By DAN SEWELL
Too late for Mitt Romney, Ohio voters appear to be souring on President Barack Obama.
A poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University indicated that 57 percent of voters disapproved of the way Obama is performing, his lowest grade ever in Ohio in that poll. The Democrat carried the hotly contested swing state last November to help cinch his re-election, giving him his second straight victory in a state that usually reflects the nation’s choice.
Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown said Obama’s approval ratings have fallen 17 percentage points among independents since December, along with a 10-point drop among Democrats and a swing among female voters from a 20-point approval margin to a 9-point disapproval margin of 53 percent to 44 percent approval. Overall, 40 percent of those surveyed approved of Obama’s handling of his job.
The poll taken June 18-23 surveyed 941 Ohio voters over land lines and cellphones for a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
Asked whether they considered Obama “honest and trustworthy,” 52 percent of those polled said no.
Brown said the poll didn’t ask for specifics on Obama’s performance, but he said concerns over the deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year; the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status; and disclosures of federal eavesdropping likely are factors.
However, recent national polls indicated Obama’s job approval ratings haven’t been hurt by the issues.
But the IRS investigation likely undermines Obama’s approval in Ohio, said Gene Beaupre, a political scientist at Xavier University in Cincinnati. A Cincinnati IRS office was involved, and several Ohio-based tea party groups say they were subjected to extra IRS attention and demands.
“The IRS thing is close to home here, and kind of close to home in the state,” Beaupre said, saying many people can relate to discomfort with IRS scrutiny. “There’s that getting-a-root-canal mentality that probably everybody feels with the IRS.”
David Weller, 64, of Cincinnati said he suspects people who wanted to help Obama’s re-election campaign last year acted in the tea party targeting. IRS officials have said the handling of tax-exempt applications wasn’t partisan.
Weller credits consumers and businesses for economic improvement, not the president, whom he criticizes for too much federal spending.
“I can understand why his ratings are down,” Weller said.
Zach Marquette, 29, said he is concerned about National Security Agency surveillance.
“The whole NSA case is kind of contributing to that,” Marquette said of Obama’s poll ratings. “I understand the need to be on the lookout for terrorists, but this is a ridiculous amount of security.”
At the same time, the Quinnipiac polling showed job approval ratings hitting a new high for Republican Gov. John Kasich, with economic growth and an unemployment rate below the national level in Ohio as Kasich prepares to seek re-election in 2014.
“If polls this far out from an election mattered, Ted Strickland would still be governor,” said Matt McGrath, an Ohio Democratic Party spokesman, referring to the former Democratic governor’s strong polling before he was ousted by Kasich. He also noted that less than half of those polled indicated that they would vote for the incumbent or said that Kasich deserves re-election.
Kasich got 54 percent job approval in the Quinnipiac poll, with 32 percent disapproval.