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During the first presidential debate, Mr. Romney flatly stated “I like coal,” positioning himself on the side of American fossil fuels and depicting the president as interested only in more taxpayer-funded “green” energy projects.

Despite the tightening in the polls and anti-Obama sentiment, Democratic strongholds led by Philadelphia and Pittsburgh but also including Scranton, Harrisburg, Allentown and others provide the incumbent’s campaign something of a firewall.

“The race has gotten tighter, but I still think it’s a tough hurdle for Romney to win the state,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. “If Romney thought that he could win, they would be here and they would be advertising. There’s plenty of electoral votes here.”