nomination at a football stadium here, in a state where Democrats had
won the governorship, both houses of the state Legislature, and were
about to pick up both
Now President Obama and his party’s approval ratings in the West are lower than elsewhere in the country.
state’s junior senator is trailing badly in the polls. Analysts think
Democrats could even lose their majorities in the Legislature.
“To lose this state at this moment, almost across
the board, is a pretty profound statement that that party is in deep
With the Latino population growing and
progressive-minded transplants from coastal states moving in,
Democratic strategists had hoped that the interior West — as distinct
from the party’s base on the
There are signs, however, that the independent-minded region is rejecting the party’s agenda.
The party has a 53 percent disapproval rating in the Western U.S., excluding the longtime Democratic stronghold of
When asked if they would prefer a Republican or a
Democrat on a generic congressional ballot, Western voters are 11
percent more likely to choose Republican over Democrat, while
nationwide Democrats have a 1 percent edge. Obama’s disapproval rating
in the region is 53 percent, compared with 46 percent nationally.
And Western Democrats are threatened across the region, from Senate Majority Leader
Western voters “were enticed by leaders in the
“This is not unusual in tough economic times. People question everything,” said
As recently as 2004, the state was Republican country. It solidly backed
Then the Democrats took it all back, touting themselves as a can-do, pragmatic party not bound by the
The party’s troubles began soon thereafter.
Obama picked Salazar to be his Interior secretary.
Rather than selecting an experienced politician, Ritter chose the
weathered the economic downturn relatively well, but, like governors
everywhere, Ritter has had to cut crucial government services and raise
fees to balance the state budget. He instituted furlough days for state
workers and a program to allow felons out of prison early. He has
lagged in the polls behind his probable Republican challenger, former
When Ritter announced that he would not run for re-election, Democrats said it was unrelated to his standing in the polls.
“This allows me to focus on the things that should
be the most important: taking care of my family and taking care of the
Salazar said he was not interested in running in Ritter’s place, but
a Democrat, announced Tuesday that he would run. Hickenlooper is
popular, but a recent poll showed him 3 points behind McInnis.
said Democrats in the state were “victims of their own success. It’s
not that they’ve done anything wrong — this always happens when a party
wins a lot and things don’t go well nationally.”
said Democrats could take heart in the long-term demographics of the
region: rising number of Latinos and younger, college-educated whites,
who are usually reliable votes for the party.
“But what is encouraging for Democrats in the long
term is discouraging in 2010,” he said. “We’re going to see a big
drop-off in younger voters,” two-thirds of whom backed Obama in 2008,
Wasserman said. That will hurt the party’s ability to hold on to its
Loevy is skeptical that demographics give Democrats any long-term edge in
mainly follows national trends in its voting behavior,” he said. “The
best thing they had going for them was that they had an unpopular
Republican administration in
contends that the state’s loyalties change constantly. Indeed, even
though Democrats were largely shut out here between 1994 and 2004, the
party often did well in the 1970s and ’80s.
“I know that Democrats thought good times would last forever and they had built a permanent situation in
(c) 2010, Los Angeles Times.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.