Barack Obama isn’t just having problems in red or purple states in this midterm cycle, as it happens. Public Policy Polling, usually seen as a Democratic-leaning pollster, says that even in states Obama won big in 2008, his numbers have sunk dramatically this year. In a dozen blue states that Obama won by nine points or more in his presidential election, his approval numbers are underwater in nine:
One of the most amazing things in our polling over the last month has been how dreadfully bad Barack Obama’s approval numbers are with likely voters in a lot of states that he won by large margins in 2008. We’ve polled 12 states since the beginning of September that Obama won by at least 9 points and in all but 3 of those states- Hawaii, California, and New York- his numbers are under water.
The states where we do now find Obama with negative numbers that he won easily in 2008- Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maine, Connecticut, Colorado, and Illinois.
In the places where the bulk of likely voters disapprove of Obama it’s not very hard to see the contribution that’s making to tough Democratic prospects this fall. Democrats at this point are favored to lose Governorships in Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Maine. Illinois and even New Hampshire are possible losses as well. The party is also favored to lose its Senate in Wisconsin, could lose them in Illinois and Colorado, looks like it will miss out on a once bright pick up opportunity in New Hampshire, and had to be bailed out by the Tea Party in Delaware.
Of course, we’re seeing that in Nevada as well, a state not mentioned by PPP, although they perhaps have not done a state-wide poll there yet that shows Obama underwater. Nevadans elected Barack Obama by almost 13 points but now have his approval rating at 48/51 in Rasmussen’s latest survey, a little better than his national average but still underwater. Nevada has two statewide races apparently affected by Obama’s popularity, at least in part — the Senate race where Harry Reid has never gotten to the 50% number that usually indicates safety for an incumbent, and a gubernatorial race that Reid’s son Rory is losing so badly that Rory dropped the family name from his advertising.
None of these changes are exactly subtle, either. New Hampshire has the smallest change in the gap, going from a +9 in the 2008 election to a -8 in PPP’s poll. Kelly Ayotte has a good grasp on the Senate race there, and Carol Shea-Porter has a fight on her hands with Frank Guinta for her House seat. In Wisconsin, Obama’s diving nunbers have all but driven a stake through the heart of Russ Feingold’s re-election bid and threatens a sweep of other statewide races, including the open governor’s seat. Obama won Wisconsin by 14 points in 2008 but now has a 41/54 approval rating for a swing of 27 points in just two years.
The bigger implications from this analysis, though, is for 2012 rather than 2010. If the economy does not improve over the next year, and hardly anyone predicts it will, then unemployment will go higher and dissatisfaction will rise even in these normally blue states. The Democratic Party may have to ask itself whether they can afford to have Barack Obama lead the party in the 2012 elections, or whether they need a change to restore confidence in their ability to govern. Otherwise, with the large number of incumbent Senators having to stand for re-election in that cycle, the tsunami that will engulf the House this cycle may return with greater force in 2012 and take almost everyone out of office. Democrats cannot compete if Obama comes into that cycle with a -13 in Wisconsin, -5 in Illinois, and -12 in Michigan.