Obama’s Tough Electoral Map

National Journal Staff

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 states like Colorado and Nevada as he is in the more-traditional battlegrounds of Ohio and Florida.

In Colorado, Obama only leads Romney 46 percent to 45 percent, with Romney holding a one-point edge 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 as favorably as they do unfavorably. One silver lining for the president: Obama leads Romney by 10 points among independents, a significant voting bloc in the state.

The picture is similar in Nevada, a state that took a beating in the recession. Obama leads 48 percent 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, and 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, despite the state’s struggling economy.

Conventional wisdom on the electoral map is that Romney has a tougher path to 270 electoral votes, because 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. 

—Josh Kraushaar, Hotline executive editor


Obama, Romney Neck and Neck in Swing State Polls
[National Journal, 5/31/12] Romney and Obama are tied in three key battleground states that Obama flipped from red to blue in 2008, according to new NBC News/Marist polls. In all three -- Colorado, Iowa, and Nevada -- voters overwhelmingly say the economy will be the most important matter; Obama either trails Romney on the issue or, at best, ties him.

The Jenga Election  
[National Journal, 5/31/12] The nation's economic growth numbers still seem precariously balanced between just enough for Obama to be re-elected and, perhaps, just too little. And we don't--can't--know which way it's going to fall.

Obama Raises Money off Trump, Birther Issue 
[Politico, 5/31/12] Obama's latest email plea for cash came with the subject line ‘Aloha’ and reads, in part, “It appears that my opponent has no problem hosting campaign events with someone who is questioning whether I was born in America.” He calls people like Trump “the radical fringe of the party.”

Romney Makes Surprise Visit to Solyndra  
[National Journal, 5/31/12] Romney made a surprise campaign stop on Thursday at the solar-panel firm Solyndra LLC, where he sought to use the bankrupt company as an example of how he says Obama is hostile to job creation. His visit to the failed solar-energy plant culminates a week-long push to depict the president as clueless when it comes to handling the economy.

Iowa At Center Stage, Again
[National Journal, 5/31/12] In a sign of just how hard-fought the 2012 election will be, one of the fiercest battlegrounds in the country carries only six electoral votes, as National Journal’s Beth Reinhard writes. The intense focus on Iowa is especially interesting considering the state was practically left for dead after its famed straw poll and caucus both picked losers.   

Romney Down on Keystone State Prospects  
[National Journal, 5/31/12] Evidence is mounting that Pennsylvania isn't a top target for the Romney campaign, as National Journal's Alex Roarty writes, at least not at the general election's onset. At the beginning of May, the state's own GOP chairman, Rob Gleason, said Romney told him personally that he doubted he could win the state.

Obama Adviser Axelrod Shouted Down in Boston by Romney Supporters  
[National Journal, 5/31/12] The Obama campaign tried to highlight issues with Romney’s record as Massachusetts governor at a press conference in Boston on Thursday, but the event soon dissolved into chaos. The opposing groups attempted to shout each other down David Axelrod’s press conference, with "fired up and ready to go" from the Obama side met with cries of "Mitt, Mitt, Mitt.”

Obama Camp Targets Romney’s Record as Massachusetts Governor
[Boston Globe, 5/31/12] Team Obama is opening a new front against Romney on his home turf on Wednesday, calling his tenure as Massachusetts governor a time of grand gestures and empty economic promises. The campaign released a web video early on Thursday that contrasts Romney’s campaign for governor in 2002 and his trail today.

Obama to Sleep at His Real Home on Friday
[USA Today, 5/31/12] Obama gets a special treat on Friday night: He will spend the night at his real home in Chicago, in his own bed. The president had hoped to sleep at his home earlier this month when Chicago hosted the NATO summit, but security officials discouraged him.

For Obama and Romney, Syria a No-Win Situation
[Associated Press, 5/31/12] A deepening crisis in Syria is impossible for the campaigns to ignore, but too complex for either to articulate an easy solution. Romney has seized on the violence as an opportunity to dent Obama’s foreign policy credentials, but the president is arguing that he is doing the real work while the GOP nominee offers nothing but vague prescriptions for what he would do differently.

To GOP, Blatant Bias in Vetting
[Politico, 5/31/12] The New York Times gave a huge spread to Ann Romney spending millions on an exotic genre of horse-riding, while new details about Obama’s college-age dope-smoking barely made a brief. No wonder the GOP is living with early coverage of the general election: The imbalance could do damage to Romney, who swing voters are just now getting to know.

Will Ron Paul Ever Give Up?
[Daily Beast, 5/31/12] Romney has clinched the nomination, but still faces an unpredictable Ron Paul – and his devoted libertarian supporters -- at the Tampa convention. The Daily Beast provides five of the biggest disruptions Paul and his followers have caused the GOP.

Can Walker and Obama Both Be Leading in Wisconsin?
[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/30/12] With less than a week to go before Wisconsin voters decide whether to grant Gov. Scott Walker the remainder of his term, national and state officials say the contest is a crucial proxy fight that could shape the November general election. A new poll released on Wednesday shows both incumbents -- Walker and Obama -- leading in the Badger State; Craig Gilbert writes that in both elections, closely divided independents will help tip the outcome.

Buddy Roemer Suspends Presidential Campaign  
[TPM, 5/31/12] The outspoken and spunky Buddy Roemer announced that he was ending his presidential bid. The former governor of Louisiana, who campaigned on reforming campaign finance, failed to gain enough ballot access to move forward.

Poll: Obama Popularity Slips While Romney's Rises  
[National Journal, 5/30/12] Obama’s once-substantial popularity edge over Romney has tightened considerably. Fifty-two percent of adults view Obama favorably, a new Washington Post/ ABC News poll found, while 45 percent of people see him unfavorably and conversely, Romney’s ratings have risen: 41 percent see him favorably while 44 percent don’t.

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