Poll Shows Battleground States Trending Strongly for GOP on Obama Re-election Issues

Brad O'Leary
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Posted: Feb 22, 2011 10:49 AM

If President Obama runs his re-election campaign on the issues he discussed in his State of the Union Address, the outcome is not likely to be good for Democrats.

My newsletter, The O’Leary Report, in cooperation with ATI-News, recently commissioned a poll of 10,000 likely voters with Zogby International to determine what voters in each of three categories of states think on a wide range of issues.

For polling purposes, we divided all 10,000 voters into three camps: 1) Red states that did not vote for Obama in 2008 and are unlikely to do so in 2012; 2) Blue states that did not vote for McCain in 2008 and are unlikely to vote GOP in 2012; and 3) Battleground “Green” states that could go either way in 2012. The following 12 Green states all saw significant changes brought about by statewide and congressional GOP victories and GOP wins in state legislatures as a result of the 2010 midterm elections: FL, IN, IA, MI, MO, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI.

The first question we asked voters in all three state categories is whether they think President Obama deserves re-election or if they think it is time for someone new in the White House.

Voters in Blue states would prefer someone new over President Obama by a slim 3-point margin (48% to 45%). The President should easily be able to make-up this ground once his campaign gets into full swing.

In Red states, however, voters would prefer someone new by a sizeable 22-point margin (58% to 36%), a sizeable margin that the President is unlikely to overcome. In Green states, voters want someone new in the White House by a 13-point margin (54% to 41%), showing that Obama’s quest for the critical middle-ground will be a severe uphill climb.

More trouble for the President comes with the question: “Do you approve or disapprove of the how President Obama’s economic team is handling the economy?”

Fifty-six percent of voters in Blue states disapprove, and just 42% approve. In Red states, however, the gap is much higher as 62% disapprove and only 36% approve. In the all-important Green states the gap is similar to the one in Red states with 60% of Green state voters disapproving and just 38% approving. If Green state voters continue to track with Red state voters on the matter of the economy, this spells serious trouble for Obama.

We also asked voters if they think the Democrats’ 2010 midterm election losses were the result of President Obama’s failure to sell voters on his message, or the result of Obama and the Democrats offering unpopular policies.

On this question, 60% of voters in Red states said it was unpopular Democratic policies that led to their demise, and only 19% think it had to do with the President’s inability to persuade voters. The numbers for Green state voters is similar, as 59% blame unpopular Democratic proposals, and just 22% blame the President’s salesmanship.

Sixty-two percent of voters in Red and Green states also want Congress to reduce spending and balance the budget as opposed to spending money in an effort to create jobs. Pluralities of voters in both Red and Green states (64% and 63% respectively) think the best way to create jobs is to reduce corporate taxes, regulations and red tape for businesses.

Also, 67% of Red state voters and 70% of Green state voters won’t view the President’s economic policies as successful until unemployment drops to 8% or below.

In his State of the Union address, the President made clear that he wants to invest money in green technologies and K-12 government schools. But 53% of Red state voters and 52% of Green states voters would prefer America focus on developing energy from all natural resources, including oil from the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve. Fifty-nine percent of voters from Red states and 58% from Green states think the U.S. has more immediate needs than pumping more tax dollars into government schools.

While it’s true that 2012 is a long time away (a lifetime in politics, you might say) it’s also true that Republicans have a clear upper hand right now. Voters in the so-called middle ground Green states closely resemble Red state voters in their beliefs on important issues and their attitudes toward the current Obama administration. The GOP should forge ahead confidently that it’s on the right course…for now.