Can Colorado swing blue? That’s an issue hardly anyone thought would be up in the air a week before the election. Bush appeals to “rank-and-file conservatives” in Colorado, which he won by nine points in 2000 (51%, to Al Gore’s 42% and Ralph Nader’s 5%).
Which, as the WSJ point out, only means nothing is certain:
“There are red states and blue this fall, and then there is Colorado: a mile-high brew all its own, where just a few political inches could be huge in the struggle for Congress as well as the White House.
President Bush is ahead in polls here, but by small enough margins that he returned again yesterday for a rally in Greeley. Sen. John Kerry drew thousands in Pueblo on Saturday, and Democrats hope for a record turnout by Hispanic voters, drawn by a remarkable pairing of fifth-generation Mexican-American brothers who are running for Congress as Democrats.
Republicans agree they have dominated Colorado in recent years by making Democrats look risky. The big question now is whether today’s real-life problems of Iraq, rising health-care costs, dwindling water supplies and a state fiscal crisis are frightening enough that voters may be willing to take a chance on the party out of power.
All that makes Colorado a potential swing state at every level in next week’s election. “People have forgotten that this is not a partisan state. It is not an ideological state,” says Bill Armstrong, a former two-term Republican senator from Colorado. “So while people say Republicans are losing their grip, the truth is they never had a grip.”
Republicans have clear advantages: They enjoy a 178,000 edge over Democrats among registered voters and a proven ability to maximize turnout. “Fight Terrorism, Vote Republican” is a favorite slogan. Party ads on Christian radio stations include a toll-free number to facilitate early voting, which is attracting record numbers this year.
But some Republicans complain that their party may have pushed to the limits its antitax and socially conservative ideology. The second especially rubs against a Western libertarian streak on issues such as gay rights and stem-cell research.”
Question: Is Colorado really in play? I never would have surmised that 6 months ago. Here’s a quote that provides some good insight as to why this is likely so:
“I’m a 1964 Goldwater Republican and I’m not happy where the neo-Republicans are taking us,” says Mark Larson, a state legislator from Cortez. In fact, the party’s leader, Gov. Bill Owens, is no longer the partisan powerhouse he once was and has been hurt by his well-publicized separation from his wife. The brightest new political star may be Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democratic businessman who cultivates a brand of nonpartisan politics and a friendship with the Republican governor.”
Colorado Has Swing Potential
Democrats Seek Inroads in Races That May Have a Broad Impact
By DAVID ROGERS
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
October 26, 2004; Page A4