It may be the Midwest- rather than the South- that proves to be the worst region for Democrats at the polls this year. We've polled on Barack Obama's approval rating in 16 states since the beginning of March. In 6 of those his approval rating is 10 points or worse than the share of the vote he got on election day- and all but one of them is a Big Ten state.
Obama's approval in California on our last poll represented a 12 point drop from his 2008 performance. The other five ones are all Midwestern- Illinois (50% approval, 62% 2008 vote), Ohio (40% approval, 51% 2008 vote), Michigan (46% approval, 57% 2008 vote), Iowa (43% approval, 54% 2008 vote) and Wisconsin (46% approval, 56% 2008 vote.)
Some of the ramifications of Obama's flagging popularity in the region are already clear. Right now there are Democratic Governors in all 5 of these states. It is entirely possible there will be Republican Governors in all of them at this time next year- Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan show clear advantages for the GOP right now, Wisconsin's leaning that way, and Ohio's a tossup.
What may be more concerning for Democrats is what we're not seeing polling for on a systematic basis and that's the House races in these states, as well as Indiana where we haven't polled in 2010. The smattering of House polls we've seen for Democrats in the region has been bad, and that's hardly a surprise when you see how far Obama's fallen across the region. Obviously the GOP is going to have to do well everywhere to reclaim the House this fall but the Midwest may provide the greatest wealth of opportunities for gains that they need to take advantage of.