2008 United States presidential election in Colorado
|Elections in Colorado|
The 2008 United States presidential election in Colorado took place on November 4, 2008, as a part of the 2008 United States presidential election throughout all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Voters chose 9 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.
Colorado was won by Democratic nominee Barack Obama by a margin of victory of 8.95%. Obama took 53.66% of the vote to McCain's 44.71%. The state was heavily targeted by both campaigns, although, prior to the election, all 17 news organizations actually considered this a state Obama would win, or otherwise considered as a blue state. While George W. Bush narrowly carried the state in 2004, the Centennial State ultimately flipped allegiance to Obama. This was the first time since 1992 in which the state was won by a Democrat in a presidential election.
Key to Obama's victory was Democratic dominance in the Denver area, sweeping not just the city but also the heavily populated suburban counties around Denver, particularly Adams, Arapahoe, and Jefferson counties, as well as winning Larimer County, home to Fort Collins. Obama also took over 70% of the vote in Boulder County, home to Boulder. McCain's most populated county wins were in El Paso County, where Colorado Springs is located, and Weld County, home to Greeley.
There were 16 news organizations who made state-by-state predictions of the election. Here are their last predictions before election day:
- D.C. Political Report: Democrat
- Cook Political Report: Leaning Democrat
- Takeaway: Leaning Obama
- Electoral-vote.com: Leaning Democrat
- Washington Post: Leaning Obama
- Politico: Leaning Obama
- Real Clear Politics: Leaning Obama
- FiveThirtyEight.com: Solid Obama
- CQ Politics: Leaning Democrat
- New York Times: Leaning Democrat
- CNN: Leaning Democrat
- NPR: Leaning Obama
- MSNBC: Leaning Obama
- Fox News: Democrat
- Associated Press: Democrat
- Rasmussen Reports: Leaning Democrat
Pre-election polling taken in Colorado prior to the election mostly showed Obama with a slight lead. He led every poll after October 5.
John McCain raised a total of $3,491,086. Barack Obama raised almost $11 million.
Advertising and visits
Changing demographics and a growing Hispanic population made the state more favorable to the Democrats, although Republicans still had a hold on the state due to the party's conservative stances on social issues like abortion, gay rights, and gun control.
Colorado had traditionally voted Republican, turning red in every presidential election since 1952, with the exception of 1964 and 1992. Colorado supported George W. Bush in both 2000 and again in 2004, although by a margin of less than 5%. In addition, Republicans had mostly held control of the state legislature and most statewide offices since the 1960s. On the other hand, the Governor's Mansion had been held by Democrats for 22 out of the previous 30 years. Traditionally, Democratic strength in Denver, Boulder and Pueblo was no match for Republican dominance in the Denver suburbs, the rural areas, and Colorado Springs.
Recently, however, there had been a growing population of Hispanic Americans, young professionals, and an influx of people from other states - all of whom tend to vote Democratic. These demographic changes caused the state's political ideology to shift. While Republicans still enjoyed an advantage in voter registration statewide, Democrats had been closing the gap. There had also been an increasing number of unaffiliated, independent-minded voters. Since 2004, Democrats had won the governorship, both Senate seats, three House seats, and control of both chambers in the state legislature.
While Colorado had not been extensively contested in the 2004 election, Bush's narrow margin in that election and the demographic changes of the last four years led it to become a crucial swing state for 2008. Both Barack Obama and John McCain campaigned extensively in the state.
Several factors in the campaign favored the Democrat. Barack Obama did very well in the caucus, defeating opponent Hillary Clinton with almost 67% of the vote. On the other hand, John McCain badly lost the state to opponent Mitt Romney, who gained 60% of the vote.
Moreover, the 2008 Democratic National Convention was held in Denver. The publicity generated from the event provided a strong boost to Obama. According to Real Clear Politics polling averages, Obama and McCain were neck-to-neck through the summer and early September. However, as the 2008 financial crisis hit, Obama's numbers in Colorado jumped to over 50%.
During the campaign, several media organizations reported on voting machine problems. There was also reporting on the controversial practice of "purging" voter registration lists.
On election day, Obama won by a comfortable margin, greater than his national average. Obama improved on John Kerry's performance throughout the state. He won landslides in the Democratic strongholds of Denver and Boulder; in both areas, Obama took more than 70% of the vote. Democrats also do well in two other regions of the state. Along the Front Range, a number of rich counties dominated by ski resorts lean Democratic; in southern Colorado, a number of thinly populated, Latino counties also lean Democratic. By and large, Obama won these areas.
McCain did best in the rural, conservative areas next to Kansas and Utah, where he won landslide margins. Voters in more populated El Paso County, home to conservative Colorado Springs, gave McCain a 19% margin, though far less than Bush's 35% margin in 2004. In Denver's suburbs, McCain won Douglas County and Weld County, both by comfortable margins.
However, Denver's suburbs swung heavily to the Democrats. Bush narrowly won Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, and Broomfield County (in addition to what McCain won) - all three flipped to the Democratic candidate in 2008.
Thus, Obama was able to take landslide margins amongst the Democratic base while shifting suburban Colorado to the Democratic side. While he still lost places such as Colorado Springs, he greatly improved on Kerry's showing in those areas.
Elsewhere in the state, Democrats also did well. Democratic Mark Udall defeated Republican Bob Schaffer for an open U.S. Senate seats; his vacated House seat was also won by Democrat Jared Polis. In addition, Democrat Betsy Markey defeated incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave, by 12 points for Colorado's 4th Congressional District seat. At the state level, Democrats picked up one seat in the Colorado Senate, but lost two seats in the Colorado House of Representatives.
|United States presidential election in Colorado, 2008|
|Party||Candidate||Running mate||Votes||Percentage||Electoral votes|
|Democratic||Barack Obama||Joe Biden||1,288,633||53.66%||9|
|Republican||John McCain||Sarah Palin||1,073,629||44.71%||0|
|Independent||Ralph Nader||Matt Gonzalez||13,352||0.56%||0|
|Libertarian||Bob Barr||Wayne Allyn Root||10,898||0.45%||0|
|Constitution||Chuck Baldwin||Darrell Castle||6,233||0.26%||0|
|America's Independent||Alan Keyes||Brian Rohrbough||3,051||0.13%||0|
|Green||Cynthia McKinney||Rosa Clemente||2,822||0.12%||0|
|New American Independent||Frank McEnulty||David Mangan||829||0.03%||0|
|Boston Tea||Charles Jay||Dan Sallis, Jr.||598||0.02%||0|
|HeartQuake '08||Jonathan Allen||Jeffrey Stath||348||0.01%||0|
|Objectivist||Tom Stevens||Alden Link||336||0.01%||0|
|Socialist||Brian Moore||Stewart Alexander||226||0.01%||0|
|Socialism and Liberation||Gloria La Riva||Eugene Puryear||158||0.01%||0|
|Socialist Workers||James Harris||Alyson Kennedy||154||0.01%||0|
|Pacifist||Bradford Lyttle||Abraham Bassford||110||<0.01%||0|
|Prohibition||Gene Amondson||Leroy Pletten||85||<0.01%||0|
|Broomfield, City and County of||54.89%||16,168||43.31%||12,757||1.79%||528||29,453|
|Clear Creek County||57.78%||3,332||39.88%||2,300||2.34%||135||5,767|
|Denver, City and County of||75.45%||204,882||23.04%||62,567||1.50%||4,084||271,533|
|El Paso County||39.86%||108,899||58.69%||160,318||1.45%||3,958||273,175|
|Kit Carson County||26.50%||912||71.32%||2,455||2.18%||75||3,442|
|La Plata County||57.39%||16,057||41.11%||11,503||1.50%||419||27,979|
|Las Animas County||52.68%||3,562||45.64%||3,086||1.67%||113||6,761|
|Rio Blanco County||20.81%||655||77.44%||2,437||1.75%||55||3,147|
|Rio Grande County||44.97%||2,448||53.82%||2,930||1.21%||66||5,444|
|San Juan County||53.23%||264||43.95%||218||2.82%||14||496|
|San Miguel County||76.99%||3,349||21.45%||933||1.56%||68||4,350|
By congressional district
While Barack Obama won the state’s popular vote and 9 electoral votes, John McCain carried four of the state’s seven congressional districts, including both seats held by Republicans and two seats held by Democrats.
|2nd||34.10%||64.22%||Mark Udall (110th Congress)|
|Jared Polis (111th Congress)|
|4th||49.54%||48.66%||Marilyn Musgrave (110th Congress)|
|Betsy Markey (111th Congress)|
|6th||52.48%||46.17%||Tom Tancredo (110th Congress)|
|Mike Coffman (111th Congress)|
Technically the voters of Colorado cast their ballots for electors: representatives to the Electoral College. Colorado is allocated 9 electors because it has 7 congressional districts and 2 senators. All candidates who appear on the ballot or qualify to receive write-in votes must submit a list of 9 electors, who pledge to vote for their candidate and his or her running mate. Whoever wins the majority of votes in the state is awarded all 9 electoral votes. Their chosen electors then vote for president and vice president. Although electors are pledged to their candidate and running mate, they are not obligated to vote for them. An elector who votes for someone other than his or her candidate is known as a faithless elector.
The electors of each state and the District of Columbia met on December 15, 2008, to cast their votes for president and vice president. The Electoral College itself never meets as one body. Instead the electors from each state and the District of Columbia met in their respective capitols.
The following were the members of the Electoral College from the state. All 9 were pledged to Obama and Biden:
- Wellington Webb
- Terry Phillips
- Camilla Auger
- Pam Shaddock
- Jennifer Trujillo-Sanchez
- Don Strickland
- Ann Knollman
- Polly Baca
- Margaret Atencio
- D.C.'s Political Report: The complete source for campaign summaries
- Presidential | The Cook Political Report Archived May 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
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- Electoral-vote.com: President, Senate, House Updated Daily
- Based on Takeaway
- POLITICO's 2008 Swing State Map - POLITICO.com
- RealClearPolitics - Electoral Map
- CQ Politics | CQ Presidential Election Maps, 2008 Archived June 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Electoral College Map". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
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- Election 2008: Electoral College Update - Rasmussen Reports™
- Presidential Campaign Finance
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