Another Sign Of Trouble For Democrats

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 9, 2010


Parties looking to do well in midterm elections don’t get stories like this one written about them:

When Barack Obama stood before an admiring audience at Mile High Stadium here and accepted his presidential nomination 21 months ago, Democratic leaders crowed about turning Colorado into a reliable stronghold, another step toward building the party’s strength in the West.

Those dreams of expansion have given way to hopes for survival.

Republicans are now well positioned for a statewide resurgence, threatening several Democratic seats in the midterm elections and raising questions about whether the opening chapter of the Obama administration has eroded gains that Democrats had been making here for the previous six years.

A persistently sluggish economy, the ninth-highest foreclosure rate in the country, the rising federal budget deficit and opposition to the new health care law have all contributed to a volatile environment for Democrats. The number of registered Democrats has dropped slightly since Mr. Obama’s 9-point victory here, becoming only the third presidential candidate of his party to carry Colorado since Harry S. Truman.

“We were set up for a 15- or 20-year Democratic dominance,” said Gary Hart, a former Democratic senator from Colorado, adding that the party would have prospered if the economy had not collapsed. “This state, more than most, is a pendulum. It seems to be to be swinging faster than it did before.”

Of course, Republicans ought to refrain from crowing too much; the volatility inherent in Colorado’s politics means that Republicans could end up getting bit in the future as much as Democrats are getting bit in the present. Still, it is impressive to see the degree to which political fortunes have changed. And if Democrats are indeed set for disappointments in Colorado–a state where they entertained high hopes about their electoral prospects–one can only imagine how badly they might do in states where Democratic fortunes were never good to begin with.

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