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Is Pennsylvania In Play?
Townhall ^ | Oct 11, 2012 | Guy Benson

Posted on 10/12/2012 10:56:43 PM PDT by GonzoII

Is Pennsylvania In Play?

By Guy Benson

10/11/2012

 

Pennsylvania has not voted for a Republican presidential nominee in 24 years, when George H.W. Bush carried the state narrowly in 1988.  In subsequent cycles, the Keystone State frequently felt like 'the one that got away' for Republicans; polling would look close and tightening in October, only to go blue in November, thanks to Democrats' formidable firewall in Greater Philadelphia.  This year, it appeared that Pennsylvania wouldn't even be in the conversation for the GOP ticket.  Barack Obama won the state by double-digits in 2008, and numerous public opinion polls showed the president maintaining -- or even expanding -- his advantage.  Indeed, a CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac poll released at the tail end of September indicated that Obama led Mitt Romney by a whopping 12 points, 54-42 percent.  Game over, right?  Perhaps not.  A string of October polls suggests the president's lead is tenuous, sitting within the margin of error.  

The first pollster to detect this dynamic was Susquehanna Polling and Research, which measured a two-point, margin of error race in the state last month.  When the firm released its September data, outside observers dismissed it as an outlier and moved on.  Chief pollster Jim Lee penned a compelling memo defending his methodology and assumptions, but it garnered little notice.  When a separate Susquehanna poll, conducted for a media client, produced a nearly identical result this month, a few more eyebrows perked up.  Then came a perception game-changer:  Sienna College's published a presidential poll showing three-point race, within the margin of error, with many undecided voters still making up their minds.  And, crucially, the majority of the survey was conducted before last week's presidential debate.  Could Pennsylvania be much more competitive than the laugher many anticipated?  I spoke with Susquehanna's president and founder, Jim Lee, about his organization's findings. He doesn't see a massive or unexpected Romney surge in Pennsylvania; he sees terribly flawed polling assumptions from some of his competitors.

Susquehanna is a Harrisburg-based, Republican-affiliated polling firm founded in 2000.  They serve numerous campaigns as well as media clients.  "We only really poll for Republican candidates, but the media uses us and respects us because we're accurate," Lee says.  "In our public polling, we call them like we see them, based on the data," even if it means bad news for the GOP.  The outfit's track record over recent cycles has been fairly impressive.  In 2008, their final survey showed Barack Obama leading John McCain "by around eight points," Lee says.  The Democrat won by ten.  In 2010, Susquehanna slightly underestimated the margin of Republican Tom Corbett's victory, but nailed the high-profile Senate race.  "We were the only pollster who got that one right.  Everyone else had [Republican Senator Pat] Toomey leading pretty comfortably, but our data showed that the race was getting closer.  I even presented our information to Toomey, who gave me a lecture about polling methodology.  We had better information than his internals," Lee recalls.  An aggregation of polls from RealClearPolitics at the time showed most surveys projecting a 5-7 point win for Toomey.  Only Susquehanna anticipated the late tightening and correctly predicted Toomey's slender two-point win.  How did Lee and his team pull it off?  By studying historical data and poring over a huge volume of state-level data.  Based on this information, they determined a likely Democrat vs. Republican turnout model, then weighted their poll samples accordingly.  They've done the same this year, concluding that Pennsylvania's electorate will likely be in the D+6 range in 2012, two points less Democratic than 2008.

"Our polling has been validated and vindicated because our D-to-R ratio is much more appropriate than other pollsters'," Lee explains. Some firms keep under-sampling Republicans, by as much as 7 or 8 points.  That's a big deal.  Nationally it's tough, but on a state-by-state basis, you can use data to weight samples based on likely turnouts, and we do.  We know this state.  These other firms showing the president with gigantic leads here have been massively under-sampling Republican voters.  They have Republican turnout polling even lower than registration levels in this state -- which almost always understate Republican turnout.  It just isn't believable.  We've been polling at 48-42 D-to-R, for a D+6.  The political landscape has clearly shifted."  Another data point Lee finds relevant is that in his statewide polling, the incumbent routinely fails to hit or exceed 50 percent in any of what he regards as the three "key" measures: Job approval, favorability and head-to-head.   "Voters are pretty polarized at this point.  He was at 52-34 favorability in 2008, today it's 47-47, and it's been stuck there for months. That's just one example of why we've been looking at a much closer race than a lot of people were suggesting."

How much closer?  Susquehanna's latest poll shows President Obama ahead by two points, a statistical tie.  Among the likeliest voters, Romney leads by a point.  Lee says last week's debate didn't move the topline results, but substantially improved Romney's personal favorability.  For the first time, Romney is above water on the question and has even edged slightly ahead of the president.  Lee is doubly confident that his firm's numbers are sound because he's seen corroborating evidence as he's traveled the state.  He's polled 40 separate elections at the local level (state house, state senate, etc), many of which are contested seats.  "I've seen the micro numbers from across Pennsylvania, and at the presidential level, it's adding up.  The president has seen a very clear drop in support across the board."  
 
Earlier this week, Susquehanna released a poll of Pennsylvania's sleeper Senate race, pitting incumbent Bob Casey, Jr. against Republican businessman Tom Smith.  Casey has been regarded the odds-on favorite to waltz to a second term, but his margin has shrunk, and some handicappers have moved the race a notch or two toward "pure toss up" status.  Lee's latest figures peg Casey's lead at just two points, closely mirroring the presidential contest. "All the movement has been to Smith in the last three months, Lee observes.  "Casey's been sitting in the mid-to-high 40's for months.  Smith's done a pretty decent job at winning back a lot of Reagan Democrats, who are socially conservative, but identify as Democrats.  He's done two things right: He's spent the money to fight his way in, and he's had a very effective message -- which is that Casey's been ineffective in office."   

The Romney campaign has indicated that they're monitoring the situation in Pennsylvania very closely, but they continue to downplay expectations there.  Romney has devoted relatively few resources to the state, focusing much more heavily on other battlegrounds.  (The nominee did deliver a speech in Wayne, Pennsylvania in late September). Keystone presidential aspirations may again prove to be a mirage for the GOP, but the notion that the state will be an easy layup for Barack Obama looks more dubious than ever.  If the Obama campaign feels compelled to step up its efforts and expenditures to lock the state down, that could be an organizational concession of significant erosion elsewhere.  Stay tuned.


UPDATE - New Pennsylvania poll: Obama 47, Romney 45.  That makes three separate polls within the last week showing a two-to-three point contest.  Maybe Susquehanna wasn't such an outlier after all.


UPDATE II - Is Romney within six...in Connecticut?

Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: romney2012; yes
The Big Mo continues.
1 posted on 10/12/2012 10:56:48 PM PDT by GonzoII
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To: GonzoII

Pennsylvania is in play Philadelphia is not.
Unfortunately Obama will get 80-85 percetn of the Philly vote so..........


2 posted on 10/12/2012 10:59:35 PM PDT by SECURE AMERICA (Where can I sign up for the New American Revolution and the Crusades 2012?)
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To: GonzoII

I think Romney has a shot in all 50 states. The District of Columbia is the only place he doesn’t.


3 posted on 10/12/2012 11:01:58 PM PDT by generally (Don't be stupid. We have politicians for that.)
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To: GonzoII

Any state Obama polls under 50% is in play.


4 posted on 10/12/2012 11:05:39 PM PDT by barmag25
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To: generally

Not California. Still Obamaland here.


5 posted on 10/12/2012 11:07:06 PM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: SECURE AMERICA

Philadelphia is not.


But are they motivated?


6 posted on 10/12/2012 11:07:18 PM PDT by GonzoII (Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea...Quare tristis es anima mea?)
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To: generally
"I think Romney has a shot in all 50 states."

Not a chance of that happening. California, Illnois, and New York are solidly in Obama's column, along with most northeastern states. 200 EVs minimum for Obama.

7 posted on 10/12/2012 11:07:23 PM PDT by CatOwner
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To: GonzoII


8 posted on 10/12/2012 11:08:37 PM PDT by snarkytart
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To: CatOwner

it’s a damn shame the number of states a Republican has to win vs a Dem. I guess it’s fair due to the most fact the majority of the population lives on the coasts, but still.


9 posted on 10/12/2012 11:13:15 PM PDT by snarkytart
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To: GonzoII

Pray for snow, rain bad weather in all of the states that either swing or solid for Obama.


10 posted on 10/12/2012 11:18:12 PM PDT by American Constitutionalist
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To: SECURE AMERICA

Dear God, please make it snow and rain heavy just in Philly and Pittsburgh on Nov 6th.. please Lord... thank you..


11 posted on 10/12/2012 11:19:32 PM PDT by American Constitutionalist
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To: GonzoII
Is Pennsylvania In Play?

Pennsylvania recently elected a somewhat conservative Republican governor, Tom Corbett, and a mostly conservative US senator, Pat Toomey. Republicans control the state senate by a mile, 30 - 20. Democrats hold the House, 104 - 98, but many of those rats are "conservative", at least for rats.

The voter ID law was upheld but put on hold until after the next election, meaning the scumbag rats will again get 120% turnout in Philadelphia.

But yeah, I'd say Pennsylvania is most definitely "in play".
In fact, I will predict here that Romney wins Pennsylvania.

12 posted on 10/12/2012 11:21:28 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: GonzoII
WHEN WILL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BE TOLD THE TRUTH BY THE MEDIA??? A “TAX CUT” is not “PAYED FOR” which is what the imbeciles on the left LOVE to spout but which is not true!!! A TAX CUT is MONEY WHICH HAS NOT YET BEEN EARNED!!! AND SINCE IT HAS NOT YET BEEN EARNED IT SHOULD NOT YET BEEN SPENT BY THE PIECE OF @#$& ADMINISTRATION WE HAVE TODAY!!!!
13 posted on 10/12/2012 11:21:32 PM PDT by libs_kma (When I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool)
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To: GonzoII

If Romney wins by 4 full percentage points nationally or more that would probably include Pennsylvania and Michigan in the mix.


14 posted on 10/12/2012 11:32:44 PM PDT by Republican Wildcat
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To: GonzoII
Is Pennsylvania In Play? ... better yet... hope the support for Romney/Ryan spills over into Ohio also.


15 posted on 10/12/2012 11:41:34 PM PDT by American Constitutionalist
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To: libs_kma
It's worth reading the memo Susquehanna wrote in defense of their polling method back in September, when they also showed about a 2 point race and were roundly criticized.

FYI Rasmessen has a 5 point race right now in PA.

Rasmussen seems to me to be hedging a little conservative (in terms of numbers, not politics) during the Romney surge. It's unlike the usual landscape to have many other polls moving in favor of the Republicans as much or more than Rasmussen. It's unusual for my own assessment to be 3 points greater than Rasmussen's.

And his piece today was blather. FR thread here.

Whatever the nature of the Republican win, it will be interesting to look back on Susquehanna's polling vs actuals, because they have been really cocky, and I agree with them.

16 posted on 10/13/2012 12:02:20 AM PDT by HannibalHamlinJr
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To: SECURE AMERICA

Anyone with knowledge care to comment on the rumors we in the Western part of PA keep hearing that the Rats have always liked to bus NJ union types across the state line to vote in Philly? After all, that’s where the Black Panthers made their “stand” in 2008.


17 posted on 10/13/2012 12:54:15 AM PDT by tank_sherman
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To: CatOwner

Then why is Obama wasting money on TV ads in the NY tri-state market?


18 posted on 10/13/2012 3:12:59 AM PDT by NY.SS-Bar9 (Mitt has dogs for pets - Obama had them for lunch)
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To: luckystarmom

do you have a section of the state that is conservative or is the whole state liberal?


19 posted on 10/13/2012 3:16:40 AM PDT by conservativesister
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To: CatOwner

Conn Obama. According to my sources poll tract the only north east state is a toss up is new hampshire.


20 posted on 10/13/2012 3:48:59 AM PDT by waxer1 ("The Bible is the rock on which our republic rests." -Andrew Jackson)
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To: All

Conservatives have a secret weapon in PA, now. It’s influence may not be felt thsi year. In the future, it is bound to show positive results. That weapon is Chris Stegal, the morning voice on Talk Radio 1210, WPH.

He moved form 710 KCMO last year to the Philly market, and oh how we miss him in Kansas City. You’ve probably heard him sub for Rusty Humpheries and others on national shows at times. Unless he’s changed, the guy is a staunch conservative, who is able articulate his positions well. I expect that he’s already gotten inside the heads of some PS liberals and done some damage.


21 posted on 10/13/2012 3:53:40 AM PDT by Turbo Pig (...to close with and destroy the enemy...)
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To: GonzoII
Philadelphia is not.

But are they motivated?


22 posted on 10/13/2012 3:54:00 AM PDT by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist savages, start today.)
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To: generally

I’d say Hawaii, Massachusetts, California, Vermont, New York and Rhode Island are perfectly safe for Obama—and I’d be okay with that.


23 posted on 10/13/2012 5:09:46 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: conservativesister

In my area of California, the Inland Empire and Orange county are more conservative.

I drove from Murrieta to Lake Elsinore yesterday and saw seven Romney/Ryan yard signs and none for Obama/Biden.


24 posted on 10/13/2012 5:40:07 AM PDT by CalTexan
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To: fatima; Fresh Wind; st.eqed; xsmommy; Nowhere Man; South Hawthorne; brityank; Physicist; ...

PA Ping!

If you want on/off the PA Ping List, please freepmail me.

If you see posts of interest to Pennsylvanians, please ping me.

Thanks!


25 posted on 10/13/2012 5:44:07 AM PDT by randita
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To: GonzoII

One veteran of the PA game says the state is the Zac Ephron of politics—a perpetual tease that will never come out (for the GOP in the general):

http://hillbuzz.org/democrats-folly-how-bad-will-obamas-loss-really-be-90130


26 posted on 10/13/2012 6:09:10 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: 9YearLurker

You are forgetting the Democratic Peoples Republic of Maryland, it’s little sister Delaware and that disgusting little speck called DC.


27 posted on 10/13/2012 6:10:58 AM PDT by FerociousRabbit
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To: FerociousRabbit

I thought DC had already been conceded, but are DE and MD that far gone too?

I decidedly don’t put IL in there BTW, as I think it’s as likely as CT, NJ, etc., to go for Romney.


28 posted on 10/13/2012 6:31:41 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: conservativesister

Away from the cities it is more conservative.


29 posted on 10/13/2012 9:40:18 AM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: American Constitutionalist

I’ve only been in Pittsburgh 4 1/2 years but I am amazed by the number of Romney signs this year.

2008 and 2010 it seemed all Dimrat but now Rep signs pretty well equal the mob.


30 posted on 10/13/2012 9:47:12 AM PDT by slorunner
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To: GonzoII
For what it's worth............

Pennsylvania


Oct. 11 Philadelphia Inquirer  Obama 50, Romney 42  Obama +8

Oct. 10 Rasmussen Reports      Obama 51, Romney 46  Obama +5

Oct. 09 Siena                  Obama 43, Romney 40  Obama +3

Oct. 08 Susquehanna            Obama 47, Romney 45  Obama +2

31 posted on 10/13/2012 9:55:37 AM PDT by deport
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To: slorunner

i’m about 2 hours from the Burgh...we’re very rural...not one O sign anywhere around here....we’ve been pummeled with Tom Smith ads on the raio and tv...I was polled last week by the Smith campaign...I sure hope he beats that worthless piece of crap Casey...


32 posted on 10/13/2012 10:00:53 AM PDT by little-e ((STOP THE WAR ON COAL-FIRE OBAMA))
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To: little-e

how does that compare to 2008?


33 posted on 10/13/2012 10:04:24 AM PDT by Cruising For Freedom (Don't be the proof that MSM PsyOps works.)
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To: deport

I like that trend!


34 posted on 10/13/2012 11:09:28 AM PDT by GonzoII (Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea...Quare tristis es anima mea?)
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To: deport
Oh, I got the dates backwards..

But those last two look good!

35 posted on 10/13/2012 11:12:49 AM PDT by GonzoII (Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea...Quare tristis es anima mea?)
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To: GonzoII
Romney needs to immediately expand his strategy to focus on rallying Senate candidates. Now is the time to roll out the coattails.

I was reviewing the last month's Rasmussen Senate polls, and it is a disaster. The entire GOP Senate campaign has totally collapsed.

I will be putting out a complete analysis later this weekend, but we're in worst-case scenario now and need an immediate turnaround strategy, or Romney will NOT have a united Congress to support him.

-PJ

36 posted on 10/13/2012 11:16:54 AM PDT by Political Junkie Too ( It doesn't I naturally when you're not natural born.)
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To: Political Junkie Too

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/11/senate-candidates-looking-for-a-lift-on-romneys-co/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS


37 posted on 10/13/2012 11:25:07 AM PDT by GonzoII (Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea...Quare tristis es anima mea?)
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To: GonzoII
Thanks. Romney needs to campaign on building a national team of change for the future. His message must change to include asking Americans to give Romney the team he needs to turnaround Washington DC.

-PJ

38 posted on 10/13/2012 11:36:04 AM PDT by Political Junkie Too ( It doesn't I naturally when you're not natural born.)
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To: GonzoII
See my thoughts on the Senate races here.

-PJ

39 posted on 10/13/2012 9:08:37 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too ( It doesn't I naturally when you're not natural born.)
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To: GonzoII

That’s a clown question, of course it’s in play.


40 posted on 10/16/2012 5:43:53 PM PDT by Impy (Don't call me red.)
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To: conservativesister
Take away the Corruption Corners and we're PAlabama
41 posted on 10/16/2012 5:47:18 PM PDT by tomkat
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To: generally

Hawaii, a popular incumbent Republican could win (it likes incumbents, Bush got 44%, 47% in Honolulu) but it’s bigtime democrat and Osama’s homestate and he’ll win it huge again.

Maryland, getting worse everyday.

Vermont.

Rhode Island.

Realistically Massachusetts as well but let’s pretend Romney can win it cause it’s one of his home states.


42 posted on 10/16/2012 5:48:18 PM PDT by Impy (Don't call me red.)
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To: conservativesister
oops sorry .. thought you were asking about PA .. mr.buttinski strikes again   ;-)
43 posted on 10/16/2012 5:48:32 PM PDT by tomkat
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To: conservativesister; calcowgirl

There are more conservatives in Cali than any other state, including Texas. Problem is, they’re out numbered.


44 posted on 10/17/2012 12:47:08 PM PDT by Impy (Don't call me red.)
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