LANCASTER, Pa. — The best-known, most-quoted, and most durable of pollsters in Pennsylvania says that the anticipated fall contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be “very, very competitive” in the Keystone State.
Before the Lancaster County Republican dinner Tuesday night, Human Events talked to Dr. G. Terry Madonna — who teaches at Franklin and Marshall University and whose polls have been cited by many major newspapers and television stations in Pennsylvania for more than 20 years. Madonna told us his polling shows “Obama’s numbers to be in a far weaker position than he was four years ago” and that Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes could well go Republican in 2012.
Madonna specifically cited the economy as a factor weakening the president. As he put it, “this race is overwhelmingly about the economy” in Pennsylvania.
While the business climate statewide and the cost of gas are considered important by voters, Madonna said, “the concern in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs is about the deficit and national debt.” The historically moderate voters in that area could well go to a Republican such as Romney over that issue, said the pollster.
Madonna’s survey research concluding Pennsylvania was up for grabs was clearly reflected in the remarks of dinner speakers Romney and Gingrich. In his address before the crowd of more than 1,100, Romney hit hard at issues such as the deficit and energy production, taking swipes at the Obama administration for “leading us down the road of Greece” on running up deficits and for a hostile attitude toward coal and other forms of energy production.
“If we carry Pennsylvania, it will be impossible for Barack Obama to win the presidency,” declared Gingrich, whose remarks were interrupted a dozen times with prolonged applause.
Madonna spoke to Human Events days after he came under fire from the candidate who wasn’t there — Rick Santorum, who Monday canceled a long-planned appearance at the Lancaster event without explanation. During an interview with Chris Wallace recently on Fox News, former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum dismissed Madonna as a “Democratic hack.” Madonna told us he would not fire back at Santorum, that he has never polled for a Democratic candidate for anything, and that “I’ve said all I’ve said on this before.” Since he became the first pollster in 1991 to predict that Democrat Harris Wofford had a chance to win the special U.S. Senate race against Republican favorite Dick Thornburgh, Madonna has been widely sought out as a pollster by three major television stations, five newspapers, and numerous media outlets throughout Pennsylvania.
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