Commentary Magazine


PA Poll Boosts Romney, Bachmann

A new survey released on Friday by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm in the key swing state of Pennsylvania brought encouraging news for Mitt Romney. The poll showed Romney tied with President Obama in a head-to-head general election matchup while every other Republican contender trails the incumbent.

This bolsters the former Massachusetts governor’s status as the GOP frontrunner but the PPP’s latest numbers from the Keystone state also brought a mixed bag of news for both Romney and Obama. The president’s approval ratings in a state that he won by a large margin in 2008 continue to be terrible. And though Romney is clearly the Republican with the most support in the state, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s polling numbers show her to have moved up to the second place position in the GOP race even though blue-leaning Pennsylvania was not thought to be hospitable to the darling of the Tea Party.

The PPP results show Romney making the strongest showing against Obama of any Republican. Romney and Obama are tied at 44 percent in a theoretical general election showdown. Obama leads the rest of the GOP field by significant margins. Of the others, Michele Bachmann provides the next closest match-up though she still trails him by a 50-43 margin.

The good news for Bachmann is that she has the best net favorable/unfavorable popularity rating of all the Republican candidates. This is in no small measure the result of her largely successful campaign launch in June though skeptics will also note that is due to the fact that the negative coverage that is usually given to conservative women by the mainstream press is only just getting started. As Bachmann and her family are subjected to more intense scrutiny in the coming months, her unfavorable numbers may go up.  While Romney is the only Republican who seems to be able to attract enough Pennsylvania Democrats and independents to win a general election, Bachmann has much stronger support among conservatives, a factor that will make her a much tougher primary opponent even in this generally moderate state than anyone would have thought a few months ago.

As for the president, he can hardly be happy about the state of his popularity. By a 48-46 margin, Pennsylvanians disapprove of the job he is doing. When you consider that Obama must hold onto Pennsylvania if he hopes to be re-elected, the numbers here are hardly encouraging for the Democrats.