Colorado Votes: Long Campaigns Come to a Whirlwind End

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3min 55sec

Hard to believe, but we’re less than 48 hours away from the end of the presidential campaigns. Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee looks at the impact of this record-setting election cycle on our swing state.

Find all of CPR's Colorado Votes election coverage here (scroll down for older stories)

[The following is a transcript of Megan Verlee's Report]

Reporter Megan Verlee: If you wanted to see a real live presidential or vice presidential candidate this weekend, you probably wouldn’t have had to go far. Between the four of them, they hit Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Englewood, Greeley, Montrose, and Pueblo.

Governor Mitt Romney: “The question of this election comes down to this: do you want more of the same, or do you want real change?”

President Barack Obama: “We know what change looks like. And what he's selling ain't it."

Vice President Joe Biden: “Together we can win Colorado. And we win Colorado, we win this election!”

Congressman Paul Ryan: “It’s going to come down to just a couple of states. You know this. You’ve seen a few of us around, haven’t you?”

Reporter: All told, the presidential candidates have each visited Colorado more than a dozen times in the past year. Which is sort of amazing when you realize Colorado didn’t get a single candidate visit during the 2000 presidential race and only a handful in 2004. It’s not just that Colorado’s swung into near-perfect political balance. It’s also that ever fewer states are truly up for grabs, making our nine electoral college votes even more important.

Floyd Ciruli, pollster: "This is an unprecedented event, which we just happen to be in the middle of."

Reporter: Floyd Ciruli is a long-time political pollster and campaign watcher in Colorado. He says 2008 set the pattern for this year.

Ciruli: "All of the techniques that we’re seeing are much more aggressively being done, but I think that I saw all of them to a lesser extent four years ago."

Reporter: And like four years ago, Colorado again played host to a pivotal campaign moment. Then, it was Senator Obama accepting his party’s nomination at Mile High Stadium. This time, it was his lackluster performance in the first debate, and the ensuing rise in Governor Romney’s fortunes. Ciruli says few debates have ever changed the course of an election.

Ciruli: "They’re rare and this is one of them. It will be the most significant debate that most of us remember."

Reporter: Some may find Colorado’s swing state stardom exciting. Others are over it. At an early voting site in Lakewood, Lisa Mondragon’s frustration was echoed by many.

Lisa Mondragon, voter: "I’m sick of it. It’s just force-fed anymore. And you can’t turn the TV for any, for like an hour without seeing at least five campaign commercials. So I just find it kind of obnoxious right now."

Reporter: If Mondragon’s only been seeing five ads an hour, she’s probably lucky. Research by the Kantar Media Group shows the presidential campaigns and their various allies have poured more than $60 million into broadcast TV commercials in Colorado since April. In a recent interview with CPR’s Colorado Matters, Governor John Hickenlooper looked for a silver lining in all that spending.

Governor John Hickenlooper: "But I do tell people that that’s all money into our economy, it’s creating jobs... I mean, it’s a whole industry. It’s amazing the number of people involved in marketing political campaigns."

Reporter: TV and radio stations may welcome the cash infusion, but it also means local businesses probably found it harder to buy airtime for the past few months. Montana State University Professor Carly Urban researches the economic impact of election spending. She says all the candidate visits and in-state offices do result in a small but measurable boost to swing state economies.

Professor Carly Urban: "Things that they’re buying are anywhere from computers, to supplies, to retail, anything you can think of. And then you have media people coming in. So you really see it all over the place."

Reporter: So whoever emerges victorious after tomorrow, Colorado’s economy will have scored a small win of its own, and Colorado’s airwaves will be back to normal.

[photos 1-2: Governor Romney campaigns in Englewood, CO 11/3 - credit: MVerlee/CPR]

[Photo 3: President Obama's late night rally in Aurora, 11/4 - credit: Mark Grueskin]

[Photo 4: President Obama visits Pueblo earlier in the campaign, 8/9 - credit: Shanna Lewis]