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Why Clinton And Trump's Colorado Campaign Directors Aren't Looking At The Polls

As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump angle for Colorado voters, what’s not clear is how relevant the state will be on election night. By the looks of several election maps, the race is already over. The victor, if the trend holds, is Clinton, with the state colored a shade of Democrat blue.

Yet Clinton’s Colorado campaign director, Emmy Ruiz, isn’t resting easy.

“It is a very competitive state,” Ruiz said. “It is a state that, for example, in 2014 sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate. So we know we have our work cut out for us. We’re not going to take anything for granted and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure Colorado is Clinton country.”

Ruiz and Patrick Davis, who directs Republican Trump's Colorado campaign, visited KUNC News in separate interviews.

 Davis is as convinced as Ruiz that Colorado will be a critical state to the presidential race.

“Every map in this country for 270 electoral votes leads through Colorado,” Davis said. “The path to the White House leads through Colorado.”

At the moment, Clinton has a wide lead over Trump in the state. Her average advantage is nearly 12 points, according to an aggregate of polls by Real Clear Politics

Yet the numbers Ruiz is most concerned about are Colorado’s voter registrations. There are 953,042 voters registered as Democrats across the state, according to the Secretary of State’s Office

That's slightly less than the 964,738 Republicans registered across Colorado. Unaffiliated voters in the state are the largest bloc at 1,020,697.

“You’re going to see us moving full speed across Colorado – in Greeley, Loveland, Aurora, Pueblo, the Slope, Denver, everywhere in between,” Ruiz said.

The Trump campaign plans essentially the same kind of exhaustive campaigning, putting boots on the ground to prompt discussions on positions on issues like the economy and immigration that go beyond the headlines and sound bites.

Still, it is no secret that both Clinton and Trump have struggled in Colorado to gain support within their own parties. Democrats backed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 caucus, and many Republicans pushed for Ted Cruz. Both campaigns said they've seen signs the wounds of the caucuses are healing, but some polls show a sizeable percentage of Colorado voters abandoning the mainstream for third party candidates. For example, polling in August by Quinnipiac University found 7 percent support for the Green Party’s presidential candidate, Jill Stein. The same poll found 16 percent support for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson in Colorado.

Davis predicts support for third party candidates will come down significantly as Election Day nears on Nov. 8.

“In my experience, reality strikes when that ballot is sitting in front of you and you have to throw away your vote on a third party candidate when you know that it’s not going to help elect either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton,” Davis said. 

As investigative reporter for KUNC, I take tips from our audience and, well, investigate them. I strive to go beyond the obvious, to reveal new facts, to go in-depth and to bring new perspectives and personalities to light.
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