It is less than 15 months until the election and a lot can change between now and November 2012. But has an incumbent president ever overcome a disadvantage such as Obama faces in Florida?
Ed Morrissey points us to this Magellan survey that has bad news, more bad news, and "we better keep sharp objects away from the president while he's reading this" news:
Is it too early to say that Barack Obama has lost Florida? Not according to a new survey from Magellan Strategies, which finds the incumbent sharply under water in all key election categories. His job approval and re-elect numbers are an identical 37/57, while his "image rating" - favorability - is almost as bad:
Obama won Florida in 2008 by three points over John McCain in a close-fought battle. Turnout in that election favored Democrats by three points, 37/34/29. In 2010, as Republicans rebounded in the Tea Party midterms, the turnout evened up at 36/36/29. In the Magellan sample, Democrats have a three-point edge at 42/39/19, with independents obviously undersampled. That model assumes Democrats turn out in stronger numbers in 2012 than they did in 2008, which seems highly unlikely for an incumbent with 37/57 re-elect and 40/55 favorability numbers.
If he's hoping for help with independents, he can forget it. The underrepresentation of independents in this survey probably helped Obama with these numbers rather than hurt him. His favorability among indies is 35/53, worse than the overall number. Obama's job approval among indies is 37/56, just about the same as the overall number.
Even with the somewhat-friendly sampling, Obama loses all three head-to-head matchups posed by Magellan. Mitt Romney beats Obama by ten points, 49/39, and Rick Perry beats him by 7 at 46/39. Obama only gets into the 40s against Michele Bachmann, who still edges him by a single point, 43/42. Romney wins an eleven-point margin among the undersampled independents (44/33) and Perry wins that category by 7 (38/31). Only Bachmann loses the independent vote 33/37 to Obama. Romney is the only Republican to win both men and women (Perry gets edged by a single point, Bachmann down 7), but all three win the senior vote - and all three win Hispanic voters by landslide margins.
How many are "changeables" in this survey? Professional pollsters have little tricks that allow them to gauge voter commitment. They throw in questions worded differently but that should elicit the same answer from the respondent. It's not unusual to get a changeable number in the 40's at this point, so we should be wary to get too far ahead of ourselves.
But there is little doubt that these numbers should be setting off fire alarms in the White House. Obama can't even crack 40% against virtually unknown Republicans and the independent numbers, as Ed points out, are ludicrously bad.
It would also seem that Obama is personally disliked. You might change someone's mind in a hurry about policy working or not working, but people rarely change their opinion quickly of a candidate personally.
All this shows that the Obama campaign has a towering mountain to climb if they are to get back to a competitive stature in Florida.