The fact of the matter is that Mitt Romney is winning Pennsylvania because he is winning the “jobs” argument. Every statewide poll we have done the past three years shows Pennsylvanians want the economy fixed. According to our latest polls, the economy continues to be cited as the most important problem facing the Commonwealth– mentioned by nearly fifty percent and far ahead of any other issue. And the PA Labor Department released its revised unemployment report showing the state’s unemployment rate (8.2%) now officially higher than the nation’s 7.8%. So Pennsylvanians are still suffering from a bleak economy, more so perhaps than neighboring states like Ohio that can attribute their recent job gains to the auto industry. This explains why some need to warm up to the argument that Pa’s electoral votes could be up for grabs.
Among Keystone State voters in our poll who say the economy and job creation is the most important issue that will influence their vote, voters prefer Romney over Obama by a 54% to 40% margin. This is clear evidence Romney is winning the jobs argument. Voters in Western Pa, who tend to be blue collar, working class Democrats, care about jobs and resent the President’s war on coal. In the Pittsburgh market, Romney is on track to run up huge margins. In the vote-rich Southeast collar counties around Philadelphia, Romney is neck-and-neck with Obama because these more affluent, better educated suburban voters identify with Mitt Romney and a lot of what he stands for. They know he’s not an extremist, know he cares about kids and women, saved the Olympics and wants deficits under control. Everyone knows Republicans can’t win Pa without doing well in the Southeast, and Romney is poised to make history there. And there is mounting evidence voters know that the natural gas boom in Pennsylvania is under a direct threat from a second Obama term – while Romney has made it clear he will do everything in his power to cultivate this growing gas industry that has already kept thousands of Pennsylvania families from joining the ranks of the unemployed.
This is why our statewide polling was the first to show Romney with an improved image in the Commonwealth after the first debate – 48% now view him favorably, a huge reversal from pre-debate polling. And this is a clear indication even in a “blue” state like Pennsylvania voters are smart enough to know that having a leader in the White House who understands job creation is more important than having the letter “R” or “D” posted outside the Oval office door.
So the fact of the matter is that pundits who dismiss Pennsylvania as a tossup are using the wrong set of assumptions. This is why our publicly-released polling continues to show that Pennsylvania’s electoral votes could go to Romney – even when many other polling firms continue to show huge 2008-size leads for Obama that are simply not believable in the current polarized climate. Other recent polling firms showing Obama with huge leads in Pa have systematically under sampled Republicans by an average of 5 to 8 points. This is a huge miscalculation in sampling error especially in a year where GOP enthusiasm is especially high and Republican voters are repeatedly telling pollsters they will vote for Romney by margins of 95-5. Our ratio of Republicans to Democrats surveyed in all our Pa polls has been 48D-42R, a good road map for turnout and one that nationally renowned experts like Michal Barone have argued makes sense. And if the recent news is to believed showing Pa Democrats have failed to hit their goals for absentee ballot requests and new registrations, this could be the first tactical evidence that Mitt Romney is ready to join former President George Bush “41” as the most recent GOP presidential candidate to win the Keystone State.
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