PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If the election were held today, Barack Obama would defeat Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, but it would be a lot closer than Obama’s win here four years ago.
Obama beats Romney 49 percent to 45 percent among 547 likely voters polled by Franklin & Marshall University. The gender gap may be real.
Men support Romney 48 to 42 percent, but women give Obama his lead, supporting him 54 percent to 40.
But with the race tightening overall, Romney’s campaign is running TV ads for the first time in Pennsylvania.
And Romney’s SuperPAC, Restore our Future, is dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV to attack the President.
Restore our Future ad: “This is the new normal. This is President Obama’s economy. Demand better.”
Although spending much less, Obama’s campaign is also back on local TV.
Obama ad: “You work hard, stretch every penny, but chances are you pay a higher tax rate than him (picture of Romney).”
And PACs supporting Obama are continuing the attack on Romney.
Patriot Majority PAC: “Mitt Romney is Bain Capital. He created it, made a fortune from it, even today remains invested in it. And right now Bain is shipping jobs to China.”
Obama and Romney campaign ads are now running back to back on TV.
Obama ad: “Mitt Romney’s middle class tax increase — he pays less, you pay more.”
Romney ad: “If you want to know President Obama’s second term agenda, look at his first — gutted the work requirement for welfare.”
For the rest of this campaign, expect a non-stop assault from both candidates and supporters.
One unknown — the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the Philadelphia region, where 40 percent of the state’s voters reside.
“We have a lot of damage, a lot of wind damage, a lot of trees down, especially in the suburbs,” Larry Ceisler told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
Ceisler is the publisher of PoliticsPA, a highly-regarded website based in Philadelphia.
“People are going to vote, but in this week leading up to the election people are going to be distracted,” added Ceisler. “They want to get their lives back together. They want to get their kids back to school. They want to get the damage to their homes fixed.”
Ceisler says Romney, behind in the polls in this state, may have waited too long — and will be overshadowed by Sandy.
“The Republicans and the Romney campaign lost a great opportunity not contesting Pennsylvania, especially the Philadelphia suburbs,” he said.
Of course, the Romney campaign thinks they still have plenty of time to change people’s minds.
Four years ago, John McCain lost the Republican suburbs of Philadelphia to Obama by over 200,000 votes.
Romney needs to reverse that, but no doubt the focus on Pennsylvania’s, and especially Philadelphia’s, recovery from Sandy complicates that effort.