No Rocky Mountain high for Barack Obama


Former Staff
Jan 2010
No Rocky Mountain high for Barack Obama
By GLENN THRUSH | 9/27/11 4:38 AM EDT

DENVER—Barack Obama scaled dizzying electoral heights in Colorado in 2008, pulling off a stunning nine-point win over John McCain in this once reliably red state.
But three years later, he’s struggling to regain altitude.

The president, who pitches his new jobs plan at a downtown Denver high school this afternoon on his way home from a three-day West Coast trip, faces a surprisingly tough fight in a state one Obama adviser recently labeled as “the bellwether of bellwethers.”

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“A repeat of 2008 is very unlikely… I’d say he’s looking at a high-wire act here,” warns former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, who barnstormed Colorado in the waning days of 2008 with Obama and wife Michelle after hosting the Democratic convention here.

The current governor, Democrat John Hickenlooper, offers an equally sober assessment. “The president probably can win Colorado, but he’s got a lot of work to do,” he told POLITICO in a telephone interview. “He’s got to make sure that his message gets through, that it is consistent and it’s not drowned out by the distractions of talk radio.”

Hickenlooper, a former bar owner and Denver mayor who has managed to remain popular despite the economic headwinds, thinks Obama will have an easier time if the GOP nominee is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, arguing that Perry’s hard-edged conservatism is less appealing to moderate Colorado swing voters than Mitt Romney’s softer edge.

But either way, he predicts a dogfight. And other Democrats say that fight will be even tougher if Republicans make a play for Latinos by nominating Florida Gov. Marco Rubio for vice president.

Yet the the most distressing trend for Obama, Colorado Democrats say, is the souring of many younger voters, the soul of the president’s support here, and a group that has been hit especially hard in the recession.

Local Democrats predict twenty-somethings will still vote for Obama in overwhelming numbers next year, with turnout a little lower than last time. But operatives are less sure whether that group will provide the president with the massive volunteer army — about 20,000 strong working out of 50 offices in every corner of the state — that revolutionized local grass-roots politics in 2008.

“I think he will be able to motivate the electorate enough to win, but it’s going to be a function of turnout, of circumstance, of piecing things together – not a wave and certainly not a youth wave,” said Ritter, who retired in 2010. “I have four children in college, and I look at the ways their friends and peers are struggling to find jobs. They are struggling, and that’s a frustration that will translate into certainly less performance than in 2008.”

Read more: No Rocky Mountain high for Barack Obama - Glenn Thrush -

Not a good article, from Team Obama's perspective. If they can win the vote of the younger voters, but not their willingness to campaign, or even show good turnout, will Colorado go red?