For Obama, who won Colorado four years ago by nearly nine percentage points, the focus has been heavily on Latinos and women. One of the quirks of the new unaffiliated voters who have moved into suburbs across the country — including in other battlegrounds such as Virginia and North Carolina — is that the men who describe themselves this way tend to vote Republican, according to polls, while the women are more likely to swing between the parties.
Just as non-ideological as their male counterparts, unaffiliated women voters are also particularly moved by issues that affect them, such as contraception and abortion. The proof came two years ago, when Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) eked out a narrow victory over Republican Ken Buck largely by targeting women in the suburbs and portraying Buck as ideologically extreme.
“We created the largest gender gap in the country,” said Guy Cecil, who was Bennet’s campaign manager and now runs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “The suburbs of Virginia, the suburbs of Indianapolis, the suburbs of Denver — you have people who are turned off by the sort of extreme points of view that now represent most of the Republican Party.”
Obama is following a similar playbook. He has focused relentlessly on the statements of his opponents — not just Romney but also his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — supporting cuts to Planned Parenthood’s funding or opposing abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. In one of his ads, a woman calls Romney “dangerous” for women’s health.
The Romney campaign, too, is targeting women, featuring a woman in an ad speaking about her economic plight during the Obama years. Both campaigns are also reaching out to Latinos. And through it all, they’re not ignoring their bases, with plenty of outreach happening in the conservative rural areas and Democratic cities, because the election is expected to be close. Obama has opened 54 field offices in Colorado and Romney 14.
“An election like this is good for democracy,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), a regular surrogate for Obama. “It tells everyone that their vote matters. Both the partisan folks, because you’ve got to get out your base, but also independents, because it’s going to come down quite possibly to 2,000 votes.”