Frisco, Colorado

11 days before the election
Population (Estimated): 2,500
2004 Election: Kerry 59%, Bush 39%, Other 2%
2008 Election: Obama 66%, McCain 33%, Other 1%
(map)

If we stumbled into Sterling running on the potent mix of labor-driven adrenaline and sleep deprivation, we tumbled out of Frisco resuscitated with anticipatory cool.

Gracious hosts, starlit hot tubs, and home-cooked chocolate cake in tiny mountain towns have a way of doing that.

Colorado has been good to us. Starting with the two towns we had no plans to profile.

Frisco is everything that Sterling is not.

People visit Frisco when they want to be free from the confines of their day jobs. People visit Sterling when they get sentenced to the confines of the local prison. For fun, the post-hippie kids in Frisco blaze up the locally grown pot, while the hard pick-up truck youths in Sterling mix meth in their bathtubs. Sterling’s college students plan on getting into the local agribusiness. Many of Frisco’s have come from somewhere else with the intention of working so they can play in the snow.

Both run a deep streak of independence. And as we’ve found everywhere, there’s a mix of governmental skepticism and confident defiance as the economic news worsens.

Politically colored, Sterling is scarlet and Frisco, deep indigo. It says much about the pendulum position of the state (where our visit overlapped with that of John and Cindy McCain, Obama will be in Nevada when we pass through) that two of the more compelling stories we heard were from people from opposite sides of the spectrum in the town not attuned to their opinions.

In liberal Frisco, Josh Poland, who by all outer appearances could have been another crunchy kid bumming around a ski resort, but in fact, is a deeply conservative seasonal worker who finds McCain to be too moderate. He offered an intelligent assessment of the tax system that would have made Milton Friedman’s day.

And in traditional Sterling it was stay-at-home dad Matthew Propst, who believes an Obama presidency will give his daughters the chance to get the college education for which he never had time or money. He matched Josh for his detailed evaluation of tax policy, but his would have had JK Galbraith beaming.

If these two towns are at all indicative of where Colorado and the West are moving, no state save Morman Utah can be considered “safe” for either party. Demographics may change, but independence still rules out West.

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