Examining Colorado’s Political Leanings

This article was also posted at http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2012/09/17/examining-colorados-political-leanings/

Colorado is one of the key swing states in the upcoming presidential election.  With 9 electoral votes up for grabs, it is an important state for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to win.

The map and data below tell the story of the demographic and political makeup of the Colorado prior to the election.  What will sway the voters in this state?  What do we know about them?  We’ll be sure to check back after Nov. 6 to see what the election results reveal.

General Population Statistics

Known as the “The Centennial State,” Colorado has a population of just over 5.1 million people.  Denver is the capital and the state’s most populous city with a population of about 620,000.  Here are some key demographic statistics about Colorado:




Median Age



% Male / % Female



Median Household Income



% Hispanic Population



Median Home Value



Source: Esri Updated Demographics 2011/2016

The residents of Colorado are more liberal overall than the average American.  Esri, the world’s leader in  geographic information systems (GIS), provides Market Potential data that includes a Market Potential Index (MPI). The Index measures the probability that adults or households in a specific area will exhibit certain consumer behaviors compared to the US average. The index is tabulated to represent a value of 100 as the overall demand for the U.S.

Market Potential Variable


Consider self very conservative


Consider self somewhat conservative


Consider self middle of the road


Consider self somewhat liberal


Consider self very liberal


Source: Esri Market Potential Database, GfK MRI

A resident of Colorado is 2% more likely than the average American to consider himself very conservative and 5% more likely to consider himself somewhat conservative.  Although a Colorado resident is a little more likely to consider himself conservative than the average American, they are a bit more likely to consider themselves liberal.  A resident of Colorado is 11% more likely than average American to consider himself somewhat liberal and 7% more likely than the average American to consider himself very liberal.

Colorado Politics Market Potential Index

Where people live in Colorado does seem to somewhat sway their political leanings.   For Democrats, it is important to know that the zip code with the highest likelihood of very liberal voters is 80203 – located in Denver.  The index for someone considering themselves very liberal is 302 – meaning a resident there is 3.02 times more likely to consider themselves more liberal than the average American.  For Republicans, the most conservative zip code is 80912 – located in Colorado Springs.  The index for considering themselves very conservative there is 214 meaning a resident is 2.14 times more likely than the average American to consider themselves very conservative.

Colorado Tapestry Segmentation

Esri also developed the Tapestry Segmentation system that classifies US residential neighborhoods into 65 unique market segments based on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.  The top tapestry segments for the Colorado are:

Tapestry Segment

% Adults

Up and Coming Families






In Style


Main Street USA


Sophisticated Squires


Suburban Splendor


Aspiring Young Families




Rural Resort Dwellers


 Source: Esri

Residents of Tapestry’s Up and Coming Families neighborhoods, for example, are young, affluent families with younger children. Eighty percent of the households are families. The median household income is $69,522 and nearly two-thirds of the residents aged 25 years and older have attended college; more than one in five holds a bachelor’s degree.  Boomburbs neighborhoods have high concentrations of young families with children.  The median age for Boomburbs is 36.1 years. There is little ethnic diversity in the population; most of the residents are white.  Over half have a college education and the median household income is $104,395.

Colorado Tapestry Segmentation


One key factor in the upcoming election is unemployment.   This has varied by state.  When Barack Obama was sworn in as president in January 2009 Colorado had an unemployment rate of 7.2%.  In July 2012 (the latest figures available by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) that number had risen to 8.3%.  Of course, each county in the state varies based on their individual situations.

Colorado Unemployment Change – January 2009 – July 2012

Most counties in Colorado have higher unemployment rates now than when Obama took over as president.   The county with the biggest increase in unemployment was Lake County which went from 6.8% in January 2009 to 10.0% in July 2012.  San Juan County went the other way with unemployment in January 2009 at 9.1% and down to 5% in July 2012.

Why Does This Matter?

Understanding the type of people who live in Colorado can help Barack Obama and Mitt Romney target their campaigns and even messaging.  Knowing what the local issues are, what the demographic make-up of an area is, what the political leanings are of an area, or knowing what types of activities they participate in can help them find their supporters – at a very local level – and help them be in a better position win an election.

More information about Esri’s data can be found at www.esri.com/data or to learn more about Esri in general, go to www.esri.com.

Pam Allison is a digital media, marketing strategist, and location intelligence consultant.  You can visit her blog at www.pamallison.com.


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