Pennsylvanians’ TV sets have been virtually empty of presidential ads for two months, while the candidates’ campaigns and outside groups that are spending money to influence the election have concentrated on other states, including Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
Pennsylvania is tied with Illinois for the nation’s fifth-biggest electoral prize in the presidential race and historically has been treated as a battleground state. But Obama, a Democrat, has held a persistent lead over Romney, a Republican, in most independent polls, and registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of four to three.
In a memo released Monday, Pennsylvania’s Obama campaign director, Bill Hyers, said Republicans have been unable to narrow Democrats’ voter registration advantage substantially or expand their base.
"Despite their electoral gains in 2010 and a yearlong (presidential) primary, Republicans have failed to make any meaningful headway in Pennsylvania," Hyers said. "The state remains out of their reach."
The pro-Romney group Restore Our Future plans to spend $2.1 million on ads in Pennsylvania starting Tuesday. The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported that $1.1 million was committed by the conservative group Americans for Job Security, which has aired TV ads elsewhere attacking Obama and supporting Romney and Republican congressional candidates.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters Monday that the campaign would match Restore Our Future’s ad buy in Pennsylvania.
The election is Nov. 6.
Victory in Pennsylvania is probably more crucial to Obama than Romney. In 2008, Obama beat Republican John McCain by 10 percentage points in Pennsylvania, and the state has supported the Democrat in each presidential election since 1988.
Harry Truman in 1948 was the last Democratic presidential candidate to lose Pennsylvania but win the election, while Republican George W. Bush lost Pennsylvania twice — in 2000 and 2004 — on his way to two terms as president.