Colorado has become a major focus in this election, especially over the past few weeks. Estimates show that the battle for the state’s 9 electoral votes will come down to about 100,000 undecided independent voters.
Over the past ten elections, Colorado has voted Republican eight times, voting Democrat in 1992 and most recently in 2008. Surrounded by red states and historically trending Republican, Colorado does not look like the typical swing state. However, a recent population boom, the independent nature of Coloradans, and Obama’s 2008 victory have pushed Colorado into the swing state category. 21% of the state is Latino, a demographic that in general favors Obama. The latest RealClearPolitics poll has Romney leading by .4%, which shows just how tight the race is here.
When targeting Colorado, the candidates have been mindful of the relatively high unemployment rate in the area, which stands at 8%, down from a high of 9% in 2010. That being said, Colorado is a fairly wealthy state where unions have little power, the kind of place Obama’s message may not hit home. Social issues such as abortion have been brought to the forefront here as candidates try to court women voters.
In the most recent New York Times swing state polls, Colorado was very evenly divided on most opinions and issues. Voters found Mitt Romney to have stronger leadership qualities than Obama, and also feel he will do a better job with the economy. On the other hand, they have a high rate of support for Obama’s tax plans, and feel the president will do a better job with the military, an important issue for the veteran heavy state.
Romney and Obama have both been putting a lot of attention on Colorado, each making at least one stop there in the past week. Obama has hosted 12 events in Colorado this year, most recently peaking to 16,000 people in Denver. Romney urged crowds at Red Rocks to convince their neighbors to come back to the Republican ticket.
While all of our attention may be focused on Ohio, Colorado is probably the closest race in the nation. Early voting has started, and both candidates have urged Coloradans to take advantage of it. The battle for Colorado and its 9 electoral votes will continue to be intense up until Election Day. As of now, it is anyone’s game.