President Obama enjoys a slight advantage in the key battleground state of Ohio going into his 2012 reelection.

A slight plurality of Ohioans said that Obama deserves reelection, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Forty-eight percent of registered voters in the Buckeye State said that Obama deserves a second term, while 44 percent believe he does not. Eight percent said they didn't know.

Those numbers are encouraging for the Democratic president just months after many Democrats lost badly in the state in the 2010 elections. That was despite a concentrated effort by Obama and Vice President Biden to barnstorm in the state more than any other this cycle, partially in a proxy battle with the top House Republican, now-Speaker John Boehner, who represents a Cincinnati district.

Obama enjoys a 44-39 percent advantage over a generic Republican candidate in the state, while 11 percent of voters said their choice would depend on the candidate.

The president also enjoys a net-positive approval rating in Ohio, one that has rebounded slightly from earlier this year, when an April Quinnipiac poll showed him with a 50 percent disapproval rating. Now 49 percent of Ohioans approve of the way Obama is handling his job, and 46 percent disapprove, with 5 percent undetermined.

The importance of Ohio in modern elections as a bellwether can't be overstated; no candidate has won control of the White House without winning Ohio in the Electoral College since 1960.

The poll, conducted Jan. 12-17, has a 2.7 percent margin of error.