Obama’s approval rating in California takes a hit

Holly Bailey

Even as his poll numbers have fallen nationally, President Obama has always been able to count on support from reliably Democratic California. But a new survey suggests the president might be facing troubles in the Golden State as well.

A new Field Poll released Wednesday finds voters in California are statistically divided on Obama's job performance. Forty-six percent approve of Obama's overall performance as president, while 44 percent disapprove. (The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3 points.)

That's a drop of eight points since June, when Obama's job approval was 54 percent among Californians. Obama's latest job approval number in the state is the lowest of his presidency—a sign that Obama may have to work harder to consolidate support in California ahead of his 2012 re-election bid.

Indeed, just under half of Californians believe Obama should be re-elected in 2012, while 44 percent believe voters should pick someone new—a slight increase since earlier this summer.

It's still true that Obama's numbers in California are still pretty good compared to the rest of the country. But the president's advisers will likely be a little unnerved by some of the poll's findings.

Case in point: The president's biggest drops of support are among groups integral to his base. The president's approval rating is still a healthy 69 percent among California Democrats—but it was 79 percent in June, marking a 10 point drop in three months. Among self-described "nonpartisan" voters—a group that helped fuel his 2008 election win--Obama held a 58 percent approval rating in June, but that's now down to 45 percent.

Why are Obama's numbers in the state taking a hit? In a state that has suffered especially damaging fallout from the recession, it's all about the economy. Fifty-four percent of California voters disapprove of how Obama has handled the economy. That's a 5 percent increase over the last year, and the most dismal number he's polled in California during his presidency.

There's one bright spot for Obama in the poll. While Californians may be distressed over Obama's policies and job performance, they still generally like the president. Fifty-five percent of voters in the state view Obama favorably—a sign that the state has yet to completely write him off.

Still, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry's decision to campaign in California in recent weeks is a sign that perhaps Republicans see an opening there—especially if the economy doesn't improve.