Colorado May Determine 2012 Presidential Election

Greg Flakus
This year's presidential election may be decided in a handful of so-called "swing states," where President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are running neck and neck in public opinion polls.  The western state of Colorado has only nine electoral votes, which will all go to the candidate who wins a majority of the state's popular votes in November.  And Colorado is one of the few states that could go either way, so it is being hotly contested.

Thousands of Obama supporters were on the streets of the Denver suburb of Golden, Colorado recently, when the president came to visit.  Obama won here four years ago and many of his supporters remain enthusiastic.

Those who identify with a party here are evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.  So, independent voters like Sherry Toms are the key to victory.  And she still likes the president.

"To switch everything and do a 360 with the Republican Party might not be the best thing right now," said Toms.

The Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, was not here this day, but his son, Josh Romney, met with supporters not far from the Obama event.

While young voters helped elect Obama in 2008, some, like Alex Insco, now favor Romney.

"I haven't seen any change. I was hoping for change, but I still haven't gotten it yet," said Insco.

Around 80 percent of Colorado's population is now located in cities and suburbs.  In a state once characterized by sparsely-populated areas such as the Rocky Mountains, demographic change turned Colorado from reliably Republican to a so-called "battleground."

Many of the people who moved to Colorado from other states in recent years were drawn by its scenic beauty.  But, to live here, they also need jobs.  Colorado's unemployment rate is slightly higher than the national average and economic anxiety could sway many independent voters.

"If the issues get framed in terms of economic conditions and that is how they are feeling about things - the loss of value in their homes,  the difficulty of setting aside money to send their kids to college or just filling up their gas tank with fuel - they are more likely to go with the out party, the Republicans," noted University of Colorado at Boulder political scientist Kenneth Bickers.

But Bickers says Colorado's women voters could side with Obama if the race turns to social issues like abortion, which Republicans oppose.  Tara Speigel is one such voter.

"If you listen to Romney speak and you listen to Obama speak, Obama is clearly for the women and he is for our rights," Speigel said.

Still, in many suburban areas of Denver, women like Marla Wayneman are prominent Romney supporters.

"Women with children will have a perspective on the economy and the effect that our deficit will have on the security of the nation," said Wayneman.

In the weeks ahead, Colorado's citizens will see more of both candidates as well as a constant barrage of television ads aimed at independent voters who have yet to make up their minds.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs