As Colorado's population continues to climb in the coming decades, so might its political weight.
"One of the first things we did in the development of this tool was to explore the demographics of Colorado,” said Jonathan Moyer, director of the Pardee Center for International Futures at DU's Korbel School of International Studies.
There, researchers use a sophisticated computer program to create forecasts of the future. What they see in Colorado is a potential change in its place in the Electoral College.
"From today to 2050 – I know that's a really long time horizon – but we're forecasting that changing demography will increase the number of Electoral votes in Colorado from something like nine to something like 12," Moyer said.
That number would put Colorado on par with a state like Virginia is today. Colorado's additional Electoral College votes could likely come from states in the Northeast, like New York and Pennsylvania, which could end up losing four electoral votes to growing western states.
"Colorado is already a really important state in terms of Electoral votes, but it will become increasingly important,” he said. “Their share of votes will increase relative to the share of others."
That's because the number of Electoral Votes a state gets is based on its representation in Congress, which is based on its population. The number of total Electors – 538 -- doesn't change; it just gets redistributed among the states after each Census.
"So, there's this transition in the balance of power internally,” Moyer said. “I wouldn't think of it as a complete realignment of demography, but it's this long-term, slow shift towards the west."
But just who will these voters be? And which political party could benefit?
"In terms of our data right now, I think you would expect, Democrats have been doing pretty well in Colorado -- not dominate, but pretty well,” said Dr. Norman Provizer, a political science professor at Metropolitan State University, “And I think you could see that increasing over time: continuing growth in the Latino population would help that party."
Nothing is guaranteed, though, which means the fight for votes in swing states will likely go on for as long as there is an Electoral College.