Liveblog: Mid-afternoon Election Day

T-minus five hours and we’re hitting the Election Day home stretch. The Colorado polls are been surprisingly quiet while long lines and ballot problems are being reported throughout the nation. How’s it look from your precinct?

2:21 p.m. – Bush campaign mastermind Karl Rove is calling Colorado for Obama by a 7 percent margin. On his final Rove & Co electoral map, Rove has Obama beating McCain by 338 to 200 spread, which would be the widest margin since Bill Clinton routed Bob Dole in 1996. Rove, perhaps hoping to show just how desperately he’s needed, has McCain winning just one key battleground state, Missouri.

David O. Williams

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2:33 p.m. – Steal this sign, pay 750 smackers

Did you know… Stealing, defacing or destroying political yard signs in Colorado carries penalties up of 750 big ones. That’s right — $750 per sign.

It’s the bane of candidates and campaigns everywhere — the opposition making midnight commando raids on their opponents’ yard signs. This year is no exception.

In El Paso County KKTV recently reported the chairman of the Republican Party complained that close to 1,000 people have claimed they were victims of John McCain sign thieves.

Matthew Farrauto, the communications director of the Colorado Democratic Party, told the TV station he didn’t have the exact number of Barack Obama signs that have been stolen, termed it “a significant number.”

“Enough signs have been stolen that our local headquarters have begun to offer a discount for the fifth sign purchased after the fourth sign is stolen,” Farrauto was quoted saying.

The Vail Daily, meanwhile, recently reported on disappearing signs there.

Stealing, defacing or destroying signs 45 days before the election is considered interference with the distribution of election material.

Oh, and by law the signs — the ones that don’t get stolen — are supposed to be taken down within four days after the election…

Cara DeGette

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2:42 p.m. – Flying under the radar today in Colorado is another anti-union ballot measure — Amendment 54 — which would ban political contributions given from certain labor unions and relatives of union supporters.

Clean Government Colorado, the campaign that has been supporting the measure, has now received more than $1.8 million from Colorado At Its Best, a nonprofit connected to the conservative Independence Institute think tank that bankrolled the amendment. Because the money was given by a nonprofit that is not required to disclose its funders, the vast majority of the “clean government” campaign has been paid for by anonymous donors.

Erin Rosa

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2:49 p.m. – In the sleepy Western Slope burg of Grand Junction, you take history where you can find it.

Already a busy crossroads for presidential candidates this year, the Mesa County metropolis — or at least one of its TV news crews — bestowed an historic distinction on Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who included the town in his two-stop Rocky Mountain swing through swing states on Tuesday.

McCain made history as he took to the stage around 12:15 Tuesday afternoon at West Star Aviation in Grand Junction. He became the first presidential candidate to campaign in the city on election day.

Democratic nominee Barack Obama and McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, have also campaigned in Grand Junction since late summer.

The Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp political blog notes McCain’s 96-year-old mother, Roberta, accompanied the candidate at the last-minute Colorado rally.

“I feel momentum, I feel it. We’re going to win it. We’re going to win it, right here in the state of Colorado,” he said to a roar of approval.

In 2004, Mesa County voted more than two to one for President Bush over Sen. John Kerry, giving Bush 41,539 votes to 19,569 for Kerry.

McCain makes another stop in Albuquerque before returning to Phoenix to watch the returns.

Ernest Luning

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2:51 p.m. – So far, the longest election line in the country appears to be 6.5 hours at a polling place in Velda City, Mo. (that’s “the tiny suburb in north St. Louis County,” according to Jeremy Kohler’s Political Fix blog).

Creola Smith-Fisher, 56, arrived at Velda City hall a 6:15 a.m. After a few hours, volunteers handed out snacks and water to people in line. People who finally got in were treated to cheers on the way out.

Smith-Fisher said the wait was frustrating, but that no one left the line or complained … well, much.

“Everybody had the determination to make this happen, that they were voting and were going to be heard,” she said.

The blogger is looking into what took so long.

Ernest Luning

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3:18 p.m. – Twitter user FakeJohnMcCain is signing off. Is this the beginning of the end for the Straight Talk Express at least in a 140 characters or less?

Wendy Norris

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3:26 p.m. – A spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state told a political news site voting across the state was going “very smoothly.”

Voting across the state is going “very smoothly,” a spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state told a political news site at around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Rick Coolidge told PolitickerCO’s Jeremy Pelzer, “It’s been a lot quieter than I thought it would be.”

Coolidge said some polling places saw lines forming as early as 5 a.m., but turnout through the day has been lighter than anticipated. “”We didn’t see a lunch rush to speak of,” he told Pelzer, “so we’ll probably see some lines start to develop a little later this evening.”

Colorado polls are open until 7 p.m., and voters in line by then will be allowed to stay as late as it takes to cast their ballots.

Arapahoe and Weld counties could be the first up with vote totals, Coolidge said, citing their extensive use of electronic voting machines. All 64 Colorado counties should have mail and early vote tallies posted by around 8 p.m., he predicted. More than half of all registered voters in the state cast ballots before election day, officials have reported.

Ernest Luning

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3:55 p.m. – The Atlantic’s Mark Ambinder reports that a super majority of Americans think the nation is in the tank.

76% of the country believes it’s off on the wrong track.

Bush’s approval rating is 27%

More than 60% say the economy is their top voting issue; 9 in ten say the economy is in bad shape; more than 80% are worried about their own condition next year.

Change voters made up 35% of the electorate; 30% wanted someone who shared their values.

One in ten voters are late-deciders..

And CNN tells us that of those who listed Iraq as a key issue, Obama’s leading two to one.

Any one care to hazard a guess how that mood affects voter decision-making: go with the fella touting security credentials or the guy promising change?

Wendy Norris

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3:56 p.m. – NBC Political Director Chuck Todd just pointed out Colorado is in the top 10 in level of education, youth of its populace and income, prompting Chris Matthews to speculate those factors make its residents more open to change and diversity.

Winning Colorado is a turning point for the Democratic Party, Todd says, because it shows the party has broken out of its traditional power bases in older, more static areas like the Northeast and is now appealing to younger, developing and more transient parts of the country. Going forward, with likely gains in the House and Senate, Todd says the party is set in such states for decades to come.

David O. Williams

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4:15 p.m. – Heavily favored CD2 Congressional candidate Jared Polis, a Democrat from the increasingly liberal district anchored by Boulder, will celebrate his likely victory outside that district this evening, choosing instead to host a party in downtown Denver after delivering a speech sometime between 7:30 and 9 p.m. at the Colorado Democratic Party event at the Sheraton. Then he’ll attend a Polis for Congress celebration at the Crowne Plaza Hotel from 9 p.m. and onto the evening. His Republican opponent is Lafayette aerospace engineer Scott Starin. No word yet on where he’ll watch returns.

David O. Williams

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4:30 p.m. – For the after-work/dinner rush crowd heading to the polls. Colorado Media Matters has compiled a list of myths and misinformation concerning the state’s monster ballot measures.

Colorado media outlets have promoted numerous instances of misinformation regarding the state’s ballot initiatives — Amendments 46, 47, 48, 49, 58, and 59, plus Referendum O. In particular, the media have distorted the “right-to-work” measure Amendment 47 to state that it would ban compulsory full union membership, and frequently have cited or featured Independence Institute staff — such as John Caldara, Jessica Peck Corry, and Amy Oliver — regarding the initiatives without identifying their connections with the “free-market” think tank.

Wendy Norris

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Wendy Norris

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