Early Colorado Campaign Commercials

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During the 2012 election, someone decided that Colorado was a so-called battleground state. That meant that for months we endured endless political ads and commercials. We also got several visits from both President Obama and Mitt Romney.

There were some in other states who complained that they felt ignored. Trust me, if you had been living in a battleground state, you would have rather been ignored. For starters, it’s not as if any distinctly Colorado issues were given any extra attention by either candidate. Neither candidate offered any more specific plans for anything Colorado related. Instead, we got month after month of commercials, mostly from out of state groups, parroting what you heard a hundred times on whatever talk show you happen to listen to. In the end, none of that extra “attention” resulted in any better treatment or understanding of either candidate.

Colorado Senate Race 2014

If we hadn’t endured enough in 2012, it seems that, yet again, Colorado has been targeted as a battleground state, this time for the 2014 Colorado Senate race.

Last time around, Senator Michael Bennet, who had been appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to finish the term of Senator Ken Salazar, who left to become Secretary of the Interior, ran against Tea-Party candidate Ken Buck. The race seemed relatively close, but in the end, Buck did the Tea-Party implosion thing when he forgot the proper political phrasing of reasons to be against gay marriage, and ended up comparing it to a disease or mental condition of some sort. This time, Senator Mark Udall is up against Congressman Cory Gardner.

And, here we go again.

Outside special interest groups have been financing campaign ads on behalf of both candidates, or against both candidates, as the case may be. These ads started earlier this year, but picked up the pace in April.

There are many similarities to the ads from the Presidential campaign. None of these ads have anything really to do with Colorado. Ads against Gardner portray him as “extreme” and ads against Udall portray him as an ally of President Obama. Ads for both say that they are the candidate who will stand up to “Washington” and create jobs. It’s hard to say if Coloradans are dense enough to by that line. Both men are pretty party-line, so there isn’t going to be any standing up to anyone by either man.

There are two reasons that all of these commercials will likely end up being a waste of time and money. First, Colorado almost always re-elects statewide political officials. The last sitting governor to lose reelection in Colorado was in 1975. The last Colorado U.S. Senator to lose reelection was 1975 as well. In other words, it’s been about 40 years since Colorado booted a sitting Senator. There is a reason this state loves term limits. (All statewide officials are limited to a set number of terms by constitutional amendment.)

Second, Colorado might seem like a battleground state, or purple state, from outside, but it really isn’t like that. Colorado has a mix of city dwellers and rural areas. The cities, for the most part, run in a line along I-25 down the middle of Colorado. Denver, Colorado’s most populated city, is so liberal that Republicans don’t even run candidates for office. The Mayor is essentially elected by winning the Democratic Primary in May. Two of the next biggest cities are Boulder and Colorado Springs, the former is highly liberal, the latter is highly conservative.

Everything east of I-25 is just as conservative as Kansas. The mountains, to the west, are mixture with some areas being more conservative and some areas being more liberal, usually for environmental reasons.

In other words, Colorado isn’t a purple state because its voters are moderates who are easily swayed to another party candidate, it’s because there are about half who are Democrat voters and about half who are Republican voters.

In the end, elections in Colorado are decided by how many voters in Denver bother to turn out, and how many low-awareness voters turn out and vote for the name they recognize (the incumbent).

So, Super-PACs, and 527 organizations, and whoever else, you’re wasting your money and bugging us citizens. Mark Udall is already reelected, some people just don’t know it yet.

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