The New York Times “takes the pulse” of Larimer County in a photo slideshow accompaniment to an article on how the economy is shaping political outcomes there and impacting the state’s 4th Congressional District race.

Larimer accounts for roughly half of the sprawling district’s population, and many political observers believe it to be a bellwether for Colorado politics in general.

The Times portrays the county’s residents as having adopted a softer, more moderate tone that downplays divisive topics like abortion in a district that until recently has been represented by staunch social conservatives like Marilyn Musgrave (right).

Although U.S. Representative Betsy Markey (left), a Fort Collins Democrat facing a mid-term challenge from Republican state Representative Cory Gardner, fought hard to win the election against Musgrave, Larimer Dems have been claiming more victories than Republicans since the party’s takeover of the state Legislature in 2004.

“Let’s just get rid of these polarized issues that we’re never going to agree on,” one Fort Collins woman, who previously supported Musgrave, tells the Times. “It just hinders us from doing anything.”