Charlie Cook declared in his column yesterday that Barack Obama would be 'unlikely' to win Virginia today.
False. This is where we lose perspective on what the President's falling approval numbers really mean. Ok so his national approval rating was in the 60s a couple months ago and now everyone (except Rasmussen) has it in the 50s. Guess what? If you have 13% more of the people with you than against you, as today's RCP average suggests, you get reelected in a landslide.
I've said it before but it bears repeating. Obama's numbers were artificially high for most of the year. Republicans who would probably never vote for him were giving him a chance and saying they approved of his job performance. Now they, and conservative leaning independents, are not and that's bringing Obama's numbers down. But is he actually bleeding the support of people who voted for him in November? Our numbers say no. Over the course of Virginia and North Carolina polls over the last two weeks we found a 95% correlation between how people voted for President last year and whether they now approve or disapprove of Obama. 3% didn't vote for Obama and now approved of him and 2% did vote for Obama but now disapproved of him. He still has pretty much all the support he had on election day!
Now Cook may be thinking Virginia is a special case, and we did put out a dreadful approval poll for him there last week. But that was with a 2009 electorate. Reweight it for the November 2008 electorate and you had Obama's approval at 50/44, basically identical to his 52-46 margin of victory in the state.
Barack Obama would definitely win Virginia if there was an election today. His numbers may be down from their lofty heights earlier in 2009 but unless you expected him to win 480 electoral votes in 2012, it's important to be careful about the extent to which his current poll numbers really suggests any trouble for his reelection prospects three years from now.