By the time President Bill Clinton walked into the gym at Adams City High School in Commerce City, Colorado, the crowd was ready. Just before 6 p.m., the former president entered the stage; the students and faculty soaked him with wild applause, bringing out the familiar Clinton smile that feeds on such adoration. He thanked the school’s principal and superintendent, cracked a few jokes about being on the campaign trail, then turned serious. “I am more enthusiastic about President Obama this time than I was when I campaigned for him four years ago,” he said. “I’d like to tell you why.”
Unlike 10 other states this year—the most strict of which are Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kansas—Colorado has no law that will require voters to show up at the polls with photo identification* on Election Day. Voting-rights activists say such laws will disenfranchise the poor, young, or very old—voters that tend to lean Democratic—and point out that the in-person vote fraud these laws are intended to address is exceedingly rare. But voter-ID laws are only the most obvious way to make it harder to vote.
Greg Archuleta lives in Golden, Colorado, where he worked for the Coors brewery for 34 years until he retired in 1999. Archuleta, who is 73, volunteers for the Democratic Party in the larger Jefferson County area, 778 square miles of suburbs just west of Denver that holds half a million people. On a recent Saturday drive, Archuleta was worried. For the past few months, he’s been asking property owners with backyards facing the highway if they would hang giant signs for President Barack Obama and the local congressman, Democrat Ed Perlutter, who’s in a tough battle for re-election. Now, some of the Obama signs had come down; more and more signs for Mitt Romney were up. Archuleta drove between shopping malls and new condos and subdivisions, investigating the grassy tracts between road and neighborhood. “There it is!” he’d shout when he spotted one.
There’s a good reason Archuleta is counting the signs. Jefferson County is one of a handful of districts in the nation with the power to swing a swing state, and thereby determine the outcome of the national election. Colorado’s District 7 is a swing district by design. A judge created it after the 2000 census gave Colorado a new seat in Congress and the state legislature couldn’t agree on its boundaries. The judge made it a snapshot of the state economically and politically: The population was divided into even thirds of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. In the decade that followed, the district began to tilt Democratic until it was redrawn after the 2010 census, after which it split some areas with neighboring District 6, which leaned more Republican, making both more competitive.
For Republican supporters of Mitt Romney in Denver—site of Romney’s triumph in the first debate over the president two weeks ago—Tuesday night’s town hall was marked with energized anticipation. Romney had rescued them from a lackluster summer, and they were ready to celebrate even before moderator Candy Crowley introduced her first Town Hall participant. Around 50 people came to The Tavern downtown straight after work for a debate-watching party held by the Romney campaign. It began at 7 p.m. for those of us in Denver, which meant one thing to these voters: Happy Hour.
The third Massachusetts Senate debate between Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren Wednesday night showed one thing: how good a debator any politician can be after three chances to say the same things.