All Along the Colorado (campaign) Trail


Our local NPR affiliate had an interesting story this morning focusing on the election in this swing state.  Listen to this interview of people in Johnstown, Colorado–famous for a local truck stop that makes giant cinnamon rolls.  It’s a town that’s full of foreclosures and economic anxiety–and yet, even the one “staunch Democrat” interviewed for this story says that he’s voting for John McCain, along with everyone else in the story.  It’s remarkable to hear.  Barack Obama held onto a tiny but fairly durable lead here this summer up until the most recent state poll was released yesterday.  Now, McCain now has a tiny lead over Obama.

Barack Obama was in Grand Junction and Pueblo yesterday and today in Golden at the Colorado School of Mines, and he’s turning up the heat on the economy talk, which is good to hear, but I don’t know if any of those voters in Johnstown are listening or are persuadable.  Denver, Boulder, and the elite ski towns notwithstanding, this is a very conservative state–not so much culturally conservative (although they are that), or movement conservative (although there are still “Sagebrush Rebels” here), as just congenitally conservative:  they’ve always been Republicans, they’ve always voted Republican, and they always will.

Colorado has been electing Democrats statewide in the past few years not because Coloradoans are changing, but because newcomers are changing Colorado.  I don’t know if the Easterners and Californians have arrived in sufficient numbers to tip the balance in 2008.  We shall see.

UPDATE 9/17/08:  Some stiff medicine by William Galston as to how to reclaim the advantage on the economy that McCain has taken from Obama.

0 thoughts on “All Along the Colorado (campaign) Trail

  1. So did any of those interviewed provide reasons as to why they were supporting McCain (especially that “staunch Democrat”)? I’d be interested in knowing what they’re thinking.


  2. I suspect that the Colorado media has been calling the state election closer than it actually is. Sure, Ritter won the governorship in 2006 by a landslide, but he was pro-life Democrat.

    However, since Colorado was designated a battle ground state, two ardent liberals I know who have lived in Colorado since the 1990s actually registered to vote this year. So I wonder if there are more hidden Democrats than we think.


  3. e.j. (and all)–the fact is that this state is heavily Republican. Republicans have a registration advantage over Democrats. This is not news. Al Gore and John Kerry both lost Colorado, so if Obama does too, that will be typical for this decade.

    I think they key variable is that John McCain is more Republican than Barack Obama.


  4. How are things looking on the Udall front out there? I notice that an old college hall-mate of mine, Pete Lee, is running for state senate in the 12th District, as a Dem., down by Pike’s Peak. He was more of a whazup over at the Beta House kind of a guy, as I recall, than a longhair politico. But he seems to be running from moderate-left of a conservative Republican who’s not an incumbent. I was a little surprised to learn of this.


  5. Indyanna–Udall looks good. Unless he’s caught with his pants down (literally or figuratively), I think he looks good for a win. He’s much more liberal and groovy than our other recently elected statewide Dems (Ritter and Ken Salazar), but I think he’s got the advantage because his opponent is a vintage 1994 right-wing Republican Revolution rebel (Bob Schaffer). Schaffer’s a nice guy, and he did the right thing with regard to his congressional papers, but I don’t think this is his year unless Udall pulls a Spitzer.


  6. Historiann: I have to agree as far as Colorado’s deep-seated Republicanness in terms of presidential elections, and of course I live in the eye of that hurricane here in El Paso County. The gap is closing and will be much closer in CO than in past few elections, but I really think one cannot underestimate the impact of McCain’s military background. That’s a much more powerful vote-puller than people realize, alongside the religious angle and the “when in doubt pull the R lever for President” level.

    INdyanna, As for Pete Lee, he’s running against Keith King (former Majority leader of the House R’s back in the bad old days before REferendum C) for Senate District 12. Unfortunately, he (Lee) has no real chance. Aside from one district in Colorado Springs, specifically carved out to give Dems a fighting chance (and currently held by my representative, Michael Merrifield, a moderate Dem), this is safe-seat Republican land and that hasn’t changed a bit.

    The change in state-level politics has been dramatic and transformational since I’ve been here (1995 forward) — anyone who was here in the period from about 1998 to 2004, with the Reign of Terror of the state higher ed. chief Tim Foster and the rabid rantings of Keith King, David Schultheis, and the like, not to mention the draconian budget cuts in higher ed. of that time, should have a sunny disposition, even if the presidential-level political scene hasn’t changed that much.


  7. I realize that Colorado has long been a red state, I was just curious as to why a self-describe “staunch Democrat” would be voting for McCain over Obama.

    And to respond in part to Indyanna (I think I watch a bit more TV than Historiann), if Schaffer does lose, its not for lack of attacks against Udall by the Republicans. It is not uncommon to see 2 anti-Udall attack ads in a row during prime time t.v. viewing hours. Frankly, as hard as they are going after him, I’m surprised his lead in the polls hasn’t narrowed.


  8. Paul–thanks for writing. I think you’re exactly right–the military angle is big. (Too bad Kerry was unable to exploit that more effectively!) And thanks for your inside info on Lee v. King. My guess was that any D in El Paso county was probably a sacrificial lamb, but you never know.

    State level politics has changed dramatically since 2004. At least we in public universities aren’t under ideological and budgetary attack (just budgetary attack now, right?) That doesn’t mean that Colorado is liberal by any stretch of the imagination–just that even conservative Coloradoans were sick of the lunatic fringe running the R show in Denver.

    And ej–thanks for your report on local TV ads! The flood in my basement this summer has made TV watching even less attractive than watching TV in a basement already is to begin with. It’s not that I’m too pure for TV–I just don’t get downstairs that often to turn it on. I heard that Marilyn Musgrave has unleashed a really evil (and untrue) ad on Betsey Markey today. Markey called me herself to tell me about it (and to ask for a contribution for her own air war…)

    This is what Musgrave did to Paccione in 2006, as you may recall (you local commenters, anyway): she bombarded local media with untruthful ads before Paccione could introduce herself to the voters, and unfortunately the lies stuck.


  9. Pingback: Colorado polls and pols: things are looking up for the Dems : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

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