The Presidential election in Colorado is likely to be won or lost in the swing metro area counties. That makes the most recent Ciruli Associates poll especially troubling for the Obama campaign as it found Obama with near Jimmy Carter approval ratings in key swing counties.

The poll was conducted April 6-10 with 500 Colorado voters in seven metro area counties (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, & Jefferson). Rick Santorum dropped out of the race on April 10. 

The poll found Obama with an approval rating underwater in the seven Denver metro counties, at 45% approve to 47% disapprove, but the real trouble was found in counties that the Obama campaign has been targeting

In Broomfield County, the poll found a shockingly low 25% approval of Obama's job performance. The caveat is that the sample size was probably pretty small for Broomfield, but the same poll also found a 67% approval rating of Governor Hickenlooper in Broomfield. 

The two counties that many observers expect could determine the election are Jefferson and Arapahoe. In Jefferson, Obama's approval rating is 36%, compared to Hick's 65%. In Arapahoe, it's 42% to Hick's 60%. No wonder Hick has refused to formally endorse Obama.

That JeffCo number has got to lift the spirits of Joe Coors Jr's campaign, as the heart of CD7 is in JeffCo, while stirring up some heartburn at Obama HQ in Chicago. 

This poll is also bad news for all the down-ticket Democrat legislative candidates running in these key counties. With Obama so widely despised in JeffCo and Broomfield, Democrats like Diane Primavera, Max Tyler, Andy Kerr, and Brittany Pettersen have reason to worry. And no, Brittany, your community organizing background won’t help you overcome a down-ticket drag this big.  

Ciruli Associates found Obama getting 44% of the metro area vote in a head-to-head match up with Romney, down from the 61% he received in the metro area against John McCain. Romney was only at 30% in the metro area, with 17% choosing "other" and 5% saying "don't know." As the poll only had 67% GOPers supporting Romney, his total is guaranteed to rise once the party coalesces around him as the nominee.

At this point in the race, most observers agree that the President's approval rating is a better predictor than head-to-head matchups as swing voters still know very little about Romney. While the political junkies who read this blog know plenty about him, the voters who decide elections have yet to fully tune in. 

As Obama gets virtually the same support in a match up with Romney as his approval rating, the approval rating seems to be a good indicator of his true support. 

It should also be noted that with an approval rating of only 45% in the metro area, Obama's approval rating is guaranteed to be lower statewide, where the balance of Republicans and Democrats is more even. Possibly even lower than the 39% the last Ciruli Associates poll found last December.

What's clear from this poll is Obama is in big trouble where it counts and Romney has some work to do shoring up Republican support and conveying his message to swing voters.