Swing State Colorado, and the Role of the Undecided Vote

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According to RealClearPolitics, the race for Colorado is extremely close, with President Obama ahead 1.5 points at 48.8%, and Governor Romney trailing close at 47.3%. Gallup shows Romney ahead 50-49%, while Rasmussen Reports polls him up 49-48% on Obama in Colorado. There are 1,293,987 unaffiliated voters registered in “swing state” Colorado,and roughly 395,000 of those voters are listed as inactive, so the independent,undecided, or unaffiliated vote in Colorado should prove a deciding factor in this election.

Barack Obama won the historically Republican state in the 2008 election 53.5-44.9%, which was considered a major victory in the historically red state. Lacking in electoral votes (nine), the cause for the rapidity of change in swing state Colorado leading up to the Democratic victory in 2008, has provided much speculation on its affect in this election.

Professor Seth Masket, of the University of Denver, sheds some light on this shift utilizing many factors, which he feels may have determined the President’s 2008 victory. Masket explains that the rise in Latino voters in the state, as well as migrant workers, an influx of registered Democrats prior to the last election, coupled with the ever-expanding biotechnology industry aided in the Democratic victory saying:

“The political geography of the state is pretty fascinating. Boulder and Denver are quite liberal, while Colorado Springs is very, very conservative, and the west is slightly libertarian.”

David Axelrod, one of Obama’s top advisers, said in a 2010 interview that Michael Bennett’s (D-Colorado) victory in the 2006 state senate race was “particularly instructive,” attracting the vote of “social liberals, minorities, the youth vote, and well-educated women voters.”

Romney made one last stop to court Colorado on November 3, with only 72 hours to go in the election. Appealing to the conservative base of Colorado Springs, to a crowd of 17,000 supporters, it is unlikely that he is trying to appeal to undecided voters – sticking to his base. Obama was on his coattails, in the Democratic leaning town of Aurora, Colorado, appealing to a crowd of some 20,000 supporters.

As it stands, Colorado still could sway either way. Polls are a useful tool in the navigation of politics, but tend to get skewed closer to this evening. Results will follow when polls close.