Last year Barack Obama got just 43% of the vote in West Virginia and now a little more than four months into his Presidency his approval rating lags even that. Just 39% of voters in the state give him good marks with 50% saying they disapprove of his performance.
Obama's trouble here, as it was in November, is that there are an abnormally large number of Democrats who aren't supporting him. While his approval rating nationally within the party is in the 80s or higher, just 61% of West Virginia Democrats say they approve of him. He also has unusually poor reviews from independents with 53% disapproving and just 33% approving. He has a pretty standard low approval from Republicans of 11%.
Some observers might look at these numbers and be tempted to just declare that West Virginia is racist, but Obama's numbers among white voters here are almost identical to what they are in North Carolina where his overall approval numbers are quite good. The simple difference is that more than 20% of North Carolina's population is black while less than 5% of West Virginia's is, and in conservative states with small African American populations Obama just isn't going to get particularly favorable reviews.
The state's Governor and Senators all enjoy strong approval from their constituents. Joe Manchin has a 53% approval rating with 34% dissenting. In a time when many Governors are taking a hit in the court of public opinion as they share in the blame for the economy, Manchin ranks 3rd out of 11 for popularity among the Governors PPP has polled on in the last year. Manchin has less of a partisan gap in his approval numbers than almost any politician PPP has polled on recently, as 62% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans give him good reviews. Often that disparity is more like 80% among Democrats and 20% among Republicans.
Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller are both in the top third of approval ratings among 26 Senators PPP has polled on recently, with Byrd at 53% and Rockefeller at 52%. Their patterns of popularity are very similar, both meeting with support from about 75% of Democrats, 25-30% of Republicans, and 35-40% of independents.
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