DENVER — When the sun goes down, the new Mountain West comes out swinging. Denver's Larimer Square and LoDo (Lower Downtown) district turns into a multicultural Mixmaster of educated professionals, ordinary folk and tourists jamming bars, hamburger joints, steak palaces and French bistros. Meanwhile, armies of largely Spanish-speaking immigrants work the kitchens and vacuum the deserted offices. For all the legends of the spacious West, the region is one of the most urbanized.
And it is getting more so, which is why once-dependably Republican Colorado is in the "leaning who-knows-where" category in the upcoming election. Similar demographic trends are visiting Nevada and New Mexico. And although Arizona remains Republican, that could change, as well.
An influx of newcomers has "raised educational levels, replaced older with younger generations and powered the rise of metropolitan areas where the overwhelming majority of the Mountain West population now lives." So writes Ruy Teixeira in "America's New Swing Region: Changing Politics and Demographics in the Mountain West," published by the Brookings Institution.
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