren’t going in for a candidate who’s down so much.

Mastriano himself hasn’t been on TV since May for a simple reason – he has no money. Big dollar GOP donors don’t like the election denialism, because they’re all social liberals who elect Republicans for tax cuts, not the stealing elections stuff.

Shapiro, on the other hand, is running as good a campaign as a Democrat can this year, especially against someone like Mastriano – they’re running equal parts “Mastriano is crazy” ads and spots pointing out Shapiro’s record and plans, and it’s working.

The problem for Mastriano is twofold – gubernatorial elections are still much less based on Presidential partisanship and much more based on candidate quality, and Pennsylvania is more friendly for state Democrats than Federal ones, because there are plenty of Trump voters in the middle of the state and even up to Scranton who vote for Trump for President but like downballot Democrats.

Either one of those conditions would probably be enough to sink Mastriano, given his inability to win back Romney 2012-Biden 2020 voters in the suburbs – also known as the voters who quite like the results of the 2020 election and don’t think they were stolen – but the combination of them leaves him in deep trouble.


Can Mastriano do better than a double digit loss? Sure, and there’s a reasonable argument about polling misses and undecideds that points to Monmouth and YouGov being too high, but the thing is, that doesn’t matter.

Can Mastriano win is a very, very different question than can Mastriano close this current gap, and the truth is, Mastriano’s path to victory has never been particularly apparent, unless the RGA came in over the top with tens of millions of dollars in ad support.

Given the RGA has to spend in a half dozen other races that are more valuable and more winnable, they’ve been unwilling to even try and give Mastriano a fighting chance.

With Oz the underdog in his race, you can’t even make the case that Republicans voting for Oz and then deciding to vote red the rest of the ticket will save Mastriano – and educated suburbanites are already willing to split their tickets, as they showed in 2020 when Brian Fitzpatrick won his Biden +6 seat by 13%.

Mastriano’s path to victory is extremely narrow, and Shapiro’s is clear and obvious. Shapiro is rightly a favorite, but he’s not a big enough one. Bet accordingly.

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