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Romney, GOP Senate challenger tightening Pennsylvania races

October 15, 2012|By Colby Itkowitz, Allentown Morning Call
  • Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally at the Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Wayne, Pa.
Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally at the Valley Forge Military Academy… (Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty…)

After months of enjoying strong leads over their Republican challengers in battleground Pennsylvania, President Obama and Sen. Bob Casey are edging their opponents by only a few points three weeks before Election Day.

Obama is up over Mitt Romney 49% to 45% when factoring in likely voters leaning toward one candidate, according to a new survey released Monday by the Morning Call/Muhlenberg College. Speculation had recently suggested that Romney had all but given up on winning the state, and had redirected campaign resources to the pivotal swing state of Ohio, but the new poll places him within the margin of error of 5%.

While the presidential race tightening was somewhat expected given recent polling across the country that shows Romney’s continued post-debate surge, more stunning is the Senate matchup.

INTERACTIVE: Battleground states map

Political veteran Casey, the Democrat, now leads Republican newcomer Tom Smith by just two percentage points, 41% to 39%, a staggering change from the August results of the same poll, in which Casey led Smith by 19 percentage points. The dramatic drop-off is likely attributed to Smith's early effort on statewide television, depicting Casey as ineffective at a time when distrust in Washington is at its highest.

Casey, who has served in the Senate since defeating former Sen. Rick Santorum in 2006, now faces a significantly more precarious path to reelection, and Smith’s ad assault is unlikely to fade, with the former coal mine magnate able to spend up to $15 million for his campaign. So far, Smith has largely run a self-financed campaign, with 85% of his nearly $8 million raised so far coming from his own checkbook. Casey, on the other hand, has raised more than $10.5 million.

The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll was conducted Oct. 10-14 among 438 likely voters.

Los Angeles Times writer Morgan Little contributed to this report.

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