Here’s the latest on Pennsylvania’s political climate heading into the 2012 election.
According to a Franklin and Marshall College Poll, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by 12 percentage points in Pennsylvania. It’s a strong lead, but recent state legislation has the potential to close that gap.
The economy - When it comes to the issue most on voters’ minds, the economy is still king. Although the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is lower than the national average of 7.7 percent for April, Philadelphia’s unemployment rate remains at a disappointing 9.6 percent.
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh - The state’s two major urban regions typically vote Democratic, while Republicans dominate the races in the rest of the state leaving Pennsylvania highly polarized.
Hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in Northcentral Pennsylvania has raised some controversy. Democrats are unhappy with its damaging environmental effects, but neither party has figured out how to efficiently tax the gas for state profit.
Worth watching - In March, Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed the Voter ID Law presented by the GOP dominated legislature. The constitutionality of the law, which requires voters to present a driver’s license or other form of photo identification at the polls, is being challenged in Commonwealth Court by the ACLU and other rights groups. Hearings are scheduled to begin in late July.
Other issues for Pennsylvania voters:
- Due to the lack of marriage equality and the growing LGBT community, neither candidate completely satisfies this group.
- There has been significant growth in the Hispanic population that does not support either candidate’s immigration policies
- Monsignor William Lynn will be tried in a landmark clergy sex abuse case, dividing the Catholic community.
Haley Kmetz is a senior at Temple University and an intern at WHYY-TV. She previously interned with WHYY’s live radio newsmagazine, NewsWorks Tonight, and with the City Desk at The Philadelphia Daily News.