“Pundits who dismiss Pennsylvania as a tossup are using the wrong set of assumptions.”
~~ Susquehanna Polling & Research, Oct. 19, 2012
Susquehanna, which has a 98% success rate predicting political races, shows Mitt Romney with a 4% lead in Pennsylvania. The survey was conducted from Oct. 11 to 13, before the second presidential debate. It uses a D+6 split, which seems to be fair if not generous to Democrats, given the D+7 turnout in 2008 and D+3 in 2010.
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.