Tag Archives: Jefferson County

Election Day Report from Colorado — David Ramos

Below is the election day report from reader David Ramos who has been tracking early voting for Battlewatch.com:
On the ground
The weather is beautiful, temps around 70.Wait times are not extraordinarily long despite an early report from KMGH 7 (ABC) in Denver saying the lines had wait times of an hour or more. With a very short ballot here in the state, it takes less than 5-7 minutes. If your read everything, of course, it’ll take 45 minutes or longer. If you bring a cheat sheet of how you’re going to vote, less than 3 minutes. The other Denver stations did not report any waiting problems.Yesterday, the Secretary of State’s office checked out those voting machines recording an Obama vote, in Pueblo county (strong Dem) when the Romney button was pushed. It was determined those touch-screen machines were set to the most sensitive setting. That said, when the Obama button was pressed, the vote was recorded as Obama. Call it curious.
The numbers
The Secretary of State’s office finally put in the clarification that vote totals include in-person early voting, received mail-in ballots, and received absentee ballots, which makes better sense numerically speaking. As of this morning’s report, 1,909,969 votes have been cast. This would leave around 800,000 people casting votes today in their precincts. The total number of active voters is roughly 2.7 million. Another 912,000 voters are classified as inactive. Inactive voters include those that some sort of problem with their registration, primarily address. If an inactive voter showed up to vote, they would have to vote provisional. Whether it would be included in the final tally would be at the discretion of the county election official. The D/R split in the this morning’s report is R+2.6. The D/R split with all parties is R+1.8.
Battleground counties
Arapahoe County
Has tightened up considerably over the weekend as more mail-in and absentee ballots have been received. The Republicans have a 390 ballot lead over the Democrats. This county will be decided by the unaffiliateds (independents). In the morning report, 62,936 unaffiliated ballots were received. What may tip the election is that many people living in this county have mortgages that are underwater. Also, it was the epicenter of bank foreclosures and bankruptcies in 2009-10, before easing last year. However, the foreclosure rate is starting to pick up.
Jefferson County
The lead has held, slightly increasing to 6,639 more Republican ballots than Democrat. The big race, however, is for CD 6. The Democrats have made a serious run for this seat and it’s considered by RCP as a toss-up. It’s likely to be held by Republican incumbent Mike Coffman, who is quite popular in the Denver Metro area.
Stronghold counties
Denver-Adams-Boulder-Pueblo
The Democrats are holding their large lead in Denver County by a 76-24 margin. In Boulder County, the Democrats appeared to have woken up and has provided an equally impressive 70-30 margin. In Pueblo County, the Democrats have established a comfortable 65-35 margin. It appears they are performing as expected. The lone standout is Adams County, it appears the Republicans have made an effort to mind the gap where the Democrats have a 57-43 margin. Adams County has been solid blue as Denver in previous election cycles.
El Paso-Mesa-Douglas-Weld
Similarly, the Republicans are holding fast in their strongholds. In El Paso County, the Republicans hold a 68-32 margin. In Douglas County, a 71-29 margin. In Mesa County, it is a 69-31 margin. And, in Weld County, it is a 62-38 margin. In the rural counties, The Republicans hold a sizeable lead over the Democrats in the rural counties, at least a 60-40 margin.
Key to victory
The key are firmly held in the hands of the unaffiliated voters. If they split according to the county they live in, the split would 51-49 in favor of the Republicans. Public Policy Polling has claimed the Obama campaign holds a 6-point lead among the independents, thus giving him the upper hand coming into election day. The 6-point lead is very similar to the advantage Obama held in 2008. If Obama is holding a 6-point lead, why he is down 35K votes at the start of the day. For Romney to win, it comes down to today’s GOTV effort and how well Romney connected with the independent voters here. If the rallies are any indication, he may be in good shape. The same can be said for Obama.
Hope you have a good evening.
— David Ramos

Seven Battleground Counties to Watch on Election Night

Same original author as the earlier piece (Chris Palko) but an election night spin on each county with few repeats.  This guy does good work. Lots of smart info:

Looking for some shortcuts when it comes to projecting which candidate has the edge Tuesday night? Once returns start coming in, turn your focus to these seven counties—they will be small scale indicators of that state and national results:

Prince William County, VA
Virginia will be one of the first states to report results on Tuesday night, and Prince William County is the most important county there. Romney needs to win the county to win Virginia. George W. Bush and Bob McDonnell were able to win the county rather solidly. There has been an influx of immigrants in the past decade, and as a consequence it has a somewhat more Democratic lean than before. This will also be a good check to see if the Romney and Obama campaigns’ assumptions about the demographics of the electorate are correct.

Lake County, OH
This is the closest county in the most important state. Lake County is the eastern suburbs of Cleveland and the best gauge for how the entire state will vote. In 2004, Bush won the county by the same margin as he won the state. Obama ran a bit worse than his state percentages in 2008 but was able to win.  Watching Lake County is the best shortcut for projecting Ohio results on election night.

Bucks County, PA
In the critical suburban Philadelphia area, Chester County is most likely going for Romney and Montgomery and Delaware Counties will go for Obama. The swingiest of them all is Bucks County, north of Philadelphia.  Monday’s Romney rally that garnered some 30,000 supporters was held here for exactly that reason. In 2004, Bucks went for John Kerry by three percentage points, the exact same margin as the rest of the state. It has trended right in the past few years, as Republican Pat Toomey won the county 53 percent to 47 percent in his 2010 Senate race. Romney has to keep the margins close in suburban Philadelphia, and he has to win Bucks to do so.

Jefferson County, CO
In a heavily polarized state, the Denver suburbs hold the balance of power. Jefferson County, along with its suburban neighbors, voted for Bush in 2004 by small margins and then flipped to Obama in 2008. Romney had one of his most memorable campaign rallies at Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is in Jefferson County. Whichever candidate wins this county is going to win Colorado.

Washoe County, NV
The dynamic of Nevada politics is Democratic Clark County against Republican outstate areas, with Reno in the middle. For Romney to win Nevada, he has to win Washoe County. In 2004 and 2008, it matched the state percentages for Bush and Obama. A win here doesn’t guarantee Romney a victory in Nevada, but it is a necessary component.

Racine County, WI
Racine County is slightly more Republican than Wisconsin as a whole. Bush narrowly won it in 2004, while he barely lost the state overall.  Even so, anything more than a narrow Romney victory would augur well for him in a county that is a representative blend of urban, suburban and rural areas. It’s also worth watching due to the potential gains in Southern Wisconsin that could accrue with Paul Ryan, their congressman on the ticket. The potential for adding independents and some Democrats, who have voted for Ryan for years, to the Romney column could be decisive in a close state.

Oakland County, MI
The county that Mitt Romney grew up in is worth watching for a few reasons. First, if Romney wants to pull an upset in Michigan, he must win Oakland County. Second, it is precisely the sort of northern affluent suburb Republicans have had problems with at the presidential level for the past 20 years. Gains here would be indicative of Romney strength in other affluent suburbs in key states and a significant difference between a winning Romney coalition and the previous winning coalition that George W. Bush assembled.

8 Battleground Counties to Decide the Election

Addendum:  This is a re-post from September 20 that I think has held up pretty well.  The biggest difference I’d say is Florida is almost certainly out of reach for Obama so look at Scott County, Iowa as a good one tonight.  You can also scroll through the numerous posts on various Battleground Counties across the county.

[Begin Original Post] That headline is a bit of a stretch but reader Roland Tilden sends a link to a story by Smart Media Group’s Chris Palko who breaks down 10 counties he believes Romney must win to carry the election.   And since we love Battleground Counties almost as much as we love Battleground States, this was right up our alley. What is consistent about the counties selected is each is a big population center so that understandably impacts election outcomes and each was a Bush 2004 and an Obama 2008 county. Not coincidentally Mitt Romney’s original bus tour in June hit a great many of these counties and will almost certainly do so again this time.

The only thing I don’t like about the list is 2 counties are in North Carolina which is not a Battleground in my opinion. In Palko’s defense, this story was originally published in April so his choices are really excellent so far out. As for North Carolina, it’s a state Romney will win by 5-10%. And until President Obama actually campaigns in the state (he hasn’t in all of 2012 outside of his Convention), it’s very likely a GOP pickup with minimal effort from this point forward and not worthy of much attention beyond that acknowledgement.

We have profiled a number of these counties whose links I provide below.  Where there is a battlegroundwatch.com post specifically on one of the cities he mentions, I provided the link as well in addition to my “Battle for [State]” series for each state. With that said, here are the eight Battleground Counties (in reverse order of impact according to Palko) that will go a long way to deciding the election: Hillsborough County, N.H. , Prince William County, Va., Chester County, Pa., Jefferson County, Colo., Arapahoe County, Colo., Hamilton County, Ohio, Pinellas County, Fla., Hillsborough County, Fla.

#8: Hillsborough County  New Hampshire
2004: Bush 51 – 48 2008: Obama 51 – 48
Population: 400,721 Largest city: Manchester

Palko: Most of New Hampshire’s population is close to the Massachusetts state line, which Hillsborough County straddles. It contains a vital grouping of towns and cities including Manchester and Nashua, the two largest cities in the state. Both are swing communities, in the electoral sense.

Battlegroundwatch: This is the location of Mitt Romney’s summer home, the place where he launched his Presidential bid and where he kicked off his June bus tour. They have spent money on the air, these voters are Mitt Romney kind of Republicans and the state has had a Republican resurregence.  Ripe for the plucking but it will be a battle to the end.

#7: Prince William County Virginia
2004: Bush 53 – 47 2008: Obama 58-42
Population: 402,002 Largest community: Dale City

Palko: Prince William County is an exurban county about 25 miles southwest of Washington D.C. It’s on the edge between the traditional, conservative Virginia, and the more progressive suburbs outside the capital. Prince William has become very diverse in recent years, particularly in the I-95 corridor. A hard swing towards Obama was key for him winning Virginia.

Battlegroundwatch: I would have ranked this much higher and definitely in the top 3. This is Obama’s bread-basket: upwardly mobile suburban moderates who trended strongly for Obama in 2008 but whose support has softened in the difficult economic environment. This is where Romney will need to make his mark if he is going to stem the tide of Northern Virginia dominance by Democrats.

  #6 Chester County Pennsylvania
2004: Bush 52 – 47.5 2008: Obama 54 – 45
Population: 498,886 Largest city: West Chester

Palko: Of the four suburban Philly counties, Chester was the only one that Bush won in 2004. The tail end of the prestigious Main Line is in the county, but so is the disadvantaged city of Coatesville. In between, there are plenty of middle-class suburbs, and even still some farmland. This is one of the few counties in Pennsylvania showing substantial population growth, so its importance is increasing.

Battlegroundwatch: It was no accident that the “youthful” Paul Ryan (early-40s is still youthful, right?) and the Romney sons have hit this area hard .  Similar to the suburban growth outside of DC in Virginia, this area outside Pennsylvania is full of persuadable Romney voters.  To win the state, Republicans must begin performing well here and in neighboring counties and they’ll never crack this nut.

#5 Jefferson County Colorado 
2004: Bush 52 – 47 2008: Obama 54 – 45
Population: 534,543 Largest city: Lakewood

Palko: Colorado is a heavily polarized state divided between very liberal Dems in Denver and Boulder, and very conservative Reps in Colorado Springs and the rural areas. The balance of power is held by the handful of counties in suburban Denver. Jefferson County to the west of the city is truly a purple county closely mirroring Colorado’s overall results in the last two presidential contests.

Battlegroundwatch: Filled with one of my favorite stories this cycle about battleground Precinct 7202330176 in Lakewood, a neighborhood who has called all but one statewide race correct since 2000. The swingiest of swing voters, Jefferson has been a regular stop for both sides all election season. Crowd sizes have been huge for Romney and flipping suburban white voters will be the key like they were in 2008 when they flipped for Obama.

#4  Arapahoe County Colorado
2004: Bush 51 – 48 2008: Obama 56 – 43
Population: 572,003 Largest city: Aurora

Palko: Arapahoe County is to the southeast of Denver and, like Jefferson, it’s a purple county that determines which party wins CO. It contains most of Aurora, the second biggest city in the Denver area. The county, and Aurora in particular, has seen a major increase in its Hispanic population in the past decade. This development has made the county a bit more Democratic than its neighbors.

Battlegroundwatch: The key here are the unaffiliated voters who much like Jefferson County swung for Obama in 2008.  Economy is the key.  These are upper middle income workers who often commute to Denver but fall into the pure suburban stereo-type.  Issues like taxes and jobs resonate strongly with this crowd who has unfortunately seen its fair share of recent tragedies.

#3 Hamilton County Ohio
2004: Bush 52.5 – 47 2008: Obama 53 – 46
Population: 802,374 Largest city: Cincinnati

Palko: Cincinnati is one of the most Republican metro areas outside of the South, but the central city county of Hamilton is a swing county. Hamilton County is worth watching, in part, because African-American turnout will be crucial. Sustaining high African-American turnout can make or break Obama’s reelection hopes. [Obama was] the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to carry the county.

Battlegroundwatch: A great boon for Obama in 2008 in a state where he underperformed national margins, his win in Hamilton was a shocker.  This is Rob Portman country so look for the debate prep partner and VP short-lister to be featured prominently in efforts to flip this back. This once reliable GOP region must flip if Romney is to have any chance in Ohio.

#2 Pinellas County Florida
2004: Bush 49.6 – 49.5 2008: Obama 54 – 45
Population: 916,542 Largest city: St. Petersburg

Palko: The top counties are both part of Florida’s I-4 Corridor, which runs through the Daytona Beach, Orlando and Tampa areas. The I-4 is the most important region in this presidential election. In Pinellas County, St. Petersburg has some neighborhoods that are solidly Democratic, but most of the territory is split 50/50. Every precinct could make the difference between winning and losing.

Battlegroundwatch: I would have inserted Henrico Couty, VA here (bigger Battleground, Florida trending GOP). But Pinellas is an interesting county w/a lot of conflicting politics.  It was a strong Romney county in the primaries where he doubled his nearest competitor. Unsurprisingly Ann Romney has been featured prominently in this county next door to the Republican Convention.

#1 Hillsborough County Florida
2004: Bush 53 – 46 2008: Obama 53 – 46
Population: 1,229,226 Largest city: Tampa

Palko: The most crucial county this fall is on the other side of Tampa Bay from Pinellas, the runner-up. Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa and its immediate suburbs, is the only county listed with more than one million residents. Still, it’s a fairly accurate small-scale version of America. It has a solidly Democratic central city that includes large African-American and Hispanic populations, and some outlying areas that are heavily Republican. The immediate suburbs are closely split. Whoever wins Hillsborough County in November is most likely the next occupant of the White House.

Battlegroundwatch: If Mitt Romney doesn’t win Florida, he probably doesn’t win the election.  And if he doesn’t win Hillsborough County, he probably doesn’t win Florida. Home of the Republican Convention and probably more campaign attention than any in the state.  This target rich county at the base of the I-4 corridor, this county is as closely contested as any in the country.  Of the 1.95 million votes cast in presidential elections since 1992, Republican nominees won only about 14,000 more than Democratic nominees. The outcome in the Tampa Bay market has run within 2 percentage points of the statewide result in every presidential election since 1992.

Republicans Early Voting Strong in Colorado — David Ramos

Another dispatch from reader David Ramos:

Final totals on early voting in Colorado from the Secretary of State’s office:

Total ballots cast – 1,640,023
Total Republican voters – 605,586
Total Democratic voters – 567,569
Total Unaffiliated (Independent) voters – 449,720
Total third party voters – 17,148

In the swing counties

Arapahoe County – Republicans lead by 1,327
Jefferson County – Republicans lead by 6,602
Larimer County – Republicans lead by 7,004

In the strong Democratic counties

Denver – Democrats lead by 68,736
Boulder – Democrats lead by 11,488
Adams – Democrats lead by 11,416
Pueblo – Democrats lead by 10,702

In the strong Republican counties

El Paso – Republicans lead by 45,204
Douglas – Republicans lead by 39,166
Mesa – Republicans lead by 14,183
Weld – Republicans lead by 12,600

What the numbers mean:

The Democrats – Their GOTV effort need to run up their totals in their strong counties. If there’s a surprise in the EV numbers, it’s from Boulder County. In the state, Boulder is commonly referred to as the “People’s Republic of Boulder.” For Democrats to be ahead only by 11,488, it may be a sign the more extreme elements of the Democrat party are disappointed with Obama.

The Republicans – If they’ve saved their turnout for Election Day, they need to run up their totals in El Paso County – we’re talking at least a 65-35 split. The best margin of victory ever was Bush 43 in 2004 where he won El Paso County 75-25. Douglas County has a strong Libertarian bent, but are reliably Republican in their voting pattern.

The Unaffiliateds (Independents) – They have the key to victory. It would be safe to assume unaffiliateds in strong Democratic areas to identify and vote closer to the Democratic side, and unaffiliateds in strong Republican areas to identify and vote closer to the Republican side. The unaffiliated voter bloc to watch will be in the swing counties of Jefferson, Arapahoe, and Larimer.

Total unaffiliated (independent) early voters – swing counties

Arapahoe – 48,625
Jefferson – 60,600
Larimer – 37,485

If they split along the same percentages as the R/D pairing in these counties, this is what you would see:

Arapahoe – 24,546 voted Republican
Jefferson – 31,666 voted Republican
Larimer – 20,381 voted Republican

The Republican lean among unaffiliated voters in these three swing counties is averaging 52-48 in favor of Romney.

Based on these numbers, the early voting pattern is showing Romney is doing what he needs to do to carry Colorado: mind the gap – especially in the swing counties, lead among independent voters, and increase his margin in solid Republican areas.  Please note these totals only reflect those ballots cast on voting machines at EV sites. Mail-in and absentee ballots are counted on election night.  Hope this gives a better view of how Colorado stands heading into election day.

— David Ramos

Colorado: State of the race, early voting and polls — By David Ramos

Here is a guest post by one of our readers:

Readers expressed concern on the state of the presidential race in Colorado – particularly after reading a Denver Post article suggesting Obama is leading in early voting despite Republicans voting in greater numbers than their Democratic counterparts. To address those concerns, below is an overview on polling and voting dynamics in Colorado.

Though Colorado’s demographics have changed the past few years, especially with the influx of people from the west coast moving into the state. Most have resettled in the Denver suburbs located in Arapahoe and Jefferson counties. Changes in voting patterns in those two counties began to change in 2004. Despite those changes, Bush 43 comfortably won those counties in 2004 albeit by a narrower margin compared to 2000. The bulk of Democratic votes in the state come from Denver, Boulder, and Adams counties, and Pueblo county in the southern part of the state. To win statewide, both parties rely on the independent (unaffiliated) voters to provide the margin of victory.

Through Friday morning, early voting in Colorado has the Republicans with a narrow lead:

Total number of ballots cast – 1,462,163

Republicans voting – 547,150
Democrats voting –  509,091
Unaffiliated (independent) voting – 390,875
Third party voting – 15,047

In three swing counties considered crucial to the Romney campaign, there is evidence suggesting he’s likely to be ahead:

Jefferson County – Republican ballots lead Democrats by 6,160.
Larimer County – Republican ballots lead Democrats by 4,624.
Arapahoe County – Republican ballots lead Democrats by 3,209.

These numbers do not include those absentee and mail-in ballots that have been returned. The total number of registered voters is approximately 3.6 million.

Colorado, as a whole is a difficult state to gauge. While voters may be willing to vote Republican at one level, they’re willing to turn around and vote Democratic at another. Floyd Ciruli, who polled for Gary Hart, said this is what makes Colorado voters unpredictable, and polling them especially difficult. In 2004, while it was clear Colorado voters were willing to re-elect Bush 43, voters turned around voted in the Democrats into the majority in the state legislature. While many national polls suggested Colorado was tied at 48, Ciruli said Bush 43 was never in danger of losing the state – he would win by a narrower margin (which he did 52-48).

Other examples of an unpredictable Colorado electorate are:

In 2002, when incumbent Republican US Senator Wayne Allard was running for re-election, many pollsters (national and local) considered Allard to be roadkill. Allard won re-election by a comfortable 5-point margin.
In 1996, polling indicated Clinton would carry the state. When Dole carried the state, it was considered to be quite a surprise.
In 1992, Perot had siphoned away votes from Bush 41 to allow Clinton to carry the state with only 43% of the vote. Bush 41 was expected to carry the state by a razor thin margin.

In 2004, the Kerry campaign and the DNC began to organize large voter registration drives, in conjunction with ACORN, to develop a more friendly voter base in hopes of carrying the state. Despite the effort, they were unable to register enough Democratic voters to flip the state. If 2004 taught the Democrats anything, it was to begin the voter drives earlier and have them more often. In 2008, the Obama campaign and the DNC, again with help from ACORN, organized the voter drives, registering large numbers of voters (I want to say around 100,000 new voters, but am unsure of the total) particularly in the Denver metro area.

In 2008, Obama established a 40-33 lead in early voting over McCain. The lead was evaporated by the end of the early voting period. The McCain campaign, however, was poorly organized in Colorado. Voter contact (phone, in-person, robo-call) was quite limited, TV and radio advertising was less than half than Bush 43 levels in 2004. Even direct mail was substantially less than Obama. The campaign stops weren’t many – may be five or six total. You knew McCain was going lose. While Obama was better organized, McCain lost Colorado by being an uncompetitive candidate. Independents were willing to give Obama a chance, voting for him by a 9-point margin. Moreover, enough Republican voters stayed home to cement McCain’s loss.

With the changing demographics in Colorado, Ciruli indicated that for Republicans to be successful, they need to keep the margins close in Democratic and swing areas (minding the gap), win a simple majority of independents, and run their vote totals up elsewhere in the state – particularly in the Republican strongholds of Colorado Springs (El Paso County) and Grand Junction (Mesa County) must be carried by at least a 65-35 margin. Colorado is largely a conservative state outside the Denver metro area. For Democrats to be successful, Ciruli said they need to carry the solid Democratic areas by large margins, run even on independents, and hope they have enough total votes at the end.

In 2008, Obama won independents 54-46. In the Colorado Springs and Grand Junction areas, McCain won 55-45. In the Democratic and swing areas, McCain did little to keep those margins close. Clearly, McCain’s poor effort gave Colorado to the Obama column.

Seeing how Bush 43 ran his 2000 and 2004 campaigns, the Romney team built their campaign in the state along similar lines. That is, identify and develop their reliable voter base, then expand upon it. While polling suggested Colorado was slightly leaning Obama or even, the reality was/is it’s not the case. The independents in Colorado are deeply dissatisfied with Obama. Those that voted for Obama see him as a bait-and-switch politician. Though initially hesitant of Romney, the first debate at DU (University of Denver) was more than enough to convince them to vote for Romney. Whether it’s enough to flip it back to the Republican column, the early voting numbers and strong rallies suggest it may.

I hope this gives you a flavor of how things are unfolding in Colorado.

— David Ramos

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.

Republicans Rising in Colorado

Selena Zito is an excellent conservative columnist and when sees citing our favorite political analyst, you know you’re in for some good political junky info.  Here she is talking about the GOP rise in Colorado with Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende:

LAIRD, Colo. This small Great Plains town is the terminus of a journey across the Rocky Mountain State on U.S. 34, greeting travelers from Nebraska and bidding farewell to Coloradoans. On either side of the highway stand two slightly oversized “Romney for President” signs. This highway and U.S. 36, passing through Jefferson and Arapahoe counties, give way to a state not at all like the one often envisioned, politically or economically, from afar. The 479 miles of rural, suburban and patches of urban Colorado reveal many Democrats with an interesting lack of enthusiasm for President Barack Obama, despite all of the built-in support and demographic advantages at his fingertips.

Jefferson and Arapaho Counties

Exactly 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency. And that win may well come down to Colorado — specifically, Jefferson and Arapahoe counties. Both are at the center of the 7th Congressional District race between incumbent Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat, and challenger Joe Coors, a Republican. If businessman Coors has a good night on Nov. 6, so will Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, likely not only in Colorado but nationwide.

The Colorado bellwether

Colorado is looking like a state that is the national average, perhaps a tick or two rightward, according to Sean Trende, a savvy number-cruncher and Princeton-trained political scientist for the website RealClearPolitics. “So if Romney is winning Colorado, it probably means he is headed for a decent night,” Trende said of the relatively new electoral trend of a Western state signaling a presidential win. If Romney wins here comfortably, that probably means a national win on the scale of George Bush in 2004, or even Obama in 2008, Trende said. Right now, he said, Colorado’s numbers look pretty good for Romney: “We have him up a half-point in the RCP Average, with the president down to about 47 percent of the vote. That’s not a great position for the president to be in.”

The Colorado map

The Democrats’ traditional map in Colorado looks like a “C,” Trende explained, “starting with ‘Old Mexico’ in the south, swinging through the ski areas in the west, and then coming into Boulder, Denver and the suburbs. “The latter are the key battleground in the state. If Romney runs well in Jefferson and Arapahoe counties, it is over. If Coors is running strong against Perlmutter, the state won’t be close.”

House race to watch

The House race at the center of the presidential election has Coors up 45-36, with 55 percent of the district favoring repeal of ObamaCare. Still, Coors is being hit with ads by Perlmutter, by the Democrats’ House Majority PAC and by AFSCME, the government-workers union.

Romney’s strength

Colorado is the face of the new West and a new political power. Known for its picturesque mountains and ski resorts, it also is home to enormous energy resources — gas, oil, coal — as well as to aerospace-manufacturing and health-care businesses. Jobs associated with the oil and gas boom are natural votes for Romney. And, although he lags behind with Colorado’s many Hispanic voters, interviews with young people across the state showed strong support for him.

Obama’s enthusiasm problem

Interview after interview here also revealed that Obama’s problem among Colorado Democrats who voted for him in 2008 is enthusiasm: About one-third will “probably still vote for him” (a line heard over and over), one-third will go for Romney and the final third will just stay home.

Romney represents

U.S. 34 begins hundreds of miles west of here and, for part of its way, has Rocky Mountain National Park as a stunning backdrop — making it the highest paved highway in the country. It peaks at an elevation of 12,183 feet, so high up that snow keeps it closed in the park for much of the year; long wooden poles line its switchbacks, so summer road crews know where to go for the annual snow-clearing. All along its twisting route — as on Colorado’s other rural byways, in its neighborhoods and Main Street shop windows, and even adorning some pretty beat-up cars — you see plenty of Romney-Ryan campaign signs.

The Battle for Iowa: Battleground Counties — Today’s Must Read

Normally in any given state we like to focus on a handful of the key populous counties that will swing this year’s election.  The Des Moines Register lays out all 12 counties in Iowa that are Battlegrounds this year including this super-cool interactive map with voting results of every county in Iowa:

 The Des Moines Register examined a dozen swing counties that have seesawed from Republican to Democratic, home to ticket-splitting voters that both presidential campaigns desperately want to win over this fall. Polling data for Iowa is scarce, but a rolling average shows a stubborn tie between President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney. Such a tight race means a cache of votes here or there will save or kill a campaign. Both sides see opportunity in Iowa’s rural counties this cycle — Democrats in independent female voters and Republicans in white men without college degrees. The unemployment rate in Iowa’s 12 hottest swing counties ranges from 3.7 percent (Carroll) to 7.5 percent (Hamilton). Across the board, county leaders agree, the shaky state of the national economy is Obama’s biggest vulnerability.

And as Iowa looks at a stunted crop this fall, if not crop failure, voters will be focused on the drought’s impact on their local economies, and the government’s response.
This cycle, the GOP feels confident Mitt Romney will win many 2008 Obama counties — such as those he won by 1 point or less, including Warren, Hamilton, Iowa, Hardin and Franklin. Democratic strategists see gold in Muscatine, Wapello, Clinton and Des Moines counties — all fervently Democratic. The Democrats have opened offices there this cycle, as well as in all the bigger urban counties, where Obama will need to pile up huge surpluses to offset less favorable counties. Not every county in purple Iowa is competitive. Some could be called right now: Johnson, Des Moines and Lee will be safely in Obama’s column on Nov. 6, and Sioux, Lyon and Osceola will be safely in Romney’s. But some, like the dozen key “swingers” featured here, shift from D to R depending on the candidate, pet issues, hot local races and attention from the campaigns.

Although each county listed is hotly contested, not everyone would be considered a Battleground county under the auspices by which I refer to them.  Battleground counties, for our purposes, are both hotly contested counties and are heavily populated enough to swing the electoral balance in the state. For example, Scott County alone had nearly the same aggregate vote total in 2008 (85,292 votes cast for both Obama and McCain) as the bottom 9 counties combined (84,904 votes cast). So Scott County is clearly a Battleground County for our purposes while Greene County (4,720 votes cast) would not be. But even though not every county fits my definition, in this closely contested election, each is clearly a 2012 battleground as Jennifer Jacobs tremendously demonstrates. Here is the county by county breakdown reordered by aggregate vote total:

Scott — 85,292 total votes for Obama/McCain in 2008

  • Trend in last four presidential races: Dem by 9 points, Dem by 4 points, Dem by 3 points, Dem by 15 points.
  • Scott is a Democratic county and a big union county. But Branstad has never lost here, and Romney beat his GOP rivals here in the caucuses.
  • Iowa’s east coast counties — Scott, Muscatine, Clinton and Jackson among them — figured prominently in the Bush-Gore contest. Scott is an expensive battleground, where campaigns are forced by the border-state TV market to spend money advertising to already-decided Illinois.
  • Obama is amassing a battalion here, made up of neighborhood team leaders and support volunteers, who are called “core team members.”
  • Scott is more competitive than Democratic strategists might like to admit. The county government has a GOP lean. Four of the five countywide supervisors are Republicans, and so are two of the three state senators.
  • Scott is also GOP congressional challenger John Archer’s best bet for a strong showing. And Romney’s state chairman lives in Scott, where he’s leading a strong organization.

Woodbury — 44, 202 total votes for Obama/McCain in 2008

  • Trend in last four presidential races: Dem by 2 points, GOP by 3 points, GOP by 2 points, GOP by 1 point.
  • This is an urban river county where three states come together, and voters worry about competing with neighbors for jobs. Both Nebraska and South Dakota have lower income taxes, but Iowa has a more favorable sales tax.
  • It’s in the heart of Iowa’s red west, but unlike Pottawattamie to the south, it’s an outpost of urban Democrats.
  • Democrats recently opened a campaign headquarters here — in a Hispanic neighborhood in Sioux City. Woodbury Republicans opened theirs with Sam Clovis, a popular conservative radio host, officiating.
  • If congressional challenger Christie Vilsack can make a run of it here, her influence will energize the Democrats, politics watchers said.
  • Independent voters — a third of the electorate — will be the deciders this year, said Linda Holub, co-chair of the Woodbury GOP. Health care and federal debt top the issues list.

Continue reading

Overflow Crowd for Romney in Colorado

The crowd was so large during the Romney visit, he had to climb on top of a picnic table to speak to the crowd who couldn’t fit inside the Jefferson County, Colorado:

The Battle for Colorado

The Denver Post looks at what is going on with Colorado‘s new found prominence as a Battleground:

Several dynamics this year make the Centennial State even more competitive [than 2008]— and critical to winning the White House. Unlike 2008 there are fewer states this time around that are truly up for grabs. Obama and Mitt Romney are eyeing Colorado’s nine electoral votes — in combination with other Western states such as Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona — to give them the win. The campaigns use a combination of history, demographics and polling to determine which states are solidly or leaning red or blue and which states are considered tossups. From there, it’s a matter of doing the math — finding ways to combine victories in winnable states to get the candidate to 270 electoral votes, the total needed to win the presidency.

Polls show the race is a dead heat:

A poll of 600 Coloradans by Purple Strategies found 48 percent favored Obama and 46 percent favored Romney. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points. A Rasmussen Reports poll of 500 likely voters showed both candidates with 45 percent, while 6 percent preferred another candidate and 5 percent were undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Denver Post Continue reading

Battleground State? Ha! How About Battleground Neighborhood!

Obviously, I like talking about Battleground States.  I really enjoy anything about Battleground Counties.  But this write up in the Denver Post about a Battleground neighborhood that has correctly called every president, U.S. senator or governor (with one exception) since 2000 is pretty darn impressive:

In this key swing state, in a key swing county, a small middle-class neighborhood in the heart of Lakewood’s Green Mountain subdivision has picked the winner in nearly every statewide and national election over the past 12 years. Precinct 7202330176 sits at the base of Jefferson County‘s William Frederick Hayden Park and reveals an electorate almost perfectly in sync with voters in Jefferson County and in Colorado.

[T]he mountainside precinct, just off West Alameda Parkway on Lakewood’s far western border, is quiet, family-oriented and likely to lean Democratic. But only for the right person. Nearly every political expert says Colorado is key to winning the White House this year. And most political experts in the state have long known that you can’t win Colorado without winning Jefferson County, making swing precincts such as this one in Green Mountain — with its 1,532 active voters — even more important.

“As goes Jeffco, so goes Colorado,” is a political adage that has held true for decades, said Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado GOP chairman and a Jeffco resident. Jefferson County has 269,160 active voters and is divided almost evenly among Republicans (37 percent), Democrats (31 percent) and unaffiliated voters (31 percent). Colorado figures to be a swing state because of its geopolitical divide, where Democratic voters in Boulder and Denver counties cancel out conservative voters in Douglas and El Paso counties. That leaves the deciding power in swing counties such as Jefferson, Arapahoe and Larimer.

The same patterns can be seen in Jefferson County, where cities such as Golden and Wheat Ridge lean Democratic while Arvada and Westminster trend Republican. That leaves the middle: Green Mountain and Precinct 7202330176 — a community of mostly 1970s-era homes surrounded by maturing trees, a ravine and winding streets. The precinct was redrawn last year and now includes Green Mountain High School. The precinct’s 1,532 active voters mirror Jeffco overall, with 505 Democrats (33 percent), 541 Republicans (35 percent) and 469 unaffiliated voters (31 percent). Only once since 2000 did the precinct fail to pick the winner in an election for president, U.S. senator or governor. Voters in 2002 chose Democrat Tom Strickland over victorious Republican Wayne Allard for the U.S. Senate. Census figures show the Green Mountain precinct of more than 4,000 people is nearly 88 percent white, has a median age of 39 and has most of its households earning more than $50,000 a year.

Since they decide the elections, what’s on their mind?

“They like basic government, don’t go too far one way or the other. They don’t want to see a lot of spending on tax dollars, but at the same time, they believe in the basic programs that you do need. They like good government but not excessive,” said former state Sen. Norma Anderson, a Lakewood Republican.

[W]hat are issues burning in people’s minds in Green Mountain?  The usual: the economy, schools, health care, etc.

No matter where people stand, voters can expect a deluge in the coming months as the campaign season kicks into high gear: robocalls, pollsters, personalized mailings and knocks on the door.

This is where the battle will be fought in Colorado so get after it!

Battleground States? How About Battleground Counties

Amy Walter at ABC News’ The Note drills down even further into the very topic of this blog — the limited nature of Battlegrounds in this year’s election:

We all know there are just a handful of states that will ultimately decide the election. But  it’s really just a handful of counties in a handful of states that actually matter. The two states I think will determine the outcome of the election are Colorado and Virginia.

Colorado: Jefferson and Arapahoe Counties in suburban Denver are the swing counties in the state. In 2008, those two counties contributed 565,000 votes – or 25 percent of the 2.2M cast.

Virginia: Five key counties determine the winner of the state: Henrico (Richmond suburbs), Loudoun and Prince William (suburban Washington, D.C.), Virginia Beach and Chesapeake City. Total votes cast by these five counties in 2008: 764,000 (20 percent of total votes cast in the state).

I’ve never lived in a Battleground state or even a loosely contested state, but I can imagine by election day residents in each of the above counties will loathe both campaigns due to what can be an inundation of campaign ads littering their televisions over the come five months.