Right now the President's national approval rating is hovering right around 40%. That's always a bit deceptive in that the 2012 election is state by state contest where his approval rating can vary greatly. It really doesn't matter that Obama is under 50% in New York, odds are he's going to win there next November. And it doesn't matter that his approval rating is around 25% in Oklahoma; he's not going to even come close in the Sooner State.
It is much more important that his number is around 50% in states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia (to name a few). There are really nine states that will decide this election: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Of the states he won in 2008 two of them (Indiana and North Carolina) are already out of reach. He can afford to lose Virginia and Florida as well but he has to win most of the rest to be reelected. There's almost no chance he can pick up states he lost to John McCain in 2008 so he must create a "firewall" of states that will get him to 270 Electoral Votes.
Right now I think it is very likely (if the election were held today) he'd probably lose Virginia, Florida and Ohio. If that happened the Republican candidate (now probably Rick Perry) could win without winning any other states. Obama will certainly concentrate a lot of effort in those three states knowing that if he can win at least one of them he'll have a puncher's chance of winning by an eyelash.
He's got another problem: there are several other states that he won in 2008 that are in danger of falling into the GOP column. The biggest one in Pennsylvania. The Keystone State has not voted Republican since 1988 but Obama's numbers are terrible there. If he loses here it really doesn't matter-he loses the election. At the same time he'll have to hold on to Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin which will not be an easy task. If the GOP cracks this part of the firewall the Republicans will place one of their own in the White House in 2012.
Here's a look at the current vote count:
Safe Republican (24 states, 206 EVs)
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming
Leaning Republican (3 states, 60 EVs)
Florida, Ohio, Virginia
Even (6 states, 55 EVs)
Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
Leaning Democrat (5 states, 42 EVs)
Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon
Safe Democrat (12 states and the District of Columbia, 175 EVs)
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, District of Columbia
The President clearly has a high bar to meet to be reelected. It will be tough but it can be done. The Independents that no longer support him are not coming back any time soon so we'll see what he does in the coming weeks and months to try to stabilize his approval rating and salvage his Presidency.