Gallup: Obama approval rating improving in crucial states
President Obama has seen some hits to his national approval rating over the last few weeks as residue from the bruising debt debate, although Congress is even worse off since the almost-default.
But new data from Gallup released on Monday shows a much more coherent and specific picture of Obama’s job approval as he ramps up his 2012 election campaign, and how his approval rating looks when set against the modern electoral map.
Residents of 16 states and the District of Columbia gave President Obama approval ratings of 50% or higher during the first half of 2011, led by the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware. Idaho residents had the least positive appraisal of his performance, with 27% approving.
These results are based on aggregated Gallup Daily tracking data from January through June, consisting of nearly 90,000 interviews nationally. Obama averaged 47% approval on a nationwide basis during this time. Each state’s data is weighted so it is demographically representative of the state’s population. The full data for each state can be found on page 2 of this report.
Obama’s support is greatest in the East, with 8 of his 10 highest approval ratings occurring in states located in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic region of the country. The 2 non-Eastern states ranking among the 10 highest are Obama’s home states of Hawaii and Illinois.
States giving Obama his lowest approval ratings are more varied regionally, with several in the West but also including Southern and Midwestern states.
Steady State Approval Ratings
Obama’s national half-year average approval rating of 47% matches his average nationwide approval rating for all of 2010. As such, there has been little meaningful change since 2010 in his ratings at the state level as well.
The president did receive a 50% or higher approval rating in a few more states during the first half of 2011 than he did in 2010 — 16 compared with 12, along with the District of Columbia in both time periods. His approval rating crept back to the 50% level in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in the first part of 2011 after being below that level in those states in 2010.
As President Obama prepares for his re-election bid next year, his approval ratings nationally and at the state level bear watching. Typically, presidents with approval ratings above 50% get re-elected, though George W. Bush won re-election in 2004 with a 48% approval rating at the time of the election.
Thus, a key for Obama is to try to push his national approval rating back above the 50% mark before November 2012, and to have it at or above that level in as many states as possible, given that the presidential election will be determined by the winner of the greater number of state electoral votes. Currently, a majority of states show approval ratings below 50%, though whether Obama is victorious will also depend in part on who his GOP challenger is, whether a significant third-party candidate runs, and the degree to which the president’s supporters turn out to vote.