A new poll finds President Obama and GOP contender Mitt Romney in a dead heat in three key battleground states: Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.
In Iowa, the new NBC News/Marist poll finds the candidates tied at 44 percent support among registered voters surveyed. In Colorado, Obama has a 1-point edge, with 46 percent to Romney's 45. In Nevada, Obama leads with 48 percent backing to 46 for the former Massachusetts governor.
“These are very, very competitive states,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a statement. “Everything is close.”
The poll's results are a positive sign for the Romney campaign, which emerged from a bruising GOP primary process. On Tuesday, Romney won the Texas primary, securing the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the party nomination at the convention in Tampa, Fla., this August.
The poll's results show that voters in Iowa, Colorado and Nevada are growing more optimistic about the state of the economy. A majority of voters in each state believe the economy will remain the same or improve.
Voters in two states see Romney as better prepared to handle the economy. In Colorado, Romney gets better marks on the economy from 45 percent surveyed to Obama's 42 and in Iowa by 46 to 41 percent. In Nevada, however, the candidates are deadlocked, with 44 percent of voters picking each on economic matters.
The poll also shows voters receptive to a key argument of the Obama campaign: that the current economic challenges were inherited from the George W. Bush administration.
Fifty-seven percent in Iowa, 54 in Colorado and 56 in Nevada blamed the past administration more than Obama's own policies.
But overall, a majority in each state, 54 percent in Iowa, 56 in Colorado and 55 in Nevada, still believe the United States is on the wrong track.
The key issues for voters in all three states is the economy, and the poll’s results come as the Obama and Romney campaigns have traded shots over who is better prepared to manage the nation’s recovery.
Obama has hit Romney hard on his tenure at private-equity firm Bain Capital, claiming he personally profited from the shuttering of American businesses. Romney’s campaign this week countered by attacking the administration’s failed loan guarantee for bankrupt energy firm Solyndra, accusing the president of trying to pick “winners and losers” in the economy and “wasting” taxpayer dollars.
The results include a troubling sign for Obama. The president holds a net positive approval rating in only one of the three states: Iowa, with a 46 percent approval rating and 45 percent disapproval. In Nevada, 47 percent disapprove of Obama's performance to 46 percent approval. In Colorado, 49 percent give Obama a negative approval, to 45 positive.
An NBC/Marist poll released last week showed Obama with a narrowed lead, but still ahead in three other battleground states: Ohio, Florida and Virginia.
The poll was conducted from May 22 to 24 and the margin of error in all three state surveys is 3 percentage points.