Poll suggests most Pa. voters favor Obama for election

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HARRISBURG -- A new poll of Pennsylvania voters shows a close race between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, while matchups in two other swing states lean toward the president.

The survey by Quinnipiac University shows Mr. Obama leading both Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in Florida and Ohio. In Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama edged out Mr. Romney 45 percent to 42 percent, while he led Mr. Santorum 48 percent to 41 percent.

That was a shift from a Quinnipiac poll earlier this month that found Mr. Obama a single point ahead of Mr. Santorum in Pennsylvania but leading Mr. Romney by six points.

A second new poll, by Franklin & Marshall College, found the home state lead Mr. Santorum enjoyed last month has shriveled, a trajectory that corresponds to national polls. While the February poll found 45 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans backing Mr. Santorum and 16 percent backing Mr. Romney, the new poll shows 30 percent backing Mr. Santorum and 28 percent backing Mr. Romney. The resulting two-point lead is well within the 4.2 percent sample error of the poll.

Texas congressman Ron Paul was supported by 9 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans, and former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich by 6 percent.

The poll found Mr. Santorum with an advantage among born-again Christians, low- and middle-income voters and voters in Central and Western Pennsylvania. Mr. Romney performed best in the southeastern and northeastern parts of the state.

It revealed that supporters of Mr. Romney are more likely than supporters of Mr. Santorum to consider voting against the Republican nominee if their candidate does not win. Eighteen percent of Romney supporters said they may vote against the Republican in November if Mr. Romney does not clinch the nomination, compared to 6 percent of Santorum supporters.

The Quinnipiac poll of swing states found Mr. Obama beating Mr. Romney 49 percent to 42 percent in Florida and 47 percent to 41 percent in Ohio. The president topped Mr. Santorum 50 percent to 37 percent in Florida and 47 percent to 40 percent in Ohio.

The poll found 50 percent of Pennsylvania voters disapprove of the job Mr. Obama is doing, compared to 45 percent who approve -- a negative approval rating that the university polling institute said is still the president's best rating in recent surveys. Voters in Pennsylvania said they consider Mr. Romney better able than the president to help the economy, although they consider Mr. Obama better than Mr. Santorum in that regard.

The Franklin & Marshall poll was conducted between March 20 and Sunday with 505 Pennsylvania Republican registered voters. It has a sample error of plus or minus 4.2 percent. The Quinnipiac poll was conducted between March 20 and Monday among 1,232 Pennsylvania voters, 1,246 Ohio voters and 1,228 Florida voters. It has a 2.8 percent margin of error.



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