Our Presidential numbers in Ohio provide further evidence that the state has swung back toward the Democrats since the November election. Barack Obama now has narrowly positive approval numbers in the state at 47% giving him good marks to 46% who are unhappy with the job he's doing. And he leads his top prospective Republican opponents for next year by margins ranging from 6 to 16 points.
This is the first time in six PPP surveys of Ohio since June 2009 that Obama's had more voters approving of him than disapproving. In December 42% of voters expressed approval of him while 49% disapproved. The key to his improved standing is that the base has rallied around him. Where only 71% of Democrats expressed approval of him on that poll, 84% of Democrats do now. The first couple years of the Obama administration featured a lot of Democrats fighting with each other- now that they've sort of unified around a common enemy in the form of John Kasich it seems to be leading to a more united party up and down the line.
There's certainly bad news for Obama in his approval numbers too. He remains unpopular with independents, only 39% of whom approve of him to 49% who disapprove. And his already pretty much nonexistent support from Republicans has shrunk even further from 11% to 7%. Still having his own party's voters behind him puts him in the best shape he's been in the state since the early months of his tenure.
Obama leads all of the top Republicans in the state by margins greater than his 4 point win over John McCain in 2008. Mitt Romney is the most competitive, trailing Obama by 6 points at 46-40. After him it's Mike Huckabee trailing by 7 at 48-41, Newt Gingrich down 12 at 50-38, and Sarah Palin at a 16 point advantage, 52-36.
Why is Obama up by so much when voters are so evenly divided on him? It's because voters in the state are very negative toward the Republican candidate field. Huckabee has the best favorability but it still comes in at a -6 spread at 36/42. After him it's Romney at -10 (33/43), Palin at -28 (31/59), and Gingrich at -32 (24/56). Our national poll yesterday also found Gingrich with worse favorability numbers than Palin, it's kind of hard to imagine his last couple of weeks could have been much more of a disaster.
What might be most telling about how unappealing the Republicans are is that even though independents don't like Obama they'd still vote for him by 8 points over Huckabee, 15 points over Gingrich, and 17 points over Palin while trailing Romney by just 2 with them. Those voters may not be big on Obama but for now they're not seeing any of the prospective GOP candidates as particularly viable alternatives.
Ohio joins Virginia and Colorado as states PPP has polled since the beginning of February that George W. Bush won in both 2000 and 2004 where Obama now leads all of his prospective opponents for next year by at least 6 points. There's no way Republicans can win the White House back if that continues to be the case.
Full results here