CINCINNATI - 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 as president, 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.
"Ohio was the key state in both of President Barack Obama's elections, and it was his strong showing among independent voters there that made the difference," Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac's polling institute, said in a statement. "President Obama's fortunes in the Buckeye State have turned."
The pollster 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 in an interview Wednesday that the poll didn't ask those surveyed for specifics on why they disapprove of Obama's performance, but he said a series of controversies 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 have contributed. There has been extra attention to the IRS matter in Ohio because a Cincinnati IRS office was heavily involved and several Ohio-based tea party groups say they were targeted.
However, recent national polls have indicated Obama's job approval ratings haven't been hurt by the issues. Brown said the Ohio results for an incumbent are surprising given the state's improving economy.
"His numbers are at a record low when the economy is perceived to be doing well," Brown said.
At the same time, the Quinnipiac polling shows job approval ratings hitting a new high for Republican Gov. John Kasich, indicating Ohioans are crediting Kasich's policies for growth and unemployment below the national rate
Romney and Obama clashed on Ohio's economy during the stretch run of their race for the state, with the Obama campaign pointing to a job-saving resurgence in the auto industry after his support for the federal automaker bailout that Romney criticized
"The president in 2012 clearly got credit for the economy in Ohio," Brown said, adding that his Republican opponent wasn't as effective in Ohio in attacking Obama's economic policies as he was in some other states.
Kasich got 54 percent job approval in the latest Quinnipiac poll, with 32 percent disapproval. The governor's job approval has surged from 40 percent a year ago.
That's good news for Kasich as he prepares for a 2014 re-election campaign.
Looking ahead to 2016, Quinnipiac says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, is dead even with Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in a potential match-up in Ohio. Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican, is within the margin of error against Clinton at this early stage.
Christie and Paul both out-poll Vice President Joe Biden in Ohio in the latest survey.