Battleground Polls: Obama Headed for a 'Landslide' Loss?

Posted: Jul 27, 2011 10:59 AM

As you enjoy this delectable analysis of President Obama's vulnerability, be mindful of a few caveats:  It's very early, and President Obama generally polls better against actual GOP opponents than he does against a "generic" Republican.  Also, his head-to-head numbers tend to outperform his approval rating. Still, this data once again underscores the point that this president is eminently beatable next year.  Pre-emptive Republican resignation to a loss is badly misplaced, as is Democratic chest-puffery.  Do these numbers project an aura of invincibility to you?

The race for president isn’t a national contest. It’s a state-by-state battle to cobble an electoral vote majority. So while the national polls are useful in gauging the president’s popularity, the more instructive numbers are those from the battlegrounds.  Those polls are even more ominous for the president: In every reputable battleground state poll conducted over the past month, Obama’s support is weak. In most of them, he trails Republican front-runner Mitt Romney.  For all the talk of a closely fought 2012 election, if Obama can’t turn around his fortunes in states such as Michigan and New Hampshire, next year’s presidential election could end up being a GOP landslide.

This National Journal story focuses on four swing states -- Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Ohio, all of which Obama won in 2008 -- to buttress its thesis:

In Iowa, where Republican presidential contenders are getting in their early licks against the president, his approval has taken a hit. In a Mason-Dixon poll conducted for a liberal-leaning group, Romney held a lead of 42 percent to 39 percent over the president, with 19 percent undecided. Even hyper-conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann ran competitively against Obama in the Hawkeye State, trailing 47 percent to 42 percent.

In Michigan, a reliably Democratic state that Obama carried with 57 percent of the vote, an EPIC-MRA poll conducted July 9-11 finds him trailing Romney, 46 percent to 42 percent. Only 39 percent of respondents grade his job performance as “excellent” or good,” with 60 percent saying it is “fair” or “poor.”

The July Granite State Poll pegs the president’s approval at 46 percent among New Hampshire voters, with 49 percent disapproving. A separate robo-poll conducted this month by Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling shows him trailing Romney in the state, 46 percent to 44 percent.

[In] Ohio, a perennial battleground in which Obama has campaigned more than in any other state (outside of the D.C. metropolitan region). Fifty percent of Ohio voters now disapprove of his job performance, compared with 46 percent who approve, according to a Quinnipiac poll conducted from July 12-18.  Among Buckeye State independents, only 40 percent believe that Obama should be reelected, and 42 percent approve of his job performance.

Make no mistake: President Obama will run a cash-rich, slick, deeply negative campaign.  To underestimate his skill as a campaigner would be a terrible miscalculation.  I also don't adhere to one conservative school of thought that suggests the identity of the GOP nominee doesn't matter because the election will be a pure referendum on Obama.  That said, he can be gotten.