Volunteers, from left, Joyce Butler, Marie Wakefield and Rita Stcyr show… (David Becker / Associated…)
RENO -- Four years ago, President Obama won Nevada in a blowout, carrying the battleground state by 12 percentage points over Arizona Sen. John McCain.
Few are ready to predict anything approaching that lopsided result this time.
But Obama has opened up a meaningful lead in the 4-to-6-percentage-point range, depending on the poll. More significant, he has held that lead consistently for weeks. Based on the polls and interviews with strategists in both parties, the Los Angeles Times has updated its battleground map to move Nevada and its six electoral votes from "tossup" to "lean Obama."
The latest updates can be seen in The Times interactive map, which shows Democrat Obama ahead in states with 243 electoral votes, while Republican Mitt Romney leads in states with 191. Eight tossup states hold the balance of the 270 electoral votes needed for election.
INTERACTIVE: Battleground states map
The map allows users to try out different scenarios to predict November's winner.
The race here is far from over. Both candidates are spending time in Nevada -- this week Romney and Obama were in Reno and Las Vegas, respectively -- and the television advertising is wall-to-wall-to-wall. Neither candidate is operating from a position of particular strength.
“People aren't happy with Obama,” said Eric Herzik, who heads the political science department at the University of Nevada, Reno. “But Romney really hasn't made the case he'll do a better job.”
That said, the incumbent's growing advantage among Latino voters, an important constituency, and Romney's failure to better capitalize on the state's grave economic circumstances suggest an uphill fight for the former Massachusetts governor over the seven weeks to election day.
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