In office, thing have gotten stickier. Ritter enraged union leaders by vetoing their pet legislation, then risked alienating suburbanites with an executive order empowering public employee unions. Limited by Colorado's taxpayer bill of rights, he imposed higher fees on car registration, but at the same time has had to order big spending cuts.
Obama has been able to sidestep national labor leaders' card check bill, which would effectively abolish the secret ballot in unionization and impose federal wages and work rules on employers and employees. But his vast increases in federal spending and his budgets that promise to nearly double the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product, up to World War II levels, and the various Democratic health care plans have inspired unease in Colorado as elsewhere.
At least one Colorado Democratic congressman has announced he won't hold town meetings on health care because people don't really know what they're talking about. Another, from a liberal Boulder-centered district, voted against the health care bill in committee because of the supertax on high earners, which he argued, would stifle economic growth and innovation.
Colorado is just one state, with nine electoral votes, and, like every other state, not typical of the nation. It is the state with the lowest rate of obesity and quite possibly the highest level of physical fitness, perhaps because most of its citizens live a mile above sea level. The oscillations of its politics seem driven more than elsewhere by baby boomers who flocked there in the 1970s, in the heyday of Hart and Patricia Schroeder. The poll numbers suggest they found Democrats an attractive protest vote in the George W. Bush years but find them less palatable now that they are putting their policies into practice.
These voters may appreciate an openness to same-sex marriage and give lip service to preserving the environment, but they don't seem to cotton much to higher taxes and fees, a significantly enlarged government and greatly strengthened labor unions.
The Colorado model showed how dedicated leftists could produce victories for Democratic candidates. It doesn't seem to have been as useful a guide for how those Democrats, once elected, could govern in a way that produces sustained public approval.