In the 2008 Colorado Republican Caucus against John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, Mitt Romney swept the Front Range Corridor on his way to winning the state caucus. Romney tallied 36,231 caucus votes from the Front Range Corridor, accounting for 85% of Romney's state-wide tally of 42,218 caucus votes.
70,229 caucus votes were cast state-wide in the 2008 Colorado Republican Caucus, with 58,759 of the votes cast in the Front Range Corridor. 84% of the state-wide GOP caucus vote came from the Front Range Corridor.
In the 2012 Colorado Republican Caucus against Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, Romney did not sweep the Front Range Corridor. Romney lost the northern and southern ends of the Front Range Corridor to Rick Santorum. Romney did win Denver and most of its surrounding counties. Nevertheless, Romney's margin of victory and raw caucus vote totals in this central part of the corridor were dramatically lower. Romney tallied 18,790 caucus votes from the Front Range Corridor, accounting for 82% of Romney's state-wide tally of 23,012 caucus votes. Romney lost the 2012 Colorado Republican Caucus to Rick Santorum, who tallied 26,614 state-wide caucus votes.
66,027 caucus votes were cast state-wide in the 2012 Colorado Republican Caucus, with 52,176 of the votes cast in the Front Range Corridor. 79% of the state-wide 2012 GOP caucus vote came from the Front Range Corridor.
So, here's what's interesting to me about comparing the Colorado GOP Caucus vote in 2008 to the GOP caucus vote in 2012:
State-wide, the 2012 Colorado GOP Caucus turnout was 94% of what it was in 2008. That's not all that dramatic of a drop in turnout, especially given the fact that there wasn't a buzz-creating concurrently contested Democratic caucus as was the case in 2008. In fact, 2012 GOP caucus turnout was down only in the Front Range Corridor. Front Range Corridor GOP turnout in 2012 was 89% of what it was in 2008. Meanwhile, "out-state" GOP caucus turnout in 2012 was 121% of what it was in 2008. "Out-state" turnout increased. But just as importantly, Front Range Corridor turnout decreased.
A lot of ink and pixels have been spent discussing Romney's difficulty winning over voters who consider themselves to be "very conservative," e.g. the "Republican Base." What's been less discussed is Romney's difficulty since the very beginning in Iowa with turning-out the more moderate urban and suburban GOP voters who, on paper at least, should be Romney's "base." And looking at the 2008 Colorado caucus results, Romney indeed used to turn out these GOP voters. In 2008, Romney tallied 36,231 caucus votes from the Front Range Corridor. In 2012, Romney tallied 18,790 caucus votes from the Front Range Corridor. In 2012, Romney's performance in the Front Range Corridor was 52% of what it was in 2008. Romney lost 17,441 caucus votes from 2008 to 2012 in the Front Range Corridor.
Granted, some or perhaps even most of Romney's lost Front Range Corridor caucus votes from 2008 to 2012 may have gone to Santorum, Gingrich and/or Paul this year ... but all 17,441 caucus votes? Moreover, how many of Romney's lost 17,441 Front Range Corridor caucus votes are the 6,583 FRC caucus votes that were cast in 2008 but not 2012?
Romney's secondary problem is that he can't enthuse self-described "very conservative" GOP voters. Romney's primary problem is that he can't sufficiently enthuse self-described "moderate" GOP voters. Romney lost to Santorum in Colorado this year by 3,602 caucus votes. If Romney had been able to tally caucus votes in the Front Range Corridor in 2012 at only 62% of his tally there in 2008, then Romney would have won the Colorado caucus.
Over this past week, it appears that the Romney campaign has given up on spending its time and resources on motivating suburban/urban GOP voters. Perhaps the campaign has decided that it's not worth it. For whatever reason, Romney just isn't enthusing the moderates as much as, on paper, he should be. So, without being able to get the kind of margins in the Detroit suburbs to beat Santorum's margins in Western Michigan, it's time for Romney to try and out-conservative Santorum, or at the very least constantly depict Santorum as not a "true" conservative to depress enthusiasm for Santorum.
Headlines from Saturday's Michigan campaigning:
Romney, Santorum battle over who's more conservative
Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney battle for upper hand in Michigan primary
TROY, Mich. — Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney tried vigorously to undermine each other’s conservative bona fides Saturday in a bid to rally new supporters ahead of a crucial primary for the two leading Republican presidential candidates.
oh ... and ...
Rick Santorum Labels Romney An ‘Elite’ And Obama A ‘Snob’
So much for moderation.