Just off the back-to-back political conventions and at the height of the unrest in the Middle East, President Barack Obama maintains a sizable nine-point lead over Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, according to likely voters polled last week.
Obama captures 50 percent support compared to 41 percent for Romney in the latest Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll. It's the same margin the poll found last month. Additionally, the Philadelphia Inquirer released a poll on Sunday that showed Obama with an 11-point lead in Pennsylvania.
While state Republicans have insisted that their internal polls show the race in the state much tighter, independent polls have consistently showed Obama with a solid lead for months and the Romney campaign is not spending any money on television in Pennsylvania. Neither candidate has visited Pennsylvania in more than a month.
"It’s pretty clear when you aggregate the polls that have been done so far that Obama is well positioned in the state. Combine that with the limited presence that Gov. Romney and PACs that support him have had in the state and it really does make the case that as of now it’s not in play in a way that it usually is," said Chris Borick, Muhlenberg pollster.
Romney has had a tough few weeks politically. The most memorable moment from his national convention was Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair. Romney was criticized for a too abrupt response to the Middle East protests. And Monday a video surfaced showing Romney at a fundraiser essentially writing off half of the American electorate. The latter occurred after the poll was conducted from Sept. 10 through Sunday.
Since the Democratic National Convention, which showed a bump across the board for Obama, the president's job approval also went up four points to 47 percent from 43 percent in August. He also continues to have higher likability than Romney. While 50 percent view Obama favorably and 42 percent unfavorably, the inverse is true for Romney. Just 40 percent of likely Pennsylvania voters regard Romney favorably compared to 48 percent who do not.
Borick said Obama has vulnerabilities to tap, but first Romney needs to improve his own standing with voters.
"It keeps him in a state of neutral," Borick said. "He’s trying to gain ground, his opponent has weaknesses that he might be able to exploit but if he’s constantly dogged by gaffes and misstatements it’s hard to close ground."
In nearly every demographic group, Obama bests Romney, his highest support being among women and minorities. Obama is overwhelmingly more trusted to handle Medicare - 50 percent to Romney's 38 percent - but voters are split 44 percent to 44 percent over who is best suited to handle the economy.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, continues to crush Republican challenger Tom Smith by 12 points - 45 percent to 33 percent with 18 percent still undecided. However Casey's lead has shrunk since August when he led Smith by 19 points. Smith is outspending Casey in television ads in the state.
Check The Morning Call tomorrow for more on the latest poll numbers.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times