Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Convention Spotlights Battle for the Intermountain West

By Dan Balz
DENVER -- This is a presidential campaign in which old assumptions about the electoral map and the country's political geography are under assault. By November, familiar patterns of red and blue may prevail, but for now, the possibilities for change are significant and intriguing.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Intermountain West, the stretch of states between the Pacific Coast and the Plains. Rapid growth and demographic upheaval have put a region once considered reliably Republican in presidential races into play.

If the major battleground in this campaign remains, as always, the old industrial heartland of America -- states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin -- then the next most significant arena is the Rocky Mountain West. Predict the winner of, say, Colorado, and you very likely may have named the next president of the United States.

The Democrats are coming to Denver next week to highlight their determination to compete for the electoral votes of the states in the Mountain West. Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada are high on the list of possible red-to-blue conversions this fall. Longer-term trends suggest Arizona soon may join those three as a swing, rather than safely Republican, state, though Arizona still looks like a safe Republican state for this year.

In John McCain and Barack Obama, voters have two candidates who, for different reasons, will find receptive audiences in the Mountain states. McCain, though not born in the West, has adopted Arizona as his home state, and his brand of conservative maverick politics finds welcome in the region. Obama, however, has also demonstrated considerable appeal in a region where a rising Hispanic population and an increasingly educated workforce are reshaping the balance of political power.

That makes for a more competitive balance between the candidates than during the last campaign, when President Bush enjoyed a clear cultural advantage over John Kerry in these states. Bush was always more comfortable in a place with "more boots than suits," he liked to tell audiences. Even those in suits appreciated the message. Kerry, though born in Colorado, struggled to make the same connection.

What has turned this region into a competitive battleground, however, is less the characteristics of the two candidates and more the underlying changes in their populations. The Brookings Institution has produced a new report, authored by William Frey and Ruy Teixeira, that provides an extraordinarily detailed and insightful assessment of how economic and demographic shifts are reshaping Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona.

The Frey-Teixeira study is a rich mixture of census data and political analysis with lengthy profiles of each state. "One reason these states are increasingly 'in play,'" they write, "is the rapid population growth among two key demographic segments -- Hispanics and white college graduates -- and the concomitant decline of the white working class.

Much has been said and written about the importance of white working class voters in this election, and, in particular, Obama's struggle to gain more support among them. What Frey and Teixeira underscore is that, in these mountain states, the key to McCain's hopes lies in holding onto as many white working class voters as possible. If he does not, he and the Republicans could be overrun by better-educated voters, who are trending toward the Democrats, and the rising Hispanic population, among whom Democrats still enjoy a significant advantage.

Nevada and Arizona are two of the fastest growing states in the nation. Colorado ranks in the top 10. New Mexico, while farther down the ladder, still is growing faster than the nation as a whole. What fuels the growth rates is a combination of immigration and domestic migration, with huge numbers of Californians in particular moving into Nevada and Arizona and, to a lesser extent, Colorado.

In the past 20 years, there have been significant shifts in the political balance. Take Colorado, given its centrality in this year's presidential race. In every region of the state -- the slower-growing eastern side and a western slice excepted -- Democrats improved their vote between 1988 and 2004.

Most of the areas of Democratic support are growing. For Republicans, the picture is mixed. Virtually every shrinking county has been a source of GOP strength in presidential elections. But many GOP counties are also growing and some quite rapidly.

That suggests that the long-term battle for Colorado -- and, as the Brookings report makes clear, the other three states -- is anything but static or predictable, though this fall's outcome may give a sense of whether the recent shifts toward the Democrats are likely to continue apace in coming years.

Obama and McCain will slug it out in Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania through much of the fall. Obama will continue efforts to put states like Virginia and North Carolina into play and is making efforts in such bright red states as Alaska.

But there is no question that a Democratic breakthrough in the Intermountain West would represent a major realignment in the balance of power between the parties. That is by no means certain, but the competition has never been as fierce here as it is right now.

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 21, 2008; 2:06 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Battlegrounds , Dan Balz's Take , John McCain  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: McCain Spokesman's Retort: Obama Lives in "a Frickin' Mansion"
Next: For Obama, Roundabout Path to Convention


To make every vote in every state politically relevant and equal in presidential elections, support the National Popular Vote bill.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The National Popular Vote bill has been approved by 21 legislative chambers (one house in CO, AR, ME, NC, and WA, and two houses in MD, IL, HI, CA, MA, NJ, RI, and VT). It has been enacted into law in Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These states have 50 (19%) of the 270 electoral votes needed to bring this legislation into effect.


Posted by: susan | August 22, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans and Democrats in cyberspace are slugging it out now at the real-time, open poll at Obama supporters have pushed McCain's total toward 230,000. However, McCain supporters have been out in force pushing Obama's total past 430,000. The battleground states are important. Equally so, the battleground in cyberspace.

Posted by: acarponzo | August 22, 2008 7:11 AM | Report abuse

The author states that if you predict the winner in Colorado you will likely name the next president of the United States. That is a bit of a stretch. McCain is now slightly ahead in Colorado and there are many scenarios in which McCain could win Colorado and still lose the election.

If McCain somehow wins Michigan it offsets the electoral votes that Obama would get if he wins New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. So the author overstates the importance of the Mountain West states particular when the election could already be over by the time the polls close in the West.

Also to people who make lengthy cut and paste posts: Most people quit reading after a few lines and the message is lost.

Posted by: danielhancock | August 22, 2008 2:21 AM | Report abuse

"he and the Republicans could be overrun by better-educated voters."
The facts are clear, the more education you have, the less likely you are to vote Republican. I wonder why that is?? Maybe that's why Republicans are so against education? Maybe that's why the dumbing down of America on television and radio has been so effective at electing Republicans? Maybe that's why, when given a choice between the 'last in his class at the military academy' and the 'top of his class at Harvard Law school', Republicans will always choose the less-well educated.

What kind of message does that send to our children? To Republican children? "Son, if only I had been able to get myself an education, I would vote for Democrats but since I can't afford to send you to private school (like the wealthiest 0.5% of the population) and they don't collect taxes anymore to pay for public schools, I guess you'll never be educated enough to vote Democratic either!"

Posted by: thebob.bob | August 21, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, by the way, you and the studies' authors still do not get it. Obama is a poor candidate, period. We, the voters despite being studied up the wazoo, are NOT idiots.

Posted by: skinsfanmoyo | August 21, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Why did it take the author so long to figure this out? He was one of many who stated Obama had it in the bag way before the primaries were over. Is it because he only talks to inside the beltway folks?

We already knew this.

Posted by: skinsfanmoyo | August 21, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

....The RNC/GOP will visit these diehard republicans...all serving time in prison...

Republican legislative aide Howard L. Brooks of Quartz Hill, California was charged with molesting a 12-year old boy and possession of child pornography

Republican Senate candidate John Hathaway who had relocated to Maine from Huntsville, Alabama after having been accused of having sex with his 12-year old baby sitter and withdrew his candidacy after the allegations were reported in the media

Republican preacher Stephen White of West Chester, Pennsylvania, who demanded a return to traditional values, was sentenced to jail after offering $20 to a 14-year-old boy for permission to perform oral sex on him

Republican talk show host Jon Matthews of Houston, Texas pled guilty to exposing his genitals to an 11 year old girl

Republican anti-gay activist Earl “Butch” Kimmerling of Anderson, Indiana was sentenced to 40 years in prison for molesting an 8-year old girl after he attempted to stop a gay couple from adopting her

Republican Party leader Paul Ingram of Thurston County, Washington pled guilty to six counts of raping his daughters and served 14 years in federal prison

Republican election board official Kevin Coan of St. Louis, Missouri was sentenced to two years probation for soliciting sex over the internet from a 14-year old girl

Republican politician Andrew Buhr, also of St. Louis, was charged with two counts of first degree sodomy with a 13-year old boy

Republican politician Keith Westmoreland of Kingsport, Tennessee was arrested on seven felony counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition to girls under the age of 16 (i.e. exposing himself to children)

Republican anti-abortion activist John Allen Burt of Pensacola, Florida was found guilty of molesting a 15-year old girl.

Republican County Councilman Keola Childs of Hawaii County, Hawaii pled guilty to molesting a male child.

Republican activist John Butler of Cass County, Illinois was charged with criminal sexual assault on a teenage girl.

Republican candidate Richard Gardner of Clark County, Nevada admitted to molesting his two daughters.

Republican Councilman and former Marine Jack W. Gardner of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was convicted of molesting a 13-year old girl.

Republican County Commissioner Merrill Robert Barter of Boothbay, Maine pled guilty to unlawful sexual contact and assault on a teenage boy.

Republican City Councilman Fred C. Smeltzer, Jr. of Wrightsville Borough, Delaware pled no contest to raping a 15 year-old girl and served 6-months in prison.

Republican activist Parker J. Bena pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography on his home computer and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and fined $18,000.

Republican parole board officer and former Colorado state representative, Larry Jack Schwarz, was fired after child pornography was found in his possession.

Republican strategist and Citadel Military College graduate Robin Vanderwall of Virginia was convicted in Virginia on five counts of soliciting sex from boys and girls over the internet.

Republican city councilman Mark Harris of West Bend, Wisconsin, who has been described as a “good military man” and “church goer,” was convicted of repeatedly having sex with an 11-year-old girl and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Republican businessman Jon Grunseth withdrew his candidacy for Minnesota governor after allegations surfaced that he went swimming in the nude with four underage girls, including his daughter.

Republican director of the “Young Republican Federation” Nicholas Elizondo of Bakersfield, California molested his 6-year old daughter and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Republican president of the New York City Housing Development Corp, Russell Harding, pled guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer.

Republican benefactor of conservative Christian groups, Richard A. Dasen, Sr. of Kalispell, Montana, was found guilty of raping a 15-year old girl. Dasen, 62, who is married with grown children and several grandchildren, has allegedly told police that over the past decade he paid more than $1 million to have sex with a large number of young women.
How about these folks......

Republican County Constable Larry Dale Floyd was arrested on suspicion of soliciting sex with an 8-year old girl. Floyd has repeatedly won elections for Denton County, Texas, constable.

Republican Judge Mark Pazuhanich of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania pled no contest to fondling a 10-year old girl and was sentenced to 10 years probation.

Republican Party leader Bobby Stumbo of Floyd County, Kentucky was arrested for having sex with a 5-year old boy.

Republican teacher and former city councilman John Collins of Asbury Park, New Jersey pled guilty to sexually molesting 13 and 14 year old girls.

Republican campaign worker Mark Seidensticker of Nashua, New Hampshire is a convicted child molester.

Republican Mayor Philip Giordano of Waterbury, Connecticut is serving a 37-year sentence in federal prison for sexually abusing 8 and 10-year old girls.

Republican Mayor John Gosek of Oswego, New York was arrested on charges of soliciting sex from two 15-year old girls.

Republican County Commissioner David Swartz of Richland County, Ohio pled guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

Republican Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.

Republican Committeeman John R. Curtain of Monroe County, Pennsylvania was charged with molesting a teenage boy and unlawful sexual contact with a minor.

Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth of Kannapolis, N.C., is a convicted child rapist in Florida.

Republican zoning supervisor, Boy Scout leader and Lutheran church president Dennis L. Rader of Witchita, Kansas pled guilty to performing a sexual act on an 11-year old girl he murdered.

Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency of Camden, New Jersey pled guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to anybody who murders an abortion doctor.

Republican campaign consultant Tom Shortridge of Soputhbay, California was sentenced to three years probation for taking nude photographs of a 15-year old girl.

Republican racist pedophile and United States Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina had sex with a 15-year old black girl which produced a child.

Republican pastor Mike Hintz of Des Moines, Iowa, who George W. Bush commended during the 2004 presidential campaign, surrendered to police after admitting to a sexual affair with a female juvenile.

Republican legislator Peter Dibble of New London, Connecticut pled no contest to having an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

Republican advertising consultant Carey Lee Cramer of Arizona was charged with molesting his 9-year old step daughter after including her in an anti-Gore television commercial.

Republican activist Lawrence E. King, Jr. and Republican lobbyist Craig J. Spence both of Washington, D.C. organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.

Republican Congressman Donald “Buz” Lukens of Columbus, Ohio was found guilty of having sex with a female minor and sentenced to one month in jail.

Republican fundraiser Richard A. Delgaudio of Burke, Virginia was found guilty of child porn charges and paying two teenage girls to pose for sexual photos.

Republican activist Mark A. Grethen of Colorado Springs. Colorado was convicted on six counts of sex crimes involving children.

Republican activist Randal David Ankeney of El Paso County, Arizona pled guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child.

Republican Congressman Dan Crane of Illinois had sex with a female minor working as a congressional page.

Republican activist and Christian Coalition and South Carolina Republican leader Beverly Russell admitted to an incestuous relationship with his step daughter.

Republican Judge Ronald C. Kline of Orange County, California was placed under house arrest for child molestation and possession of child pornography.

Republican congressman and anti-gay activist Robert Bauman of Maryland was charged with having sex with a 16-year-old boy he picked up at a gay bar.

Republican Committee Chairman and attorney Jeffrey Patti of Sparta, New Jersey was arrested for distributing a video clip of a 5-year-old girl being raped.

Republican activist Marty Glickman of Florida (a.k.a. “Republican Marty”), was taken into custody by Florida police on four counts of unlawful sexual activity with an underage girl and one count of delivering the drug LSD. It was Glickman, interestingly enough, that claimed Bill Clinton came from a low rent state and had torn down all of the standards for the highest office in the land.
These are all matters of public record, not hearsay. They have been reported in both the local press where the incidents occurred and in various national media. The perverts in question have come from all over the country. Their major similarity is that they are Republican Conservative Christian activists who have made their mark by preaching family values while performing unspeakable acts of perversion, many with minors.

So much for family values from the religious right.

...the RNC/GOP card holding hypocrates that love made in china flag pins, bibles, rifles, airport bathrooms, male prostitutes..etc

Posted by: AlexP1 | August 21, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The GOoPer's have just released the theme of their upcoming convention.

"Country First: 2008 Republican National Convention to Highlight Service, Reform, Prosperity and Peace"

In other words, they intend to focus like a pack of frickin' laser-beam equipped sharks on everything they don't provide.

Maybe I'm misreading this. It could be an example of the kind of literary inversion John Kennedy used in his "Ask not," speech. Maybe what they meant to say was "For the first time in our country, Republicans will give a damn about service, reform, prosperity, and peace because it's election time."

Otherwise, there's the problem of a Republican party that's left us with two open-ended wars bragging about "peace." The Republican party that's left us with an unprecedented level of corruption and cronyism talking about "service" and "reform." And the Republican party that's generated the worst economy in thirty years while running up a tab that our great-great grandkids will still be paying talking about "prosperity."

Speakers for Monday night, which will focus on "Service," will include Turncoat Joe LIEberman demonstrating his ability to serve any forum that will feed his petty ego. Liebertoad will be scheduled on the same evening as his war buddy Dirty Dick Cheney and official Lil' Abner Mattress Testing Award Winner, George W. Bush.

Tuesdays "Reform" brings Rudy Giu911ani to talk about how you can reform law, order, and heroism to mean anything you want. And 9/11. Lots and lots of 9/11.

Speaking on "Prosperity" will be Cindy McCain, who will explain the traditional Republican means of getting by in hard times: inherit millions from your daddy. Cindy will demonstrate her pity for the middle class workers struggling to get by on three million a year, and for the poor who must survive with no more than two vacation homes.

And finally, Grampy McBush will be there on Thursday night to focus on (I'm not kidding) "Peace."

Posted by: John McMansions | August 21, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The Obama campaign needs to hit McCain hard on two issues:

1. Water

2. Republican corruption in Latin America

That'll seal the deal in Colorado and New Mexico.

Posted by: Corruption Anon | August 21, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget Massachusetts and New Hampshire ; )

Posted by: JakeD | August 21, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Is that the best you've got?



McCain is going to win Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Alaska.

Posted by: JakeD | August 21, 2008 2:09 PM

Posted by: Bu$h Wacked | August 21, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse


To all the Repuglican Reprobates going to Minneapolis... Don't plan any special toe tapping side trips to the Larry Craig wide-stance airport bathroom.

You're being watched now.

Thank you,

Posted by: Republican Family Values | August 21, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I think McCain will even win BLUE Massachusetts and New Hampshire!!!

Posted by: JakeD | August 21, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

As opposed to all the unemployed slacking stay at home conservatives? Because obviously you have to be a liberal to be a slacker. Your comments are so very thoughtful.

Posted by: EDobrinen | August 21, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I am asking all of you unemployed slacking liberals that are still home living with mommy to get out there and register so you can vote for me. Please act now. And listen, when I say Change, Change, Change I don't want you to think that means you and you have to go and work or something. You can stay here and blog and read the Huffington post all day long still, no need to worry.

Posted by: Senator Barack Husein Obama (D-IL) | August 21, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

McCain is going to win Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Alaska.

Posted by: JakeD | August 21, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company