New Polls Show Michigan, Pennsylvania as Swing States

In some of the first state level polls conducted since last Wednesday's presidential debate, Michigan and Pennsylvania have moved from lean-Obama states to swing states. The Romney campaign had previously pulled their advertising from those states to concentrate on other states.

A Susquehanna Polling and Research poll of 725 likely Pennsylvania voters conducted Oct. 4-6 shows Obama's lead down to only two percentage points (47 to 45 percent), which is within the plus or minus 3.7 percentage point margin of error. Four percent of those polled said they were undecided. When they were asked who they were leaning toward, they favored Romney three to one. Factoring this in, Obama's lead is only one percentage point.

In Michigan, two new polls also show a tight race. A poll of 1,122 respondents conducted Oct. 5 by Foster McCollum White & Associates showed a 3 percentage point advantage for Obama (49 to 46 percent with a 2.93 percent margin of error. The poll did not screen for registered or likely voters.) An Oct. 5-7 poll of 600 likely Michigan voters conducted by EPIC-MRA had similar results. Obama leads by only three percentage points (48 to 45 percent), with a plus or minus four percentage point margin of error.

While Obama still shows a lead in those states and shows an advantage in the electoral college vote, the results could be important if subsequent polls show similar results. It would mean that the Obama campaign might have to spend resources which would otherwise be spent elsewhere to hold on to those states. Also, it would provide Romney a greater range of possibilities to achieve the 270 electoral college votes needed to clinch the presidency.

Early in the race the Romney campaign appeared to want to compete for Michigan and Pennsylvania. Romney campaigned and ran television ads in both states. Romney was raised in Michigan and his father, George Romney, served as governor there. After continued poor showings in the polls, though, his campaign appeared to give up on those states. The newest polls, therefore, could shift the Romney campaign strategy.

The polls came after what was widely viewed as a poor debate performance for Obama and strong debate performance for Romney. In a recent Gallup poll, 72 percent thought Romney did better in the debate. Even a plurality of Democrats in the poll thought Romney did better than Obama (49 to 39 percent). Prior to the debate, polls showed Obama leading Romney by as much as 12 percentage points in both Michigan and Pennsylvania.

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