One political expert thinks he understands why Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Republican-leaning Weld County on Wednesday.
Floyd Ciruli, a pollster and political analyst from Denver, said he’s not surprised that Biden visited Greeley. Biden delivered a speech in front of 1,100 Democratic supporters at Island Grove Regional Park Exhibition Hall.
“There are two things going on. One is they’re kind of going where they haven’t been,” Ciruli said in a telephone interview from Denver. “They’ve been to the college campuses. They’ve been to the Denver suburbs. They’ve been to Pueblo, the safe places where they expect to have lots of Democrats and try and encourage turnout.”
Biden campaigned in Greeley in mid-October 2008 as a vice presidential candidate and spoke in front of a packed crowd of 3,500 college students and other supporters at the University of Northern Colorado’s Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
Ciruli said the Democrats have not focused a great deal on some of the more Republican areas in the state. According to the Weld County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, 39.5 percent of those registered to vote in Weld County are Republicans, 24.4 percent are Democrats and 34.8 percent are unaffiliated voters.
“The general rule is that if you can reduce your loss, that is as good as boosting your win. A vote is a vote,” Ciruli said. “There are Democrats, obviously, in Greeley and Weld County. To the extent that if they can encourage them to turn out, while it’s not quite as efficient as going to a high Democratic area, this is the part of the campaign where you begin looking at, ‘Where else can we go?’ We’ve already been to the very, very Democratic areas to encourage turnout, we now start going to places we haven’t focused on.’ ”
Ciruli said the second reason Biden visited Greeley is poaching.
“(Mitt) Romney went to Pueblo, which is hardly a Republican area, and Biden is going to Greeley. Biden is no doubt going to Greeley because right at the moment he’s the Democrat fighter out there. He’s got a little buzz around him,” Ciruli said. “Both campaigns recognize they have a very close race, and they’re trying to find those extra few thousand votes that might make a difference in Colorado, because we are probably one of the closest states in the country right now. They’re looking for weakly decided partisans (a weak attachment to the candidate). There’s not only undecided voters, which typically these polls we’re seeing is not much over 5 or 6 percent. There is another block of voters, maybe up to 10 percent that the polls indicate, who when asked will say, ‘Well, I’m leaning toward. I might change my mind.’ Those weakly decided voters are individuals that Biden, and the Republicans when they go to a Democratic area like Pueblo, are looking for. There is a lot of poaching going on at this point.”
Ciruli said early on, the campaigns tend to focus on the areas where a visit can have the biggest impact.
“At the end of these campaigns, and now we’re talking the last week, for example, the candidates tend to go exactly to those areas where they’re just going to stir up the base,” Ciruli said. “They’ll probably be some final swings through here in Denver and Boulder for the Democrats and maybe to the suburbs, and obviously Romney to the Springs and Douglas and maybe Weld.”
Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, will hold a rally at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.