Colorado 5th District
In 1893, Katherine Lee Bates took the cog railway up from Colorado Springs to the top of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak, and looking out at the purple mountain’s majesty above amber waves of grain, she wrote the lines of “America the Beautiful.” Pike’s Peak, espied by Zebulon Pike in 1806, and Colorado Springs, with the Garden of the Gods and the Broadmoor Hotel, have been tourist attractions for more than 100 years. In the second half of the 20th century, Colorado Springs, safe in the vastness of North America, also became a great American military fortress. During the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, the Pentagon constructed the North American Aerospace Defense Command more than 1,000 feet below Cheyenne Mountain, a fortified bunker theoretically able to survive a nuclear strike from a Soviet missile. The Pentagon, in part because of local traffic congestion, moved NORAD’s surveillance operations to nearby Peterson Air Force Base, site of space-based defense research, with the option of a rapid return to secure Cheyenne Mountain in an emergency. Other military installations dominate the landscape as well: rapidly growing Fort Carson, site of the Air Force Academy, and Schriever Air Force Base, named in 1998 for Gen. Bernard A. Schriever, a pioneer in the development of ballistic-missile programs.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Colorado Springs has built a high-tech, innovative economy. And with the arrival of Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family in 1994 and other Christian organizations, it has been a center of conservative Christianity, the home of Colorado’s young conservatism and the counterpoint to Denver’s aging liberalism. This was the birthplace of Colorado’s anti-tax initiatives and of Amendment 2, which in 1992 repealed the city’s gay-rights ordinances only to be later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is one of America’s most Republican metropolitan areas. In 2004 Colorado Springs’s El Paso County cast more votes than Denver County, and its 83,000-vote margin for George W. Bush almost balanced out Denver’s 96,000-vote margin for John Kerry. The Democrats regained the advantage in 2008, as Barack Obama made gains among white evangelicals. John McCain won El Paso County by only 59% with 51,000 votes, while Obama took Denver by 135,000 votes.
The 5th Congressional District consists of Colorado Springs and El Paso County, plus all or most of four mountain counties to the west. One of them, Lake County, includes the old mining town of Leadville and usually votes Democratic. But 87% of the district’s population is in El Paso County, and in effect, this is the Colorado Springs congressional district. The 5th District is the most Republican district in Colorado and one of the most Republican in the nation.