President Obama toured Iowa on Tuesday, and plans to spend Friday and Saturday in Virginia. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stopped in Grand Junction, Colorado. Romney faced questions from Colorado voters, and one young man asked about the candidate's commitment to liberty. "In terms of social equality, and in terms of women’s rights or gay rights, and liberty in that area," he said, "what is so wrong about exploring liberty and giving liberty to everyone in every field — not just in the economy?"
Romney responded with a decidedly libertarian bent, a perspective quite popular in the Western state, though failing to give any specifics. "I do believe in providing personal liberty, economic liberty, political liberty to the American people," Romney explained. "I believe that everyone in this country should have an opportunity to pursue their course in life as they choose. I believe that's what makes America, America."
As Romney campaigned in Grand Junction, Anna Sale toured the state, talking to voters across the political spectrum. She discusses the political geography of Colorado, the state's growing Hispanic population, and why the Denver suburbs are so important for the 2012 election.
"You've got this interesting political geography where you have [democratic strongholds] like Denver and Boulder, then you've got Colorado Springs, a Republican stronghold, [along with] some rural areas," Sale says. "What are really the swing areas to look at are the Denver suburbs." The three most important counties that Sales identifies are Jefferson, Arapahoe, and Larimer. In both 2004 and 2008, Sales says, the eventual winners of the presidential campaigns both took these three counties; as such, their votes in this year's election will go a long way towards winning Colorado.
High-income voters are most concerned about the possibility of increased taxes in the case of a second term for President Obama. John Bernstein, an attorney from the suburbs, voted for Obama in 2008 but is leaning towards Romney due to the tax issue. "I do not subscribe to the theory that people who are earning $250,000 or more should have a tax increase. I think it's very unfair and very wrong," he told Sale.
Another key voting group is the Latino voting bloc. "When you look at recent polls, you see Mitt Romney is gaining among Independents in Colorado, but Obama is increasing his margins among Latino voters," Sales says. One strategy for the Obama campaign, then, would be to push for Latino voter turnout. However, Sale has not found as much passion amongst Latinos, or any voting bloc, as there was during the 2008 campaign.
"I've just been really struck by, no matter what people's politics are, there's just a mood of dejection," Sale says. "Nobody's excited, no true believers on either side have said, 'I'm really excited about my candidate.'"
Next up on Sale's tour across the country to gauge the political climate in swing states is Iowa, a crucial battleground in the upcoming presidential campaign.