Democratic Strategists Optimistic About Colorado

State is trending blue, says analyst for National Committee for an Effective Congress.Colorado may represent the Democratic Party’s best opportunity in the country to turn a state from red to blue in the coming presidential election, according to the advocacy group National Committee for an Effective Congress.

NCEC analyst Mark Gersh said Wednesday, “The whole party is moving West. There is some hope in the South, but there is nothing in the South that is moving as Democratic as the West.”

Colorado has previously been considered a Republican stronghold, voting for George Bush in the last two presidential elections. The last Democrat to carry the state was Bill Clinton in 1992, with 40 percent of the vote. Even then, Clinton was aided by the strong support given to Ross Perot, who got 23 percent.

But Gersh said that some demographic trends in the state appear to be moving in favor of the Democrats. Douglas and Jefferson counties, for instance, are two of the fastest growing in the state. They have leaned Republican in the past, but recent election shave shown them as likely to go Democratic as Republican, he said.

A poll conducted by the Republican firm Hill Research Consultants shows Rep. Mark Udall leading former Republican Rep. Bob Schaffer 45 percent to 40 percent in the race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Wayne Allard in the U.S. Senate.

Gersh said,  “We have a pretty good feeling about that. Udall’s ahead in the polls. He’s an appealing public figure, he’s got very smart people,he should run strongly in the suburbs and he can certainly raise enough money. Schaffer is not the strongest candidate. Former Gov. Bill Owens would have been stronger.

Gersh said that Democrats should almost certainly hold onto House seats in the first, second, third and seventh districts of Colorado. He said there is also a possibility of a Democratic gain in the Fourth Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Marilyn Musgrave, he added

“Musgrave has seen her margin decrease over the past three cycles,” Gersh said. “In analyzing the returns after the 2004 elections, (Democratic challenger Angie) Paccione was weaker in the rural parts of the district. You have to run stronger in the rural places. You might need a more centrist Democrat there. It’s not going to be easy, but it is the one congressional race that seems to be competitive.

There’s even a remote chance of a strong Democratic showing in the usually Republican Sixth Congressional District with the pending retirement of Rep. Tom Tancredo.

In Colorado, Gersh said, “The Democratic base is holding, while the Republican base is eroding.”

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