A Friday afternoon dispatch at the Politico from Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein tells us that “The White House is putting the finishing touches on a post-Labor Day schedule that will send the president to states where he’s still popular.”
The list of states where the Politico pair alleges that’s the case is quite short: “Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California.” That’s it. Obama, in a situation resembling that of Richard Nixon in the final months of his presidency, when “Tricky Dick” was mocked for being able to find friendly audiences in just a few Southern states, is apparently toxic everywhere else, just in time for midterm elections.
Moreover, it didn’t take much research to show that the Politico’s pair’s claim Obama is “still popular” in most of those five states is either false or shaky — especially after considering that such polls are all too often overloaded with Democrat and liberal respondents.
Take Pennsylvania. On June 5, Politics PA reported the following (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Quinnipiac’s most recent poll finds that just 44% of Pennsylvanians approve of the way President Obama is handling his job while 53% disapprove.
Though slightly higher than February approval rating of 42% released by Quinnipiac, Obama’s approval rating seems to be stagnating at low levels.
Even if Obama has gotten back to above the break-even level in the Keystone State, which is highly unlikely, the statement that he is “still popular” there would be false, because he clearly wasn’t popular during the year’s first five months.
On to Wisconsin. As of six weeks ago, via the Associated Press:
President Barack Obama’s approval rating is almost unchanged in Wisconsin, with 46 percent of registered voters saying they approve of the job he’s doing.
A Marquette University law school poll released Wednesday says 47 percent disapprove of his performance, and 4 percent don’t know.
Illinois? Here’s what Lynn Sweet at the Chicago Sun-Times wrote in late April:
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll put President Barack Obama’s approval ratings at a new low — with voters prefering Republicans controlling Congress for the last two years of his second term. The poll helps explains why, in the two big Chicago area House contests it would not be surprising to find Democratic Reps. Bill Foster and Brad Schneider distancing themselves from the White House — they certainly did during the sequestation — as their Republican challengers, state Sen. Darlene Senger and former Rep. Bob Dold make the case for checks and balances in Congress.
Illinois is really two states. One is Chicago and some of its inner-ring suburbs. The other is “everywhere else.” Obama is overwhelmingly popular in Chicago, and mostly toxic, as Sweet exemplified, “everywhere else.”
Now to California, where the President should still be a runaway fave. Well, he’s got the upper hand, but by nowhere near as much as one might think — via the AP in June:
President Obama Still Enjoying Higher Approval Ratings In California Than Most Other States
A new Field Poll finds that half of all Californians approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, a sharp contrast with his lower approval ratings in the rest of the country.
… Field says public opinion of Obama has remained steady in California over the last year. Half of those polled said they approve, 39 percent disapprove and 11 percent had no opinion.
So just half approve of Obama in a state he carried by 23 points in 2012.
Finally, let’s go to Michigan. I could not find anything recent, but this item from December paints the landscape:
PPP Poll: Obama Hurting Democrats in Michigan Races
The Republican candidates for governor and senator in Michigan have made strong gains in a new poll as Democrats continue to feel the backlash over the botched rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law.
… “Democrats who looked a few months ago to be favorites for governor and Senate in Michigan are now on the ropes, casualties of the dip in favor of the Democrats around the country over the Affordable Care Act,” says the poll.
PPP is considered a left-leaning polling firm. Anyone who believes that Obamacare has faded as a relevant issue just because the press isn’t talking about it, or that Obama’s standing in the Wolverine State has somehow improved, is sadly mistaken.
Politico’s breezy assumption that Obama is presumptively popular in four of the five states they identified doesn’t hold up. Imagine how bad things would look in these pollis if some of them didn’t have skewed samples.
Notably absent from the list: Oregon, where Obama would until recentaly have been a shoo-in to help the Democrats’ cause, and where there is a competitive U.S. Senate race. But apparently the Beaver State is not on Obama’s campaign agenda. I wonder why?