The New York Times reports that Colorado has become “the new frontier” politically.

Despite a Republican edge in registration, Democrats are discovering the Mountain West — and Colorado in particular — to be a new political frontier as the party benefits from a potent mix of changing demographics, anger over the war in Iraq, resentment toward conservative social initiatives and millions of dollars’ worth of advocacy advertising.

What’s behind the shift? Independent voters. We have a lot of them, and due to dissatisfaction with Republican policies, including the war, they are increasingly likely to vote Democratic.

Colorado Democrats could show big gains next Tuesday.

The Democratic candidate for governor, Bill Ritter, is leading in his race against Bob Beauprez, a Republican congressman. If Democrats can retain control of the State House and Senate, which they gained in the 2004 elections, they would have total control of the state government for the first time since the early 1960s.

Another factor mentioned by the Times:

Members of both parties say there is another important but less well-known explanation for Democratic success in Colorado: an assertive advocacy campaign by wealthy progressives in the state who have poured millions of dollars into pro-Democratic advertising through independent 527 organizations, groups so named after the provision in the tax code that allows political spending as long as it is not formally coordinated with parties or candidates.

That isn’t persuasive to me since Bob Beauprez, Rick O’Donnell and Marilyn Musgrave also have had 527 money pouring into their campaigns.

Colorado isn’t the only mountain state showing a shift from red state to blue, or at least purple:

In neighboring states, Democrats are seen as having a good chance of capturing a Senate seat in Montana, are battling in what should be safe Republican House seats in Idaho and Wyoming, and have their eyes on Republican seats in Arizona and New Mexico.

The last quote of the article goes to Ed Perlmutter, who says what I think we’re all feeling right now:

“I think people are ready,” Mr. Perlmutter said. “They have seen enough ads.”