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Whites, women could fail Obama in 2012

WASHINGTON -- Whites and women are a re-election problem for President Barack Obama. Younger voters and liberals, too, but to a lesser extent.

All are important Democratic constituencies that helped him win the White House in 2008 and whose support he'll need to keep it next year.

An analysis of Associated Press-GfK polls shows that Obama has lost ground among all those groups since he took office. The review points to his vulnerabilities and probable leading targets of his campaign as he seeks to assemble a coalition diverse enough to help him win re-election in tough economic times.

In his victory over Arizona Sen. John McCain, Obama cobbled together a base of support from across the political spectrum by wooing Democratic loyalists as well as independents and first-time voters.

This time, the nation's high unemployment is weighing on Obama, dragging down his marks for handling the economy. His overall standing has slid, too, after a difficult summer marked by contentious negotiations over the country's borrowing limit and a downgrade of its credit rating.

One poll shows that 46 percent now approve of how he's doing his job, down from 52 percent in June.

The AP analysis looked at the viewpoints of all adults, not just those who plan to vote in 2012. In no way does it predict how Obama will fare next fall. Among the findings:

White independent voters, who divided their support evenly between Obama and McCain in 2008, may be the president's biggest challenge. Just 3 in 10 white independents say Obama deserves to be re-elected.

Women no longer are a bright spot for Obama. At the 100-day mark of his presidency, they gave him significantly higher approval ratings than did men, 68 percent to 60 percent. Now, less than half of all women and less than half of all men approve of the job Obama is doing.

Younger voters and liberals are showing doubts. Obama won younger voters in 2008. But younger Democrats are no more apt to say he deserves re-election than are older ones.

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