(WHTM) — In the weeks leading up to election night, the race for U.S. Senate between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz narrowed, with some polls giving Oz the edge. Fetterman’s health issues also took center stage, but did they hurt him or help him in the end?

One analyst said Fetterman’s stroke, which some people said concerned them, made him more relatable to others, and a disability rights advocate said this is a step forward for people who face health challenges.

John Fetterman’s victory came as something of a surprise even to supporters.

“I don’t think any of us really expected the margin to be quite as wide as it was,” Democratic analyst Danielle Gross said.

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Gross said voters responded to Fetterman as a person.

“His message that no place should be left behind and John’s authenticity I think really struck a chord with Pennsylvania voters,” she said.

She also said his efforts to reach all voters across the state, not just reliably Democratic voters, paid off.

“People I think vastly underestimated for example the number of folks who voted for Doug Mastriano and John Fetterman. I’m seeing folks on both sides say that,” Gross said.

However, six months before the election, Fetterman suffered a stroke and he is still recovering. He sometimes has trouble speaking or processing words.

In a debate hosted by abc27, Fetterman used closed captioning to understand the questions asked by the moderators and Oz’s responses.

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“The debate was a really tough moment,” Gross said.

Peri Jude Radecic, CEO of Disability Rights Pennsylvania, said “I think there’s a lot of stigma out there.”

Radecic said despite the stigma, Fetterman is not the only lawmaker with health challenges.

“Senator-elect Fetterman will be joining other people with disabilities in the U.S. Senate,” she said.

For some voters, Gross said it made him a more relatable candidate.

“People were really seeing him and his struggle and really identifying with it because so many people struggle,” she said.

Radecic said she hopes Fetterman will bring his experience with a stroke to Washington.

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“We really hope it influences policy decisions like access to healthcare,” she said. In a victory speech early Wednesday morning, Fetterman said “Healthcare is a fundamental right.”

Radecic added electing more lawmakers like him is a step towards reducing stigma.

“It is important to have people with disabilities at every level of government,” she said.

Fetterman’s victory marks the first time Pennsylvania will have two Democratic senators since 2011. He will be sworn in in January.