Colorado, writes National Journal's always insightful Ronald Brownstein, is "America, writ small." "A microcosm," he goes on, "of the forces destabilizing American politics."
Of course, Colorado is not entirely typical of the nation. It has America's lowest rates of obesity, for example -- because of a young population and because most Coloradans live a mile or more above sea level. You burn more calories there just getting out of the car and walking to the mall.
Colorado has also been a success story for the Democratic Party. It voted twice for Barack Obama after years of voting Republican for president. It has a Democratic governor and legislature, and two Democratic U.S. senators
-- a complete reversal from 10 years ago.
Much of that Democratic success can be ascribed to a few high-tech millionaires and trust-funders who banded together and shrewdly spent big bucks to advance Democratic and liberal causes, a process described definitively by Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard.
But in the second Obama term, as things go sour for the president, they're also going sour for Colorado's liberal Democrats.
Like Obama after 2008, Colorado Democrats may have over-interpreted their victories. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, despite many advantages -- the congenial personality of a brew-pub proprietor, a popular record as mayor of Denver -- won in 2010 with only 51 percent of the vote. And he was helped when the Republican nominee's campaign imploded and firebrand former Rep.
Tom Tancredo ran as an independent.
Democrats have had only narrow majorities in the Colorado legislature.
Nevertheless, they went ahead with a liberal agenda, passing civil unions for same-sex couples, in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants and renewable energy requirements.
After the movie theater massacre in Aurora, they passed a gun-control law with universal background checks and limits on gun magazines.
Like Obama Democrats in Congress, they were heavy handed. On gun control, they didn't allow citizens against the law to testify, contrary to Colorado custom. In response, gun control opponents got the necessary signatures to force recall elections of two Democrats.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other gun control advocates spent thousands against the recall. And both Democrats held seats where Barack Obama won about 60 percent of the vote in 2012. But both were soundly defeated last September.