In Colorado, All Eyes On Unaffiliated Voters The only way to win in this former red state is by appealing to the nearly one-third of Colorado voters who don't belong to a party. Republicans are still the largest party here, and they are hoping to lure swing voters back to the GOP.
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In Colorado, All Eyes On Unaffiliated Voters

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In Colorado, All Eyes On Unaffiliated Voters

In Colorado, All Eyes On Unaffiliated Voters

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

In recent years, the state has been moving away from a long history of electing Republicans. We'll find out what Colorado voters think, now, as we continue a series of reports we're calling Pulse of the Nation. NPR's Jeff Brady reports.

JEFF BRADY: For the longest time, Colorado was one of those square states in a sea of red on political maps. But over the past five years, Democrats have taken over both U.S. Senate seats, three congressional seats, the governorship and both houses of the state legislature. Last November at the Democrats' election night party in Denver, Congresswoman Diana DeGette claimed victory in a political revolution.

DIANA DEGETTE: Colorado has gone from red, to purple, to blue. And it's because of you.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

BRADY: A year later, the cheering has died down and even some Democratic voters, like Eric Trout of Denver, are not so sure.

ERIC TROUT: I think she's being a bit optimistic. I think it'll go back to purple pretty quickly.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BRADY: Trout's assessment has some compelling data behind it. Republicans still outnumber Democrats in Colorado, but neither has a majority. The only way anyone wins here is by appealing to the third of Colorado voters who don't belong to a party. Among them is Tess Gossage of Boulder. She's voted for Republicans in the past, but picked President Obama last year.

TESS GOSSAGE: I'm pretty much satisfied with the way things are going. I've never second-guessed my voting to date.

BRADY: Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it seems to match the sentiment of a lot of Coloradans, according to pollster Floyd Ciruli. He says surveys of unaffiliated voters indicate some disillusionment with President Obama. Ciruli says part of that, likely, is the poor economy, but he says a lot of those folks weren't picking Democrats as much as they were rejecting Republicans.

FLOYD CIRULI: While they joined the general sweep of the last election, in terms of taking out the Republicans - particularly the president, changing direction - they did it without any real enthusiasm for the agenda that Obama was offering.

BRADY: And that could spell trouble for Democrats trying to hold onto their seats. Ciruli says it's too early to say exactly how unaffiliated voters will cast their ballots in the midterm congressional elections next year, but...

CIRULI: At the moment, they appear to be trending, now, neutral to Republican.

BRADY: Over at Colorado State University, Political Science Professor John Straayer says he's not ready to predict big Republican victories next year. First, he says, consider most of the incumbent Democrats in Colorado.

JOHN STRAAYER: These are not New England, East coast or West coast Democrats. They're more mountain, West, cowboy Democrats.

BRADY: Colorado Republican Party State Chairman, Dick Wadhams, already has crafted a fiscal responsibility message designed to appeal to unaffiliated voters.

DICK WADHAMS: They seem to be very concerned about the massive spending proposals of the Obama administration. They're very concerned about the deficits, the federal debt.

BRADY: Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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