Colorado in Focus

Dan Balz has a really good write-up of the western states and specifically the campaigns’ focus on Colorado.  He does an especially good job of capturing the energy around Romney’s visit to Red Rocks Tuesday:

It was after sunset as the flashing lights of Mitt Romney’s motorcade began the steep and winding climb up the hills west of Denver on Tuesday. By the time the Republican candidate arrived at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, the rocks were rocking. Blue lights bathed the rock walls flanking the seating area. The Romney campaign’s stylized “R” logo was projected in white against the rocks. At the opposite end of the vast open-air setting, five American flags were hanging high up at the back of the big stage. The stage had a faux-autumn, western setting of fence posts, artificial grass, rocks and shrubs. The night air was seasonably warm. A crowd estimated at 12,000 people jammed into the outdoor concert venue. Romney patted his heart in response to the thunderous and sustained applause that greeted him when he was introduced on stage by running mate Paul Ryan. Spectators enthusiastically smacked together their red and white thunder sticks with the drop of every zinger or one-liner. For Romney, it was everything he might have hoped for.

The Republican presidential candidate had spent much of the day in the air. A five-hour flight took him from Florida, the scene of his final debate with President Obama, to Las Vegas, where he addressed another enthusiastic, though smaller, crowd at another, though less spectacular, outdoor amphitheater. He declared his campaign supercharged by the debates, and the crowd responded with an enormous roar. Then it was back into his motorcade for the quick drive across the dry, desert Nevada landscape to his campaign charter plane and the flight into Denver for his last stop of the day, to the most competitive of the Western battlegrounds and one that Romney’s campaign may need if he hopes to defeat the president in less than two weeks.

Western Battlegrounds

Four years ago, the Rocky Mountain West was the newly discovered hot spot in presidential politics, a region often ceded to Republicans in presidential campaigns but suddenly on everyone’s radar as a place the Democrats might make a breakthrough that could scramble long-held assumptions about the electoral map. Bill Clinton had won a few of these states when he was running for president, but his success was attributed more to the presence of Ross Perot on the ballot than some seismic shift in the electoral fortunes of national Democrats. Then the rising Hispanic population in states such as Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona began to change the political landscape. Democrats took note four years ago and poured money and effort into the region. They set their convention in Denver, and Obama gave his acceptance speech before more than 80,000 people at the stadium where the Denver Broncos play football. His campaign organized effectively, registering voters enough to significantly shift the partisan balance in some states. He won Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico on his way to victory.

Colorado in Focus

Colorado, with nine electoral votes, remains the big prize. Given the landscape in Nevada and New Mexico and Romney’s thread-the-needle path to 270 electoral votes, Colorado is a state he cannot afford to let slip away. Can he win without it? Yes, but as is the case with some other battlegrounds, without those nine votes, his route to victory becomes more difficult. Obama has now felt the highs and lows of mile-high Denver. Four years ago, it was the highs. He won the caucuses against Hillary Rodham Clinton on his way to the nomination and seemed to have a special attachment to the state and city. In the closing days of the 2008 race, he drew a crowd of 100,000 people in Denver, one of his biggest rallies in the city. This year, it could be remembered as the city where his campaign unraveled. His performance in the Denver debate three weeks ago marked a low point for the president. He has been fighting to recover ever since. Obama was scheduled to arrive in Denver on Wednesday afternoon for a big rally, an answer to Romney’s Tuesday evening appearance. His quick stop, part of his 48-hour swing through battleground states all across the country, was aimed at energizing the cadre of voters who were excited by hope and change four years ago and whose enthusiasm is needed to hold the state for a second time. The Denver debate brought a surge of energy to the state’s Republicans, which pulsated at Red Rocks on Tuesday night.

Where the race is won

Republicans need a big turnout in the more conservative areas but say they have little doubt they will get it. Ryan, whose pick cheered conservative Republicans, was working those areas this week. One GOP strategist said enthusiasm among Republicans is way up compared with four years ago. The keys, as has been said repeatedly, are the two big suburban counties around Denver, Jefferson and Arapahoe. There will be plenty written about Ohio, Florida and Virginia over the next dozen days. But no one should lose sight of the competition underway in this Rocky Mountain battleground.

13 Comments

  1. No Tribe
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    State-by-state polling by Rasmussen Reports now shows Mitt Romney narrowly leading President Obama in the projected tally of electoral votes — 261 to 253.

  2. No Tribe
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink | Reply

    Early voting started in Colorado on the 22nd. Not sure about results.

    Lots of swing counties in Colorado, that picked President George W. Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008:
    Colorado:

    Alamosa

    Arapahoe

    Huerfano

    Jefferson

    Larimer

    Ouray

    • Dave G
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink | Reply

      Early Colorado results are here:

      http://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/COSOS/2012/10/24/file_attachments/169989/Gen%2BTurnout%2B10%2B24%2B2012.pdf

      • No Tribe
        Posted October 25, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        Thanks Dave, wow, it’s great news for Republicans, assuming that in ’08, D’s led in turnout.

        Alamosa a small county, D’s lead is 725-533
        Huerfano a small county, D’s lead is 311/158
        Ouray, a small county, R’s lead is 321/208

        Look at these big county results D/R:

        Arapahoe, Denver suburb to east 11803/13343
        Jefferson, mts just west of Denver 9754/11200
        Larimer, north central, 9164/10148

        Big question is unaffiliated, but on the face of it, R turnout exceeds D’s in the first few days in Colorado.

    • Paul8148
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink | Reply

      http://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/COSOS/2012/10/24/file_attachments/169989/Gen%2BTurnout%2B10%2B24%2B2012.pdf

      Results so far. Still tons of mail in ballots to come but Republican strongholds already nearly 20% of their 2008 turnout, state wide it 13.8 so far of 2008 numbers

    • David
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink | Reply

      Colorado releases very little information regarding early voting numbers. When early voting numbers were released in 2008, it left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth, Dem, Rep, Ind alike. As such, I don’t expect the state to release information those numbers. They may release the total number of absentee and mail-in ballot requests, sent, and received – none by party breakdown.

      Regarding swing counties:

      Arapahoe and Jefferson – both at one-time were solid Republican leaning. The changing demographic changed voting patterns. Both can be peeled away. R campaign has been aggressive in going after both counties.

      Huerfano – it only swung Dem in 2008 due to a contentious dispute with the Army over expansion of the Pinon Canyon training area. With the expansion decision put off until 2013, it’s a non-issue. A reasonable chance it’ll swing back. It helps in that a very weak Dem candidate is running for CD 3.

      Ouray and Alamosa – among the poorest and sparsely populated counties in Colorado. Both have fared very poorly these past four years.

      Larimer – outside Fort Collins, the county is solid Republican. In Fort Collins, it depends whether the students at Colorado State will vote. Like other places, CSU students are not enthusiastic of Obama.

      Colorado has a good chance falling into the Romney column. They need to run up the totals in reliably Republican areas, in particular El Paso County, a Republican stronghold. In 2008, McCain won El Paso County 55-45. In 1996, 2000, and 2004, it was solid Republican by 65-35 or better margins. Bush in 2004 carried the county by a 4-1 margin, the best margin ever.

  3. No Tribe
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink | Reply

    Keith, here’s a nytimes article this am on the Nevada Dem machine:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/us/politics/reids-machine-aims-to-push-obama-to-victory-in-nevada.html?pagewanted=all&pagewanted=print

  4. No Tribe
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink | Reply

    Two big tells:

    Romney has shut his interviews. Obama is now going everywhere, including the networks.

    Obama said he was “fighting” and abortion is the topic. When Democrats are losing, they use this type of language, and this is the fall back divisive issue.

    Romney is going to have a hard next 10 days, but by next weekend, he’ll feel it in the bag and have a blast the last couple of days. Obama will be fun to watch in desperation.

  5. Keith W
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink | Reply

    Rolling Stones interview with the President coming out this week (boy, he really likes those tough questions) will show him referring to Romney as a “bullsh#$er”…

    Stay classy BO!

  6. No Tribe
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink | Reply

    Update on the polling yesterday:

    R+4 – 50/46 – Rasmussen
    R+3 – 50/47 – Gallup
    R+1 – 49/48 – WaPost
    TIE – 48/48 – PPP
    O+3 – 44/47 – TIPP

    More new polls today. But yesterday’s average among telephone polls is 48 to 47, a lead by 1 for Romney.

    • TeaPartyPaul
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink | Reply

      Dont even count the “TIPP” poll. Look at its cross tabs romney winning Independents by almost Double Digits, and a LARGE democrat sample compared to republican.

  7. Posted October 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    DAVID FRIGGIN LETTERMAN the other night flat called Obama a liar and said he was discouraged and disappointed in him for lying about the auto bailouts and what Mitt Romney said. He said that you want your president to tell the truth and expect the challenger to lie, in this campaign the opposite has been true….the jackals be turning on themselves.

  8. fab4gal
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Regarding Colorado, my father and I (I am a 26 year old registered Republican in CO) planned to attend the Red Rocks rally. After driving an hour north to get there, we spent 2 hours trying to just get onto the road leading into the venue. Police had completely shut down the exit from the freeway and traffic was backed up hundreds of cars deep. I was really bummed out because I had our 2 tickets sitting in my lap, so it’s not like we just showed up out of the blue. But, I heard a report that the Romney Campaign gave away 25,000 tickets. I am positive people without tickets showed up trying to get in so the number was probably 30,000+ that wanted to see Romney and Ryan. Anyone who thinks last night was not a big deal has their head in the sand, I heard one Democrat on TV say “Well getting 10,000 people is not that hard” – yeah, keep drinking the Koolaide there buddy.

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