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Obama's swing state blues

April 29, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau
(AP Photo, J Pat Carter )

Reporting from Washington — As concerning as the recent dip in President Obama's job rating nationally is to the White House, recent polling in a number of key battleground states may be a more troubling indicator of his political standing weeks after kicking off a re-election campaign.

A University of New Hampshire poll released Thursday afternoon shows that Obama’s job approval rating among Granite Staters stands at 44%. That’s down just two points from February, but among independents the dip was more pronounced – from 46% to 32%.

In Pennsylvania, which Obama won by double digits in 2008, only 42% of voters think he deserves a second term according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. His approval rating was 51% just two months ago, but has dropped to 42%.

In Florida, which Obama visits Friday, a recent Mason Dixon poll showed that 43% of voters approve of his job performance, including just over one-third of independents.

Even a Democratic-affiliated pollster, Public Policy Polling, saw warning signs in the swing state of Nevada. Their new survey in the Silver State found 45% of voters viewed the president’s performance positively, while 52% disapproved. That survey was conducted just after his visit to Reno last week.

“April has definitely not been a good month for Barack Obama,” PPP’s Dean Debnam said.

There were brighter indicators elsewhere, however. North Carolina the state where Obama’s margin of victory was slimmest four years ago, an Elon University poll found that more respondents approved (48%) than disapproved (45%) of his job performance. Democrats will hold their 2012 nominating convention in Charlotte.

Obama won election by 95 electoral votes in 2008. Because of population shifts and Congressional reapportionment, he can lose no more than 89 electoral votes to secure a second term.

But under most scenarios, the president will need to again carry either Florida or Ohio – where a March Quinnipiac poll showed his job rating at 47%.

Of course, approval rating is just one metric by which to judge Obama’s political standing. The identity of the eventual GOP nominee is another key factor. In New Hampshire, where Obama defeated John McCain by 9 points in 2008, the UNH poll showed that Obama would lose in a hypothetical matchup against Mitt Romney, 50%-43%. But he leads Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee.

In Florida, either Mike Huckabee or Romney would beat Obama by 5 points, but the president leads either Sarah Palin or Donald Trump, Mason Dixon found.

And even with his low rating in Nevada, Obama led Palin, Huckabee, Trump and Newt Gingrich, trailing only Mitt Romney by 3%.

Obama has made a point of visiting key swing states in recent months, and granting television interviews to local stations in still more. But at this early stage he also has made time to stop in solidly blue states like California, Illinois and New York – to raise money.

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