The Denver Post is projecting that President Barack Obama won in Colorado, marking the end of one of the nation's most intense swing-state battles.

Obama had 50 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney's 48 percent with 1.6 million votes counted.

Obama led in two of the state's most critical swing counties. In Jefferson County, Obama led Mitt Romney 51 to 47 percent, with most of the votes counted. And in Arapahoe County, with about 75 percent of the votes counted, Obama led 52 to 46 percent.

Obama matched his 2008 success in Denver County, where he won three-to-one four years ago. The president also fared better than in 2008 in some small, rural Colorado counties.

Photos: 2012 Election Day in Colorado

And in Pueblo County, where Obama won with 56 percent of the vote in 2008, he was leading Romney with 58 percent, according to early returns.

Democrats met expectations in some Republican strongholds of the state. With nearly all of the votes counted in El Paso County, Romney was ahead 59 to 37 percent — nearly the same margin as in 2008 in the GOP-dominated county.

A survey of 1,029 Colorado voters who cast ballots between Oct. 29 and Nov. 4 showed Romney had an 11-point lead over Obama with white voters and a seven-point lead with those making at least $100,000 per year.

Obama led among Latinos and those making under $50,000. Although many polls nationally predicted a significant gender gap, Colorado exit polls showed women and men split equally. As expected, those surveyed said the economy was the most important issue facing the country, followed by the federal budget deficit and health care, according to the poll by Edison Research for The Denver Post.

Just days from the election, a Denver Post poll showed Romney trailing Obama by two percentage points — within the poll's margin-of-error.

Obama's Colorado team was banking on freshly registered voters in this state.

Democrats have a major advantage among the voters registered from July to October. Just 15 percent are white men older than 35, who lean Republican. The rest of new voters were women, under 35, African-American or Latino.

Obama's Colorado campaign worked hard on messaging to suburban Republican and independent women, hitting hard on health care reform legislation that includes free coverage for mammograms and contraception. They also heavily touted Romney's position on abortion.

Colorado State University political scientist Kyle Saunders said Romney did too little to reach out to women and Hispanic voters. Though the campaign held rallies seeking to court those constituencies, it never crafted policies that appealed to them. And Saunders pointed to Romney's comments during the second presidential debate — when he said he relied on "binders full of women" to find qualified women to work in his administration as governor of Massachusetts — as an example that the campaign was "a little bit tone deaf on women's issues."

As a consequence, polls heading into Election Day showed Romney losing among women and Latinos.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, heard about the long lines in Arapahoe County and went to two polling places about 4:30 p.m., chatting with people and urging them to hang in there, spokesman Eric Brown said.

Hickenlooper also talked to Arapahoe County Clerk Nancy Doty, a Republican, and asked her to move election judges around to ease the waits for people. "He asked her to pull out all the stops," Brown said.

Hickenlooper was expected at the Democratic headquarters at 9:45 p.m.