The conventional wisdom is that Obama is doing poorly in the rust belt and that will have difficulty holding on to states he picked up in 2008 such as Ohio. Polls a year out are hardly conclusive, but a Public Policy Polling survey does show that Obama has large leads over his potential rivals in Ohio:
One person who should be feeling particularly good about last night’s election results in Ohio is Barack Obama. On our weekend poll, which got the final result of Issue 2 correct to within a point, Obama led all of his Republican opponents in the state by margins ranging from 9-17 points. After a very tough year for Democrats in Ohio in 2010, things are looking up.
Obama led Mitt Romney 50-41 on our poll. He was up 11 points on Herman Cain at 50-39, 13 on Newt Gingrich at 51-38, 14 on Ron Paul at 50-36, 14 on Michele Bachmann at 51-37 and a whooping 17 points on Rick Perry at 53-36. It used to be Sarah Palin’s numbers that we compared to Barry Goldwater, but Perry’s deficit would represent the largest Republican defeat in Ohio since 1964.
The biggest thing Obama has going for him right now is an extremely unified Democratic base. Obama gets 88-92% of his party’s vote against the six Republican candidates. What makes that particularly notable is that his approval rating with Democratic voters is actually only 73%. But these numbers suggest that when election time comes around the party base will get around Obama whether they’re totally thrilled with him or not, and that’s a very good sign for his reelection prospects.
Obama continues to suffer from poor approval ratings in Ohio with only 41% of voters approving of him to 49% who disapprove. But voters don’t seem to consider any of his opponents to be viable alternatives. Cain has the best favorability of the bunch at a still poor 33/43 and it just gets worse from there- 28/48 for Romney, 31/51 for Gingrich, 24/47 for Bachmann, 20/50 for Paul, and a truly woeful 17/58 for Perry. This field of GOP contenders just doesn’t seem to have much appeal to swing state voters.
Besides calling into question the predictions that Obama will lose Ohio next year, this poll also shows that there is limited correlation between approval ratings and ability to win a state. With the Republican Party now under the control of extremists who have moved far to the right of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, it is possible that Obama can win states despite mediocre approval ratings. It is also very likely that Obama’s approval will improve once he is seen in a head to head contest with a bat-shit crazy Republican.