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“It’s eerie how much 2014 is like four years ago,” says Craig Hughes, a Denver-based political consultant who ran Democrat Michael Bennet’s successful 2010 Senate campaign. It’s just after 10 a.m., and we’re sitting in a coffee shop called Paris on the Platte. Hughes recounts how, back in 2010, all but one of the final 18 public polls conducted before Election Day showed Bennet losing. In recent weeks, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has trailed Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in 11 of 12 polls. In 2010, pundits said that Bennet’s campaign ran too many pro-choice advertisements; political commentators these days deride Udall as “Mark Uterus” because his campaign has relentlessly focused on reproductive rights and women’s health. And Udall’s campaign is betting, like Bennet’s 2010 effort did, on the changing composition of the Colorado electorate. Also, just like four years ago, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is seeking a second term, is facing a strongly conservative challenger, and in the state Legislature, Colorado Democrats are fighting to protect their majorities in both chambers.
So if there are so many parallels, do Democrats in Colorado have reason to believe they can again buck the political tide?