President Obama flew out to Colorado at the end of last week “to get a firsthand view of the fires and their toll on residential communities”. The potential political motivations of such a visit are not lost in this election year.
Colorado has recently been grappling with the state’s most destructive wildfire in its history. President Obama declared the wildfires a “major disaster” and promised Colorado federal aid to help with the high costs of damages.
Colorado, one of nine main swing states, will play an important factor in the upcoming presidential election in November. Both President Obama and Gov. Romney’s presidential campaigns will target swing states in efforts to lock in the coveted amount of electoral votes on Election Day. On Sunday, Eva Longoria, celebrity and national co-chair for the Obama Campaign, was on hand in Colorado to kick off the campaign's "Women Vote 2012".
In 2008, Obama won 53.5% of Colorado, while McCain only received 44.8%. This was a serious accomplishment for Obama considering Colorado voted reliably Republican in eight of the last nine presidential elections prior to 2008.
Although Obama gained 9 electoral votes from Colorado in 2008, Colorado is considered a strong tossup in the 2012 presidential election.
In the upcoming election President Obama and Mitt Romney must appeal to the emerging independent electorate in Colorado. Both presidential candidates may struggle with this task as they continue to court the bases of each of their own political parties.
The centrist think tank, Third Way conducted a study of swing states including Colorado. Third Way found that the percentage of registered Republicans and Democrats barely increased since 2008, while newly declared independents drastically rose, in comparison.
Third Way analyst Lanae Erickson said in Colorado, it's now practically a three-way tie in registration.
"Independents actually rose by nearly 10 percent in Colorado just since 2008. So there's been a huge surge in independent voters. And, so, as a proportion of the electorate, independents have really gained on both parties."
Colorado’s history indicates a traditionally conservative state and a wariness of big government, which could ultimately hurt Obama. However Romney will have a challenge winning support from Colorado’s women and independent voters, who showed major influence in 2010 Democratic wins for senate and governor. Utah, Romney’s home state, boarders Colorado, which may also influence which way the state swings.