Colorado can soon expect ominous black bus onslaught

It was disappointing President Obama didn’t bring his tour to Colorado, but one positive was that the $2.6 million worth of jet-black, tinted-window, armored-looking buses bought for him showed that Mordor Industries had managed to bounce back from that Lord of the Rings fiasco into the mass transit business.

We have to be due a presidential visit soon since it’s increasingly clear that Colorado is going to be one of the fulcrum states on which his re-election will teeter. Even mass mail guru and establishment GOP icon, Karl Rove, feels the state is crucial.

Normally, I take policy pronouncements from Mr. Rove with a shaker of salt, however, when it comes to demographics and voter trends, he is the man. If you want to know how many registered independents with Ford pickups voted for McCain in an Ohio County, he’s your guy. In a close election that kind of knowledge and the ability to assemble targeted voter districts is what sent Sen. Kerry sulking on his yacht after the election in 2004.

Colorado is not just an important state electorally in the next presidential election, it is important as a barometer of states that swung to the president in 2008 but don’t look to go that way in 2012.  The reason for this and the important lesson nationally that comes out of our state, is the independent voter landslide away from the president.

The left-leaning polling group, Public Policy Polling, has been coming out with results this month in wild, albeit unsuccessful, attempts to paper over the president’s electability gap in the state.  The group released the results of a poll on Aug. 10 that showed the president had fallen to a general disapproval level of 46 percent approve versus 50 percent disapprove in the state, but tried to salvage something for the left by saying that he still led in polling over his probable Republican challengers. They had to work pretty hard to do this and one way you do that in polling is to oversample friendly voters.

In this case their sample was 41 percent Democrat, 33 percent Republican and 26 percent independent, which is an interesting sampling, not for the state of Colorado, but possibly for somewhere. As an example of why polling can’t be trusted unless you know the internals, consider that in Colorado the actual voter numbers are quite different. As discussed in an excellent bit of analysis by The People’s Press Collective, the secretary of state shows registration in July of Republicans at 32.5 percent, Democrats at 32.1 percent and independents at 34.5 percent.  Therefore, if you’re trying to pump up your poll numbers for the president you oversample Democrats, under sample Republicans and really, really under sample independents, which is the big part of the story.

That’s because independent registration has soared in the state by 35,000 in just this year alone and the president’s poll numbers among them in Colorado, even described by our friends on the left, have gotten very bad. According to Public Policy Polling, the president’s popularity has fallen from 54 percent favorable to 38 percent amongst independents – just since February. In most political circles, 16 points in six months isn’t a dip, it’s a plummet.

Western Colorado independents probably tend to be more conservative than even their front range counterparts. Anecdotally, a lot of those I speak to, who have changed to an independent status, have done so for two main reasons; first that the Republican Party has seemed, on a national level, to have a “now it’s your turn” approach to nominations, giving us the Bob Dole’s and John McCain’s at crucial periods in the nation’s history. Secondly, many feel it’s tiresome when the Republican Party’s best talent seems to be arranging circular firing squads. The failure to defeat the feeble Michael Bennet in the last cycle seemed to be the breaking point for many.

With many states already locked down in the red or blue column, Colorado should become a must win for the president. So if the numbers stay like this, we can probably expect a thunderous hoard of ominous black buses churning their way towards The Shire ... I mean, Colorado, very soon.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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