Obama's path to 270 electoral votes is narrowing
A recent Gallup survey of all 50 states shows President Obama's difficulties in getting re-elected.
Today, Obama would be in a slightly weaker position almost everywhere than the Gallup numbers indicate. The state-by-state approval numbers are based on the aggregated results of Gallup's nightly tracking poll from January to June -- some 90,000 interviews in all. Gallup divided the results by state, and reweighted the findings so that they are demographically representative of each local electorate. In the interviews used to generate the state-level results, Obama's overall national approval rating averaged 47 percent; in the most recent weekly Gallup average, Obama had fallen to 42 percent. That decline is reflected in some more recent state polls showing Obama in a more vulnerable position than the Gallup findings, for instance Quinnipiac University surveys in Florida and Pennsylvania.
If Obama's national approval rating next fall remains around its current 42 percent, it's almost inconceivable that he could win enough states to assemble an Electoral College majority. But if the president manages to restore his national approval rating to at least the 47 percent level reflected in the Gallup results, the state-level breakdown offers a preview of what the map might look like in a competitive race.
At that level of national support, the Gallup numbers show, Obama's potential 2012 map features elements of stability -- albeit, at a lower baseline than in 2008. Obama's approval rating in the Gallup compilation trailed his 2008 share of the vote in every state except Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi and, intriguingly, Georgia. Most of the sharpest declines have come in states that Obama won last time, including New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Yet despite that slippage, Obama retains an approval rating of 50 percent or greater in 15 of the 18 "blue-wall" states that have voted Democratic in at least the past five consecutive presidential elections, plus the District of Columbia which has also backed Democrats that reliably. Those bricks in the blue wall are the only states in which Obama's approval rating reaches the 50 percent level, considered the most telling indicator of an incumbent's prospects. Obama's approval rating checks in just slightly below 50 percent, though it exceeds his disapproval rating, in two of the other three blue-wall states, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Among the blue-wall states, only in Oregon does Obama's disapproval rating (48 percent) exceed his approval rating (44 percent).
The bottom line is this; the president won't have any margin for error. Some of the states he won in 2008 - Indiana, North Carolina, and Florida - are trending heavily for the GOP and Virginia isn't far behind. Meanwhile, he appears to have little chance to pick up any states won by John McCain in 2008.
I don't envy the task ahead for Obama's political team. But, as the director of one of Obama's PAC's points out, the president has a solid base of support - probably around 40% - and that they will support him no matter what the economy will be like on election day.