President Obama gestures as a reporter shouts a question during his walk… (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images )
Gallup's semiannual assessment of President Obama's approval ratings in all 50 states finds a strong correlation between voters' opinion of his job performance and the battleground map as he faces reelection.
A majority of voters (that is, 50% or more) in 13 states plus the District of Columbia approve of the president's performance, a group that accounts for 185 of the 270 electoral votes he needs to secure a second term.
INTERACTIVE: Pick the battleground states
By contrast, a majority of voters in 24 states say they disapprove of his performance, a group that, while larger in number, has only slightly more electoral clout, 188 electoral votes.
In the middle are 13 states where the president's net job rating ranges from slightly positive to slightly negative. Most but not all of those states are in the cohort viewed by both sides as the battlegrounds. The midrange states are Maine, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada and Oregon.
Why does Obama’s job rating matter? Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones points out that "voters' evaluations of how Obama has performed as president will arguably be the most important factor in determining their vote." Voter turnout and views of his challenger, Mitt Romney, are secondary.
Of the most talked-about battlegrounds, Gallup's data would indicate Obama’s biggest challenges then lie in Colorado and New Hampshire; his approval rating in both stands at 43%. But his job rating in each has climbed from the 2011 yearly average, from 39% in New Hampshire and 40% in Colorado.
Of the states John McCain carried in 2008, Obama has the strongest job rating in Georgia (45% approval) and Mississippi (44%). But neither is being strongly contested – largely because racial polarization in Obama’s job approval in those two states sets a firm ceiling on his vote. Also not being contested is Indiana, which Obama won in 2008, but where his job rating is just 38%.
Once again, voters in Obama's home state of Hawaii give him the best marks (63% approval), followed by Rhode Island (58%) and Vermont (56%). He averaged a 52% approval rating in the biggest electoral prize, California, from January through June.
At the bottom are Utah (68% disapproval), Wyoming (65%), and a tie between West Virginia and Idaho (61%).
For the first half of 2012, Obama averaged 46% job approval nationally, with 46% disapproving. His net job approval rating improved from 2011 in 33 states and the District of Columbia, declining in 17.
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