03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The 'Statewide' Myth in Colorado

You're going to hear a lot of spin from Republicans that since Scott McInnis is from the Western Slope that's an advantage, because you have to win 'statewide' in CO.

No, you don't. Running for statewide office means addressing statewide needs and the concerns of all voters. Education knows no boundaries, water rights have an impact on urban Colorado as much as rural Colorado, and health care affects everyone. But given Colorado's demographics, you can win the Governor's mansion or a Senate seat without crossing the Great Divide.

For you true political geeks, here are the most recent Colorado voter registration numbers by county - and Democrats outnumber Republicans statewide by about 7,500 voters:

85% of the state's voting population lives along the J-shaped I-25 corridor that runs from Fort Collins down to Pueblo. Mesa County (Grand Junction) and Boulder cancel each other out. El Paso County (Colorado Springs) and Pueblo (ironically, next to each other) cancel each other out.

So you're down to the swing counties in suburban Denver - Jefferson & Arapahoe - and Larimer County, near Fort Collins. Jefferson and Arapahoe counties are part of Colorado's 7th Congressional District, held by a Democrat, Ed Perlmutter. Larimer County is also represented by a Democrat, Betsey Markey. You win those areas, and you pull a decent number of votes in the Democrat John Salazar's 3rd Congressional District - which includes Pueblo - and there's your statewide.

The fact that John Hickenlooper, Andrew Romanoff, and Ed Perlmutter are from metro Denver is actually an advantage - they're well-known in the most voter-rich part of the state. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar would be a slam-dunk if he got in the race - his family was in southern Colorado before Colorado was a state, he started his career as a water rights attorney, and he's immensely popular on the Front Range.

Democrats have a very deep bench in Colorado, and statewide demographics are in their favor. Scott McInnis started at a disadvantage, and his chances haven't improved.