It's hard to believe that a year ago people were talking about permanent Democratic strongholds in the Mountain West. Now Barack Obama's approval is in negative territory in both Colorado and Nevada, incumbent Democratic Senators trail by as much as double digits in polls in those states, and chances for the party for Governor this year look less promising than a year ago as well.
The demographic changes occurring in that region probably do mean in the long run that the years from 2000-2050 will be more friendly to the Democratic Party than the ones from 1950-2000 were. But in the short term those shifts, such as the increase in the Hispanic voting population, aren't enough to make up for the much larger and faster shift in the national political mood since the 2008 election.
With that in mind I'm interested in looking at New Mexico next weekend as we look to do a House poll in a district where a Democratic incumbent voted for the health care bill. Here are your choices:
NM-1: Martin Heinrich won election pretty easily as Barack Obama took a 60-39 victory in this formerly Republican held district in 2008. If the Dems are in trouble here, well, they're in trouble everywhere. But I guess we already know that because of Massachusetts!
CO-3: Staying in the region, John Salazar's done an impressive job the last three elections but his district voted for John McCain even as the state went strongly Democratic and the party's brand in the state is not at its best right now.
SC-5: The Republicans always seem to think this will be the time they can get John Spratt, and up to now they've always been wrong. But Democrats knocked off some comparable long time GOP Representatives in 2006 so it could be worth a look.
WV-1: Alan Mollohan came in with John Spratt and his district has trended strongly in a Republican direction in Presidential elections. Like, say, Vic Snyder he has not been seriously challenged of late- is this the political climate that does him in?
Voting is open until Wednesday, and we'll do a statewide poll in Arkansas next weekend in addition to whatever wins from these choices.