Colorado’s Political Climate: Can we still call Colorado a swing state?

A deeper look into the history of colorado’s past elections and how they have shifted in the more recent years  

Since 1920, Colorado has been known as a red state -a state that tends to vote for the Republican candidate- but at the start of the 1990’s era, something changed. With a more conservative outlook on colorado’s political climate, a woman, who requested to stay anonymous, is currently a registered Republican, although she was an independent for a few years in college. She first registered to vote in 1989 and was then able to vote in her first presidential election which was Clinton v. Bush. This woman has voted in 8 presidential elections, all but one in Colorado, voting democrat in her first. She has voted for a mix of Republican,  Democratic and Independent candidates, but tends to lean more Republican as her views mostly align with the conservative party. With the shift in Colorado’s political climate, she has absolutely noticed a change. 

Until the election of Barack Obama, the people of Colorado had voted Republican in every U.S. Presidential Election since 1964, with the exception of 1992 when Colorado voted for Bill Clinton. For a republican party representative, she stated, “I don’t recognize it from the somewhat conservative state it was when I grew up here.” She then said, “I think most of the changes are destructive to the state’s economy, meaning higher taxes, and overall moral fabric of the community.” With the recent changes of events in colorado such as legalizing marijuana and legal partial birth abortion, it is seen as a more destructive thing to the community through her eyes. 

With the current direction colorado is moving in to maintain the blue state reputation, she says “To sum it up- if my kids were small, we would move and not raise our family here. My youngest graduates high school in 2 years- we will be moving/leaving the state then.” She expressed from a more conservative point of view on how these changes have affected her and what she tends to put into action about this shift. 

Overall she thinks that the overwhelming change has come from exports from other liberal states, stating that “the irony is they come to CO (mostly from WA/CA/OR) and vote as they did in those states- bringing those burdensome policies with them – and now we see those results.”

2020 Election Results demonstrate Colorado’s new liberal leaning -and amidst many red states (NBC News’ Road to 270)

For the past 30 years, Colorado has been considered a purple state, also known as a swing state, not able to predict which candidate party they will vote for. But in the recent 5 presidential elections, Colorado has voted for the democratic party. It has been seen as one historical red state becoming a blue state with states like Arizona and Nevada following behind. According to 270 To Win, “Colorado’s population has been growing, and it now has 50% more electoral votes than it did in the 1960s,” making Colorado a more valuable and important state in the presidential election. It is now a blue state in the 2020 presidential election, contributing to the win for the democratic party. Jann Hodge, a Colorado citizen, is a registered Democrat and has been since she was 18. Voting for the democratic candidate Walter Mondale in the 1984 election against Republican Ronald Regan, Ms. Hodge has voted in every presidential election since 1984 with 5 of them in the state of Colorado.

“My policy views have remained fundamentally unchanged over the years. However, over time, I’ve discovered that I’m not quite as liberal as I believed myself to be,” Hodge said. “For example, I do agree with the legalization of marijuana, but I worry about a slippery slope. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, but don’t agree with abortion as a means of birth control.” The effects that have come to Ms. Hodge with the change in Colorado’s political climate has been that she is more politically active now than she was before and has the goal of keeping Colorado a blue state.

Both parties have noticed the most recent increase in migration from the west and east coast, but the more liberal people and representatives agree with it and see nothing working with them coming to Colorado. Ms. Hodge states that, “I think young people are driving the change in Colorado. They’re tired of the hypocrisy. They’re tired of being ignored. They’re tired of being unsafe in spaces where they should absolutely be safe.”

Continuing to go further in depth, she explained, “I also think young people are more exposed to people of different racial and ethnic groups, so mixing with those who are different from them is the norm.” Social media has been and is a major driver of change nationwide. People have been exposed with their own eyes how black and brown people are treated by the police and how there is a corrupt system. “The browning of America has and will continue to fundamentally change our direction going forward.” Ms. Hodge hopes and wishes to see this state to keep working towards the direction we are currently moving in.

Colorado Election Results – Photo from the New York Times

Tara Lujan is a registered independent, who was once a registered republican but changed it back in 2017. Ms. Lujan’s first presidential election was in 1992, she was registered to vote in 1991 and has voted in every presidential election, all of them in the state of Colorado. For Ms. Lujan’s first election she voted independent and has voted for different candidates each election as her decisions for who is suited for this presidential position changes. Ms. Lujan noted that her political views have changed, but only somewhat. 

“My priorities have shifted as my personal and professional experiences have shaped my choices and perspectives. The importance I have placed on some policies have swapped places. Sometimes it depends on who the candidates are and how I think they’ll handle certain elements.” Ms. Lujan seems to be basing her political beliefs and decisions solely on the candidate and what they represent, rather than what party they are aligned with. Though Ms. Lujan is not sure of the contributions to the cause of the political shift in Colorado, she has noticed the change and it has not affected her in the way that she “definitely feels like our state has shifted from overwhelmingly red to more blue than red. I am not personally impacted by the change in party support other than hearing several people talk about leaving our state because of how it’s going.”  

She states that she started noticing this change when “chatter started with the legalization of marijuana and has only increased every year. Polis getting elected as Governor seemed to be particularly painful for many people.” On a more personal level, Ms. Lujan has been particularly discouraged by the declining level of discourse among adults the past few years. 

“Many people’s passionate views make them unable to truly listen and appreciate perspectives that are different than their own. I’m fortunate enough to know and love smart, compassionate, patriotic people from both sides of the political fence,” she said. “It saddens me that the one thing people don’t seem to care much about anymore is listening to and having respectful conversations with anyone who isn’t completely like-minded.” Ms. Lujan truly represents an open minded person who strives for greatness for everyone in America, by listening and contributing to the conversation and coming to a conclusion she sees best for herself and those around her. Not necessarily always agreeing with the other person’s point of view, she is still committed to listening and trying to see it from their side of the fence, and creating a connection deeper than politics. 

All three of these women come from the same state, yet do not see eye to eye. Politics has multiple sides that will always be current in today’s society with things changing and staying the same. Some choose to push for the changes to continue to happen, some try to learn why those changes are happening, and others decide to find a place that best suits them and their beliefs. With Colorado’s recent shift to a blue state, not everyone will be happy, but we are undeniably going to see a more liberal standpoint going forward on which party Colorado will be voting for.