Joe Biden's defenders have been awfully defensive lately about calls for President Obama to swap the current vice president for Hillary Clinton. "Vice President Biden is a big political plus for the ticket, and will make a real difference in the swing states this fall.... I've seen the connection he makes with hard-working Ohioans," former Ohio governor Ted Strickland wrote at The Atlantic's website on May 19. "If Joe Biden is more of a target for Republicans in 2012 than he was in the 2008 campaign, that’s only because the GOP fears him more, according to Ted Kaufman, Biden’s former chief of staff and successor in the Senate," reports Politico this afternoon.

But where's the evidence that Biden is actually an asset to the president? Strickland and Kaufman don't cite any polls to make their case. In fact, a Gallup poll released Wednesday shows that Biden's favorability rating is now negative for the first time since Obama picked him as a running mate: 42 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Biden, while 46 percent have an unfavorable view. And Biden is particularly not well-liked in swing states:

Joe Biden may not be much help to Barack Obama in key swing states this fall.

In a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, Americans split on whether they like or dislike the vice president – 42% said they had a favorable opinion, 45% said unfavorable – but the numbers are worse in key swing states.

In the 12 swing states likely to determine the outcome of the presidential election, only 40% of registered voters view Biden favorably, while 54% view him unfavorably. These numbers are worse than President Obama's who is seen favorably by 50% of registered voters in those same states and unfavorably by 49%.

If Biden has a negative favorable rating, while Obama has a positive favorable rating, how could Biden possibly be of help to the president?

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