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Republican National Committee memo: Why Obama can't win Ohio, Virginia

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To: Interested Parties

From: Rick Wiley, RNC Political Director

RE: Battleground States on Super Tuesday

Ten states have presidential nominating contests today, with over 400 delegates up for grabs. Two key battlegrounds, Ohio and Virginia, are among those states. Ohio is the classic bellwether, having voted with the winner of every presidential election since 1964. Virginia is the more traditional GOP stalwart, having reliably supported Republicans for president for 40 years prior to 2008. With the possible exception of Florida, no two states were more important to Obama's 2008 coalition, and no two states will receive more TV commercials, direct mail, and door knocking this fall.

With victory margins of 4.5% and 6.3% in Ohio and Virginia, Obama has very little wiggle room. Even if Democrat turnout in 2012 were a repeat of 2008's historic levels (I'm betting the under on this one), it would take as few as 3% of voters to switch sides for Obama to lose these states. Gallup's tracking of presidential job approval suggests at least that many voters have changed their minds, with his approval dropping from 55% in Ohio in 2009 to 42% last year and 58% in Virginia in 2009 to 45% last year. And Gallup is not alone in showing the President is under water.

In Ohio, three public surveys last month showed the president at 47% or below, with a Fox News survey telling the grimmest news with his job approval at a paltry 40%.

In Virginia the polling is worse for Obama. Only 25% and 23% of voters in surveys by Roanoke College and the Richmond Times Dispatch believe the country is headed in the right direction. Both surveys, plus a third from Quinnipiac, shows the president's job approval rating at 46% or below in February, with the two most recent surveys showing him at 43% or below.

And looking ahead to the general election, Quinnipiac measured President Obama's reelect at 47% and 46%. If that's the best the president can muster without having an opponent, then the president is in for a tough slog when the GOP nominee becomes focused exclusively on the president's record.

Aside from lousy polling numbers, Ohio and Virginia have something else in common that is even more telling. Not a single Democrat has won a statewide office in either state since Obama took office. Both governors are now Republican. Both state legislatures reverted to GOP control. And eight US House seats moved from Democrat to Republican. It's hard to argue Obama is not to blame for these drubbings. Perhaps all the Democrat officeholders who lost their jobs in these two states will convince the president to get serious about a jobs plan.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 6, 2012 8:10 AM.

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