DENVER—Dancing, euphoria, and "Don't Stop Believin'" pounding through speakers: that was the scene at the Denver Sheraton Democratic watch party as national media outlets called the presidency and the state of Colorado for Barack Obama within minutes of each other. Euphoria, but also shock. The state of Colorado has lived in a sea of repetitive and relentless TV and radio ads for the past several months and appeared to be a possible pick-up for Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But statistical reporting speaks louder than rhetoric—even a highly contested swing-state battle ends with cold numbers.
Going into Tuesday, Colorado’s secretary of state reported that 2 million out of 2.7 million active voters in the state had already cast votes through mail-in ballots and early voting. Reports that Republican Party members held a slight majority of votes cast over Democratic Party members—719,597 to 677,473—in the state had Romney supporters hopeful. But at 9 p.m. MST on Election Night, Colorado’s most crucial swing-counties were swinging toward the incumbent.
No jet fuel was spared by the two campaigns on trying to reach Colorado voters in the lead-up to Tuesday. In the last two months, presidential and vice-presidential candidates hosted 28 events in the state, with Romney and Obama making back-to-back visits over the weekend. Romney held a rally in Englewood, a Denver suburb, on Saturday night. Obama visited Denver on Sunday. Yesterday’s Colorado outcome represents only the third time in the past 10 presidential elections that the state’s nine electoral votes have gone to the Democrat.
In a final turn of Election Day close calls, Colorado voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults over age 21. Washington passed a similar measure, but both states’ amendments spark questions about regulation and federal law. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper wasn’t celebrating: “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”