Poll finds Obama, Romney running close in Penna.

Posted: October 16, 2012

OK, this is getting close.

The latest independent polls show ever-slimmer margins in the presidential and U.S. Senate races in Pennsylvania - with Republicans gaining ground in both.

President Obama now leads by 50 percent to 46 percent in the state, as Republican Mitt Romney has narrowed a 12-point gap since September, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters conducted from Friday to Sunday and released Tuesday.

That result mirrors a Muhlenberg College/Allentown Morning Call poll that came out Monday.

The race for Senate looks even closer. The Quinnipiac poll shows that Republican nominee Tom Smith, after putting $15 million of his own cash into the campaign, now trails incumbent Democrat Bob Casey by just three points, 48 percent to 45 percent.

An earlier Inquirer Pennsylvania Poll, conducted from Oct. 4 to 8, showed Obama leading by eight points (50 percent to 42 percent) and Casey by 10 points (48 to 38).

In a Quinnipiac poll in September, Obama was up by 12 points, 54 to 42, in the state. The change in the presidential race comes even though neither campaign, nor their allied groups, has advertised much on Pennsylvania television, with no ads aired since late August.

White Catholic voters favor Romney by 56 percent to 43 percent, the Republican's strongest demographic support in the latest Quinnipiac Poll.

The poll finds that men back Romney, 54 percent to 43 percent, while women favor Obama, 57 percent to 39 percent, little changed from last month. White voters back Romney, 53 percent to 43 percent, while black voters back Obama by 97 percent to 1 percent. The president leads among voters with college degrees, 54 percent to 43 percent, while voters without degrees are divided, with 49 percent for Obama and 47 percent for Romney.

Only 7 percent of Pennsylvania likely voters said they might change their minds between now and the Nov. 6 election.

In the Senate race, the poll shows a very strong difference in the preferences of men and women. It depicts Casey leading by 53 percent to 38 percent among women, and Smith leading 53 percent to 42 percent among men. Independents were evenly split at 44 percent.

Quinnipiac, which is based in Connecticut but does polling in numerous states, has recorded a steady climb for Smith from August (when he was down 18 points) and September (when he was down 6).

For its latest poll, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,519 Pennsylvania likely voters, with live interviewers calling both land lines and cellphones. The results are subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent, the pollsters said.

The Muhlenberg poll showed an even closer race, with Casey over Smith by just two points, 41 percent to 39 percent.

The poll was based on phone interviews of 438 likely voters contacted from Oct. 10 to Sunday and has a margin of error or plus or minus five percentage points. It had Obama leading Romney by 49-45.

Contact Thomas Fitzgerald at 215-854-2718 or tfitzgerald@phillynews.com or follow @tomfitzgerald on Twitter. Read his blog, "The Big Tent," at www.phillynews.com/bigtent.

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