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As Goes Ohio?

It is only one state, but Ohio is often a bellwether state in presidential elections and public opinion. A recent poll encapsulates what we are seeing in national polls as the Obama presidency comes into focus:

President Obama’s job approval in Ohio has dropped significantly in the last two months, dipping under the 50% mark for the first time, according to a new poll by Quinnipiac University. In the last Quinnipiac poll in Ohio taken in early May, Obama enjoyed a healthy 62% job approval rating, with only 31% disapproving. Today, Obama’s job approval stands at 49%, with 44% disapproving – a twenty-five point net drop in just eight weeks. Not surprisingly, Obama has seen a corresponding drop among voters’ approval of his handling of the economy: two months ago he had a net +21 approval (57/36), today it is -2 (46/48).

In the 2010 senate race, Rob Portman is now just a smidgen behind each of the Democratic challengers “though their leads have nearly evaporated over the last eight weeks.”

There are two possibilities here. One is that the economic news is catching up with the administration and voters are now holding those in power accountable. That suggests, of course, that if the economy rebounds, the polling of Obama and fellow Democrats will as well. The other explanation is that it isn’t just the economy, but the entire agenda that is off-putting to a moderate state. They voted for “no George W. Bush” and got a left-wing presidency and left-wing Congress, which are pursuing an extreme agenda. That is a potentially longer-term problem — unless, of course, the president and Congress zig-zag back to the center of the political spectrum.

We will see whether these trends continue and how the president and congressional leadership responds. But given their one-party domination and substantial majorities, the risk remains that if they blow their political fortunes now, they won’t get an opportunity like this anytime soon.


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