Once enacted by enough states, the National Popular Vote will dramatically improve the way we elect our president in three ways: (1) one person will truly equal one vote no matter where that person lives; (2) the presidential candidate who earns the most votes nationwide will win the election with no exceptions; and (3) presidential candidates will need to campaign across the country, including Colorado again, and not just focus on a few competitive “swing” states.
It is the third point that I want to spend some time explaining further, mainly because opponents of the National Popular Vote claim against the face of all facts and evidence that Colorado is somehow still a swing state for presidential candidates.
The recent column by Earl Wright in The Colorado Sun is one example; he predicts a loss of influence with presidential candidates and subsequent economic harm Colorado would suffer once the National Popular Vote system goes into effect.
There’s just one problem with that thesis, though. Mr. Wright is four years behind the curve. Colorado has already lost that swingy feeling.
Colorado was, in fact, a bona fide swing state for three election cycles in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
During that period we hosted the Democratic National Convention, saw presidential candidates visit our state dozens of times, hosted a presidential debate, got extensive funding from national campaigns for local field operations and couldn’t watch a television show for 10 minutes without seeing an advertisement for one of the candidates. None of that applies to Colorado in 2020.
States that are no longer competitive, like Colorado, lose their swing state status. Like it or not, Colorado is a blue state in presidential races now.
I wish Colorado was still a competitive swing state. As a state legislator, I have seen the benefits of being a swing state and the drawbacks of not being one.
Wishful thinking is no excuse to overlook the facts, though. No matter how much those who oppose a national popular vote want to claim Colorado is still relevant to presidential campaigns, those claims just don’t match up to the reality.
Let’s think back to 2012. President Obama visited after the Aurora theater shooting, the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs and numerous campaign stops around the state leading up to the election.
Republican Mitt Romney also visited Colorado often, capped off by a big get-out-the-vote rally at Red Rocks amphitheater one week before the election. In fact, President Obama visited Colorado 17 times during his first term in office.
President Trump has visited Colorado just twice during his first term – once to speak at an Air Force Academy graduation ceremony and once to hold a rally thanking Sen. Cory Gardner for his acquittal vote after the impeachment trial. What a difference eight years makes.
It’s not that the presidential and vice-presidential candidates haven’t campaigned across the country this year, they just haven’t come to Colorado.
The map below shows all of their campaign stops since the end of the party conventions in August through Oct. 8. Colorado is one of many states that has not received a campaign stop. We are being ignored.
Don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at respected nonpartisan analyses from the Cook Political Report, Larry Sabato or Nate Silver. Review the polling data that shows Biden comfortably ahead in Colorado. Watch your favorite national news channel and count how many times Colorado is mentioned (even Fox News does not consider Colorado a swing state).
Remind yourself that the Democratic presidential candidate has won Colorado every year since 2008 and Democrats won every statewide office – by wide margins – and expanded their legislative majorities in 2018.
Then picture yourself as an adviser to the Trump or Biden campaign and ask whether you would really tell either of those candidates to put any time or resources into Colorado.
Colorado has unfortunately joined the majority of states as presidential fly-over territory and it looks to remain that way for the foreseeable future. The National Popular Vote would change that. It would make presidential candidates care about the entire United States of America, not just the Swing States of America.
When every vote counts regardless of where that vote comes from, the winning candidate will work for votes from all across the country. Voters in every state will be important.
Reasonable minds may differ on some aspects of the National Popular Vote. But when the opponents of Proposition 113 are so obviously making stuff up about one thing, it seems appropriate to question their claims on everything. Vote YES on Proposition 113 this fall to make sure Colorado is relevant again and every voter from Colorado matters.
Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, was one of the legislative sponsors of the National Popular Vote bill in 2019 and currently works with the Yes on Proposition 113 campaign.
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