Is the McCain camp giving up on Colorado and New Mexico?
From CNN’s Jon King
While Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado are still officially listed as McCain target states, two top strategists and advisers tell CNN that the situation in those states looks increasingly bleak. Iowa and New Mexico always have been viewed as difficult races, but the similar assessment of Colorado reflects a dramatic shift for a campaign that had long counted on the state.
"Gone," was the word one top McCain insider used to describe those three states.
It’s not over until it’s over, and Nevada and Montana remain in play in the West, but this is good news for our Western strategy.
Update October 21. The McCain camp is pushing back on the report they're losing hope in Colorado. See this link.
Update October 23. Though Senator McCain is headed to Colorado Friday, Republicans are reportedly slashing their television advertising in Colorado's three biggest television stations.
See this link.
Update October 29. CNN reports Senator Obama has doubled his lead in Colorado.
Polling in other Western states and swing states around the country continues to look favorable for Senator Obama and Democrats in general. Tonight's inspiring broadcast will surely help.
Events are moving at a rapid pace, especially on the economic front, as the 2008 election hurtles toward a conclusion. Colorado is a key state, perhaps the key state, in the election. So what does the latest polling show?
Barack Obama has regained the lead over John McCain in Colorado and has maintained his lead in the three other battleground states being followed by the Quinnipiac University poll.
Obama is favored by 49 percent of likely voters in Colorado, versus 45 percent for McCain. McCain had held a one-point lead in Colorado in late August.
And Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Udall broke a tie with Bob Schaffer, leading the Republican by 8 percentage points in the September poll.
By a 49 percent to 42 percent margin, Colorado voters would rather see Biden as president.
Just over half of the Coloradans surveyed said the economy is the most important issue in the election.
Colorado voters gave Obama the nod — by six points — on which candidate better understands the economy.And a Western Strategy has helped produce these results.
"Two years ago when the Democrats picked Denver for their convention, one of the main reasons was the hope it would help them win Colorado, which is shaping up as a key state in the Electoral College," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Sen. Obama has come from behind to take the lead there and it is a reasonable assumption that the convention has something to do with this," Brown said.
On Friday, I had a chance to chat with DNC Chairman Howard Dean. Naturally, I asked him about the Western strategy.
Over at BlueOregon, Jeff Alworth (who joined me on the call) has the write-up. Here's what Dean said about the West:
"We’re ahead in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado right now. We think the road to the White House leads through the west, and if we win those three states, I think Barack Obama will be the next president. [Even] Montana is in play. We're only down two there."
Not only that, but Dean's 50-state strategy is a key underpinning to Obama's 50-state strategy - which includes the West and extends beyond it:
"What Barack is trying to accomplish is something Bush willfully chose not to do. Barack wants to be president of all America, not just the half that agrees with him. The reason he’s adopted the fifty-state strategy is because he wants to be the president even of people who don’t agree with him so he can reunify the country. That’s what I find so refreshing, a candidate that wants to bring people together instead of what McCain is doing by driving them apart. So being a player in every region of the country matters: North Carolina, Virginia is in play, there’s the western states that we talked about that are in play—and that hasn’t happened for a long, long time. And I think that’s the kind of President Barack Obama will be, someone who cares about all the American people, not just those who agree with him."
Good stuff. Let's bring this one home, folks.
Kari Chisholm | September 15, 2008 | Comment on This Post (0 so far)
In part one we noted that Colorado is a state that is swinging from red to blue or at least purple.
In part two we noted that the growing Hispanic population is a major reason for this.
In part three we discussed how the way to win Colorado is by an appeal to the pragmatic middle on both economic and social issues, since conservatives outnumber liberals in Colorado.
The final piece to the Colorado analysis ties parts three and four together. Hispanics are generally conservative on the wedge social issues. Their Catholic heritage strongly inclines them to be for traditional marriage and pro-life. They may not necessarily be absolutists, but they are very oriented to traditional families. The nativist base of the GOP has been driving Hispanics away from the GOP, but President Bush, who won Colorado twice, made inroads into the Hispanic votes because of his family values platform. The challenge to Democrats is to make Hispanic voters feel comfortable with the Democratic Party. That means connecting with Hispanic families on health care and the economy, while not driving them away on abortion and marriage issues. It is a tough challenge for Democrats, but if the party is pragmatic and moderate on the social issues, rather than left-wing and absolutist, it could swing a generation of Hispanic voters and several Southwestern states into the Democratic column.
There is yet another way to look at Colorado’s electorate.
Pro-life Democratic Governor Ritter sees 13% of the electorate as moral conservatives that won’t vote for even a pro-life Democrat because he is a Democrat. He sees 16% as Fox News conservatives who would privatize almost everything. In contrast he sees 20% of the electorate as very liberal Democrats. Those figures alone would argue that a conservative will beat a liberal in a statewide contest in Colorado, but it also leaves a big middle to be distributed. In the middle are 37% who are government pragmatists and 14% who are moral pragmatists.
… the moral pragmatists, [Governor] Ritter explained, “do have issues around gay marriage and they have issues having to do with abortion, but at the same time they don’t want those issues to bog down government’s ability to deliver appropriate functions.”
These voters were the key to Ritter’s [Democratic] victory. “If you win among the liberals, and you win all the government pragmatists, then you’re over fifty per cent…But you may not win all the government pragmatists for one reason or another. So you have to carve into those moral pragmatists, and I think the reason we won pretty significantly was because we carved heavily into that group.”
Senator Obama in his acceptance speech spoke to the moral pragmatists and talked about finding “the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.” His ability to do that may well determine who wins Colorado’s electoral votes.
To Denver, to the organizers of and participants in the Democratic National Convention, and to the Obama-Biden ticket I only add: well done, good show, and on to victory in November!
With the Front Range as a backdrop for the Democratic National Convention, this is the second of a multi-part series on Colorado. It may help the questions Why Denver and Why now? One answer is demographics.
There is one clear reason the Democratic convention [is being] held in Denver: Colorado is ground zero in a crucial shift in the partisan balance of power that has the potential to restore Democratic dominance in presidential elections and bring an end to the conservative era of the past 40 years.
The demographic trends here and in New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona all tilt the playing field in favor of the Democrats and threaten traditional Republican strength in the mountain states of the west. There are similar, but not as strong, trends in such Northwest mountain states as Montana and North Dakota.
One reason these [Intermountain] states are increasingly “in play” is the rapid population growth among two key demographic segments—Hispanics and white college graduates—and the concomitant decline of the white working class.
In Colorado, these trends could have their strongest impact in the “battle of the suburbs” within the Denver metro (50 percent of state population), where Democrats need to expand their 2004 margin and the GOP needs to hold the line, and in the “battle of the metros” elsewhere, which pits the Democratic-trending Fort Collins metro, now the fourth largest in the state against the smaller GOP-trending metros of Grand Junction and fast-growing Greeley. Overall, the GOP will be looking to maintain their strong support among the declining white working class, the key to their electoral prospects. The Democrats will be relying on white college graduates, who are rapidly growing and have been moving toward the Democrats, especially since 2000 and Hispanics, who have been driving the growth of the minority vote and vote heavily Democratic.
More on the implications of this in a future post.
Western Democrat, from its beginning, noticed that moving a few Western states from red to blue would shift the electoral balance in November. The presidential contest looks very close heading into the national convention in Denver.
My favorite polling sites are here, here, and here. If the polls are correct, Senator Obama will likely carry all the states Senator Kerry won, though New Hampshire looks close. Plus Senator Obama looks likely to win Iowa and New Mexico. That results in 264 electoral votes, six short of a majority. Fewer than ten remaining states look winnable for Obama-Biden at this point.
Polls vary daily, but Colorado with nine electoral votes is one of the closest toss up states. Not long ago Colorado was a solidly red state. Resurgent Democrats now hold the governor’s mansion, one U.S. Senate seat, both houses of the state legislature, and congressional seats that were once regarded as irredeemably Republican. Democratic Congressman Mark Udall, son of "Mo" Udall, is holding a modest but consistent lead for Colorado’s other U.S. Senate seat. Colorado is winnable. Colorado may be the key state in 2008.
All this makes the selection of Denver for the national convention look like a very smart move.
On June 26th the Supreme Court upheld the personal right to keep and bear arms. In much of the West, this ruling will have little effect, because that right is already reflected in local laws.
…while many say the decision paves the way for further state decisions freeing up a person’s ability to own and carry firearms, Colorado laws and local statutes will be untouched, according to local law enforcement officials.
Municipal ordinance in the city of Aspen bars shooting firearms within city limits (the same code also bans throwing stones, hucking snowballs and shooting missiles), according to Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor.
Thursday’s ruling simply supports laws already on the books in Colorado, Pryor said.
On balance this ruling is good news for Western Democrats, who have had to remind their Democratic colleagues that Cheyenne and Chicago have different views on gun control.
None of this should dismiss very real concerns that remain about guns and crime, but whatever laws are enacted must recognize the Second Amendment of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. I am hopeful that with gun rights advocates reassured by the Supreme Court this country can move forward on laws that will reduce gun violence while upholding the Second Amendment. I believe it can be done. I lived in Switzerland for almost two years, and it was a very educational experience. The Swiss are well armed. It was not uncommon to see Swiss carrying military weapons on trains due to their system of universal military service. At the same time Switzerland is a country with a very low crime rate even in urban areas.
As we recently posted, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada are shaping up as key battleground states for the 2008 election. Not surprisingly, and as Kari just noted, both Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain are already campaigning in these three states.
From the LA Times:
The top Democratic and Republican presidential contenders, Barack Obama and John McCain, brought their campaigns to the deserts of the American West on Monday, kicking off what is shaping up to be a fierce contest for the region in November.
The majestic vistas and suburban subdivisions of Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico were among the most contested territories of 2000 and 2004, although they were often overshadowed by the struggle for electoral votes in Florida and Ohio.
"There are a limited number of possibilities to change the electoral map for Democrats," said Mark Mellman, a longtime Democratic strategist. "These three states figure prominently."
"This game is on," said Joe Monahan, an independent political analyst in New Mexico who said Monday's visits would probably be the first of many by the presidential candidates in the months to come.
From the AP:
[Senator] Obama is signaling, even before the Democratic primary formally wraps up, that he intends to fight this fall for Western states that narrowly went Republican four years ago.
New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado aren't definitely Democratic blue or Republican red. Instead, they're known as "purple states" by political junkies.
"We're going to fight as hard as we can in these states. We want to send the message now that we're going to go after them and I expect to win them," the Illinois senator said Monday.
"I'm absolutely confident that we're going to do very well west out here because people out west are independent-minded and are going to look at whether or not over the last eight years the country is better off under Republican rule. I think they're going to conclude they're not and they want fundamental change, something that I'm offering and John McCain is not," [Senator Obama] said.
[New Mexico Governor Bill] Richardson, the nation's only Hispanic governor, called the three states "fertile ground" for Obama, particularly if he courts Hispanic voters with Spanish-language ads, personal appearances and attention to their concerns, such as immigration reform.