Obama Popularity Drops in Key States

The president declining in public esteem could cost him in Congress.

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President Obama's declining popularity is underscored almost daily in the national opinion polls. But there's another measure of his standing that may be more revealing: his decline in key states, where lowered popularity could mean reduced influence where it counts – among members of Congress. This could translate into less support for the president's agenda in the House and Senate, and less support among voters for Democrats in next year's midterm elections.

In the key swing state of Ohio, a Quinnipiac University poll shows that Obama's approval rating is at its lowest point for that poll, 34 percent. This is a decline of 6 percentage points from Obama's previous low in Ohio, 40 percent last June. Sixty-one percent of Ohio voters disapprove of his job performance. Fifty-seven percent say Obama is not honest or trustworthy, and only 39 percent say he is honest or trustworthy. Obama won Ohio in both 2008 and 2012.

"Clearly much of the reason for the president's decline in Ohio is 'Obamacare,'" said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in an analysis accompanying the poll.

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"Ohio voters oppose the Affordable Care Act, 59-35 percent. Perhaps more significantly, voters say [by] 45-16 percent they expect their own health care to be worse rather than better a year from now."

Brown added: "If voters still feel that way about their own situation come November 2014, that is likely to create a political playing field beneficial for Republicans."

The rollout of the government's health care website has been badly botched, and Obama has apologized for saying repeatedly that people could keep their existing health insurance under the new law, which has turned out to be false.

In the swing state of Florida, which Obama won twice, a Quinnipiac poll finds that 40 percent approve of his job performance and 57 percent don't; 51 percent of Florida voters see him as untrustworthy.

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Brown said Obama's declining support is probably hurting Democratic candidates in the state. "Politics is a team sport," Brown told the Miami Herald. "Obama is the blue team captain and he's not doing well. So it's no surprise the president's teammates are not doing well, either."

Fifty-four percent of Florida voters oppose Obamacare and 39 percent support it.

In Obama's home state of Illinois, which he represented as a Democratic U.S. senator and which he won overwhelmingly twice as a presidential candidate, he is having trouble. A Public Policy Polling survey finds that Illinois voters are split on his job performance, with 50 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving. Forty-five percent of Illinois voters disapprove of the Affordable Care Act while 44 percent approve of the law.

Even in the Democratic bastion of California, Obama is dropping in public esteem. A new Field Poll finds that 51 percent of registered voters approve of the way Obama is doing his job, his lowest figure in two years. Forty-three percent disapprove of his job performance, up 8 points since July. Fifty percent of Californians disapprove of the way Obama is handling health care, and only 43 percent approve.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter.