Gallup has just released Barack Obama’s job approval rating for the first half of 2012, broken down by state, and the news is not encouraging for the president.
Obama’s approval rating is below 50 percent in 37 states, ranging from a 26 percent rating in Utah to a 49 percent rating in Michigan. Obama is at 50 percent or higher in just 13 states, from a 50 percent rating in Minnesota to a 63 percent rating in Hawaii. The president is most popular in Washington DC, where his job approval rating is an astonishing 83 percent.
After DC, Obama’s top ten states are: Hawaii 63 percent; Rhode Island 58 percent; Vermont 56 percent; New York 55 percent; Massachusetts 55 percent; Maryland 55 percent; New Jersey 53 percent; Connecticut 53 percent; California 52 percent; and Washington 51 percent.
Finishing up the 13 states in which Obama has his head above the water: Illinois 51 percent; Delaware 51 percent; and Minnesota 50 percent.
The ten states where Obama’s approval is lowest are: Utah 26 percent; Wyoming 28 percent; Alaska 29 percent; West Virginia 31 percent; Idaho 31 percent; Montana 34 percent; Oklahoma 35 percent; Alabama 36 percent; Tennessee 37 percent; and North Dakota 37 percent.
States where Obama is just below the 50 percent mark are: Michigan 49 percent; Wisconsin 49 percent; Maine 47 percent; Oregon 47 percent; and Iowa, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania — all key electoral states — where Obama is at 46 percent.
“The 50 percent approval mark is significant because post-World War II incumbent presidents who have been above 50 percent job approval on Election Day were easily re-elected,” write Gallup. “Presidents with approval ratings below 50% have more uncertain re-election prospects. Historically, two presidents below 50% in their final approval rating before the election — George W. Bush and Harry Truman — won, and three, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush, lost.”
The District of Columbia and the states in which Obama is at 50 percent or above have a combined 188 electoral votes — a solid beginning toward the 270 he needs for re-election. But a number of the states Obama will need to win — Ohio, at 44 percent, and Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, all at 46 percent — are in the iffy mid-40s range.
Obama’s total of 13 states in positive job approval territory is actually a slight improvement from 2011, where he was above water in just ten states.
Finally, a note on Washington DC. Some readers might attribute Obama’s rating there solely to his enduring popularity among black voters, but Washington is no longer a majority-black city. (The black population dipped below 50 percent last year.) Obama is popular with nearly everyone in the capital. Among those who work for the government and for government-related businesses — the permanent bureaucracy centered in Washington DC, northern Virginia and southern Maryland — approval of the president remains very high.