If you needed more evidence that Colorado is a battleground state in November that could go either way, here it is: Both John McCain and Barack Obama will be visiting us next week.

McCain will be at a private fundraiser on Tuesday. Afterwards, he will speak on foreign policy at the University of Denver. The event is open to the public.

Obama will visit on Wednesday. Details of his visit are not yet available. He’s also visiting New Mexico and Nevada.

In 2008, Obama has made one visit to Colorado while McCain made two. Why the sudden interest in the west?

The interior West — Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana — has historically voted for Republican presidential candidates,

That trend has been changing in recent state elections and Democrats believe they can carry it over to national elections. But, consider that one-third of Colorado’s registered voters are Independents. McCain has always had a strong appeal among Independents and he is a Westerner.

Then again, McCain did not do well here in the Republican caucuses. He lost to Republican Mitt Romney 60 percent to 18 percent. If Romney were to be his vice-presidential candidate, I bet he’d become much more popular.

Back to the other side, Paul Maslin, “a Wisconsin-based Democratic pollster who has worked for former presidential candidates Bill Richardson and Howard Dean” opines the state also looks good for Obama:

Obama… is seen as Democrats’ best chance to win over Western states since Bill Clinton picked some up in the 1990s. Voters on the Front Range tend to be more moderate, educated and culturally tolerant…

I’d add that if Obama is the nominee, he’ll be getting a ton of free media coverage in August at the convention. Voters will become very familiar with him. He may be able to sway some of those Independents.

The bottom line seems to be we are indeed a “toss-up” state.