The current 16-year era (assuming it continues to 2016) began with Bill Clinton’s 1992 election and is described as lean Democratic because, as the table below shows, the victories in popular and electoral votes have been more narrow than the previous Republican era.
Colorado started the lean Democratic era giving Clinton a win in 1992 due to the Ross Perot reform movement vote. But, the state then returned to its Republican presidential history. Bob Dole carried Colorado in Clinton’s 1996 re-election and the state stayed with G. W. Bush in his two elections.
Finally, Colorado joined the trend and Democrats took command of the state’s presidential politics with Obama’s win in 2008 and re-election 2012, both with vote margins greater than his impressive national wins.
The state, which came into the union with Lincoln and the Republicans, has been dependably Republican at the presidential level since the Second World War. Until Bill Clinton’s serendipitous win in 1992, only Lyndon Johnson managed to carry the state for Democrats since 1948. Colorado went for Truman. Colorado even voted Republican in Roosevelt’s last two elections.
Will the Democrats maintain control of Colorado’s politics? It appears red states are getting redder and blue bluer. But, the Colorado popular vote totals are closely balanced over the last 16 years, with Democrats surging toward end. And, Colorado has a history of fierce competition between the two parties and for independent voters.