Obama, Romney win in Colorado
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney scored overwhelming victories in Colorado’s presidential caucuses Tuesday, benefiting from a record turnout that included thousands of first-time caucus goers.
With 98 percent of Democratic precincts reporting, Obama had 66 percent of the vote to 33 percent for Hillary Clinton.
For the Republicans, with 73 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had 59 percent, John McCain 19 percent, Mike Huckabee 13 percent and Ron Paul 8 percent.
Both parties reported extremely heavy turnout. More than 118,000 Democratic voters went to the caucuses, compared to just 15,000 in 2004. More than 56,000 Republicans participated Tuesday.
At stake in Colorado were 43 Republican and 55 Democratic delegates. The caucuses were nonbinding and Colorado voters won’t select presidential delegates until the major parties have their conventions in May.
However, Tuesday’s straw polls in Colorado were considered crucial because the final delegates will be chosen through the caucus process and it gives political momentum to the winners.
Pollster Floyd Ciruli said it was the first time in decades that Colorado voters have an opportunity to decide the nominees. Colorado moved its caucuses from March to Feb. 5 so candidates would pay attention.
The Democratic race in Colorado especially is crucial because the party’s winner will be nominated at the national convention in Denver in August, and young voters are excited and getting involved.
Obama drew his support from an energetic get out the vote effort that relied heavily on college-age voters and young people ” as well as campaign stops that drew large enthusiastic crowds. The campaign set up 10 offices across the state and helped give Democrats more than double the turnout of Republicans.
“It’s all about these newly inspired voters, people who are tired of the same old politics in Washington,” said Ray Rivera, state director for the Obama campaign.
State GOP chairman Richard Wadhams said Romney soundly defeated McCain because he was seen as the true conservative candidate.
“I think people see in him an accomplished, successful conservative who governed a tough state and who has been talking about the issues that Coloradans care about,” Wadhams said.
Wadhams noted that Romney also spent time in Colorado courting Republican support.
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