State’s election influence is Rocky Mountain high

Mitt Romney won applause from supporters when he spoke at the Country Inn of America on Horizon Drive in Grand Junction Monday. He then headed to campaign stops on the Front Range.

Rick Santorum brought members of the audience to their feet when he campaigned in Montrose Saturday. He also made a campaign stop in Colorado Springs Monday.

Newt Gingrich tried to revive his flailing campaign with a brief stop on the Front Range Monday, and Ron Paul visited three Colorado communities last week.

The reason for all this recent Republican presidential activity in Colorado is, of course, the GOP caususes that will be held tonight throughout the state.

Caucus goers will indicate their preference for one of the Republican candidates, and those preferences will be added to each candidates’ delegate count as they push toward the Republican National Convention in Florida this summer, even though Colorado’s delegates won’t actually be committed to particular candidates until after the state convention later this spring.

By then, however, the Republican primary battle may be essentially over.

Winning Colorado’s caucuses isn’t of the same order of magnitude as Mitt Romney’s victory in the Florida Republican primary election last week. But a solid victory here, on the heels of his Florida victory and his win in Nevada caucuses Saturday, could help cement Romney’s position as the unbeatable front-runner.

Conversely, if Santorum grabs a lead in Colorado, as well as in Minnesota and Missouri today — or if Gingrich somehow resuscitates his campaign yet again — it could put one of them in a position to continue to challenge Romney for the GOP nomination.

We’ve made it clear we don’t like Colorado’s caucus system. If Colorado had an early presidential primary that was part of a Rocky Mountain Region or Western States super primary, all held on the same day, it would give this state more overall clout in choosing presidential nominees.

But the caucuses are the only game for now. So Republicans interested in taking part in the nomination process should find out which caucus they must attend (a list is available on the Mesa County Clerk’s website at Then they should show up this evening and make their views known.

The Republican caucuses, however, aren’t the only reason Colorado is important in presidential politics this year. Take a look at one of the many Electoral College maps available on the Internet and you’ll see another reason.

The maps, which attempt to predict how varius states’ Electoral College votes will be cast this year based on current polls, show Colorado as one of a handful of toss-up states or as a state leaning slightly Republican. Four years ago, our Electoral Votes went to Democrat Barack Obama.

That’s why President Obama has visited Colorado repeatedly since moving into the White House, including a trip to Denver just a couple of weeks ago.

And it’s why we can also expect to see the Republican nominee, whoever that may be, in Colorado several times prior to the November election.

As many observers have correctly noted, the United States doesn’t hold a national election for president. We hold 50 statewide elections in which candidates compete for the total of each state’s Electoral College votes (with a couple of notable exceptions).

Colorado’s nine electoral votes aren’t the most, even among toss-up states. That honor goes to Florida, with 29. But, as one of only a handful of states listed as definite toss-ups by, we Colorado voters are likely to play a critical role in this year’s presidential election. So we will likely enjoy — or endure — many more visits of presidential aspirants.e_SClB


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