New GOP-commissioned poll puts Romney 1 percentage point behind in Pa.

Posted: September 22, 2012

In contrast to other recent surveys, a new Pennsylvania poll commissioned by the Republican State Committee shows Mitt Romney trailing in the state by just one percentage point, party Chairman Robert A. Gleason Jr. said Thursday.

A number of polls have shown President Obama leading in Pennsylvania by either double digits or close to it. A Muhlenberg College poll released Tuesday had Obama up by 9 points, 50-41. An Inquirer poll published Sunday had the president up by 50-39.

Gleason said his party's polling, conducted Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, showed the race a statistical dead heat, with Obama at 48 percent, GOP nominee Romney at 47, and 3 percent of voters undecided.

The survey of 800 likely voters was conducted by Susquehanna Polling & Research. Gleason said it had an error margin of plus or minus 3.45 percentage points.

Steve Dull, a consultant for Susquehanna, said the results were consistent with the firm's other polls this year showing a narrower gap between Obama and Romney. "It's going to be a tight election," Dull said.

He said he was fairly certain the polling was completed before Romney's comments about 47 percent of Americans not paying taxes made headlines.

The survey also depicted a close race for U.S. Senate, with 45 percent for incumbent Democrat Bob Casey and 42 for GOP challenger Tom Smith. Other polls have given Casey a wide lead.

Adam Geller of National Research Inc., a Republican firm that did the survey for The Inquirer jointly with Global Strategy Group, a Democratic firm, says he thinks the new numbers are "outliers" because they vary so widely from others.

At the same time, Geller said he still thought "the cake isn't quite baked yet" in Pennsylvania. He said the Romney campaign "ought to mobilize sooner rather than later" if it aimed to win the state's 20 electoral votes.

Geller agreed with his Democratic counterpart, Jeffrey Plaut of Global Strategy, that voters in Susquehanna's survey appeared to be older and more conservative than, say, the electorate portrayed by 2008 exit polls.

Said Plaut, "If you sample the Ronald Reagan nursing home, you get a nearly tied race. But in the real world, it's a different story."

Chris Borick, a Muhlenberg political scientist, said the new poll "could be picking up some movement, but it also might be exaggerating some of the differences."

Stephen Medvic, associate professor of government at Franklin and Marshall College, said he would be surprised if the new figures are borne out by other polls in the near future.

"If this is accurate, I would say it's a big move in a short amount of time," Medvic said. "The truth is, it's harder and harder to move people this year, and recently in general, because people are really polarized."


Contact Tom Infield at 610-313-8205 or tinfield@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @tinfield.

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