Colorado and Iowa:
The stages for Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign for president, and for President Barack Obama’s campaign for re-election today.
Romney plans a “town hall”-styled event at Central High School in Grand Junction, which generally opens a candidate to questions from his audience. Obama plans to speak on the economy at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, as well as visit the home of Jason and Ali McLaughlin to talk about his plan for continuing Bush-era tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year.
Both states backed Obama for election in 2008 — the president carrying Colorado by 9 percentage points, Iowa by 9.5 points. Both states, which also helped former President George W. Bush win re-election in 2004, are considered prime targets in this year’s battle over a dozen or fewer swing-voting states.
Yet the economic picture of the two states, in an election contest rooted in the economy, offers a contrast this time around.
Colorado’s unemployment, 8.1 percent at the last count of the states in April, was down from a peak of 9 percent in November 2010. Its overall economic health has declined by 11.2 percent from the first quarter of 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, to the first quarter of 2012, according to the Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States. Home prices are off 7.1 percent during the president’s term, though personal income has increased by 10.5 percent and employment has improved by 0.8 percent.
Iowa’s unemployment rested at 5.1 percent in April, well below the national average, and down from a peak of 6.3 percent in November 2010– that’s as bad as it got during the worst recession since the 1930s. Its overall economic health is off by 7.4 percent from first quarter 2009 to first quarter 2012, the BEES index shows, with personal income up 12.5 percent and home prices about where they were four years ago.
In other words, things are looking better today in Iowa than they are in Colorado, and relatively speaking, better for Obama in Iowa now than at the time of his election.
All of which offers Romney a stage, in Colorado, for saying the president’s policies aren’t working, and Obama a stage, in Iowa, with a family that stands to benefit from his tax plans, to say his is the way forward.