DENVER - President Barack Obama won Colorado one more time on his path to re-election, but not without Republican Mitt Romney swaying some of the women and moderates who helped propel the Democrat to victory in 2008, according to a survey of early and mail ballot voters.
The president won the state in part because his support among Hispanics remained strong.
Women strongly favored Obama over John McCain in 2008 but were about evenly split between Romney and Obama this time, the voter poll showed. Men also were roughly split between the two candidates.
Obama's edge among moderates shrank as did his support among white voters. Whites were about evenly split between Obama and McCain in 2008 but tended to favor Romney this time, the poll showed. About three-fourths of Hispanics, however, voted for Obama.
Meanwhile, Amendment 64, which would allow recreational use of marijuana, passed thanks to support from a wide demographic. About two-thirds of those older than 65 opposed it, but younger voters, residents in Denver and Boulder and outside the Front Range, and men and women alike favored it.
Shelby Jensen, 22, of Lafayette, supported the proposal. "There's a lot bigger issues to focus on. They're spending too much time and money prosecuting people caught with marijuana," said Jensen, a barista who is registered as unaffiliated.
More than half of Colorado voters said the economy is the most important issue facing the nation, more than the federal budget deficit, health care or foreign policy - and about three-fourths think it's not in good shape, according to the survey.
Republican retiree Mary Ann Calisto of Bennett said Tuesday she thinks the economy was a top issue in this election, four years after Obama first took office. "No one is better off," she said, citing high gas and food prices and the state of health care, especially for someone on a fixed income. She voted for Romney.
About half of voters said George W. Bush is more to blame than Obama for current economic problems, while about 4 in 10 said Obama is more to blame, according to the exit poll. About 4 in 10 think the U.S. economy is getting better.
Both Republicans and Democrats considered Colorado to be in play this year. Obama, Romney, their running mates and campaign surrogates visited frequently in the days before the election. Yet about three-fourths of Colorado voters said they decided their presidential candidates before September.
More than half of voters said at least part of the 2010 federal health care law should be repealed, but not everyone who thought so voted for Romney, according to the exit poll. Obama had touted the law as one of his top actions, while Romney vowed to repeal it.
Two-thirds of voters think illegal immigrants working in the U.S. should be offered a chance to apply for legal status, while a quarter think they should be deported.
Just months after the mass shooting at a movie theater in a Denver suburb, 6 in 10 voters said the state's gun control laws are about right. Roughly one-quarter call them too weak.
The survey of Colorado voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. A total of 1,070 voters who voted early or absentee were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.