Quinnipiac: Obama Struggles in Ohio, Pennsylvania

Quinnipiac: Obama Struggles in Ohio, Pennsylvania

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - September 28, 2011

President Obama's approval ratings are 11 points under water in Ohio and Pennsylvania, critical swing states he won in 2008. Complicating the president's re-election chances, a majority of voters in both battlegrounds say they don't want to send Obama back to the White House for a second term, according to a pair of Quinnipiac University polls released Wednesday.

In Ohio, voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president, 53 percent to 42 percent. Independents give the president a lower score: 56 percent disapprove of his job performance while 38 percent approve. He receives majority support from his base (77 percent approve) but 19 percent of Democrats give him a poor job-performance grade. Men disapprove by 58 percent to 39 percent while the disapproval rate among women is much narrower, 49 percent to 45 percent.

By a 51 percent to 43 percent margin, Ohio voters say the president does not deserve to be re-elected. Again, he struggles among independents: 53 percent don’t want to give him a second term while 37 percent do.

Among the several candidates hoping to succeed the president, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the pack in Ohio, attracting 24 percent of the support. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is close behind with 20 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who still hasn’t announced her presidential intentions, rounds out the top three with 9 percent. Businessman Herman Cain garners 7 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul receives 6 percent. None of the remaining candidates polls above 4 percent. When the two Republican front-runners are paired against each other in a head-to-head matchup, 42 percent back Perry while 38 percent back Romney.

Obama maintains a slim edge over his top two challengers in Ohio, a state he won in 2008 by five points. The president  leads Romney, 44 percent to 42 percent, and tops Perry, 44 percent to 41 percent. Obama edges Perry among independents, 38 percent to 35 percent. But that group is split between Obama and Romney, each of whom takes 39 percent.

While Ohio will help decide who wins the presidency in 2012, the Buckeye State will also help determine the balance of power in the Senate, as incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown is up for re-election. Brown leads his top challenger, Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel, 49 percent to 36 percent, in this poll.

Obama’s numbers look similar in Pennsylvania, a state he won by 10 points in 2008. Voters there disapprove of the job he is doing as president, 54 percent to 43 percent. Independents there disapprove, 57 percent to 41 percent.

By a 51 percent to 44 percent margin, voters say that Obama does not deserve a second term. The margin among independents is slightly narrower: 49 percent don’t want to send him back to Washington while 44 percent say they do.

As in Ohio, Obama maintains slim leads over his Republican rivals. The president attracts 45 percent to Romney’s 43 percent. Romney takes independents by a four-point margin. Obama tops Perry, 46 percent to 40 percent, and takes independents by nine points. Notably, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has been languishing in the polls, comes within a stone’s throw of Obama, drawing 42 percent support to the president’s 45 percent. But the president wins among independents by seven points against Santorum.

Romney leads the GOP field in Pennsylvania, attracting 18 percent of the support, but Perry is close behind with 16 percent. Santorum garners 12 percent, Palin receives 8 percent, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann gets 6 percent. None of the remaining candidates polls above 5 percent.

Pennsylvania will also hold a Senate contest in 2012, as first-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is up for re-election. He maintains a 46 percent to 30 percent job approval rating at a time when Keystone State voters give Congress a dismal approval grade of 25 percent (69 percent disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job). Casey leads an unnamed Republican challenger, 50 percent to 31 percent, and by a 48 percent to 31 percent margin voters say he should be re-elected.

In Pennsylvania, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,370 registered voters, including 541 Republicans, from Sept. 21-26 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. The sampling error for Republicans is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

In Ohio, the poll surveyed 1,301 registered voters, including 423 Republicans, from Sept. 20-25 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. The sampling error for Republicans is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. 

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

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