With nine electoral votes, Colorado is the biggest prize in the Mountain West. That helps explains why, for the two weeks preceding the conventions, two of the nation’s top five media markets in terms of ad buys were Denver and Colorado Springs.
The Romney formula depends on turning out the GOP base, especially on the energy-oriented Western Slope and in El Paso County’s Colorado Springs, home to a politically active evangelical Christian community and a heavy military influence. This year, the expectation among Republicans is that Romney will also gain more traction in the Denver suburbs than John McCain.
The Obama strategy closely resembles the one successfully employed by Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010. Bennet ran well among Hispanics and benefited from an enormous gender gap — 17 points, according to exit polls. The same themes Bennet used — notably abortion rights and contraception — have been put to use again in Colorado and were underscored at the Democratic convention in Charlotte last week.
There’s a reason the president campaigned in Colorado with Sandra Fluke in early August, and why he’ll be back again later this week.
With its 29 electoral votes, Florida is essential for Romney.
The good news is that Republicans control the levers of power in the state thanks to their domination in recent elections — and the state party is one of the GOP’s best. Still, Democrats hold a nearly 450,000 voter registration advantage.
This year, even as debates over Medicare and Israel have added a level of volatility to the presidential race there, many of the underlying fundamentals remain the same.
South Florida — namely populous Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties — turned in big margins for Obama in 2008, which makes the I-4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando all the more important.
At one end, Tampa’s Hillsborough County is one of the nation’s top bellwethers: Since 1960, no presidential candidate has won Florida without carrying it.
Both sides are paying close attention to the swing county: The GOP went so far as to hold its national convention there, and Obama has visited at least twice already this year, not including his visit Saturday to nearby St. Petersburg.
At the other end of I-4, Romney needs to improve on the performance of McCain, who was blown out in Orlando’s populous Orange County in 2008 after the race there was decided by razor-thin margins in 2000 and 2004. But the growth of the non-Cuban Hispanic population in the area — most notably, the Democratic-voting Puerto Rican population — has altered the political equation over the past decade and made Romney’s Hispanic gap all the more glaring.
The president has led in every public poll there this year. Still, in the state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate, there are no guarantees.
Obama is running well with Hispanic voters, whose numbers have exploded in Nevada over the past decade, and he will have benefit of Sen. Harry Reid’s machine. Two X factors could also work to Obama’s advantage in a tight race: separate ballot lines for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who’s running as a Libertarian, and for “None of the above.”
For Romney, whose numbers have been improving in Nevada, the state’s significant Mormon population will be an asset. And the Republican National Committee and Team Romney have done a solid job in attempting to overcome the state party’s circus sideshow.
In the end, the state’s two most populous counties will decide the outcome. Romney must pare down Obama’s winning margin in Las Vegas’s Clark County, where two-thirds of the Nevada vote was cast in 2008, and must dramatically improve on McCain’s anemic showing in Reno’s Washoe County battleground. Obama won both comfortably in 2008.
you can read the full 9 states race article on politico here