All eyes are on Colorado this election year, as this key “swing state” may determine who will be the next president of the United States.
Colorado may only have nine electoral votes, but those votes may prove critical this coming November in a presidential race that is predicted to be determined by key swing states. Colorado, along with Ohio, Virginia and Florida, continues to make national headlines as one of the key battleground states.
Just this week, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit Fort Collins, Colorado. Fort Collins is situated in Larimer County, considered to be one of three key “swing counties” in this important swing state. Obama needs to win Larimer County, which he carried in 2008.
Speaking to a mostly youthful crowd of 13,000 at Colorado State University, he emphasized that “We are greater together.” His 28-minute speech focused on foreign policy, affordable college education, and renewable energy—a key issue in northern Colorado, where Vestas has several plants. Obama will return to Colorado again on Sunday when he visits Boulder.
President Obama isn’t the only candidate hitting the campaign trail hard in Colorado, however. Mitt Romney has visited the state 16 times since last summer. And three days after being named the vice-presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, 42-year-old Paul Ryan was standing in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Lakewood High School in Jefferson County (another one of the three important swing counties in Colorado). Ryan told the crowd “There’s nothing like the stars and skies and the Colorado Rockies at night.”
But Ryan’s seeming love for the state’s splendor and purple mountain majesties wasn’t the sole reason he was in Colorado. This election, Colorado may be “the” key swing state in determining the future of our country—and whether Colorado goes red or blue this November could determine the next president of the United States.
But why Colorado? It’s because Colorado has more unaffiliated voters than it has voters associated with either party. Of Colorado’s 3,456,191 registered voters, 1,206,035 are unaffiliated (Independents), 1,124,158 are Republicans, and 1,093,025 are Democrats.
Both campaigns are heavily targeting these unaffiliated voters, especially in the three swing counties of Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Larimer, which contain the most number of unaffiliated voters in the state. All three counties went Democratic in 2008, and these counties are being viewed as key predictors of what will happen on the national level.
Because of its voter composition and potential electoral importance, Colorado continues to be inundated with political advertising and polling. Special interest groups and super-PACs are spending enormous amounts of money on advertising. Of all the swing states, Colorado is receiving the most money per electoral vote.
Although Colorado went Democratic in 2008, the state’s track record reveals that it has voted Republican in every presidential race since 1968, except for 1992 when it chose Clinton. It was the unaffiliated voters who made the difference in 2008, and it will be the unaffiliated voters who will determine which direction Colorado, and potentially the nation, will go in 2012.
This election year, the eyes of the nation will be upon Colorado. As Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan said, “This is one of the most beautiful states in the country.” And it might just be the most important one politically now, as Colorado may determine who the next president of the United States will be.
The article, as it appeared in print:
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