150,000 Reasons Obama Will Win the Election
[social_buttons]Framed by the fall color of 100 year-old cottonwoods, Senator Barack Obama addressed an estimated crowd of 50,000 people in the Oval at Colorado State University in Fort Collins on Sunday. The stop was the second of the day for the Democratic candidate for President, who drew 100,000 people to Civic Center Park in Denver, 60 miles to the south.
Seeing the sheer volume of people attending these two events patiently waiting in lines that stretched up to two miles long, striking up unlikely conversations and talking politics with new friends, was to see the tangible evidence of the punctuation on a political shift in Colorado that might just help put Barack Obama in the White House.
Before I moved to Fort Collins in 2001 to attend graduate school I knew that it was relocating to a part of the state that trended conservative. More than a couple of times I heard it described as a place “where the streets are wide and the minds are narrow.” But what struck me about Fort Collins was not how conservative it was, but rather how apolitical it was, or seemed. Folks in the area did not wear their politics on their sleeves and that is what is so striking about the huge turnout on Sunday.
As late as 2002, Republicans held the governorship in Colorado, both chambers in the state Legislature, both U.S. Senate seats, and five of the state’s seven U.S. House seats. But the Republican coalition of social and fiscal conservatives began to fall apart soon after, partly because of a sizable demographic shift that saw As Ronald Brownstein writes in the conservative National Journal:
“Since then , Democrats have staged a remarkably rapid and widespread recovery. In 2004, Democrats recaptured majorities in both the state Senate and the state House, flipped a U.S. House seat, and elected Ken Salazar to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. In 2006, the party enlarged its majorities in both chambers of the Legislature; won a majority of the congressional delegation… and elected former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter governor by a landslide.”
This year, Democrats are also positioning themselves to take another U.S. Senate seat. Polls show Udall leading former Rep. Bob Schaffer for the seat being vacated by Republican Wayne Allard.
Voter turnout in Colorado is expected to be high, thanks in no small part to the state’s early voting and mail-in ballot programs. While high voter turnout is believed to help Obama, an Obama win is not a foregone conlclusion. But if the Democrat draws people to the polls in the same numbers and level of intensity he maintained here from the February caucus all the way through Sunday’s rallies in Denver and Fort Collins, he’s got a real good chance.
Image: Tim Hurst