President Barack Obama’ approval rating remains below 50 percent in Louisiana and other southern states won by John McCain in 2008. But new polling numbers from Public Policy Polling suggest he may be gaining favor among white Democrats in those states.

According to PPP, Obama’s approval is more than three points greater than the percentage of votes he earned in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana — all states he lost by a healthy margin last fall. His overall approval rating in these states remains below 50 percent. But among white Dems he’s showing strong support, with the lone exception being Louisiana where 38 percent of that demographic voted for Obama and 51 percent now have a favorable opinion of the president. The greatest contrast is in Alabama: 47 percent of white Democrats voted for Obama and 72 percent now approve of his performance as president. The numbers are more static in Arkansas (68 percent - 74 percent) and Kentucky (62 percent - 69 percent).

According to PPP Communication’s Director Tom Jensen:
We can’t authoritatively solve the question of whether racism was the major factor for these voters or not, but we probably can conclude that with a group of voters that was clearly skeptical of him last fall Obama has won over some converts. Certainly not enough to put these states in the Democratic column in 2012 or any time soon, but perhaps enough to keep Obama from being quite as much of a drag on Democratic candidates in these places as GOP strategists might hope he would be.

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