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Overcoming spread in Pennsylvania not out of reach for Romney

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Off Road Politics connects Washington with Main Street hosted by Salena Zito and Lara Brown PhD. Exclusive radio show on @TribLIVE

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Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

President Obama leads Republican Mitt Romney by 9 percentage points among likely Pennsylvania voters, with 3 percent undecided, in a Franklin & Marshall College poll released on Wednesday.

The survey of 392 likely voters, conducted Sept. 18-23 by Lancaster pollster G. Terry Madonna, found 52 percent would vote for Obama, compared with 43 percent for Romney. Among 632 registered voters — 318 Democrats, 236 Republicans and 78 independents — Obama led Romney 50 percent to 39 percent, with 6 percent undecided.

The poll had a sample error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points among likely voters and 3.9 percentage points among registered voters.

Obama remains popular, and Romney hasn't convinced Pennsylvanians that he would be acceptable alternative in the White House, Madonna said.

“Voters need to see the personal side of Mitt Romney,” Madonna said. “Obama has been effectual at defining Mitt Romney.”

The poll is released on the heels of one Harrisburg-based Susquehanna Polling and Research conducted for the Tribune-Review, which found Obama leading Romney by only 2 percentage points when voters were asked to choose between the two.

By contrast, Madonna's poll gave respondents a choice of either candidate or “some other candidate.” Five percent of the registered voters said they would prefer someone else.

Madonna said he's not convinced Pennsylvania remains a battleground state.

“If this were truly closer, we would see advertisements from both camps and nonstop visits by the candidates and their running mates,” he said.

Although overcoming the spread isn't out of reach for Romney, “it is still a climb,” he said.

“He needs some kind of shock wave on the economy or foreign policy crisis to shake this up,” Madonna said.

Republican media strategist Charlie Gerow of Harrisburg said the Franklin & Marshall poll, like many others, shows “there is still a moveable chunk of persuadable voters out there who are not firmly sold on staying with Barack Obama.”

“These people are most likely people who voted for Obama, are unhappy with him but aren't yet convinced that Mitt Romney is their guy,” Gerow said. “It is not because his policies are in question; it is because he has not given them a comfort level.”

Gerow said the Obama campaign has done a “spectacular” job of defining Romney as unacceptable through character attacks, emphasizing such things as Romney's reluctance to release personal tax returns. Romney last week disclosed tax returns for 2010 and 2011.

Salena Zito is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at

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