Obama In Trouble In Battleground States
National Journal takes note of the fact that, according to recent polls, President Obama is in serious trouble in many of the states likely to be battlegrounds during the 2012 General Election:
In every reputable battleground state poll conducted over the past month, Obama’s support is weak. In most of them, he trails Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. For all the talk of a closely fought 2012 election, if Obama can’t turn around his fortunes in states such as Michigan and New Hampshire, next year’s presidential election could end up being a GOP landslide.
Take Ohio, a perennial battleground in which Obama has campaigned more than in any other state (outside of the D.C. metropolitan region). Fifty percent of Ohio voters now disapprove of his job performance, compared with 46 percent who approve, according to a Quinnipiac poll conducted from July 12-18.
Among Buckeye State independents, only 40 percent believe that Obama should be reelected, and 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.
he news gets worse from there. 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 Republican presidential contenders are getting in their early licks against the president, his approval has taken a hit. 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.
The July Granite State Poll pegs the president’s approval at 46 percent among New Hampshire voters, with 49 percent disapproving. 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.
As the Journal goes on to note, much of this is a reflection of the fact that the economy is in bad shape, and this is especially true of states like Ohio and Michigan, which have both been especially hard hit by the downturn in manufacturing since 2007. The fact that both states handed significant victories to Republicans in 2010 is attributable to this as well, and also makes the President’s standing in the polls there not entirely surprising.
Nonetheless, there’s plenty in this for Obama to be worried about. He won election in 2008 by winning in battleground states like Ohio and Virginia, and by turning several traditionally Republican states like North Carolina and Indiana to the Democratic column. These states, and the traditional battlegrounds, are going to be where the 2012 election is fought and, absent a massive economic crash, it seems pretty clear to me that the 2012 election is likely to be closer — both in the Electoral College and the Popular Vote — than 2008 was. Depending how you run the numbers, it would take as little as 7 or 8 states flipping from blue to red for Obama to go from the 365 Electoral Votes he won in 2008 to under the 270 needed to win the election. Unless the economy improves greatly, and assuming the GOP doesn’t go completely off the rails in its nomination process, I would say that the Electoral College battleground is going to be a lot tougher for the President than some are anticipating.
Ed Morrissey runs some of the math:
Obama won the Electoral College handily in 2008, 365-173. By flipping Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, and Wisconsin, Republicans edge Obama 295-243. Swapping Florida for North Carolina still produces a 281-257 win for Republicans. Winning Michigan and conceding Colorado makes it 288-250 Republicans.
It strikes me that each of these states are ones that a Republican candidate could conceivably win in 2012 depending on the economic conditions. If I were in the Obama campaign, I’d be studying the map carefully, and worrying a little.