Posted Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, at 12:16 PM
Public Policy Polling surveys Michigan, where Democrats lost huge at the local level in 2010, and finds Barack Obama much, much stronger against 2012 Republican contenders than he is nationwide.
Obama has decent approval numbers in Michigan with 50% of voters giving him good marks to 45% who are unhappy with his job performance. Democrats are pretty universally still happy with him, with 90% expressing approval. Republicans strongly disapprove of Obama but not quite to the extent that Democrats like him- 85% of them give the President bad marks. Independents split slightly in favor of Obama, approving of him by a 47/44 margin...
At this point it looks like Michigan would be a swing state in 2012 only if Romney secured the nomination. He trails Obama 47-43 in a hypothetical contest. Obama crushes the rest of the Republican field by margins pretty comparable to what he received against John McCain in the state in 2008- it's 12 points over Huckabee at 51-39, 15 over Gingrich at 52-37, and 21 over Palin at 56-35.
What explains this? The poll didn't ask, but can be there be any reason other than "President Obama bailed out the auto industry"? Michigan's unemployment rate was the highest in the nation for a decade, but it's been steadily falling since the GM/Chrysler rescue mission, and it's now at 12.8 percent. And Michigan voters like it when government intervenes to save their jobs. There were a number of reasons why John McCain lost the 2008 GOP primary to Mitt Romney, starting with Romney's lifelong ties to the state, but the campaigns the two men ran were like two thought experiments. Romney ran on his business experience and said he'd do whatever it took to rescue the state; McCain dourly (and honestly) said that outsourced jobs weren't coming back. So Romney won easily, even though the lack of a contested Democratic primary* freed up independents to vote for McCain. Republican voters chose the energetic government candidate .
The good news for Republicans in 2012 is that there aren't many states where this is the prevailing attitude about government.
*this is a long story