Pennsylvania “is still an uphill climb for Romney,” but “conditions are nowhere near as advantageous for the president as they were in ’08,” says Christopher Borick, a pollster and political scientist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. From Obama’s standpoint, Borick said, “there are a lot of little nagging issues.”

Several small factors conceivably could put Romney within striking distance.

Among them: A new Republican-written state law that requires voters to show a photo identification card could suppress turnout among minorities. Some Catholic voters are angry at the Obama administration for initially requiring Catholic-affiliated employers to cover contraceptive products in their insurance policies. And Romney’s image as a moderate Republican who focuses more on economic matters than social issues could play well with swing voters in the Philadelphia suburbs.

At same time, however, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is somewhat below the national average.