The sentiment among voters has soured for President Obama in 12 key swing states that he won in 2008, according to a USA Today-Gallup poll released on Friday, indicating the president faces a tough battle for reelection.
GOP presidential contenders Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Rick Perry are either leading or within striking distance of the president in these toss-up states; the poll indicates a desire for change and an enthusiasm gap within the president’s base that will be a challenge for his campaign to address.
According to these estimates, Obama would need to win about half of the 151 electoral votes supplied by Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin and New Hampshire in order to secure a second term.
He’ll have his work cut out for him.
Sixty percent of swing-state voters said they were worse off than they were three years ago, versus only 37 percent who said they were better off. This is in contrast to the non-swing states, where the ratio is 54 percent to 44 percent.
In addition, nearly 75 percent of voters in the 12 swing states said they aren’t happy with the direction of the country.
In head-to-head swing-state match-ups, Obama leads Cain by three points and Perry by five. But Romney leads the president by one point in the swing states, and the nationwide poll has Obama and Romney in a 47-47 tie.
The president could also have a hard time duplicating the voter turnout that propelled him into the White House in 2008. By a margin of 2-1, Republicans in the swing states were more likely to be “extremely enthusiastic” about voting for president next year.
Without the energy of his unique and history-making 2008 run, some have speculated that the Obama campaign might have to run a considerably more negative campaign this time around. That move could backfire, as voters currently have a favorable personal view of the president.
Obama has also lost the perception that he’s the best candidate for the economy, the poll indicated. Swing-state voters “overwhelmingly prefer a Republican candidate to handle the federal budget deficit and debt,” and also prefer an unnamed Republican candidate to handle unemployment, according to the poll.
When the financial crisis struck during the 2008 election season, Obama benefited from his calm response and the fact that it was a Republican administration in office when the markets seized up.
But after three years in office, the administration has said that it now “owns” the economy, and the 9 percent unemployment rate that has shown no signs of improving.
The swing states survey polled 1,334 adults between Oct. 20 and Oct. 27, and has a 3 percent margin of error.