WASHINGTON — As the list of Republican political groups airing 11th-hour television ads in Pennsylvania grew Wednesday, the latest survey of the state’s likely voters has President Barack Obama clinging to a four-point lead over GOP candidate Mitt Romney in the presidential race.
The Romney campaign also is beginning to dispatch high-profile surrogates to the state.
Obama’s advantage in Pennsylvania has withered, according to the results of a new Franklin & Marshall College poll released Wednesday, but the president is still ahead 49 percent to 45 percent as the clock ticks down to Election Day.
The same poll taken one month ago — before the three presidential debates — had Obama leading Romney by nine percentage points. The F&M results mirror other recent independent, statewide polls: The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Morning Call/Muhlenberg surveys each had Obama leading by five points.
Deep demographic divides remain in Pennsylvania. Obama leads among female voters in the state by 14 points, among young voters by 22 points, and among minorities by 58 points. Romney has a six-point advantage among males.
G. Terry Madonna, F&M’s pollster, said he expects next week’s voting to mirror that of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, when Al Gore and John Kerry, respectively, won Pennsylvania by low single digits. Obama won the state in 2008 by 10.
“I am at this point not convinced that the Republicans can get over that threshold,” Madonna said. “That last three to four [percentage points] becomes so hard” in a state with 1 million more registered Democratic voters.
Still, presidential campaign money is pouring into the state this week from Republican super PACs flush with cash. Karl Rove‘s American Crossroads made a $1.2 million buy, and the billionaire Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity a $1.5 million buy, both groups revealed Wednesday.
The campaigns themselves are also spending money on Pennsylvania television — $1.6 million by the Obama campaign and $930,000 from Romney. It’s Romney’s first ad spending in Pennsylvania.
Despite the newfound attention, Democrats sound bullish about Pennsylvania.
Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe he’ll shave his mustache of 40 years if Obama loses the state. The same wager goes for blue states Michigan and Minnesota, where Romney and his supporters are also making a last-minute wager.
On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Russ Schriefer, Romney’s senior advisor, said it’s unlikely the Republicans will win all three of those traditionally Democratic states, but he believes they are in a “great position” to win at least one.
Tagg Romney, the candidate’s oldest son, also is scheduled to visit.