Mitt Romney hopes this November to do what no Republican has done in 24 years: win Pennsylvania in a presidential election.
And a new survey released Thursday suggests the race for the state's 20 electoral votes is tightening up.
According to a Franklin and Marshall College poll released Thursday, 44 percent of Keystone State registered voters back President Barack Obama, with 38 percent backing the Republican challenger, and a high 15 percent undecided. The president's six-point advantage is within the survey's sampling error and is down from a 12 point 48 percent-36 percent lead for Obama over the former Massachusetts governor in Franklin and Marshall's poll conducted in early June.
If you factor in undecided voters who are leaning toward one candidate or another, the president holds a 47 percent-42 percent advantage, down from a 14-point 51 percent-37 percent lead in the last Franklin and Marshall poll.
The survey was conducted August 7-12, four days before and two days after Romney's announcement of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. Franklin and Marshall polling director Terry Madonna said he sees no evidence that the choice of Ryan changed the results.
The survey also indicates that Obama has a nearly 2-to-1 margin over Romney among Pennsylvania voters when it comes to which candidate better understands the concerns of ordinary Americans. On the economy, Romney holds a 44 percent-42 percent edge. Obama had a six point advantage on that question in the June survey.
"Romney has done better because voters in Pennsylvania now feel that Romney can better handle the economy than the president," Madonna told CNN. "But Romney still hasn't made the sale in Pennsylvania."
According to the poll, Obama has a 46 percent-45 percent favorable/unfavorable rating, little changed from June. Romney has a 32 percent-49 percent favorable/unfavorable rating, with his favorable numbers jumping five points from two months ago.
Vice President George H.W. Bush was the last Republican to win Pennsylvania, taking the state over Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis in the 1988 election. The state was a battleground in the following presidential cycles, but four years ago then-Sen. Barack Obama topped Sen. John McCain by 10 points in Pennsylvania. But Republicans stormed back in the 2010 midterm elections, capturing the governor's office, a U.S. Senate seat, and five House seats from the Democrats.
A Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll conducted late last month had Obama holding a 53 percent-42 percent lead in the Keystone State.
The Franklin and Marshall College poll was conducted by telephone, with 681 registered voters in Pennsylvania questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.