Pennsylvania tends to be a great tease for Republicans in general elections; 1988 was the last time a GOP presidential candidate won the state. Yet, because Pennsylvania is four points more Democrat than Ohio, Florida or Nevada, a close race here means those other states have left Obama.
"That is a problem," conceded Dane Strother, a Democrat strategist. "Romney sees opportunity in Pennsylvania and he is not shy about going for it."
Strother said coal country is a good story for Romney to tell and he is "absolutely" working to fill the gaps with voters of all denominations across the state.
"Look, he is not a dumb guy," Strother explained. "He knows he might not win Pennsylvania but playing there is smart. And if he can tighten the margins there, the president is in trouble."
The latest poll by Purple Strategies, conducted in 12 states that will make or break this race electorally, shows a swift tightening in those key battlegrounds, with Romney making remarkable gains on Obama in a very short time.
An interesting juxtaposition in the data shows Americans want to be optimistic (the trend line on the economy is better and people tend to think the country's best days are ahead) but they are staring reality in the face (jobs are hard to find, children won't do as well in the future), so they feel pessimistic.
Obama will blame it all on George Bush, the GOP and "fat cat" somethings, and will claim he is helping; Romney will blame it all on Democrats and Obama. Both will try to wear the "leadership for a better future" mantle.
Whichever campaign is more successful at fixing the blame, at owning the future, will probably win.