Poll Shows Obama In Trouble In Battleground State Of Virginia

When Barack Obama won Virginia in 2008, it was the first time a Democratic candidate for President had won the state since Lyndon Johnson’s landslide in 1964. The President was able to pull this off largely because of his ability to attract support from the white, middle class, independent voters in population rich Northern Virginia. This was a voting bloc that the campaign had pursued throughout the election, a strategy exemplified by the fact that the final rally of the campaign was held at the Prince William County Fairgrounds in Manassas, drawing upwards of 85,000 people. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, though, he may have trouble repeating in Virginia:

The Quinnipiac University Poll shows 54 percent of registered voters in the state disapprove of how Obama is handling his job, up 6 points since late June, while 40 percent approve. In a state that Obama won convincingly in 2008, 51 percent now say that the president does not deserve four more years in office.

Obama is locked in a dead heat with the two leading Republican contenders for 2012. He leads Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Virginia, 44 percent to 42 percent, the poll shows, while Obama trails ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney by the same 2-point margin.

Of most concern to the campaign, though, ought to be the fact that they’ve lost a tremendous amount of support among those independents I mentioned:

Obama’s job approval is plummeting among independent voters, who disapprove 62 – 29 percent, compared to a 54 – 41 percent disapproval June 30. Republicans disapprove 87 – 11 percent while Democrats approve 83 – 13 percent, down from 92 – 5 percent in June. Men disapprove 61 – 36 percent, as women disapprove 49 – 43 percent. White voters disapprove 67 – 28 percent, while black voters approve 83 – 11 percent.

This drop off in support among independents in other traditionally Republican states that Obama was able to win in 2008 by appealing to independent voters, such as North Carolina and Indiana. Without those voters, the Obama campaign is going to have a problem winning the electoral majority it did in 2008, and may have trouble winning at all.


FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James in LA says:

    Obama can lose VA. He can Lose VA, NC, NH and IN and still win. There are many such “if-then” scenarios for Obama, as he has many firewalls.

    The GOP, however, must win FL. Even with FL, the pathway is much more narrow.

    Much will depend on who the GOP nominates. Romney puts the Mid-west in play in a way Perry cannot.

    So, based on math alone, the much greater challenge belongs to the GOP.

  2. Polaris says:

    @James in LA: You are going off the 2008 map. Don’t. Given the nature of the electorate (per PEW), the 2004 map seems to be a lot more realistic.

    The 2008 electorate was an extreme outlier caused by extreme events not likely to be seen again in a hundred years.


  3. Rodger says:

    Obama can win in 2012 merely with the Kerry states plus Florida. That means (a) the incumbent can lose Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Omaha; and (b) Republicans could be in big trouble regardless of the economy if they select a candidate who tells Florida’s retirees that their Social Security benefit is built on an unconstitutional ponzi scheme.

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Rodger: I think this is right. Essentially, Obama wins if he takes either Florida or Ohio. Republicans probably need both to win.

  5. Polaris says:

    I think a lot of you are making some very bad assumptions on how the political map is going to look this year based on an electorate that looks nothing like the emerging electorate (esp in the Moutain West but VA as well).


  6. James Joyner says:

    @Polaris: 2008 and 2010 were both perfect storms for the out party; I don’t think 2012 will be. But if 2010 is the baseline, it’s academic: Obama will lose both Ohio and Florida easily and lose the election in a landslide.

  7. @Rodger:

    And the fact that Obama’s approval numbers are below 40 in Florida and in the mid-40s in Ohio suggests that winning those states again won’t be as easy as you seem to think.

    I’m not counting the President out by any means, it’s far too early for that, but the scenarios under which he could be defeated are pretty easy to see.

  8. Polaris says:

    @James Joyner: Per Nate SIlver (and to his credit he does carefully caution his readers not to read too much into the preliminary data), 2012 is looking to be just as bad for the Dems as 2010. PEW who is about the only polling outfit that tracks electorates seems to agree at this point.

    Of course like anything, 14 months is an eternity in politics.


  9. Rodger says:

    Doug, I noted Obama could lose Ohio — and made Florida at least somewhat contingent on the Republican candidate. However, if the R’s spend most of the next year talking about the deficit (and more tax cuts), then it’s pretty easy to imagine that Social Security would seem vulnerable under their leadership. Everyone recalls the first major policy initiative Bush pursued after his 2004 victory, right?

    Polaris, I also gave R’s the mountain west changes from 2004 to 2008 — Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. However, there are long-term demographic issues working against Republicans in those states. Do you (or does Pew) see reversals on the left coast? If so, explain.

    Finally, campaign Obama proved a lot more effective at his job than governing Obama has. Think of the jobs bill (and related tax cuts/increases) as part of the campaign instead of as a meaningful policy initiative that is likely to gain traction in the current Congress. That perspective reveals it to be an essentially populist proposal aimed at attracting swing voters — especially when pitched directly against specific Republican counter-proposals in a two-way race, namely, additional corporate tax cuts and deregulation.

  10. Polaris says:


    If Ohio flips then IA, WI, and perhaps MI and Minn (esp MI) might be in play. In 2004 Kerry barely won MI. Also if we are to believe the latest polling, PA might be in play too and that’s a game-changer.

    If these states are in play (and I think they probably are), then the routes for a GOP 270 open up considerably.


  11. James Joyner says:

    @Polaris: My guess is that we’ll either have a very narrow Obama win, with Florida or Ohio as the lynchpins, or it will be a GOP blowout.

  12. Polaris says:

    @James Joyner:

    My guess is that we’ll either have a very narrow Obama win, with Florida or Ohio as the lynchpins, or it will be a GOP blowout.

    Yeah, I can buy that for a dollar (to quote the old sage). I think that’s basically right too. If Obama is to win in 2012, he must hold both OH and Fla in this coming political climate.


  13. Rodger says:

    Kerry lost Iowa, so my original minimal Obama count did not include it. Obama could lose PA if he holds Nevada plus New Mexico and then either Colorado or Iowa. As James said above, there are multiple firewalls.

    Recent events suggest Wisconsin will be a tough sell for Republicans in 2012. I vacation in Michigan just about every year and Obama spends a lot of time there — opening new lithium battery factories, giving speeches, etc. The auto bailout must have been popular in that state, despite tea party screaming against government spending. Republicans already lost many supporters in the Detroit area since 2000 thanks to sweeping anti-Muslim claims. Minnesota is unpredictable, but it would require a great deal of effort for any Republican (McCain got less than 44%).

  14. Polaris says:

    @Rodger: You do realize that Kerry nearly lost MI to Bush in 2004 (it was a 1% squeeker IIRC) and that was long after 2000 and 9/11?

    I am not saying MI will flip, but i can certainly see it in play this coming year.


  15. Rodger says:

    OK, I’m finished with this thread. Kerry won Michigan in 2004 by 160,000 votes: http://miboecfr.nicusa.com/election/results/04GEN/01000000.html.

    Update: Just noticed that last comment changed from “lost” to narrowly won.

  16. Polaris says:

    @Rodger: I never said otherwise. 160,000 votes for a state the size of michagan at the time qualifies as “barely won”. IIRC it’s about 1% of the PV.


    Edit: If you are talking about my post prior, I said that Kerry *nearly* lost MI and he did in 2004. It was much closer than it had any right to be given the electorate of MI.

  17. EddieInCA says:


    In 2004, Michigan was closer than it normally is due to one reason and one reason only: There was an Constitutional Amendment on the ballot to outlaw Gay Marriage.

    That won’t be in play, so that, along with the demographic issues of the state and the successful auto bailouts, make Michigan an easy Obama win.

    2004 was an outlier due to the sheer number of Social Conservative ballot initiatives put on the ballot by the GOP in many states.

  18. Polaris says:

    @EddieInCA: You can make that argument except that the PEW and other early indicators seem to show that the 2012 projected electorate is very similiar to the 2004 one, with the big So-Con boost that implies. That tells me that MI will be a battleground. Do I think it will flip? Probably not, but probably is far from a sure thing.


  19. Racehorse says:

    Yesterday New York, today Virginia, soon California.