If a dozen swing states really do hold the keys to the White House, a new USA Today and Gallup poll finds that voters in those states may be a tough sell on a second term for President Barack Obama.
The debut Swing States survey reveals that voters in the so-called battleground states overwhelmingly report — by a margin of 60 to 37 percent — that they and their families aren’t better off than they were before Obama was elected three years ago.
That was the same question that drew an exclamation from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio: “Are you kidding me?” Boehner added, “Why don’t you go ask the 14 million Americans who are out of work whether they’re better off today than they were four years ago?”
It was also a nod to the question that then Republican presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan successfully posed to voters when he ran against President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
The swing state voters overwhelmingly report that they aren’t satisfied with the way things are going in the United States by a margin of nearly four to one. Moreover, voters in those states are more likely than others to say that the lives of their families have taken a negative turn.
USA Today and Gallup will continue polling battleground states over the next year. The states were chosen based on voting histories, the results of the 2010 midterm elections and demographic trends. They include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Nine of the swing states have Republican governors.
Swing state voters also say by a margin of 51 to 38 percent that it was a “bad thing” for Congress to enact the Obama health care overhaul and they overwhelmingly prefer a Republican candidate to handle the federal budget deficit and debt. Even so, they are split as to who would be better at managing international threats such as terrorism.
Republicans in swing states were twice as likely as Democrats to say that they are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting for the next president, which was considered to be an important test as to whether they would be willing to volunteer time, contribute money and vote in the next election.
Republican strategist Ed Gillespie told USA Today that Obama's apparent weakness among white, working-class voters creates openings for the GOP in the Great Lakes, while Obama campaign manager Jim Messina looked to Hispanic voters to increase the president’s chances in the Mountain West and states such as North Carolina. Messina also predicted that Obama could be competitive in Georgia and Arizona.
The USA Today/Gallup Poll shows that voters were split nationwide between Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 47 percent for each. But three Republicans are all close enough to Obama in head-to-head matchups in swing states to essentially be considered a statistical tie if they were to be pitted against the president at this juncture.
The swing states survey of 1,334 adults, taken Oct. 20-27, has an error margin of three percentage points. The nationwide results from a USA Today/Gallup Poll of 1,056 adults taken Oct. 26-27 has an error margin of four percentage points.
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