President Barack Obama is polling worse in key swing states like Ohio and Michigan than he is in national surveys, according to a series of new “battleground state” polls.
Moreover, Obama’s numbers have dropped dramatically in many small states, suggesting that the debt crisis is doing him more harm than good and making the electoral math for him in 2012 very bleak.
“In every reputable battleground state poll conducted over the past month, Obama’s support is weak,” writes Josh Kraushaar, executive editor of National Journal Hotline. “In most of them, he trails Republican front-runner Mitt Romney.”
The latest national polls puts Obama firmly in what Kraushaar calls the “danger zone.” Results range from 42 percent (Gallup) to 47 percent (ABC News/Washington Post). On top of that, nearly every major recent polls shows him with higher unfavorables than favorables.
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This is especially important because the race for president isn't a national contest. It's fought state-by-state to cobble together an electoral vote majority.
That’s why the numbers from crucial, large swing states like Ohio or Florida are especially important. While national polls are basically popularity contests, these bellwether states can make or break a candidate long before Election Day – it’s simple math.
Romney seems well aware of what’s happening. He took his 2012 campaign to the general-election battleground of Ohio Wednesday, unveiling a list of GOP primary endorsers and attacking Obama for failing to take on China as an economic competitor, according to Politico. Former Ohio Sen. George Voinovich, who retired last year, is throwing his support behind Romney, along with 10 state representatives, two state senators and a handful of mayors and county officials, according to Politico. It’s also important to note that Ohio has a dynamic new GOP governor, John Kasich, and is the home state of House Speaker John Boehner.
In every reputable battleground state poll conducted over the past month, Obama's support is shrinking. In nearly all of these states he trails Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. In sum, if Obama can’t turn a Michigan or an Ohio, he’s finished. The GOP candidate would likely win in a landslide.
Kraushaar points out that in Ohio, the most critical state in recent elections, the latest Quinnipiac poll gave the president a job approval rating of only 46 percent with 50 percent disapproving.
And although he beats Romney by 4 percentage points, that is “well below the comfort zone for an incumbent.”
Among Ohio independents, just 40 percent say that Obama should be reelected; only 42 percent approve of his job performance. Against Romney, Obama leads 45 percent to 41 percent--well below the 50 percent comfort zone for an incumbent.
In Michigan, a reliably Democratic state that Obama carried with 57 percent of the vote, an EPIC-MRA poll conducted July 9-11 finds him trailing Romney, 46 percent to 42 percent. Only 39 percent of respondents grade his job performance as "excellent" or good," with 60 percent saying it is "fair" or "poor." The state has an unemployment rate well above the national average, and the president's approval has suffered as a result.
In Iowa, where GOP presidential contenders are fighting for a caucus superiority next year, Obama’s approval is plunging. In a Mason-Dixon poll conducted for a liberal-leaning group, Romney held a lead of 42 percent to 39 percent over the president, with 19 percent undecided. Even hyper-conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann ran competitively against Obama in the Hawkeye State, trailing 47 percent to 42 percent, according to the Atlantic.
In New Hampshire, Obama’s approval rating is similar, 46 percent as opposed to 49 percent disapproving, according to the July Granite State Poll. A separate robo-poll conducted this month by Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling shows him trailing Romney in the state, 46 percent to 44 percent.
Even in true blue Michigan, he is trailing Romney by four percentage points.
“For some time, the conventional wisdom has been that 2012 will be a close presidential contest, with a best-case scenario for Republicans of winning the race with a map similar to George W. Bush's 2004 victory over Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.),” Kraushaar concludes.
“But if the president can't turn things around, that logic could prove badly outdated. If Obama is struggling in the Democratic-friendly confines of Michigan and Pennsylvania (as recent polls have indicated), it's hard to see him over-performing again in more-traditional battlegrounds such as Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia.”
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