Although he wasn’t the caucus choice in February, Colorado Republicans are now mustering support for Mitt Romney, who hopes to turn what was a blue state in 2008.
Students line up to see President Obama speak at the Coors Center in Boulder, Colo. on April 24.
Rick Santorum was the Colorado Republicans’ preference in the February precinct caucuses and two months later, with Santorum no longer a contender, conservatives staked their interests in a number of independent candidates and Ron Paul.
As Romney takes the driver’s seat, however, the conservative population in Colorado is pulling itself together to rally around him for what will be a close presidential battle here.
Energy resources are the issues of the day in Colorado, a topic that divides support for the 2012 presidential hopefuls. President Obama continually favors renewable over hydrocarbon energy resources, a stance heralded by Boulder, Denver, and other liberal areas of Colorado. Romney’s approach to win over voters in Colorado has thus far been to oppose the president’s move toward renewables and stand up for the oil and gas workers throughout the state.
Romney visited Weld County, Colorado, on May 9 where he targeted supporters that see falling gas prices coming at the hands of oil and field workers. Located appropriately on the right-hand side of the state, Weld County and the rest of eastern Colorado remains the most conservative area of the state. His speech in front of some 400 people and an oil drill was well-received.
Western Colorado has long been a battleground area. Since 1915, the representative of District 3, the western slope, has flipped back and forth between a Republican and Democrat. Republican Scott Tipton currently holds the seat and is being challenged this year by Sal Pace, a Democrat whose campaign is highly regarded by the Democratic Party.
The Latino population will play a big part in the presidential race. Latinos are the fastest-growing population in Colorado, comprising nearly five percent of Colorado’s total population, with a majority of them leaning Democratic. Romney will need to swing this group if he is to swing the state in November. There is a cluster of Republican-leaning Latinos in the rural south of Colorado that may get attention from the candidates in the next few months.
The economy and job creation continue to drive the 2012 presidential race and underlay nearly every facet of the contest. Because Colorado’s economy continues to outperform the nation’s average, on the issue of the economy, Obama retains a slight favor. Government enterprises, insurance, health care, and science and technical services have been the fastest-growing industries in Colorado since 2000 according to a Headwaters Economics study.