President Obama's re-election team has spun multiple pathways to an electoral vote majority, but a glance at his state-by-state approval ratings throughout 2011 suggests the campaign has been doing a lot of bluffing.
First, the good news for Team Obama: His political standing is in respectable shape in traditionally-Democratic Midwestern battlegrounds, like Wisconsin, Michigan and the more Republican heartland state of Iowa (46 approval/46 disapproval). Obama's numbers in Virginia are better than in other battleground states - 45 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove. And his numbers in North Carolina (44/49 approve/disapprove) and Florida (44/48 approve/disapprove) and even Georgia (45/48) aren't good, but given his overall numbers, relatively decent.
The bad news: His job approval ratings in the other battleground states are solidly underwater and, in many states, worse than publicly perceived. In Colorado, seen as a gateway to aggressively contesting the Southwest, Obama scored a net -12 job approval (40/52) throughout the year. In Nevada, also seen as a major bellwether, Obama has a 41 percent approval, with 50 percent disapproving. In the critical battleground state of Ohio, a 50 percent majority of voters disapprove of his performance, with only 42 percent approving. In the must-win state of Pennsylvania, Obama's job approval is underwater, with 45 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving.
Some unpleasant surprises abound for the Obama campaign, too. New Mexico has been seen as a Democratic-leaning state, because of its vote history and significant Hispanic population. But Obama's performance there - 42 percent favorable, 51 percent unfavorable - isn't much different than his weak standing in the other Southwestern battlegrounds. The Obama campaign has been arguing it has an outside shot at contesting Arizona, but his approval rating is at 40 percent, with 52 percent disapproving.