See 2012 Battleground States for brief analyses of a dozen key states in the 2012 elections, and predictions as to who could win those states.
How Colorado Votes: Red State or Blue State?
Democratic presidential candidates have won in Colorado only twice in 40 years: Barack Obama in 2008 and Bill Clinton in 1992.
However, demographic changes in the state's population in the 21st century have caused Colorado to become a bona fide electoral swing state, one that could easily veer either Democratic or Republican in presidential elections.
U.S. News and World Report analyzed Obama's 2008 victory in Colorado, "... his biggest sources of support, returns show, are voters in Denver and its northern suburbs (Boulder), whose ranks have swelled in recent years."
From 2000 to 2010, Colorado's population increased by almost 15%, with most growth occurring around Denver and Boulder. Both cities have major university campuses, and a younger and more diverse populace than much of the state.
Per the 2010 Census, Hispanics comprised 20.7% of all Colorado residents, a huge increase of 41.2% from 2000 to 2010 and the nation's 7th highest state Hispanic percentage.
Obama captured the vast majority of Colorado's Hispanic vote in 2008.
In the last four presidential elections, Colorado voted as follows:
- 2008 - 54% for Democrat Obama, 45% for Republican McCain
- 2004 - 52% for Republican Bush, 47% for Democrat Kerry
- 2000 - 51% for Republican Bush, 42% for Democrat Gore, 7% for Other
- 1996 - 46% for Republican Dole, 44% for Democrat Clinton, 10% for Other
Of Colorado's seven House of Representative members, three are Democrats and four are Republicans.
Summary of Top Issues in Colorado
In 2011, Colorado's economy is fairly healthy in comparison to other states: unemployment and poverty rates are well below the national averages, although the Centennial State boasts the nation's 10th highest home foreclosure rate. Colorado has a low concentration of unionized workers.
Reform of U.S. immigration regulations is a top concern for the state's rapidly expanding Hispanic population. Although most Republicans oppose humanitarian immigration reforms and many push for an armed U.S.-Mexico border, Hispanics are also deeply disappointed by President Obama's failure to actively support or enact reform of immigration laws.
Pro-environmental protection and conservation stances are always important and popular in Colorado, which is home to 18 national parks, including famed Rocky Mountain National Park, and 42 state parks and outdoor recreation areas.
Republican proposals to slash Social Security and Medicare are not major issues in Colorado, as seniors are less than 11% of the state population, which ranks 46th among all states.
Colorado Economic Facts and Voter Demographics
Unemployment Rate as of June 2011 - 8.5%, which is below the U.S. unemployment rate and ranks 22nd among states.
Foreclosure Rates as of June 2011 - 1 in 497 homes, the nation's 10th highest state foreclosure rate for homes and higher than the national foreclosures rate per housing units of 1 of 583.
State Residents Living Below Poverty-Level Income - 11.4%, which is ranked #32 among states.
Hispanic Population - 20.7% of Colorado residents are of Hispanic origin, the nation's 7th highest state Hispanic population percentage. Colorado trails five other western states and Florida.
Senior Citizen Population - 10.9% of Colorado's total population, a very low level that ranks 46th among states.
Women as a Percentage of Colorado's Population - 49.9%, which is 42nd in the nation, tied with Idaho and Hawaii.
African-American Population - 4% of Colorado's resident population, ranking 33rd among states, tied with Alaska, Arizona and Washington.
Labor Union Membership - Colorado does not rank among the Top 20 Labor Union States, and boasts less than 200,000 labor union members.