Bad news comes out of the must-carry state of Pennsylvania today for Barack Obama and his re-election hopes.  Not only has Obama fallen far below water in his approval rating in the latest Quinnipiac poll, he has now dropped into a tie against a potential Republican nominee.  No, this isn’t a generic Republican, either:

The protracted slugfest over raising the national debt limit leaves President Barack Obama with a 54 – 43 percent disapproval among Pennsylvania voters, but he scores better than Republicans or Democrats in Congress, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. …

Pennsylvania voters say 52 – 42 percent that Obama does not deserve to be reelected. Matching the president against possible Republican challengers shows:

  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 44 percent to Obama’s 42 percent;
  • Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 43 percent to Obama’s 45 percent;
  • Obama leads Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann 47 – 39 percent;
  • Obama tops Texas Gov. Rick Perry 45 – 39 percent.

The internals of the poll look even worse for Obama.  The overall deserves-re-election number is 42/52, a very bad number in Democrat-heavy Pennsylvania, where Democrats account for half of all registered voters.  Independents split almost exactly the same at 42/51, and the only region in which Obama has a majority for re-election is Philadelphia.  Even among union households, which should be Obama’s bread and butter, he only gets a narrow 48/45 split, roughly a virtual tie.

The head-to-head numbers are simply embarrassing for a Democratic President in Pennsylvania, especially against a former Keystone State Senator who got blown out in his last statewide election.  There is another reason to worry, too, in that series.  Obama doesn’t get to 50% against any Republican in head-to-head matchups, usually a big red flag for incumbents.  The best he does is 47% against Michele Bachmann.

If Obama is doing this badly in Pennsylvania, it strongly suggests a big opening in the Rust Belt for Republicans next year.  Democrats in Michigan have a similar registration advantage, but not in Ohio, Indiana, or even Wisconsin, which have similar demographics as Pennsylvania and all of which Obama carried in 2008.  Obama has a big, big problem in this region, and losing Pennsylvania might just be the beginning of his woes.