It took a while, but Democrats in Colorado got almost everything they wanted in today’s election results.
For more than an hour after the polls closed around the state neither the national nor local news organizations had called the presidential race in Colorado. Finally, at about 8:30 – moments before CNN called the national race – and with 32% of the precincts reporting, The Denver Post reported, “Colorado, a traditionally red state, swung blue tonight as voters chose Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for president and Congressman Mark Udall for the state’s open Senate seat.”
As the polls have been predicting since Labor Day, Barack Obama appeared ready to carry the state by a comfortable margin — 54% to 44%. That gives Colorado’s nine electoral-college votes to Obama, bringing his total, as of 9:00 p.m., to 324. The presidential race, portrayed in the MSM for months as “too close to call,” has turned into a landslide, or as close to a landslide as you can get into today’s polarized America.
Equally predictable is Mark Udall’s senate victory over Bob Schaffer. At this hour the scion of the Western political dynasty is leading his Republican rival – whose TV ads resembled the products of a couple of collegiate Young Republicans, buzzed on Mountain Dew, fooling around on their computer at 3 a.m. – by 55%-39%.
Both Udall and Obama were buoyed by new more liberal voters in the booming cities along the Front Range; by younger voters, many voting for the first time; and by Hispanic voters, who have evidently turned out in record numbers to repudiate a Republican establishment that has in recent years turned to an increasingly jingoistic brand of anti-immigration fervor to woo hard-line conservatives in Western states. Hispanic voters supported the Democratic ticket by overwhelming majorities, and, given demographic trends, that’s a very encouraging sign for Democrats in the Mountain West.
Dogged by her fierce anti-immigration stand, firebrand Republican Marilyn Musgrave is losing her battle to retain her 4th district House seat to upstart challenger Betsy Markey. With 64% of precincts reporting, Markey is crushing Musgrave 57% to 42%. A Markey victory would have been seen as a huge upset just a few months ago, but the center-left tide that is sweeping Barack Obama into the White House has lifted the former Fort Collins businesswoman and aide to Senator Ken Salazar to a big margin over Musgrave, whose brand of strident culture-war activism seems increasingly out of touch with the mood of the country.
Meanwhile several rightist ballot measures – designed to redefine the legal definitions surrounding abortion and to make union organizing more difficult – were going down by clear margins. Amendment 58, however – to rewrite the severance tax laws to eliminate the subsidy for the oil and gas industry – appeared destined to defeat. The fossil fuel industry has spent millions in the state to defeat Amendment 58, which was supported by Gov. Bill Ritter and much of the state’s political establishment.
Other than that, Democrats are pretty much batting a thousand.