RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - President Barack Obama's disapproval rating has soared to 54 percent in Virginia, a battleground state the Democrat took from the Republicans to win the White House in 2008 and will likely need to carry next year to win re-election, a new poll released Thursday shows.
The Quinnipiac University Poll, based on telephone interviews with 1,368 registered voters from Sept. 7-12, found that only 40 percent approved of the president's performance, down from 48 percent in the same survey in June. Six percent were undecided. The survey's margin of sampling error was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
The results mirror other polls that show a continuing slide in the president's popularity in a slow, troubled economy.
In the Virginia survey, a majority - 51 percent - said they did not think Obama deserves to be re-elected, compared to 41 percent who would re-elect him. Eight percent didn't know or wouldn't say.
Most troubling for Obama is his poor performance among independents, many of whom supported him three years ago. Sixty-three percent of unaligned voters disapproved of the way Obama is handling his duties while only 29 percent approved.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry shot to the front of a 10-candidate Republican field among respondents who identified themselves as Republicans or Republican-leaning voters. Twenty-nine percent listed Perry as their top choice, and 19 percent said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was their favorite. No other candidate was in double digits.
When the Republicans were asked if their primary came down to a choice between Perry and Romney, 43 percent chose Perry and 36 percent chose Romney.
Perry dominated Romney among male respondents, 49 percent to 33 percent, but women sided with Romney over Perry 40 percent to 37 percent.
"Interesting is the size of the gender gap within the Republican primary that seems to be developing," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
White, evangelical Christians preferred Perry 51 percent to 29 percent over Romney.
In hypothetical matchups against Obama put before all of those surveyed, Perry and Romney were in statistical dead heats with the president. In a pairing against Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman, Obama was favored 48 percent to 37 percent. Against Sarah Palin, who has not declared her candidacy, 50 percent chose Obama to 35 percent for the former Alaska governor and John McCain's 2008 vice presidential running mate.
The poll is released as candidates already begin targeting Virginia voters.
Obama kicked off his nationwide tour aimed at pressuring Congress to adopt his jobs bill in Richmond on Friday. Perry delivered speeches Wednesday at a convocation at Liberty University in Lynchburg and a sold-out GOP fundraiser in Richmond.