Things are looking up for Barack Obama in the crucial swing state of Ohio. His opponents are unpopular, his own numbers are on the rise, and as a result he holds a healthy lead over the entire Republican field of candidates.
Obama has broken even with Ohio voters. 48% now approve of him with an equal 48% disapproving. His net approval has increased 8 points from 41/49 when PPP last polled the state in early November. The most important thing that's happened since then is Obama's base rallying around him. He's gone from a 73% approval rating with Democrats to 82%. And although he remains unpopular with independents he's still seen a 13 point net improvement with them from -26 (30/56) to -13 (40/53).
While Obama's becoming more popular, his opponents are moving backward. Only 28% of Ohioans have a favorable opinion of Mitt Romney to 56% with a negative one. Independents (30/53) and Democrats (14/73) pretty universally dislike him and he's not that hot with Republicans (43/36) either. Ron Paul (27/57) and Newt Gingrich (25/59) are even more unpopular. Rick Santorum actually has the 'best' numbers of the Republicans in Ohio at 35/48.
This is the second consecutive Ohio poll we've found Romney trailing Obama by 7-9 points on. Obama has a 45-40 lead with independents and a more unified party behind him, as he's getting 84% of the Democratic vote to Romney's 80% of the Republicans. The race will definitely tighten since only 4% of Democrats are undecided compared to 11% of Republicans but still, this is a pretty good trend for Obama in the state. An electoral college analysis we did last month found that if Obama could win any one state out of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina he would probably win reelection.
One caveat: in March of 2008 we polled Ohio when the current situation was reversed- the Republicans knew who their nominee was, while Democrats were still engaged in a bloody fight to determine theirs. We found John McCain leading Obama 49-41 at that point and of course in the end Obama won the state by 4 points in the fall. So while this is a good place for Obama to be it could change quite a bit once Republicans all get on the same page.
Full results here