The Keystone to Obama's Re-Election

The Keystone to Obama's Re-Election

By Tom Bevan - April 29, 2011

If you're looking for ways to boil the 2012 presidential race down to its simplest form, here's one of the easiest: it's nearly impossible to envision any way Barack Obama can win re-election next year if he loses Pennsylvania. No Keystone State, no second term. It really is that simple.

As of right now, things are looking dicey for the president in Pennsylvania. Two weeks ago, the Democratic polling firm PPP released a survey showing the president's job approval rating at just 42% among Pennsylvania voters.

Yesterday, Quinnipiac University confirmed PPP's findings with a survey of their own conducted in Pennsylvania last week showing an identical job rating of 42% for the president - a new low for Obama since taking office.

Worse still for the president, for the first time the Quinnipiac poll found a majority of Pennsylvania voters saying that Obama does not deserve to be re-elected.

The numbers show a sharp decline in Obama's standing in the Keystone State over the last nine weeks - particularly among Independents. In the last Quinnpiac survey, taken in mid-February of this year, Independents approved of the job Obama was doing as president by a net 4-point margin, 50 to 46. Today they disapprove of the job he's doing by a net 20-point margin, 37 to 57.

What has caused Independents to sour so dramatically on Obama in the last two months? That's hard to say for sure, but a continued sluggish economic recovery, rising gas prices, a nasty partisan fight over the budget, and a hastily planned military intervention in Libya that appears to have bogged down into a stalemate are all probably taking a toll.

Additionally, G. Terry Madonna, Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., says President Obama's demeanor and perceived lack of empathy may also be creating a disconnect with the state's Independent voters.

"Like Obama or not," says Madonna, "he just doesn't relate very well. He hasn't been very good or very sensitive on matters of the recession."

Obama's trouble with Independents in Pennsylvania is no small matter, because most experts believe he can't win the state without them.

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Tom Bevan is the co-founder and Executive Editor of RealClearPolitics and the co-author of Election 2012: A Time for Choosing. Email:, Twitter: @TomBevanRCP

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