Denver, Colorado (CNN) - The western United States, with its independent streak and growing population, is the terrain both political parties are hoping to mine for electoral gains in the coming years.
With Denver hosting the 2008 Democratic Convention and a more concentrated effort in the region, the Obama campaign was able to capture Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada in last year's presidential election. Some Democrats hoped those results foretold a transformation, but a year later, political experts are saying not so fast.
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The West gives President Obama his lowest approval ratings, and the Democratic Party has a 45 percent approval rating in the area - the only region in the country in which it gets under 50 percent, according to an October 16-18 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.