Within hours of the first presidential debate, the Drudge Report led with a headline they’d likely been waiting on since election season began: “Uh O.” And within days, it was apparent that President Obama’s weak debate performance had narrowed his lead in polls nationally, exposing his soft support in places like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada, and, yes, Pennsylvania. A Siena College poll of the commonwealth found the race at 43-40, Obama. The often-Republican-leaning Susquehanna Polling and Research found Obama leading 47-45. Poll aggregator Real Clear Politics moved Pennsylvania to “toss up” status in their election map. By Monday, Fox News had introduced a new, hilarious-yet-scary electoral prediction map, showing Romney beating Obama on Nov. 6, 336 electoral votes to 202. They included Pennsylvania in the Romney column.
Is it possible? Romney hasn’t campaigned here much in the past few months, other than attending private fundraisers and one public rally he may have been shamed into by the state Republican Party. Polls have shown him far, far behind until his current national surge. And he no longer runs ads in Pennsylvania.
The RNC’s state communications director, Billy Pitman, says the party’s knocked on more doors—in Philly and throughout the commonwealth—than it has since 2000. “I just passed three-and-a-half-million voter contacts” statewide, he says. “We’ve just been focused on everywhere—Philadelphia, the suburbs ... After the debate, we saw significant uptake in activity, either in folks walking into the offices to sign up to make phone calls or go door-to-door or look for a yard sign or a bumper sticker.”
Television ads, though, are another story. Will we see Romney’s gleaming pearly-whites return to Pennsylvania airwaves for the first time since summer? “We don’t reveal any of our ad strategies,” Pitman demurs. “We don’t release any data that targeted.”
The Obama campaign certainly isn’t blinking; however legit Romney’s post- debate bounce may be, the fact remains that Obama has more than double the number of Pa. offices as Romney—and 10 Philly offices compared to Romney’s single one. (“We will let our ground game here in Pennsylvania speak for itself,” offers Obama campaign spokeswoman Devora Kaye.) And according to a Daily Caller report from last week, the Romney campaign is still quietly shifting its resources from Pennsylvania to Ohio.