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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / campaign 2012

Obama Leading GOP Field in Swing States; Rust Belt a Weak Spot

President Barack Obama smiles as he shakes hands with employees after speaking at the Master Lock Company in Milwaukee on Wednesday.(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

photo of Jackie Koszczuk
February 15, 2012

President Obama leads all four Republican candidates for president in theoretical fall matchups in 10 swing states, according to a poll published by Fox News on Wednesday evening.

Obama had the edge over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas in head-to-head matchups by about the same margin as he does nationally. Only former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania polled better in the swing states than he does nationally, the Fox survey shows.

The states surveyed included four in the Rust Belt--Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin; three in the Rocky Mountain region--Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico; and three in the South--Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.

 

Obama’s advantage over Romney and Santorum was about the same: In a theoretical election held today, he would defeat Romney, 47 percent to 39 percent, and Santorum, 48 percent to 39 percent, according to the survey. He would prevail over Paul, 48 percent to 36 percent, and he would trounce Gingrich, 52 percent to 32 percent.

The Democratic president enjoyed significant leads over all four candidates in the Rocky Mountain region and in the South, according to the poll, but he is struggling in the hard-pressed Rust Belt, where his lead over competing Republican candidates was much smaller. He led Romney in the Rust Belt, 42 percent to 41 percent, and Paul, 43 percent to 41 percent, and he tied with Santorum there at 43 percent each. Obama decisively led only Gingrich in those economically struggling states, 47 percent to 34 percent.

The poll’s job-approval results held more good news for Obama. In the swing states as a whole, more people approved than disapproved of the job that Obama is doing, 46 percent to 43 percent. But his approval ratings were lowest in the Rust Belt states at 41 percent, an indication of the slow pace of economic recovery in those places once heavily reliant on manufacturing. In the Rocky Mountain states, Obama’s approval rating is 47 percent, and in the Southern states it's at 50 percent. 

The Fox News poll was based on interviews with 1,200 registered voters living in 10 states where Obama had small margins of victory in 2008 and are considered decisive in 2012. Interviews were conducted Feb. 11-13, and the results for the swing states had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

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