El Paso County is home to Colorado Springs and a top “military bastion” county in America. According to Wikipedia, El Paso County’s population surpassed Denver County in 2010, making it the most populous county in CO. The last Democrat to win it was LBJ.
So why does this matter? I think its noteworthy that Rick Santorum won El Paso County last night by a 16 point margin, 47-31, greatly outperforming his narrow victory in the rest of the state.
The next results will come from Maine, Michigan and Arizona. I’ll be checking to see if this trend continues in heavily military communities like Sagadahoc County Maine, home of the Bath Naval shipyard. Maine’s veteran population is 138K out of a total of 1.3 million citizens, and according to ME State Rep Alex Cornell du Houx, the veteran share of the overall vote is 17%. I imagine this will be even higher in the Republican primary.
If it does continue, this could pose a pretty big problem for Romney on Super Tuesday, with major military communities in VA, OH, OK, and GA expected to play a significant role in the Republican primary vote totals.
I’m not aware of polls that have reported on Romney’s support in the military; if anyone else is, please do note what they’ve found in the comments section. I also wonder what the implications of this might be for the general election. Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and perhaps even Arizona may be very important in the fall. If part of the concern among Republicans with Romney is that he might lead to diminished enthusiasm in the fall among key Republican constituencies (e.g., Tea Party, strong conservatives, evangelicals), more evidence along the lines Michael has presented might raise the question of whether we want to include the military on this list as well.