Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney covet Colorado's swingers

Exactly four years after Barack Obama accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in Denver, he returned to Colorado, telling a crowd of students and other fans at Colorado State University that this state's vote is key in his re-election -- and that whoever wins Colorado will win the presidency.

And it could be true. Against all odds, Colorado, with just nine electoral votes, is among a handful of key swing states -- with a core of undecided, swing voters. In 2008, it went with Obama -- only the fourth time the state backed a Democratic presidential candidate in sixty years.

But in voter registration, this state is a purple mountain majesty: More than a third of the voters are unaffiliated, with the rest breaking down into roughly a third Republican and a third Democrat, although the GOPs have a slight edge. And polls show that Mitt Romney and Obama are in a dead heat in this state. Although Karl Rove, a top GOP strategist who grew up in Colorado, doesn't agree with Obama on anything, Rove agrees on the importance of Colorado in this year's election.

We play the numbers game in this week's cover story, "Purple Haze." And we also offer our look at Red State/Blue State -- and how you know which color Colorado you're living in. A clue: If you're for the Trader Joe's going in at Eighth and Colorado Boulevard, you're blue. If you're for the Walmart proposed for Ninth and Colorado, you're red.

Look for the feature later today, with more material to follow. And watch for Obama to come back to Colorado this weekend, and many, many more times after that.

After all, this state is full of swingers!

Then-Denver City Council president Elbra Wedgeworth led the charge to bring the 2008 DNC here. Read more in "Democratic National Convention in 2008 still has Denver planners a mile high."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun