President Obama’s improving national approval numbers are certainly helpful to his re-election efforts — they drive a positive narrative after years of disappointing news on the economy.
But while nationwide numbers provide a snapshot of the country’s mood, the battle for the presidency will be fought state by state. So are Obama’s numbers also looking up in the all important swing states? It sure looks that way.
Here is our TPM Poll Average of national approval numbers for President Obama, which now show the President back in positive territory.
In the historically important swing state of Ohio, Obama’s numbers plummeted during the poisonous debt ceiling fight last summer, as independent voters soured. But the statewide referendum on SB 5, the anti-union measure pushed by state Republicans in the name of curtailing state and local budgets, went down hard and strongly affected the poll numbers on the ground. Obama rebounded, and is nearing positive territory in our TPM Poll Average.
In the newly christened swing state of North Carolina, which President Obama barely won in 2008, a similar uptick has occurred. In-state pollster Public Policy Polling (D) has tracked Obama’s NC approval closely, and they pointed to his latest numbers (from early February) as significant. “Barack Obama’s approval numbers in North Carolina are the best they’ve been in months and that reflects what we’re seeing across the entire country,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling said in a release at the time. “This will never be an easy state for Democrats at the Presidential level but he has a very good chance of repeating his surprise 2008 victory here.”
In Florida, a state singled out by pollsters as one of the chief opportunities for possible GOP nominee former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama is now in positive territory in approval in our TPM Poll Average. That’s also resulted in an improvement against Romney, who opened up a lead on Obama during December and January, but is down nearly three points in a matchup against the President today.
The state numbers have fewer data sets than national numbers, which is important to keep in mind. However, they also show that the improving economy is pushing the President up where he needs movement. He certainly has a long way to go — the states above are very tough political territory after the extended recession. But the improving picture isn’t just national — things look a bit better for Obama in key swing states as well.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.