Brad Bumsted and Mike Wereschagin
President Obama and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would be in “a dead heat” in Pennsylvania if the presidential election were held today, said a Quinnipiac University pollster who released a survey on the race Wednesday.
Obama leads Romney by 2 percentage points, within the poll’s 2.7-percentage-point margin of error. The 541 Republicans in the poll of 1,370 registered voters remain divided over which candidate they favor to take on the president, with none of the nine candidates in the survey poll winning more than Romney’s 18 percent support.
“Anyone could look at these numbers and see that Republicans haven’t found their candidate yet,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the polling institute.
That leaves an opening for a late entry by a high-profile politician such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whom fundraisers and supporters have all but begged to jump into the race. Christie delivered a speech on Tuesday night at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., where he was asked again to run. He thanked one supporter, and directed another to a video clip on the political news site Politico that strings together his numerous denials.
“Chris Christie (would) throw a wrench into it,” Malloy said. Given New Jersey’s proximity to Pennsylvania and the seeming indecision among Republican voters, Christie’s entry into the race would produce a “sea change” among Republican voters here, Malloy said. “We may have to start polling on Chris Christie.”
After Romney, 16 percent of Republicans choose Texas Gov. Rick Perry — an 8-point gain for Perry over a survey taken last month before Perry officially entered the race. Twelve percent say former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is their top choice. Former Alaska Gov. Sara Palin, who has not announced her candidacy, gets support from 8 percent. No other candidate tops 6 percent.
The margin of error among Republican voters is 4.2 percentage points.
Voters rate Obama’s job performance the same as a month ago, with 54 percent disapproving and 43 percent approving. Just over half — 51 percent — say he does not deserve to be re-elected.
Fifty-seven percent of voters want to keep the state’s winner-take-all system of allocating electoral votes. Republican leaders in the General Assembly, as well as Gov. Tom Corbett, said they want to apportion the state’s electoral votes based on who wins each of the 18 congressional districts, and award the remaining two electoral votes to the candidate who wins the most votes statewide.
Critics say the plan would turn Pennsylvania into an afterthought in presidential races, because the winning candidate would gain only a few more electoral votes than the loser. Supporters say it would be more representative of Pennsylvania voters’ wishes.
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