Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hillary Clinton in Colorado

The Clintons have won one presidential election in Colorado and lost one. In 1992, Bill Clinton, with the help of Ross Perot, denied what should have been an easy G.H.W. Bush victory. Four years later, Colorado reverted to its long history of preferring Republican presidential candidates and gave Bob Dole the nod by less than 2 points, while Clinton was winning the presidency by 8 points.

But Barack Obama broke the Republican hold on Colorado presidential politics with two substantial wins in 2008 and 2012. At the presidential level, Colorado is now considered a top tier swing state, but for many observers, there is a slight Democratic presumption based on Democratic advantage in a higher presidential turnout and the party’s very strong campaign apparatus.

Although Hillary Clinton inherits that platform, she faces significant challenges. She lost the Democratic activists in 2008 as Obama won the state caucus with major turnout from young voters and liberals. The party’s Hispanic and more moderate caucus attitudes favored Clinton. She won Pueblo and Adams counties. Motivating the state’s younger, liberal and African American voters will be a challenge.

As Mark Barabak wrote in the Los Angeles Times, Colorado and the interior West has become more competitive between the parties not less. Early in the Obama administration, Democrats hoped Colorado, Arizona and Nevada would be solidly Democratic and Montana a swing state. As we approach 2016, all three of the former appears in play and Montana more solidly Republican.

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