Colorado 1st District
Denver is serious about being the mile-high city: There are three markers on the granite steps of the gold-domed Capitol that proclaim the elevation of 5,280 feet. Denver is situated a few miles from where the High Plains yield to the sharp peaks of the Front Range of the Rockies, with a freshwater supply adequate for a town one-tenth of its size. With 567,000 people, the city for a century has been the economic and cultural capital of the Rocky Mountain region. On top of its Old West heritage and early-20th-century elegance, Denver has developed an exuberant postmodern style. The National Western Stock Show held here every year and the LoDo entertainment district along the South Platte River evoke the Old West. The Capitol, the spacious parks, the aspens that line the streets, give the city a lush, burnished air, in contrast to the dry high plains and the stark Rocky peaks. Amid its downtown grid, slanted on a 45-degree angle to align with the South Platte and the railroads, are the skyscrapers of the 1970s energy boom and the 1990s high-tech boom, plus the new-old Coors Stadium, the Elitch Gardens amusement park and the expanded Museum of Nature and Science. Rather than losing population as many central cities have, Denver has gained people since 1990. Most of its neighborhoods have vitality, including the African-American neighborhoods of northeastern Denver, filled with neat 1950s bungalows, and the Hispanic quarter northwest of downtown. But more than three-quarters of the metro area’s people now live in the suburbs, and Denver has disproportionate numbers of singles and cultural liberals who value an urban and physically active lifestyle in the gentrified areas south of the Capitol.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Denver is the liberal heart of Colorado, heavily Democratic, while the rest of the state has voted mostly Republican over the years. But statewide politics has moved closer to Denver in recent elections. The city remains majority Anglo, but has elected Hispanic and black mayors. In the early 1970s, Denver liberals were hostile to growth and boosterism. Today’s Denver, from the wealthy enclave of Cherry Creek to the night life of LoDo, has shown that growth can produce more of the distinctiveness that people here appreciate. Civic pride was rampant during the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver, with an emphasis on its green projects. There was good reason: Denver has been ranked among the nation’s top 10 cities in business climate, livability, libraries, and bikeways. In the lower downtown near Coors Field, dilapidated bars have been replaced by art galleries in the past decade. In 2004, voters easily approved a sales-tax increase to pay for the “FasTracks” expansion of commuter rail and bus service across the metro area.
The 1st Congressional District of Colorado includes all of Denver and extends northeast to take in Denver International Airport, encompassing places with warehouses and trucking terminals as well as curved-street subdivisions. The district extends to affluent suburbs, long-settled Englewood and newly settled Cherry Hills Village in Arapahoe County. It counts most of metro Denver’s African-Americans and Hispanics, singles and gays; the Hispanic share has grown to 33%. The percentage of households with married couples and children has been among the lowest in America, and was lower in 2000 than in 1990. In an era when cultural attitudes are a better clue to voting behavior than economic status, this district, which last elected a Republican in 1970, is solidly Democratic.