Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



All right, one of the states Cokie mentioned there, Colorado. Our colleague Steve Inskeep has been meeting with voters there. It is the scene of an intense Senate race and the state also mirrors the way the nation is evolving.


In case you haven't been following this year's election that much (don't worry, we're not judging you), we've rounded up a list of big ideas in play in the 2014 midterms.

Turnout: In a nutshell, it's likely to be lower than in 2012. The Pew Research Center says voter turnout in the midterms has been lower than in presidential election years as far back as the 1840s.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Think of California's Santa Barbara County and you might picture the area's famous beaches or resorts and wineries. But in the northern reaches of the vast county, oil production has been a major contributor to the economy for almost a century.

So it's no surprise that the oil industry there is feverishly organizing to fight a local ballot initiative — Measure P — that would ban controversial drilling methods such as hydraulic fracturing. What is turning heads, however, is the sheer volume of money flooding into this local race, mainly from large oil companies.

Cory Gardner
Laura Palmisano

Republican Congressman Cory Gardner stopped in Montrose for a voter meet-and-greet Monday.

Gardner is currently the U.S. Representative for Colorado's 4th Congressional District, which covers most of the eastern part of the state. He faces Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in a hotly contested race that could decide which party controls the Senate.

KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Gardner at his campaign event and brings us this candidate interview. 


While much of the attention the 2014 election season has been focused on Colorado's Senate and gubernatorial races, voters will also be deciding the fates of four statewide ballot questions. One of those questions seeks to expand gambling at racetracks to help fund K-12 education.

If approved, Amendment 68 would allow horse race tracks in Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo counties to offer slot machines, roulette, craps, and card games such as blackjack and poker. Arapahoe Park in Aurora is at the center of the campaign.

It's not everyday that a world famous climate scientist gets himself arrested in front of the White House. But that's exactly what happened to James Hansen in 2011 as part of a protest against the Keystone Pipeline.

In the 1980s it was Hansen's highly respected work that helped people realize that the climate change we humans were driving was real — and really dangerous.

First there was ISIS. Now there's Ebola.

The Ebola health crisis is the latest global issue to become a fixture this campaign season, spilling into debates, campaign rhetoric — and even a few ads.

Political arguments about Ebola can roughly be divided into three groups.

Democrats argue that budget-cutting Republicans have deprived the government of the resources it needs to keep Americans safe from the threat of Ebola. That's the argument Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado made at a recent debate.

Democratic Senator Mark Udall and Republican Congressman Cory Gardner had a spirited debate Tuesday night hosted by The Denver Post. Both candidates are locked in a tight race and both stayed on message in the hour-long debate.

Udall attacked Gardner as extreme and out of touch, Gardner criticized Udall for being in lockstep with President Barack Obama.

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

Ben Hamilton walks down the salad dressing aisle at his neighborhood grocery store in west Denver. The human resources consultant usually seeks out organic options and scans nutrition information.

"I am a label reader. I think a lot of people read labels and really are curious to know what is in our food supply," he says. But Hamilton says he wants more information, specifically whether the food he buys includes ingredients derived from genetically modified crops, or GMOs.

Democrats this election have done a good job attracting a lot of big donors, but Republicans appear to have the big advantage when it comes to big secret donors.

With Colorado's U.S. Senate race too close to call, both parties are on an all-out blitz to court as many voters as they can prior to the November election. The youth vote has traditionally helped Democrats, but Republicans see an opening with national support for President Obama falling among the millennial generation.

In November the Republican party in Colorado is aiming for control of the State Senate and one key race is in the 5th Senate District. It includes Pitkin and Eagle Counties. The seat is up for grabs because Senator Gail Schwartz of Snowmass Village is term-limited. Three candidates, each new to state politics, are urging voters to turn out to the polls and, so-called “dark money” is flowing into the race. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Voters in Colorado will decide whether or not they want the state to require labels on foods containing genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. The 2014 ballot measure highlights a much larger national conversation about the safety and prevalence of genetically modified foods.

If passed, food companies and farmers would need to affix on a food label the text: "Produced with genetic engineering" if the product contains certain genetically modified crops and their derived oils and sugars that end up in processed foods. Those in favor of the proposal, Proposition 105, claim consumers have a right to the information. Those opposed say it amounts to a fear campaign.

Colorado's U.S. Senate race is a considered by many to be a tossup. Incumbent Senator Mark Udall and Republican Congressman Cory Gardner are trying to win over as many key voting blocs as they can before Election Day – and that includes women.

In the previous close Senate contest between appointed Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck, women played a critical role. During the waning days of that 2010 race, Bennet focused his attention on the female vote – and narrowly won. With women making up 51.4 percent of all registered voters in Colorado this election, it's a scenario Democrats are hoping to repeat.

Steel mills, unions and the Democratic Party have defined politics in Pueblo, Colo., for decades. But that doesn't discourage George Rivera.

"When we look at values, when we look at who we are, especially as Hispanics, our values tend to be conservative," Rivera says.

Rivera, a retired deputy police chief, is going door to door for votes in a neighborhood east of downtown, near where he grew up. Last summer, he unseated local Democrat Angela Giron in the state Legislature, in a high-profile recall election that focused on guns.

Abel Tapia
Laura Palmisano

Democrat Abel Tapia is challenging Republican Congressman Scott Tipton for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District seat. The 3rd District covers most of Western Colorado. Tapia campaigned in the North Fork Valley Friday evening. KVNF's Laura Palmisano interviewed Tapia at a voter meet-and-greet in Paonia.

Interview Transcript 

PALMISANO: The Western Slope is typically very red. What do you think your chances are running against a Republican in this district?

"Hello. Are you registered to vote in Colorado?"

It's a refrain many in the state have grown to loathe this summer — heard outside their favorite grocery store or shopping mall as signature gatherers race toward an Aug. 4 deadline to put four energy-related measures on the November ballot.

With two of those measures backed by environmentalists, and the other two by industry-supported groups, all of the energy talk is leading to confusion among potential voters.

Colorado voters will once again decide on an amendment that would give unborn babies the same constitutional and legal rights as a person. The measure is bringing out some familiar faces – it’s also impacting one of the closest U.S. Senate races in the country.

Governor John Hickenlooper has formally pulled the plug on the possibility of a special legislation session to consider stricter rules for the oil and gas industry. Hickenlooper said there weren't enough stakeholders on board for a bipartisan solution.

In Colorado, where President Obama's approval rating is low and the Senate race is tight, Democratic incumbent Mark Udall largely bowed out of the spotlight of the president's visit Wednesday.

But as Obama made the rounds speaking about the economy and raising money for Democratic congressional candidates, he also spoke about the women's issues that could be key to Udall's electoral success.

At a morning outdoor rally in Denver's Cheesman Park, Obama emphasized just how much is on the line in the midterms.

Mark Udall
Laura Palmisano

Voters in Montrose met with U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) at a campaign event Tuesday. 

Colorado’s economy and job growth are already shaping up to play a central role in the November gubernatorial race. Both candidates are using their own figures to assess how the state is faring as it recovers from the recession.

Fresh off a primary victory where he bested former Congressman Tom Tancredo, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and former state senate minority leader Mike Kopp, Bob Beauprez discussed some of the key issues in the upcoming governors campaign: from energy and the environment to guns and capital punishment.

Colorado lost the bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. 

The Republican National Committee announced Wednesday that Denver and Kansas City lost the bid to host its 2016 convention. The committee has selected Cleveland and Dallas as host contenders. 

CPR reports, the two finalist cities had an edge over Denver—tax money to help pay for the convention. Dallas has $25 million in public funds and Cleveland has $10 million.