“How does someone gain that much overnight?” Mr. Ackelson said. “I’m tired of this big cloud of smoke about what’s been going on.”
That ballot-counting phenomenon may, however, replay itself in Pennsylvania’s Senate primary. Dr. Oz on Wednesday morning had a lead of about 2,500 votes over Mr. McCormick. But with tens of thousands of votes left to be counted, Mr. McCormick’s campaign has expressed confidence he will prevail.
As in the past, Mr. Trump has shown no desire to wait until one candidate has a decisive advantage before declaring a winner. On Wednesday, he urged Dr. Oz to declare victory and get on with things. “It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots they ‘just happened to find,’” Mr. Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media platform.
In what could be a dangerous maneuver, Pennsylvania Democrats encouraged and tried to help Mr. Mastriano’s candidacy, despite his election stance and his calls to make voting more difficult. He has said he would seek to end no-excuse absentee voting in the state, appoint a secretary of state focused on election fraud, add to the number of poll watchers in Pennsylvania, enact a universal voter identification law, and end the state’s contracts with voting machine operators.
Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination for governor, spent more than $530,000 — more than Mr. Mastriano spent on television in his entire campaign — on a single TV ad designed to lift the far-right Republican’s standing among the G.O.P. base.
“He wants to end vote by mail, and he led the fight to audit the 2020 election,” the ad says. “If Mastriano wins, it’s a win for what Donald Trump stands for.”
Many political observers, including some worried Republicans, view Mr. Mastriano as an underdog to the better-funded Mr. Shapiro — but the current environment is far friendlier to the G.O.P. and Democrats across the country are dogged by Mr. Biden’s low approval ratings.