The political ads seem inescapable, especially in a swing state like Colorado. Turn on the television, and each commercial break is an Obama ad followed by a Romney ad (or vice versa). Some are negative, some are not, but they are everywhere. Open the newspaper and there’s always an article on one or the other campaign. With Colorado being targeted as an important swing state this year, the political inundation is likely here to stay, at least until election day.
Both parties are paying a lot of attention to Colorado, and not just through advertisements. Each campaign has been working hard to establish a strong presence on the ground. Paul Ryan, Romney’s recently-announced running mate, visited the Denver area just last week. Obama campaigned in Colorado the week before that. Colorado certainly seems to be on the radar for both campaigns, and with the October 3rd presidential debate at the University of Denver, it will likely stay there.
However, the media blitz and attention from the candidates does not necessarily mean that voters are more excited than they were in 2008. Just in talking to my friends and family, those who are energized seem to be more afraid of the other candidate than in supporting their own party. Yet many are disenchanted with both parties. As one of my politically moderate friends put it, “I honestly don't feel comfortable voting for either Romney or Obama.”
That sentiment seems to be fairly common among independent voters. People may be unhappy with the state of the economy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they trust either candidate to improve the economy.
This is not to say that dedicated Republicans have not rallied around Romney. Instead, the announcement of Paul Ryan as his running mate has energized them. Similarly, committed Democrats still support Obama and are working hard for his reelection. Yet, even so, moderates and independents are far more apathetic, and I suspect, turnout will be far lower this time around. Both candidates fail to inspire much enthusiasm among those independent voters that they both want so desperately to attract.
It’s too soon to say which way Colorado will go at this point. President Obama may not be as popular as he used to be, but Mitt Romney has so far failed to capitalize on the discontent. However, it’s only August and a lot can happen between now and November. In any case, this year seems to be shaping up to be a much closer race than 2008.