Expert: Obama and Biden endorsement matters in U.S. Senate primary

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Mar 30, 2016 5:08 PM

Photo by AP Photo/Marc Levy

Katie McGinty, a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, speaks at the Keystone Progress Summit, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Harrisburg, Pa.

(Harrisburg) -- The impact of an endorsement can be hard to measure.

But after President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced they'll support Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty, an expert says it's likely to make a difference.

Obama and Biden are the latest Democrats to throw their support behind McGinty, following endorsements from Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Bob Casey.

Dickinson College political science professor Sarah Niebler says the latest news is likely to help McGinty.

"Endorsements matter at the margins, meaning it's one of several factors voters use. But, I think it's a more important critera or more important piece of information for voters in primaries," she says.

Niebler singles out primaries because voters can't rely on party labels to make a choice, and there are more than two candidates.

"I think the endorsement comes at a good time for McGinty. Obama's approval rating is higher than it's been in quite some time."

McGinty says Obama and Biden have endorsed her because of her work on issues like expanding Medicaid.

"Look, it's meaningful to people out there who are saying I'm working my 40 hours and I'm still living in poverty, to have the backing of the people who are involved in those fights, that's meaningful to voters," says McGinty.

"I think the President has come to the conclusion that I'm a person who gets it done and that he has the confidence will help carry on those important missions."

The most recent poll shows former Congressman Joe Sestak widening his lead over McGinty, at more than 15 percentage points.

John Fetterman sits at seven percent.

But more than 45 percent of those surveyed say they're undecided.

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