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President Obama Loses Support in Pennsylvania

President Obama Loses Support in Pennsylvania

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - August 2, 2011


Voters in the key swing state of Pennsylvania have some troubling news for President Obama: A majority say he doesn't deserve another four years in the White House.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday, 52 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters say the president does not deserve a second term while 42 percent support his re-election.

The president’s job approval ratings are also underwater in the Keystone State, 43 percent to 54 percent. The majority of independent voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing, 56 percent to 40 percent. By a nine-point margin, 51 percent of this important voting bloc don’t think the president deserves re-election.

In a hypothetical head-to-head general election matchup, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads Obama by a slim margin of 44 percent to 42 percent. The two candidates split independent voters, each garnering 39 percent support.

Perhaps more worrisome for the president, though, is that he holds only a two-point edge (within the poll’s margin of error) over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a long-shot for the GOP nomination but a candidate Obama led by 11 points in the last Quinnipiac poll, conducted in June.

Obama won Pennsylvania by 10 points in 2008, and the state will again be key for the president in his 2012 re-election bid. The state has gone for the Democrats in the last five presidential elections.

Though Obama struggles against Romney and Santorum, he fares slightly better against two candidates who have been surging in national polls in recent weeks. The president leads Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann by eight points and Texas Gov. Rick Perry by six points. He leads both among independents by at least eight points. (Perry has not yet announced his candidacy.)

Romney tops these Republican challengers in a ballot test of the GOP primary with 21 percent support. Santorum comes in second with 14 percent, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin rounds out the top three with 12 percent. Bachmann is close behind with 11 percent support, up from 5 percent in June. Perry garnered 8 percent backing from voters. None of remaining candidates received more than 5 percent support.

Meanwhile, the state’s two senators, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey, enjoy positive approval ratings. Casey is up for re-election in 2012, and 47 percent to 35 percent want to send him back to the Senate over a Republican candidate. But with the debt debate coming to a dramatic close this week, most voters disapprove of the job lawmakers are doing in Washington: 68 percent don’t like the way Republicans are handling their jobs, and 67 percent give Democrats a poor performance rating. President Obama emerges from the debt-debate slightly better off than Republicans, as 44 percent to 37 percent say he acted more responsibly than GOP members of Congress.

For this poll, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,358 registered voters from July 25 to 31. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. For the 532 Republicans surveyed, the margin of error is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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