If Barack Obama had to stand for reelection today he'd win Colorado pretty easily against any of the leading Republican Presidential contenders.
Obama has good approval numbers in the state, with 51% of voters expressing support for the job he's doing right now to 45% disapprove. As is the case most everywhere pretty much all Democrats like him and pretty much all Republicans dislike him. Breaking the tie is his good numbers with independents who give him good marks by a 54/42 spread.
Obama is still slightly weaker in the state than he was in 2008 when he took it by 9 points in the general election. Tested against a generic Republican opponent he leads 51-44, so that 7 point lead represents a small amount of slippage from his previous margin of victory.
The problem for the GOP contenders is that few of them fare as well with the Colorado electorate as a generic candidate from their party. Mitt Romney does come within six points of Obama, trailing 47-41. But beyond that Mike Huckabee trails by 9 points at 51-42, Newt Gingrich is down 14 points at 53-39, and Sarah Palin trails by 19 points at 55-36 including a remarkable 30 point deficit with independents. This is another of Palin's Goldwater states- the last time a Democrat won Colorado by this kind of margin was 1964 when Lyndon Johnson took it by 23 points.
The simple reality in Colorado, as is the case in most of the states we poll, is that voters don't like the potential Republican candidates who have generated the most buzz to date. Romney at least breaks even with 40% of voters rating him favorably to 40% with an unfavorable opinion. But beyond him all of the GOPers are unpopular- Huckabee breaks down at a 37/40 spread, Gingrich is at 26/55, and Palin's at 32/62. Last fall Colorado voters gave Michael Bennet miserable approval ratings and still reelected him because they didn't feel the Republican alternative was worthy of their support. Obama's in a much stronger position personally than Bennet was so the GOP is really going to need a more appealing candidate to emerge over the course of 2011 if it wants to be competitive in Colorado next year.
Beyond Obama's relative popularity and the weakness of the GOP contenders there's another reason Democrats are looking good in the state and that's where it's headed demographically. The Hispanic vote is only going to become more and more influential and Obama leads the Republicans by anywhere from 24-30 points with those voters. And more so than in most states there's a huge age divide in the political preferences of the state's electorate- for instance against Romney Obama trails 53-38 with voters over 65. But he leads 49-37 with everyone else. Republicans are either going to have to change their act to better appeal to the non-gray haired set or hope those folks just inherently become more conservative over time. Otherwise there's a very real chance of Colorado moving from purple to straight up blue state status over the next decade.
Full results here