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Does Obama still have an Appalachia Problem?

I’ve alluded a couple of times to the fact that Barack Obama’s problems in Appalachia, which had seemed to be so pervasive before, suddenly seem to have righted themselves. While he is not running as strong as Hillary Clinton probably would in the region, his numbers now look fairly normal for a non-Southern Democrat.

Two purely Appalachian states have had polling released since the end of the primary campaign. Those are Arkansas, where Rasmussen showed Obama with a 15-point improvement, and Kentucky, where SurveyUSA showed him cutting his deficit from 24 points to 12.

We can also look at the before and after versions of Quinnipiac’s Swing State polling, concentrating on Obama’s numbers in Southern Ohio and in Southwest and Central Pennsylvania, which are usually classified as part of the Appalachia. Obama’s numbers have improved significantly in those regions too:

Region           May         June      Change
Southeast OH -20 -15 +5
Southwest OH -14 +3 +17

Southwest PA -13 +2 +15
Central PA -14 TIE +14

Arkansas -24 -9 +15
Kentucky -24 -12 +12
AVERAGE -18.2 -5.2 +13.0

Beyond Ohio and Pennsylvania, this could have implications in West Virginia, where Rasmussen had him trailing John McCain by 8 points just before the primaries concluded. If he gets the same 10+ point bounce in West Virginia that he has gotten elsewhere in the region, the state suddenly looks extremely competitive — which is why our model is inferring that West Virginia should be a pale shade of pink rather than a ruby red.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.