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PRESIDENT OBAMA is fighting for his presidency because his approval number is hovering around 48-49%. An incumbent with those numbers cannot get comfortable. In Obama’s favor is Mitt Romney’s likability challenge, which has improved, but when a man needs Ohio to win and is getting really bad local press, because of a desperation Jeep ad, it makes winning the state a lot rougher, throwing other states in the must win category; states where you are still fighting for your life.

The President’s firewall states are Ohio and Wisconsin. Take that Paul Ryan.

Dr. Lee Miringoff of Marist lays it out in the video above. Chuck Todd earned the nod today, because his polling analysis on “Daily Rundown” continues to be superlative, prime political filet, marble over fat.

The states with Obama-Romney locked in a tie battle or close to that are Colorado, Florida, Virginia (where I live), Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

First Read:

*** Will Obama’s firewall hold? The 2012 presidential election could very well hinge on this question: Will President Obama’s Midwest firewall — Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin — hold up? The Romney campaign believes it won’t. “Right now, their firewall is burning,” Romney Political Director Rich Beeson said on a conference call yesterday (though that observation isn’t yet backed up by the public polls). As for the Obama campaign, it’s signaling that they have to hold these Midwest states, especially Ohio. Just look at the president’s travel over the last five days of the campaign: four stops in Ohio, three stops in Wisconsin, and two stops in Iowa. (And compare that with two stops in Colorado, one stop in Nevada, one stop in Florida, and one in Virginia.) So you see where the Obama camp is putting its candidate, and that’s likely where the race will be decided. And at the end of the day, Romney has to pick off two of those three states (Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin).

*** New NBC/WSJ/Marist polls: Obama leads in IA, running neck and neck in WI, NH: Speaking of that Midwest firewall, we have new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll numbers. In Iowa, Obama is ahead of Romney by six points among likely voters, 50%-44%, which is down from his eight-point lead in October. In Wisconsin, the president edges Romney by three points, 49%-46%, which is within the survey’s margin of error and which is down from Obama’s six-point lead. And in New Hampshire, Obama gets support from 49% of likely voters, while Romney gets 47%. The good news for Obama in these surveys: He’s ahead and is hitting either 49% or 50%. The warning sign for him: His approval rating among likely voters in Iowa and New Hampshire is at 48%, which is below his ballot number. (By comparison, his 49% approval rating in Wisconsin exactly matches his ballot number.) This matters because it suggests that Obama’s support in Iowa and New Hampshire could be a little less than the ballot number.

Nate Silver also talks about Obama’s “firewall,” writing that it’s still holding, though he remains the outlier on his numbers predicting a sure Obama win. Silver’s become a pariah because of his surety, though the viciousness is ridiculous.

I’ve been in Silver’s camp from the start, believing Obama was going to win and I’ve never moved from that stance, though since Mitt Romney’s game changing debate, what could have happened with a more talented Republican candidate from the start has finally begun to manifest at the very end. It’s just a little late, I believe, to be enough.

But if you’re looking at the tied states or battleground polling, Obama looks less of a sure thing, except that Ohio remains solidly in Obama’s camp, giving Romney fits on how he gets to 270. But Obama’s position has needed to be continually defended this fall as the race has tightened, with Obama’s approval on the economy still below Romney, independents reportedly moving his way, while the President still doesn’t break 50% in job approval.

All of this data will make a lot more sense after the election. That may sound strange, but it’s true.