Monday Seminars at Steamboat to focus on Colorado’s key electoral role

Joel Reichenberger
Richard Murray

— Seminars at Steamboat Chairwoman Kate Hawk said it’s no coincidence the summer series wraps up Monday with an incredibly relevant speech from Richard Murray.

Murray, a University of Houston political scientist, plans to delve deep into the politics of a presidential election just as vice presidential picks, advertising onslaughts and shifting poll numbers enliven the Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney boxing match.

“The timing is perfect,” Hawk said.

Indeed, Murray said he won’t be short of topics for the free speech, set to begin today at 5 p.m. at Strings Music Pavilion in Steamboat Springs. Tickets will be distributed at 4:15 p.m.

Hawk credited Murray with an encyclopedic knowledge of presidential elections dating back nearly 75 years, and the speaker himself said one of the things he’s learned is that every election is different.

This one, he said, already is unprecedented simply because of how well Obama is polling in the midst of a poor economy.

“Normally, that would knock a president out,” Murray said.

This cycle also is made unique by the enormous sums of money being shoveled into the fight and by the few states that money actually is being sent to.

“As recently as 2000, there were at least 20 states in play” between George W. Bush and Al Gore, Murray said. “Now, no more than 10 are there, and it’s probably more like five.

“There are 80 percent of us who don’t matter because of the block vote of the electoral college,” he said.

Colorado doesn’t figure into that 80 percent, and that explains the deluge of political ads that threaten in the coming months to drown the patience even from enthusiastic political hounds.

“The battleground has been dramatically shrunk,” he said. “It will just come down to a handful of states.”

Those states will yield much more power than their exact electoral counts dictate, and Murray said he’s been eagerly watching to figure out what’s going to make the difference in the end.

“Colorado will be really important,” he said. “Colorado is vastly more important this time than California.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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