Obama won in 2008 thanks to a coalition of minorities, young people and college-educated white voters. In Ohio, he lost the white working-class vote by 10 percentage points even as he carried the state.
But those voters can still swing an election, as Obama's fellow Democrats found out in the 2010 midterm elections when strong support from seniors and working class voters helped Republicans win control of the House of Representatives.
He could catch a break if front-runner Mitt Romney secures the Republican nomination. Romney, a former private equity executive worth as much as $250 million, has struggled to win working-class voters as he battles Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator, and Newt Gingrich, former U.S. House speaker, in the state-by-state Republican nominating contest.
A number of gaffes - such as challenging a rival to a $10,000 bet and stating that "I like firing people" - has given critics ammunition to argue that he is out of touch with ordinary voters.