Pennsylvania's looking like it could be a very tough state for Barack Obama in 2012. His approval rating there is only 42% with 52% of voters disapproving of him, and he's within the margin of error in the state against 3 potential Republican opponents, a far cry from his double digit victory there in 2008.
Obama has two major problems in the state: independents and white Democrats. A majority of independents disapprove of him- 54% give him bad marks to 39% who think he's doing a good job. More concerning is that his approval rating with Democrats is only 68%, well below the 81% we find for him nationally. He's doing fine with black Democrats- an 86% approval rating- but with white Democrats he's at only a 64/27 spread.
Those numbers suggest that a lot of the voters who fueled Hillary Clinton's primary victory in the state and then sucked it up and voted for Obama in the general election the last time around haven't been real thrilled with what they've seen from him so far and could split their tickets next year- if the Republicans put up someone who's seen as a reasonable alternative.
Obama is basically tied in the state with Mitt Romney, who he trails 43-42, Mike Huckabee, who he leads 45-44, and Rick Santorum, who he leads 45-43. What has to be concerning for Obama beyond those topline numbers is that the Republicans poll competitively with him despite the fact that they themselves are not well liked. Huckabee's net favorability is a -6 spread at 37/43, and Romney and Santorum are both at -10 spreads at 31/41 and 37/47 respectively. The fact that they tie Obama without being all that appealing makes you wonder how much trouble the President will be in here if the party's nomination process actually does result in a strong candidate.
Of course the Republicans could bail Obama out- if either Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin ended up as their party nominee. If their GOP peers are slightly unpopular Gingrich and Palin are positively reviled by voters in the state- Gingrich's favorability is 25/54 and he trails Obama 47-39 while Palin's favorability is 33/61 and she trails Obama 50-39. Obama's looking at a landslide in Pennsylvania and everywhere else for that matter if one of those folks were to somehow snag the nomination.
Obama's position in Pennsylvania is undeniably precarious- whether the GOP will be able to take advantage or not remains to be seen.
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