Apr 15, 2024 - News

Jason Kelce for PA governor? Swing voters say yes

Jason Kelce at Wrestlemania 40.

Ladies and gentlemen, your next governor? Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

More than half of Pennsylvania swing voters want retired Eagles center Jason Kelce to run for governor in the future, according to our latest Engagious/Sago focus groups.

Why it matters: Kelce's popularity among Pennsylvanians shows that he could have a political career if he wanted it.

Driving the news: Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on a recent episode of the Kelce brothers' "New Heights" podcast that Jason has the name recognition — and intangibles — to successfully run for office.

State of play: Six of 11 swing voters in two online focus groups conducted last week say that Jason has the attributes they desire in an elected leader, including being a devoted family man.

  • That number shot up to nine when swing voters were asked if they supported Jason building up his resume by running for lower office, possibly Philadelphia mayor, before pursuing a gubernatorial run.

Of note: The two recent Engagious/Sago focus groups, which Axios attended, involved Pennsylvanians who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.

  • Four identified as Democrats, three as Republicans, and four as independents.
  • While a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, the responses show how some voters think and talk about current events.

What they're saying: "Pennsylvania Trump-to-Biden voters made it abundantly clear they want to vote for a person they can relate to, and who comes from where they come from," said Rich Thau, president of Engagious who moderated the focus groups. "When discussing Jason Kelce's political prospects with them, it was clear he would fit the bill perfectly."

Zoom in: Focus group member Michael W. said Kelce could benefit from his brother Travis' relationship with Taylor Swift if he ran for office. She has a legion of faithful fans who could be leveraged politically if she were to endorse Kelce.

  • "I feel like that will bring in some more public relations," he says. "I don't know what he'd stand for, but I just want to see a brand new side of him, perspective-wise."

Others liked Kelce's blue-collar roots and humble beginnings, growing up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and scaling from an unrecruited walk-on running back at the University of Cincinnati to one of the NFL's best centers and a likely future Hall-of-Famer.

  • "We need … somebody … down [to] earth like him [to] be in office," focus group member Joe C. said.

Yes, but: Some swing voters opposed the idea of another celebrity capitalizing off their fame and felt Kelce had more to lose than gain by entering politics.

  • "He's making so much money just being the lovable football guy, like America's sweetheart," focus group member Joshua G. said. "So why have half of the state hate you when a hundred percent of the state loves you?"
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