Brief by Central Staff
National Politics – March 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine
It’s a Presidential Election Year, and so
… We’re Important
“The changing demographics [of the Interior West] are partly due to what Marc Perry of the Census Bureau calls the ‘All the way there, half the way back’ phenomenon. That is to say, easterners who migrated to California and have become disillusioned with the state’s urbanization — and for some, with California’s growing Latino population — have sought new frontiers in the interior states. This demographic shift will benefit the region politically in the census, as six of the nine congressional seats expected to migrate as a result of the census will go to the Interior West….
“In addition to increasing its presence on Capitol Hill, the region will have a significant impact on the presidential election, having developed into the most solid Republican block in the nation. Despite predictions a decade ago that diversified economies in the West would attract more eastern liberals to the region, population growth has not altered the region’s traditional conservatism, long fueled by skepticism of federal government and regulation. The Republican Party now holds 14 of the region’s 18 Senate seats, and all nine of the governor’s mansions.”
— Mark Mazetti in The Economist
… No, We’re Not
“Huge regional issues in what is loosely defined as the Interior West — eight states that account for nearly a quarter of the country’s land mass but only 40 of its 538 electoral votes — have been all but ignored this year because of the marginal role these states play in the nomination process.
“Little is heard from the stump about land management, water rights, nuclear waste cleanup. or endangered species. By the time the polls close on Super Tuesday, March 7, more than two dozen states and American territories will have held primaries or caucuses that could well determine the major parties’ nominees. But among the Interior eight — Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — Arizona alone will have voted by then (in a primary for Republicans only).
“In a further reflection of the region’s scant influence, for the fifth straight election not one of the presidential or vice-presidential debates is to be held in any of the eight states. In fact, the rarity of such debates anywhere in the West prompted the Western Governors’ Association to ask the Commission on Presidential Debates last week to add a fourth presidential debate or a second vice-presidential debate, to be held in a Western state….
“A commission co-chairman, Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a Nevadan who is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said that he sympathized with the Western states but that at this late date, he could not hold out much hope for the request.”
— New York Times, Feb. 12, 2000