Obama trails Romney, Perry in Virginia poll

In 2008, Barack Obama sailed to victory over John McCain in Virginia by six points in the normally Republican state, promising “hope and change.”  According to a new poll from Roanoke College in Virginia, Obama certainly brought change.  The incumbent President trails both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, and can only muster 33% support against a generic Republican — twenty points below his popular-vote percentage in 2008 (via Jim Geraghty):

With 14 months remaining until the 2012 election, Virginia’s U.S. Senate race is a statistical dead heat. Republican George Allen leads Democrat Tim Kaine 42% to 39% with 19% undecided. President Obama trails some potential Republican opponents, but he leads others. The generic (unnamed) Republican leads Obama 41% to 33%; Mitt Romney leads 45% to 37%; and Rick Perry leads by an statistically insignificant 42% to 40%. At the same time, Obama leads potential opponents Michele Bachmann (46% to 35%), Ron Paul (43% to 33%), and Sarah Palin (50% to 31%). Looking only at registered voters, none of those margins change by more than 1 percent and several do not change at all. Within two key groups, Kaine leads among Moderates (52%-30%), but Allen leads among Independents (42%-33%). Obama also performs better among Moderates and not as well with Independents.

The really bad news?  Roanoke polled adults, not registered or likely voters.  Democrats tend to do much better in polls that don’t screen for registration, which means that a more predictive sample would undoubtedly have produced even less pleasant results for Obama.  The poll sample slightly favors Republicans, however, with a D/R/I of 26/29/29 and an oddly high proportion of unknowns (8.6%) and “others” (7.2%).  In 2008, the exit poll showed a D/R/I of 39/33/27, which means that a significant number of the “other” and unknown affiliation categories may represent Democrats more strongly.

Obama has bad news pretty much across the board.  His job approval rating has sunk to 39/54.  In contrast, respondents give their own Representative a 41/36 approval rating, although Congress as a whole only gets 12% approval.  He loses to both of the presumed Republican frontrunners, only getting to 40% against Perry and less than that against Romney, either of which would be a disaster for an incumbent.  He does better against the three other Republicans mentioned above, but never gets to 50% against any of them. Obviously, this came before Herman Cain’s impressive showing in the P5 Florida straw poll, so Roanoke didn’t include him in the polling.

Getting a 33% against a generic Republican candidate shows that Obama will have a very difficult time carrying Virginia again in 2012.  Don’t be surprised if his campaign only puts up enough of a campaign in the state to protect down-ticket Democrats next year.  Their money will have to go towards shoring up his standing in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

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