Obama’s approval rating at the state level provides some insight into his chances to win an Electoral College majority. He would seem to be well-positioned in the states in which his approval rating was above 50% last year, including three of the larger states in California, New York, and Illinois. The states with majority approval of Obama in 2011 account for 159 electoral votes. Obama won all of those states’ electoral votes in the 2008 election.
On the other hand, states in which his approval rating was below 40% seem less likely to recover enough to allow Obama to claim their electoral votes this fall. Those states account for 153 electoral votes. All except New Hampshire voted for John McCain in 2008.
Thus, the key to Obama’s winning a second term lies in the states whose approval rating is in the 40% range, which account for the remaining 226 electoral votes and include traditional “swing states” such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Obama won the vast majority of these states in 2008.