Staff Writer

According to an F&M poll released Wednesday, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, is closing the lead Barack Obama, president of the United States, has in Pennsylvania.

Despite holding a lead in every F&M poll since October 2011 by wide margins, Obama currently leads Romney among registered voters by four percent in Pennsylvania, with 48 percent to 44 percent, and five percent of voters still undecided. Nine percent of voters who said they had a preference said they could still change their minds before election day. The president has the same advantage among likely voters, leading 49 percent to 45 percent with four percent undecided.

According to G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Policy and Public Affairs and professor of public affairs, another major change in this poll’s results is more voters think Romney would do a better job of fixing the economy than Obama, by a margin of 47 to 42 percent. This is the reverse of September’s poll.

Madonna explained the shift in popularity for Romney is largely due to his performance in the first presidential debate.

“The polls show the race [has] greatly tightened [since the] first debate due to a great performance by Romney and a less than amazing performance by Obama,” Madonna said. “Romney is showing he is more personable and has been out there campaigning to prove this. In addition, the Romney campaign is much more focused at this point. Obama always has been really popular, as 50 percent of people view him favorably. However, there has been a shift in those who don’t view Obama favorably, from 33 percent in 2008 to 44 percent in 2012. People believe Romney can fix the economy better than Obama, and Romney also is becoming more popular.”

Madonna also noted these polls are not predictive and Obama still has a good chance of winning the state of Pennsylvania.

“There are still some undecided voters out there and the polls aren’t predictive, as they all have a sample of error,” Madonna said. “Obama is up by four percent and he could win the state, but he could maybe win with one percent or half a percent advantage. Romney also stands a chance to win this state as well. It is doable but very tough.”

Madonna said Pennsylvania recently has become a major target for both candidates, especially the Romney-Ryan ticket.

“This race has gotten closer,” Madonna said. “There were no political commercials [in PA] from Labor Day until last Thursday. Both candidates have spent 11 million dollars in total thus far on these political ads. Obama has spent 1.6 million dollars and Romney has been dumping 9.4 million dollars in commercials just in Pennsylvania.

“Both Romney and Ryan recently have been making political visits to Pennsylvania. They know if they don’t win Ohio then Romney can’t win the election without winning another big state like Pennsylvania. They can’t buy any more airtime in Ohio and they are sitting on large resources of money, so they [are spending] on Pennsylvania airtime.”

Madonna noted the F&M poll is consistent with two other polls conducted in Pennsylvania and the poll accurately reflects the sentiment of the voters and also reflects results done by other pollsters.

“The polls can’t be bad since they reflect what the people believe,” Madonna said. “There will be people who like the poll and those who don’t.”

Madonna, after he began polling in 1991, has been polling for the state of Pennsylvania for 22 consecutive years.

“We do solid methodological research and we poll for eight media outlets, three of which are TV stations and five of which are newspapers, and if our polls weren’t done well, the media wouldn’t use our research and polls,” Madonna said. “Our research and polls are used all over the world and all over the country by many media outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post.”

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