Barack Obama continues to be favored to win Nevada again in 2012, but his position there is a good deal weaker than it was in 2008. Obama leads Romney 48-42. That's down a touch from our last poll in late March when he was ahead 51-43. And it's down quite a bit from his 12 point margin of victory in the state in 2008.
Obama's struggles, at least compared to last time, in Nevada can be traced back to the state's economy. A 41% plurality of voters in the state think the economy has gotten worse since Obama took office to only 37% who think it's gotten better. Independents are more pessimistic than the electorate as a whole, with 44% of them feeling things have worsened to 33% who believe Obama has brought an improvement.
Obama has a narrowly positive approval rating in the state, with 49% of voters giving him good marks to 47% who dissent. Nevadans still aren't real high on Romney and that's serving to help Obama's prospects there. Romney has a 41% favorability rating with 53% of voters rating him negatively.
This is a rare state where Romney's running mate choice really could have an impact on how 'in play' it is for the fall. Brian Sandoval is one of the most popular Governors in the country with a 52/28 approval rating. If he was on the ticket Obama's lead in the state would drop to 47-44, very much within the winnable range for Romney. Sandoval's presence would flip Romney from trailing 37-35 with independents to leading 43-39 with them.
Obama's still a clear favorite in Nevada and if he loses this state it will probably mean he's getting blown out in the electoral college already. But clearly his position there is not what it was in 2008.
A few other notes on Nevada:
-36% of voters think the Supreme Court should rule the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, while 34% think it should be upheld. What might be most noteworthy though is that 30% of voters don't care one way or the other, suggesting that the health care issue may not have the same salience with voters in 2012 that it did in 2010.
-Women are saving Obama in the state. He's up 52-39 with them, while he trails 46-43 with men.
Full results here