Networks are ready to declare Hillary Clinton the winner in Colorado, a state that perhaps more than any other exemplifies the shifting sands of American political demographics in the 21st century. When Barack Obama carried it in 2008, it was a novelty and a reach — not so different from winning Indiana.
But a large Latino population (about 20 percent) combined with high educational attainment (38 percent of the state’s residents have a college degree) among the white population kept it in the Democratic column in 2012 and made it a deeply unpromising state for Donald Trump, who for a long time had to essentially strike it off his battleground list. As the polls tightened nationally he got some better numbers in Colorado, too, and put in some effort to campaign there, but he ultimately fell short.
In the 2016 race, Colorado serves as the western anchor of Clinton’s six-state firewall that can guarantee her victory if she sweeps all six.
The state is still competitive enough that a Republican could easily win it in a future presidential election, but it seems to have slid further to the blue side of the spectrum, so it’s unlikely to be a pivotal difference-maker in future races.
Democrats hope the same underlying trends that have driven Colorado into their camp for the past three election cycles will, in the future, reach the larger state of Arizona and create a blue-leaning Southwestern bulwark that can offset the increasingly reddish hue of the Rust Belt.