October 17, 2011

What to make of Jersey?

In a Quinnipiac poll released last week that headlined how voters felt about the TV show Jersey Shore, President Obama's approval numbers, underwater, went from bad to worse, but he'll probably still win the state if the deeper dive in the data holds true.


The top line results;
New Jersey voters disapprove 52 - 43 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, his lowest score ever in the Garden State. Disapproval is 88 - 10 percent among Republicans and 60 - 34 percent among independent voters. Democrats approve 77 - 19 percent. There is a large gender gap as women approve 50 - 45 percent while men disapprove 60 - 36 percent.

Voters split 47 - 48 percent on whether President Obama deserves reelection.
That bodes well for a Republican challenger, but not so fast.  Don't put New Jersey in the GOP electoral college column just yet.  52% of voters disapprove of his job but only 48% feel he doesn't deserve reelection.  Where does that Republican support bleed out? It goes straight to Obama - 43% approve of his job but 47% say he deserves reelection.

Setting aside the statistical tie on re-election there are some questions that arise:

(1) Why does Obama consistently perform better among women than men?  That isn't a New Jersey only or Obama only phenomenon.  If memory serves correctly, Bill Clinton enjoyed the same gender gap among voters.
(2) Why does that bleed out occur on the GOP, and how can it be recovered, if at all?

To the former question, I'm ill-prepared to speak right now, but I think the latter question is answered further on in the polling results report by Quinnipiac;
Obama leads possible Republican challengers in an early look at 2012 presidential election matchups:
  • 47 - 41 percent over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
  • 49 - 36 percent over Texas Gov. Rick Perry
  • 47 - 38 percent over businessman Herman Cain.
It's not that they don't dislike Obama, it's that they don't seem all that pleased by what else is on the menu.  I keep hearing that a president who can't break 50% support is in trouble, but in many states, with 3rd and 4th party nominees siphoning off a percent or two, 47% is often enough to win.  I don't think victory in New Jersey is far-fetched for the president.  But that doesn't mean that the GOP should abandon the state even if victory is anything short of a pipe dream.

Should the GOP spend money there?  Maybe.  It's better to have the president playing defense in New Jersey than going back on offense in states like Virginia and Ohio.  If the GOP war chest is big enough relative to Obama's (and that's no easy task), then I'd advise they put money there, forcing Obama to spend defending the expensive state.  On the other hand if the GOP funding isn't up to the level to fund it, then the money should be focused laser-like, on the swing states.
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