Rocky Mountain West still leaning Democratic

Colorado is still leaning Democratic but will likely be a battleground state in the 2012 presidential election.

Obama bested Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) there in 2008 and maintains a high approval rating. According to a new Public Policy Polling survey, the president has a 51 percent approval rating, with 45 percent of those polled saying they disapprove of his performance.

The Democratic-leaning firm tested Obama against several of the GOP presidential contenders, with Mitt Romney coming closest but still trailing the president by six points, 47 percent to 41 percent.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ill.) rounded out the top three contenders, trailing Obama by 9 and 14 points, respectively. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is down by 19 points against Obama in Colorado, according to the survey of 517 Colorado voters conducted Feb.4-6.

Obama beat McCain by about 9 points in Colorado in 2008.