Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Good news and bad news for Obama in VA

Barack Obama's numbers are the weakest they've been in Virginia since before the 2010 election, but he still leads all of his top potential Republican opponents for next year by at least 4 points in the state.

Obama's approval is in slightly negative territory now with 47% of voters giving him good marks while 48% disapprove. On our last poll, conducted shortly after the capture of Osama bin Laden, he was at 51/44. He had also been on positive ground our previous two surveys before that. In March it was 48/45 and last November it was 50/45.

There's no one place where Obama has seen any particularly drastic shift in his numbers since our last Virginia poll. With Democrats his approval is still a very solid 89%, but it's down from the almost remarkable 94% it stood at in May. And with Republicans his disapproval, which was already pretty unanimous at 88%, has ticked up even further to 93%. If there's a silver lining for Obama in his 8 point net approval drop since May in Virginia it's that his approval with independents has remained steady at 48%, with 42% disapproving of him at this point.

Despite his declining popularity Obama continues to lead all of the top Republican candidates in the state. It's only a 4 point advantage against Mitt Romney at 47-43 but he has pretty healthy leads against the other contenders- 9 points over both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry at 49-40 and 48-39 respectively, an 11 point advantage over Herman Cain at 49-38, and a 14 point one over Sarah Palin at 51-37.

This is the first time we've tested Bachmann, Perry, and Cain in Virginia. Obama's lead over Romney is down 7 points from an 11 point advantage at 51-40 in May but he's only shed one point against Palin, his 14 point edge almost identical to the 15 point one he had at 55-40 the last time around.

Obama's really benefiting from the unpopularity of the Republican candidate field in the state. All 5 of the candidates we tested have net negative favorability ratings both overall and specifically with independent voters. Cain's numbers are the 'best,' such as it is with a -8 spread at 27/35. He's followed by Perry at -10 (25/35), Romney at -15 (34/49), Bachmann at -19 (30/49), and Palin at -34 (28/62).

The overall take from these numbers is that Virginia continues to look like it could be something of a firewall for Obama, making it the most important state in next year's contest. We found last week that Obama was tied with Romney nationally, performing 7 points behind his margin of victory against John McCain. But here his 4 point advantage over Romney is only 2 points worse than he did against McCain, meaning that Obama's running more or less 5 points better in Virginia compared to 2008 than he is in the rest of the country.

Virginia was in some sense icing on the cake for Obama last time- he was glad to win it, but he didn't necessarily need it to win. Now with his numbers flagging in places like Pennsylvania that are more traditionally Democratic Virginia may well be a critical part of Obama's path to 270 electoral votes next year. Combine that with the Kaine/Allen Senate race and you have the biggest state in the country next year.

Full results here


I Am Iron Man said...

It seems quite obvious from your polling that Romney is the GOP's only chance. Smart Democrats should be doing everything they can to try to get the Republicans to choose one of these other ... candidates.

Operation Mayhem! ... which GOP primaries are open? Vote for Michele Bachmann!

Hell.. I may even register as a Republican to do it.

Some would say that's against the spirit of democracy --- I would say it's time to fight as dirty as they do!

Anonymous said...

Nice to see Virginia on its way to becoming a blue state.

Having spent the first 18 years of my life there, I remember thinking I would never see that day.

wt said...

Governor McDonnell, your office phone is ringing.

Anonymous said...

Did no one notice how in a Bachmann/Obama matchup, 19% of Republicans are undecided, while only 2% of Democrats are undecided.

Anonymous said...

Ron Paul is 3rd among announced Republican candidates, according to poll averages.

Ron Paul does 2nd best to Romney among all Republican candidates against Obama.

So why wouldn't he be included here?

Ranjit said...


When someone is so unpopular like obama, you are under estimating the surge in conservatives on election day ! In the other side, the usual democrat base of African Americans will not turn out in huge numbers when they have 16.2 % unemployment numbers ! Republican candidate will win virginia along with North Carolina !

Because in 2010, I saw these kind of polls and also there were tag lines saying that things will not be so bad for Democrats,if African Americans turn out in huge numbers ! Obama did go to BET and tried his best ! Did they turn up? No ! It is just moment in time, where "If"s don't work during wave elections !

Stephen Monteith said...

What are you talking about, Anonymous? I've lived in Virginia my entire life, and it's always been purple. It has had practically an even number of Democratic versus Republican governors, with perhaps a slight edge going to the Democrats. We elected the first black governor in the entire country; not New York or California, but Virginia. We're about as evenly split as a state can get. Except that we're a commonwealth.

Naman said...

If Ranjit is any example, PPP should be expecting e-mails from Manmohan Singh, Pratibha Patil, and Sonia Gandhi in the next few days, a la the Burmese example.

Special people are special.

Naman said...

@Anonymous 4:57 PM:

Donald Trump has already given the reason regarding Ron Paul.

Ron Paul has zero chance of being president.

Anonymous said...

Look at the margin between the President and any prospective opponent; that matters far more than does the raw approval and disapproval numbers. Americans are rightly unsatisfied with the economy and the impasse on the debt ceiling.

The Republicans are going to need a miracle to win against President Obama. If Americans are more fussy about the results that the President gets than they were six years ago, then that applies to Republican opponents as well as to the President.

He'll have to campaign in Virginia and have a campaign apparatus there to win the state, which is just as well, as that will help the Senate nominee and some Congressional nominees.

Anonymous said...

Re: Stephen,

I was talking more about VA on a presidential level. Governors are quite a separate thing. Consider that Massachusetts has had a lot of GOP govs even though practically no one considers that a purple state. People vote very differently on a state level than they do on a federal level.

Anonymous said...

Obama's not going to win Virgina next year.

Anonymous said...

"I Am Iron Man" is a plant. Virginia doesn't have party registration.

NRH said...

It's the same thing that we saw in 2008. The Paultards will be out squealing about how everyone under the sun is conspiring against them (which is, to be fair, a standard part of the Republican mantra in general - but they apply it to Republicans too). They'll insist that despite all evidence to the contrary he has some remote chance of winning the Republican primary, or the oft-disproven claim that THIS is the year a Libertarian can win. Then the primary will prove once again that Ron Paul is a fringe kook with a small but intense cult following, and they'll spend the rest of the campaign crying how Ron Paul would have been so much better. It'll also be declared a party-shattering snub when he's not offered the VP slot. As in 2008, no one will care.

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