Voters in deep blue California aren't so sure they want to send President Barack Obama back to the White House in 2012, but they still prefer the Democratic incumbent over the GOP alternatives by double-digit margins.
With less than a year until Election Day, just 45 percent of California voters say they are inclined to give Obama a second term, with 44 percent leaning against re-electing the president, according to a new Field Poll.
But Obama, who won California with 61 percent of the vote in 2008, fared better in matchups against current front-runners for the Republican nomination.
The poll showed the president leading former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 50 percent to 40 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 55 percent to 35 percent.
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"The good news for the president is once you put him up against a real live Republican, he doesn't look so bad," said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo.
Still, DiCamillo said the poll's finding that one-third of voters surveyed feel "very strongly" inclined not to vote for Obama, compared with the 26 percent who feel "very strongly" about casting a vote in his favor, is an "ominous" sign for the president.
The numbers, he said, suggest a lack of enthusiasm among supporters that could hurt Obama's efforts to motivate voters to head to the polls come November.
"That would have to be what his worry is," DiCamillo said.
The poll also found that Californians continue to feel pessimistic about the direction of the country. Seventy percent of the registered voters surveyed last month said they believe the county is "on the wrong track," the highest percentage since the final year of Republican George W. Bush's presidency, when three-quarters of poll respondents felt that way.
But Californians aren't convinced that Obama or an eventual GOP nominee would have what it takes to turn around the economy. Forty-three percent of poll respondents believe it won't make much of a difference who is elected when it comes to fixing economic problems.
That group incudes Ernest Kahl, a registered Republican living in Merced County. Kahl, who isn't particularly fond of any of the presidential candidates now in the running, thinks the country needs a "clean sweep" of new leaders and ideas in order to get on the road to recovery.
"Unfortunately, the current crop of leadership we have just don't seem to have ideas that are going to solve this ... worldwide recession," Kahl said.
"Our leaders don't seem to be innovative enough to overcome the drag this is putting on the rest of the economy."
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