Pennsylvania is looking more and more like it could be a tough hold for Barack Obama in 2012. His approval rating in the state continues to be under water at 46/48. More voters have expressed disapproval than happiness with Obama on all three polls PPP has done in the state so far in 2011. And even though Obama took Pennsylvania by 10 points in 2008 the best he can muster right now in a head to head match up with Mitt Romney is a tie.
Obama's problem in Pennsylvania appears to be the 'Hillary Democrats' finally causing him a real issue. There was a lot of speculation in 2008 that they wouldn't vote for him in the general election but in the end they did. Now though his approval rating with Democrats in the state is only 74%, well below his national numbers, and with white Democrats it goes down even further to 70%. Meanwhile Republicans are much more unified in their disapproval of Obama (85%, with only 10% approving) and the President's not getting any favors from independents either who break down slightly negatively (44/45) in their assessments of him.
Obama's poll numbers are worse in Pennsylvania than they are in places like Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and New Mexico, all states that went Republican in 2004 even as Pennsylvania voted Democratic. The President's persistently poor numbers in a state that's gone Democratic in every Presidential election for the last 24 years probably make Pennsylvania the place where Obama should be most concerned about his current standing.
It does though look like the Republicans are going to need to nominate Mitt Romney to take advantage of Obama's weakness in the state. He fights Obama to a tie while all the rest of the Republicans, including home state candidate Rick Santorum, trail him by at least 7 points. Obama and Romney run even at 44% with the former Massachusetts Governor picking up 18% of the Democratic vote and holding 80% support from GOP voters. None of the other Republicans get more than 15% of the Democrats and Romney's the only one who gets 80% of his own party's vote.
After Romney the next strongest candidate is Michele Bachmann who trails by 7 points at 50-43. Then it's Tim Pawlenty down 8 at 47-39, Santorum with a 10 point deficit at 50-40, Hermain Cain 12 points behind at 49-37, and Sarah Palin as always bringing up the rear with a 14 point disadvantage at 53-39.
If there's one thing Obama does have going for him in Pennsylvania it's that voters don't think much of any of his prospective Republican opponents either. Bachmann has the 'best' favorability rating but it's still a -7 spread at 34/41. That's followed by Romney (35/46) and Cain (22/33) at -11, Pawlenty (21/39) at -18, Palin (36/57) at -21, and Santorum (31/54) at -23. Obama's able to tie Romney and lead the rest of the GOP hopefuls despite his own unpopularity because they are even more unpopular. It's just another reminder that with the economy still doing poorly Obama's best hope may be for the Republicans to put forth someone so unpalatable that he wins on a sort of 'lesser of two evils' vote.
Pennsylvania looks like it will be a lot tougher for Democrats than it was last time and Obama's struggles there are going to make keeping the Virginias and Colorados and North Carolinas of the world that much more important to his reelection prospects.
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