With Romney gaining ground gradually in the swing state of Ohio, people have not paid enough attention to his surge in next door Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania casts 20 electoral votes and Ohio casts 18. And all electoral votes are created equal. It is possible to lose Ohio if you carry Pennsylvania and still win.
In Pennsylvania, polling by Republican John McLaughlin shows Romney three points ahead of Obama and a poll by The Susquehanna Polling organization shows Romney four points ahead in the Keystone State.
In Ohio, most polls have the race tied although all show significant progress by Romney in the past two weeks.
Why is Pennsylvania, nominally a more Democratic state, more hospitable to Romney than Ohio? Because Obama has run tens of millions of dollars of negative ads in Ohio smearing Romney, but has not done so in Pennsylvania. Indeed, current polling suggests a very good shot for Romney in a variety of usually Democratic states that are not on the official map of battleground states. Having been spared Obama’s negative ads, these states are very much more inclined to back Romney.
• Latest polls in Michigan find Obama only one point ahead
• In Wisconsin, the candidates appear to be tied
• In Minnesota, Romney is only two points behind
It may be that on Election Day, we are all waiting for Ohio to be called (eventually it will go for Romney) while, in the meantime, he sweeps Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota and wins the election.
And don’t forget the impact of a Romney victory on the U.S. Senate races. In Pennsylvania, Republican Tom Smith now leads Democratic incumbent Bob Casey according to McLaughlin’s survey. In Wisconsin, former Governor and Republican candidate Tommy Thompson is locked in a close battle with Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin for an open Senate seat. And in Michigan, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra (Republican) is hot on the heels of Democratic incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow.
With Republican Senate takeaways increasingly likely in Virginia, Florida, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana, and Ohio, victories in these other northern tier states could provide a needed cushion to assure control of the Senate (since Republicans will lose Maine and may lose Massachusetts).
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