Poll: Obama Leads In Pennsylvania But Remains Vulnerable

Stephen Sheppard
National Journal

President Obama holds a slight lead in the race for Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, but Republican challenger Mitt Romney remains well within striking distance in the Keystone State, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday.

The poll shows Obama leading Romney, 46 percent to 40 percent. Nine percent of voters are undecided, while 5 percent would vote for another candidate or would not vote at all.

The results do not represent a significant change from the previous poll, conducted in late April and early May, when Obama led Romney by 8 percentage points, 47 percent to 39 percent.

Obama captures 83 percent of Democrats, while Romney wins 80 percent of Republicans. Independents, who represent a smaller share of the electorate in Pennsylvania than in other states, tilt slightly toward Obama, 43 percent to 35 percent.

The poll also shows a significant gender gap in the state. Romney leads among men, 44 percent to 40 percent. But Obama holds a 15-point advantage among women, 51 percent to 36 percent.

While Obama retains a small lead, the poll shows he remains vulnerable in the state. He is shy of a majority of the vote; he has never been above 47 percent in any Quinnipiac Pennsylvania poll. His approval rating is upside down in the new survey — 46 percent of voters approve of the way he is handling his job as president, and 49 percent disapprove.

Perhaps most importantly, when asked who would do a better job on the economy, a plurality of voters choose Romney — 49 percent — to just 41 percent who choose Obama.

But Romney’s advantage on the economy is not translating to an increase in his popularity at this point. Just 35 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the former Massachusetts governor, compared to 42 percent who have an unfavorable opinion. Fewer than a third of independents say they view Romney favorably.

Another troubling data point for Romney: Tom Corbett, the state’s Republican governor, records the lowest approval rating in his year-and-a-half in office. Just 36 percent of voters approve of his job performance, a significant decline from earlier this year. Corbett now joins Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Ohio Gov. John Kasich as unpopular GOP chief executives in battleground states.

The Quinnipiac poll was conducted June 5-10, and surveyed 997 registered voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points.