Last minute signs are emerging that the Romney-Ryan ticket may be enjoying a late swing of support in Pennsylvania, which traditionally has been considered fool’s gold for Republicans in national races.
A win there for the Republicans would represent a devastating blow to President Barack Obama's campaign.
One indication of Mitt Romney’s late-breaking momentum: His rally in Bucks County, Pa., on Sunday drew a crowd estimated at over 30,000.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Salena Zito tells Newsmax that unlike other states where a significant percentage of the vote has already been cast via early voting, Pennsylvania is ripe for a late swing in momentum.
That is especially true in the suburbs, Zito tells Newsmax. "Romney was not ever seen through that prism of negative ads by Obama, which hurt him elsewhere. The strategy all along was not to run ads in Pennsylvania, which was an incredibly smart move.”
By not making a major ad push early for Pennsylvania, Zito says, Romney was able to avoid the deluge of negative Obama campaign attacks ads that many analysts believe inflicted lasting damage in neighboring Ohio. But in the closing weeks of the campaign, the Romney campaign has made a strong, late push for Keystone State voters.
An indication of just how seriously the campaign views the opportunity in Pennsylvania: Romney is make a stop there on Election Day near the Pittsburgh International Airport.
If Romney could manage to eke out a win in Pennsylvania, it would completely upend the Electoral College math for both campaigns. Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes would more than make up for Ohio’s 18, that Obama would take if he carries the Buckeye State.
The RealClearPolitics poll average shows President Obama with a 2.9 percent advantage in Ohio, and a 3.8 percent edge in Pennsylvania. Yet Pennsylvania may be the better opportunity politically.
That’s because 1.6 million Ohioans have already cast their ballots in early voting. That makes the electorate there less likely to witness a late surge that might not fully be reflected in the polls.
In Pennsylvania, voters must request permission to cast an absentee ballot prior to the election, and must state the reason they will either be out of the state, or unable to vote in person due to illness or disability on Election Day. Also, absentee voters must provide identification so their eligibility can be verified.
Although early balloting only accounts for about 5 percent of votes cast in Pennsylvania, Republicans in 2012 are enjoying a significant advantage over their Democratic rivals in that regard. They lead Democrats in early votes cast by 47 percent to 42 percent, according to the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog. In 2008, Republicans held a much narrower advantage in early voting, 45 percent to 44 percent.
What those numbers reflect, Zito says, is that there is much more enthusiasm among Pennsylvania conservatives and evangelicals for Romney than there was for McCain.
“They didn’t show up in 2008, which is why you saw a big margin for Obama over McCain,” she tells Newsmax. “They didn’t like McCain.
“They love Romney, which is sort of counter to the convention wisdom: ‘Oh, they’re evangelical, they’re Catholic, they’re not going to like a Mormon. That has been proven, over and over again, not to be the case.”
There are still reasons for the Obama campaign’s confidence it will take Pennsylvania, however. The last time a Republican presidential candidate carried the state was 1988. President Obama carried the state with an 11 point margin over Sen. John McCain in 2008.
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