Poll: Obama opens up 12-point lead in Pennsylvania

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Nevertheless, the poll found that voters in Pennsylvania believe Obama is better able to handle economic issues — by a margin of 44 percent to 38 — and the incumbent was also considered better able to handle foreign policy and social issues by respondents. Obama led Romney by more than 25 points when voters were asked who better understood the concerns of ordinary Americans.

The positive signs for Democrats bled over into the state's Senate election. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) doubles the support earned by GOP nominee Tom Smith, leading 42 percent to 21. Casey isn't particularly well-known in the state, but Smith is a fairly conservative candidate and national Republicans have not made the race a priority.

The Romney campaign has said it hopes to challenge Obama in the state, seeing opportunity among suburban voters outside Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. But Pennsylvania's economy is stronger than that of many areas of the country, making the sale an uphill climb for Republicans.