Rob Gleason, PA GOP Chairman
“We have what we feel is very exciting news about this campaign. I want to point out that we’ve been polling all along, we have our own pollster Susquehanna Polling and Research, Jim Lee who is on this call and will discuss the poll with you. We’ve used Jim for many years. He’s used by many other organizations and political people running for office, and he has had great success and been right on in many races over the years. That’s why people continue to use him.
“And we were very excited when his poll taken a few days ago found that Obama is leading Romney 48-47. We’ve always seen this as closer than some of the other polls that have been out there over the months.”
Jim Lee, President, Susquehanna Polling and Research
“The survey we conducted on behalf of the state party was conducted September 15th through the 17th which was this past Saturday through Monday. It was a random sample of 800 likely voters conducted with our live telephone agents from our main call center in Harrisburg.
“As I said, the sample size was 800 likely voters. We purchased the registered voter file of people that has vote history in anyone of the last four general elections, looking at generals ’11, ’10, ’09, and ’08 as being the key years. Anybody within the parameters of that vote history is eligible to be contacted for the poll.
“We then screen likely voters based on their intensity to vote. We keep the people that say that have an excellent or good chance of voting, we disqualify those that have a fair or poor chance of voting. So what we produce and present today are the results of the 800 conducted surveys.
“The poll shows that, as Chairman Gleason said, President Obama leads on the head-to-head question by a 48-47 margin. That’s clearly within the poll’s margin of error so for all intents and purposes, this race is a statistical tie. As Chairman Gleason indicated, this is not a surprise to me or to the Chairman because we’ve continued to show the race has been very close.
“As Chairman Gleason said, we’ve conducted four surveys over the course of four months, one per month starting with June. The June margin was 5 points for the president, 48-43, the July margin was 3 points, 46-43, and the August margin was  points, 48-43. This poll shows a one point difference for the President. And if you look at the four surveys over the last four months, the common thread you’ll see is that President Obama has failed to hit 50% on the head to head in any of the last four surveys we’ve conducted. So they’ve all been relatively close which shows this race is very competitive and has been for the last four months.
“The president’s job approval rating in the survey is currently 48%, the president’s favorable rating in the survey is 46%. When we ask voters if they feel the President has done his job well enough to deserve reelection, or if they think it’s time to give a new person a chance, 47% say reelect the President, 50% say it’s time for a new person.
“We typically tend to look at, especially when there’s an incumbent running: is the favorable rating, is the reelect, is the job approval for the incumbent president over or under 50%? And on all these key measurements, what we’ve seen over the last four months is, the President has continued to underperform. He has not cracked the 50% mark on any of the key variables we look at, which are favorable name ID, job approval, and of course the head-to-head ballot score. So we’ve continued to show that less than a majority of Pennsylvania voters are convinced that he deserves a second term.
“And what we’ve been looking for is the percent of undecideds as it has gone down over the last four months, [and] where are they going. So I think what we’ve seen between August and the current poll in September is that the undecided vote is as low as 3% in this current survey. It’s down from 7% just last month, and it looks like they’ve inched in Mitt Romney’s direction, which is why we’re showing a much closer, razor thin margin here in comparison to the August survey that had the president up by 5%.
“I think more broadly than that, I think what we have found is that Mitt Romney has continued to be competitive in Pennsylvania based on the measurements we look at. We have always found that it’s very difficult to grow as the incumbent when you’re not over 50%, particularly in an economic climate like this where a majority of Americans and a majority of Pennsylvanians say the country is going in the wrong direction. In this survey, 60% of Pennsylvanians say the country is going in the wrong direction. You have such big consensus over the issues here since in the current survey, 51% say the economy will be the number one issue that will influence how they vote in the upcoming election. No other issue even comes close to that. So I think the political environment has really kept a lid on the president’s ability to grow here.
“What we’ve seen however is the president’s has continued to struggle to hit 50% which is why this race continues to be extremely close. We’re now down to a low of 3% of voters that are still undecided. So I think from here on out the key will be to watch for any swings we see in the results moving forward over the next six weeks to see if there’s any events that could alter the dynamics of the race.
“The presidential debates are coming up. Will we see any more fallout from international affairs, what will influence these remaining undecideds to go either way? So as of right now, our best analysis is that this race looks to be extremely competitive. We’ve done a pretty thorough analysis of our head-to-head polling around the state in the Presidential race within all the legislative districts we’ve surveyed.
“One of the last points I want to bring up is that we’ve been in a position to survey more than three dozen state legislative races around the Commonwealth in the last three months between June and today. Almost 40 legislative races we’ve conducted surveys in and that’s something I don’t think any other polling firm can really say. In every survey, we asked the head-to-head for President and in literally 35 of the 37 House districts represented – some of them by Republican incumbents, some of them by Democrat incumbents in the House, some of them are open seats – we found a common theme that the President’s head-to-head number in 35 of these 37 districts we’ve surveyed to this point, literally is below the same percent of the vote he got four years ago in the same district.
“That, I think, is a very compelling trend that shows he’s underperforming in 35 of these 37 districts, and, in the other two, he’s basically tying is 2008 numbers. We’ve calculated that represents the potential for approximately a 7-point drop off on a per-House-district basis when you compare his 2012 head-to-head score with what he got in those same districts four years ago.
“So when you look at the math on a statewide basis, we’ve calculated a drop off of potentially more than 2,000 votes per House district. When you add that up for every House district in the state, you’re talking about a potential loss of about 430-some thousand fewer votes being cast for the President this November if turnout matches what it was four years ago.
“I bring that up because it’s very clear evidence that validates what we’re seeing on a statewide basis. There’s been a number of polling out there that shows the race is a double-digit lead for the President, and we’re continually being asked, ‘Why is your poling so different from everyone else’s?’ I can tell you that I think our polling at the State House level validates what we’re seeing statewide, because we don’t have the President leading above his 2008 numbers in any district we’ve surveyed in the last three months, and that’s been 37 House districts we’ve surveyed in the just three months’ time. So I think I feel confident that the race is very close and that this is a pretty good snapshot of what is happening in the current time.”