There was an interesting report on Fox News yesterday (which I was only able to catch because I was in a building that has FNC) about how a few states in the West are going to be key battle states in the coming election. Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and good old Colorado are being looked at by both parties as possible swing states. Together they add up to more electoral votes than Florida has.
Arizona, Nevada and Colorado all went for Bush in 2000 while New Mexico narrowly went for Gore. This is a traditionally conservative area, but the Kerry camp thinks it can pick up electoral votes here. Further, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado all gained House seats and so will gain electoral votes. Arizona is certainly being targeted for its large population of "seasoned citizens" (as Rush would say). New Mexico elected Clintonite Bill Richardson governor in 2000 and so seems an obvious target. I'm not quite sure what the appeal is in Nevada. Perhaps the hedonists in Las Vegas would favor Kerry over Bush.
Unsurprisingly, I think Colorado is the most interesting case. Colorado went solidly for Bush in 2000, by about 8 points. That wound up being around 145,000 votes. Now, Colorado is a generally Republican state, which also happens to feature my count, El Paso, as one of the most conservative counties in the nation. The problem is that Denver, the largest city in the state by far, is overwhelmingly liberal, and we also have the socialist hive of Boulder. Together, they can swing a lot of lefty weight around. I think what's making the Democrats more interested here is the big Senate race. They really think they have a shot to win it, and I don't think they're wrong. I recall that Governor Owens' first race was very close and Senator Allard's first race was a nasty fight. I imagine the Dems are thinking that if they can pick up this Senate seat, that would boost Kerry in the same election.
The Senate race is not well defined at the moment as the primary races are being hotly contested. On the Democrat side, there's the fairly popular attorney general, Ken Salazar facing the very liberal Miles, whose first name escapes me at the moment. For the GOP, there's Pete Coors and Bob Schaeffer. Coors and Scaeffer are almost identical on the issues, so the difference comes down to other factors. Coors is an extremely personable guy, a successful businessman, and has a great organziation. Schaeffer is good at stump speeches and has quite a bit of experience in government. Once the primary on August 10th is passed, I think we'll ahve a better picture of the situation here in Colorado. However, despite the Dems confidence, I can't really see the state swinging that far left. We shall see, though.