[Posted by Karl]
Jim Geraghty (among others) , relying on Gallup, notes Pres. Obama’s job approval rating for 2011 is anemic in most swing states. Just as notable are Obama’s disapproval numbers in swing states, as they show an incumbent underwater, often with majority disapproval: IA (45.6/45.9); PA (45/47.8); VA (44.5/49); NC (43.7/48.5); FL (43.6/47.8); OH (42.1/50.2); NM (41.7/51.2); NV (41.3/50.6); CO (40.4/52.2); and NH (38.7/54.4).
Geraghty adds that this does not necessary translate to votes which is true, but probably not good for Obama. In 2004 — a polarized, close election — Bush lost states where he had net positive job approval, but did not win one state where he had a net negative job approval. As Jay Cost notes, the only two years where we see a substantial amount of support for the incumbent president among disapprovers — 1972 and 1980 – are also not good news for Obama.
National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar correctly reminds us the Gallup data is from “throughout 2011, reflecting as much the past year as the present,” while noting Obama’s national job approval hasn’t moved much this year. Where recent polls are available, they generally confirm Kraushaar’s hypothesis. I covered IA and NH earlier this month; those states are marginally better than Gallup, but they’re also less economically distressed than most (and Obama is still underwater in NH). In PA, recent polls have Obama at 45/50 and 40/49. In VA, it 48/47 and 42/51. In NC, it’s 47/49 or 50. In FL, it’s 44/49. In OH, it’s 44/51. In NV and NM, GS Strategies has Obama at 41/57.3 and 43.3/56.8 (the firm did not provide a complete breakdown of the sample, but the firm’s polls for FL, OH and VA are close to other public polls). In CO, Ciruli Associates (a local firm) had Obama at 39/53 in December 2011.
The news is marginally better for Obama in January’s Purple Poll (.pdf), even though it spotlights FL (40/56). Obama is underwater in the Southern Swing states (FL, NC & VA) at 42/53 and the Rust Belt (NH, OH & PA) at 41/51. However, he’s above water in the Heartland (WI, MN & IA) at 48/47, and only marginally underwater in the Wild West (CO, NV & NM) at 47/49. That showing in the West is improved from the September poll; his numbers have not moved significantly in any of the other regions. I might trust that uptick, as I doubt it’s coincidence that Obama spent last week in Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. Time is the candidate’s most valuable resource. Obama needs to spend his in states where he has the best odds of goosing his job approval rating to a net positive.