DENVER — Hours before the first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama kicks off here, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said the candidate who can most effectively reach out to women has the best chance of winning the state’s large swath of notoriously independent voters.
Coloradans are obsessed with their state’s purple nature and speak with pride about their independent electorate. Hickenlooper, who enjoys an approval rating among the highest of any governor in the country, is generally seen as a man who knows what the independent voters of his state are thinking about.
He told reporters Wednesday they’ll be motivated by the economy first and foremost. But he said the fight over women — which has dominated much of the presidential contest nationally — could be the real key to bringing home Colorado.
“The hidden issue that hasn’t come up is women,” Hickenlooper said when asked which issues are specifically of interest to his state’s independents. “You know, women’s control of their own healthcare. I think that’s going to have a lot of resonance with the independent voters. Not just women but men independent voters.”
Based on polls, Hickenloopers take on things here would tend to favor Obama. The president enjoys a big lead among women nationally and has pressed Romney repeatedly on the issue.
Team Obama and Democrats have insisted the issue of women and women’s health would be a key one in November, and if Hickenlooper’s right that theory may be verified here in Colorado, a state both candidates would love to count in their corner come Election Day.
Hickenlooper says it looks to him like Colorado’s going Obama’s way again in November, just as it did four years ago. That’s perhaps a self-serving assessment coming from a Democrat but he cautioned that things can change in a state as purple as his.
“Right now with independents, by a clear four or five points now, support President Obama over Gov. Romney,” he said. Asked if he thinks Obama will “definitely” win his state, Hickenlooper was more cautious. “That’s why you’ve got pollsters out there,” he said.