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Obama Gets Low Grades in Virginia

Obama Gets Low Grades in Virginia

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - September 15, 2011


President Obama's job approval rating has dropped eight points in the past three months in the battleground state of Virginia -- where his seven-point victory in 2008 helped propel him to the White House.

A majority of voters in the Old Dominion disapprove of the job the president is doing, 54 percent to 40 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. In June, his approval was split, 48 percent to 48 percent. Notably, Obama’s rating among independents is much more dismal: Only 29 percent approve of the job he is doing as president while 62 percent disapprove. He still receives high marks from his political base, but even those numbers have dropped nine points.

These grades suggest a challenging road ahead for the president, who was in Virginia last week selling his jobs plan, in his 2012 re-election bid. In hypothetical head-to-head matchups, he runs neck-and-neck with the top Republican challengers for the White House, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Obama holds a slight edge, 44 percent to 42 percent, over Perry in a direct matchup, but trails Romney by the same margin.

"At this point Romney and Perry both are in a horse race against President Barack Obama, challenging Romney's 'electability' argument," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement released with the poll. "The big difference is among independent voters, where Romney holds a solid 44-35 percent lead, and Perry is in a 40-40 percent dead heat with the president."

Though Perry comes in slightly behind the president, he leads the Republican primary race in Virginia. The three-term governor attracts 25 percent of support from Republican voters compared to 19 percent for Romney. Texas Rep. Ron Paul rounds out the top three with 8 percent. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is next with 7 percent. Businessman Herman Cain garners 6 percent, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has 5 percent support. None of the remaining candidates receive more than 4 percent support.

In addition to being a key state in the presidential election, Virginia will feature a competitive U.S. Senate race between two former governors -- Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine -- that could help determine which party controls the upper chamber. According to the poll, Allen, who is also a former senator, holds a marginal 45 percent to 44 percent edge over Kaine, who recently finished serving as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Both candidates receive strong support from their respective bases, and Kaine holds a slight two-point lead among independents.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,368 registered voters, including 591 Republicans, from Sept. 7-12. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. The sampling error for the Republican primary is plus or minus 4 percent.

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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