Oh my: Paul Ryan campaigning tomorrow in ... western Pennsylvania

Yesterday the bombshell Susquehanna poll, now this. Dude, is this happening?

Actually, I think this is less about putting Pennsylvania in play (for now) than it is about messing with Democrats’ heads and making a pitch to southeastern Ohio next door, but it’s a fun little gambit.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, will return to Pennsylvania on Saturday for the first time in two months as independent polls show a narrowing race in the key Electoral College state.

The Romney campaign said Ryan will appear at a morning rally in a private hangar by Pittsburgh International Airport. Tom Smith, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, will speak at the rally…

Pittsburgh is a strategically important area for the Republican Party. The city’s media market reaches eastern Ohio, a primary battleground state, and heavily populated southwestern Pennsylvania is an area of growing strength for Republicans. Republicans hope to sway the area’s conservative Reagan Democrats, who are turning away from Obama but have not fully embraced Romney.

A new Fox News poll of Ohio tonight has Romney within three, a gain of four points since last month — despite a sample that’s actually more Democratic this month (D+8) than it was before the gamechanging first debate (D+6). Ohio’s 2008 exit poll was also D+8 but that won’t be duplicated this time, which suggests Fox may actually be lowballing Romney’s strength. Even weirder, check out the independent column:

Romney’s not going to win indies by 24 points, I assume, but he’s also not going to lose the state if he wins them by a heavy margin. Meanwhile, in Florida

A Fox News poll of Florida likely voters shows Republican nominee Mitt Romney now tops Barack Obama in the battleground state by 48 percent to 45 percent.

The poll, released Friday, shows an eight-point reversal and a four-point increase for Romney. Last month, he trailed Obama by 44-49 percent (September 16-18, 2012)…

Consider this: Obama tops Romney by one percentage point among women now, down from a 19-point edge last month. And Romney has extended his advantage among married women to 13 points, up from a seven-point edge.

There’s your best evidence yet of how useless, and maybe even counterproductive, all the “war on women” crap was. They turned Romney into such a gargoyle over the summer that once women finally got to see him in action at the debate, the scariness seems to have melted away almost instantly. Incidentally, Romney’s also up by a point in CNN’s new poll of Florida, the seventh(!) poll in a row showing him ahead in that state. Ace’s co-blogger/poll-cruncher CAC thinks that state’s now in the bag for Mitt, but of course Obama won’t abandon it since the resulting headlines would look brutal. With Florida in Romney’s column, he stands at 235 electoral votes; if you think he’ll eke it out in Virginia and Colorado too, then bump him up to 257. That leaves him needing 13 EVs, which he can get from one or more of Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), Iowa (6), or of course Ohio (18). Those first two will be very tough, even with Romney’s surge in PA, and he’s actually never led in a poll in the next two. Winning NH and IA won’t get him over the hump without more, so … yeah, it might be Ohio or bust. Cross those fingers.

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