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Despite Polls, Romney Camp Sees Opportunity in Pa.

By Scott Conroy - August 6, 2012

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But what many Republicans expect to be their strongest card in Pennsylvania is one that they are often reluctant to tout: a new voter identification law that requires a specific form of ID in order to cast a ballot.

The law is considered the most stringent of its kind in any swing state and could cut significantly into Obama’s margins in the state’s largest city.

“The bottom line is Philadelphia is incredibly impacted by that law, and it could have a real effect,” said KDKA-Pittsburgh political editor Jon Delano, a longtime analyst of Pennsylvania politics.

Delano, who considers the state to be “very much in play,” said that there are no reliable projections on the extent to which the voter ID law might depress turnout among Obama voters, but there is no doubt that Republicans see it as a major boon to Romney’s hopes.

At a June GOP rally, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai sparked outrage among voting-rights proponents when he trumpeted the new law as an accomplishment that would pay political dividends to the Republican nominee.

"Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done,” Turzai said, eliciting cheers from the partisan crowd.

A Pennsylvania judge is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the law next week.

Despite Democrats’ alarm over a statute that they worry could disenfranchise large numbers of urban voters, there is little doubt that Pennsylvania remains the president’s state to lose.

But with the convention speeches, debates, and a possible Romney advertising blitz on the horizon, there is ample reason to believe that the dynamic is in fact fluid.

“There is a way in which Mitt Romney can win,” Delano said. “I don’t think he’s there yet.” 

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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