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Obama Facing Challenges Out West

President Obama's campaign team has increasingly focused on the Southwest as their must-win battleground region as it seeks to cobble a path to 270 electoral votes.  But today's crop of NBC/Marist state polls suggest that Obama is in as much trouble in swing states like Colorado and Nevada as he is in the more-traditional battlegrounds of Ohio and Florida.

In Colorado, Obama only leads Mitt Romney, 46 to 45 percent, with Romney holding a one-point edge (46-45) among voters with a good or excellent chance of voting in November. Obama's job approval is only 45 percent - lower than his statewide standing in the 2010 midterm exit polls - with 49 percent disapproving.  Obama doesn't hold a favorability edge; as many voters view both candidates favorably as they do unfavorably.  One silver lining for the president: Obama leads Romney by 10 among independents, a significant voting bloc in the state.

The picture is similar in Nevada, a state that took a beating under the recession.  Obama leads 48 to 46 percent, with both candidates tied at 47 percent among the most likely voters.  The president's job approval rating is at 46 percent, with 47 percent disapproving. The generational gap in the state is sizable, with Obama holding a 10-point lead among under-30 voters, with Romney leading seniors by 12 points. The good news Obama's team can take out of the poll is that the president is competitive in Nevada, even given the state's struggling economy.

The electoral map CW has been that Romney has a tougher path to 270 electoral votes since the demographic changes in the Southwest would give the president a slight edge in Colorado and New Mexico, and allow him to compete in Nevada.  But if those states are looking as vulnerable as Ohio, Florida and Virginia for the president, Obama has as little room for error as Romney.

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