Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Colorado Politics Leads the Nation in Change

At the recent national conference of polling professionals, Ron Brownstein, The Atlantic and National Journal political guru, said the 2012 election was a turning point event for how the two parties conducted national campaigns, how the media reports and tracks them (polling), and the strategies of the two parties in assembling their respective coalitions.

He called it a “brick through the window.”

Colorado has also witnessed an extraordinary change since the last Republican president victory in 2004 and Barack Obama’s and the local Democratic power sweep in 2012. And to a large extent, many factors that put Colorado Democrats in power presaged what would change in the country. It may also be true that 2012 will mark a turning point in Colorado’s politics and campaigns.

It was only eight years ago that Republicans went into the 2004 presidential election holding the Colorado governorship, both senate seats, five of the seven congressional seats and both houses of the state legislature.  But, on Election Day in November, the first signs of the shift were apparent. Although President Bush carried the state, Democrats won a senate and a congressional seat with the Salazar brothers and both houses of the legislature by narrow margins.

By the 2012 election, the Colorado Republican Party was devastated. It had already lost both senate seats and the governorship. It did control four of the seven congressional districts after being down to just three seats, with a slight recovery in 2010. However, President Obama won re-election by a convincing margin and Democrats’ control of the legislature was by large margins in each House, leading to the most liberal legislature in Colorado memory.

What caused the Colorado shift in tandem with, and somewhat ahead of, the national Democratic recovery from its low points in the early 2000s will be the subject of a series of blog posts.

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