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That's how much President Barack Obama, GOP challenger Mitt Romney and outside groups spent on largely negative ads to capture the swing state's nine electoral votes, according to a recent analysis.

Though the Romney campaign and Republican groups outspent Obama and his Democratic allies by $3.1 million, the president won the state by a 4.9 percentage points.

Obama ended up with a 120,701-vote advantage, though it was Romney who received a late-in-the-cycle surge after turning in a commanding performance in the first presidential debate held in Denver on Oct. 3. And polls showed he was within striking distance until the final few days of the campaign.

According to data analyzed by National Journal magazine, Romney had the support of the Republican National Committee and these other outside groups -- Crossroads GPS, American Crossroads, Restore our Future, American Future Fund, Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Job Security.

Obama, in contrast, was backed by two independent groups -- Priorities USA and Planned Parenthood Action.

The flood of negative advertising worries some analysts and party officials, who say it makes voters even more cynical about their government.

The ads could strengthen the partisan divide and make people angry and disgusted with elected officials, said John Straayer, a Colorado State University political scientist.

"In an ideal world you want people to appreciate their government and their civic life. It is after all our government," Straayer said. "To have people disillusioned and sour about the executive branch and the electoral process . . . has a corrosive effect on our ability to govern effectively."

Sean Conway, a Weld County commissioner who won his own re-election with 97 percent of the vote and led the Colorado delegation to the GOP convention in Tampa, said nasty campaigns risk turning off promising future candidates.

"We really have to look at what we're doing to our body politic. We're poisoning it so badly," said Conway, who was a congressional staffer for 20 years. "If we keep poisoning the body politic at the national level . . . we are not going to get good people to run for public office. People are not going to subject themselves or their families to this."

Not everyone thinks negative ads have negative consequences.

Peter Hanson, a University of Denver political scientist, pointed out that negative ads didn't depress turnout in the Nov. 6 election as many feared. Instead of staying home because they were so fed up by the negativity on the air, Coloradans actually turned out in record numbers.

"With the level of turnout, obviously I don't think people were turned off that much," said Anne Wilseck, secretary of Larimer County Democratic Party. "They don't enjoy the ads. I think everyone's happy that they are finished for now."

In Weld County, 92 percent of all registered voters went to the polls in 2008, a historic election that resulted in the country's first black president.

Though the shine had worn off a politically bruised Obama and the number of negative ads had reached an all-time high, the turnout in Weld County in 2012 was even higher -- 94 percent.

Turnout was up in many other swing states that saw high numbers of campaign commercials, showing that the ads may have actually increased voter participation.

"The reason campaigns saturate airwaves with television ads is because they're doing everything they can to reach voters who're not particularly interested in politics and who can't be reached through other means," said Hanson, who was an aide on Capitol Hill to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. "The bottom line is as frustrating as political advertisements are to voters they do play an important role in informing the electorate about the . . . candidates."

The ad-spending data also show that the side that spends the most doesn't always win, Hanson said.

According to National Journal, Obama spent $29.2 million on ads in Colorado for the 2012 cycle. Romney spent $17 million.

But the GOP groups helped Romney achieve and exceed parity. By the time the cycle was done, overall spending by Republicans had reached $41.48 million in Colorado, compared to the Democratic total of $38.34 million.

Republican groups spent $24.42 million to elect Romney, whereas Democratic organizations shelled out $9.08 million.

Experts say Obama won by a surprisingly wide margin for a number of reasons.

The GOP is not diverse enough to appeal to a demographically changing electorate. Romney was tone deaf to women and Latino concerns. Obama was wise to air ads over the summer to define Romney as an out-of-touch rich guy; Romney erred by not fighting back immediately. Obama got a boost at the last minute by his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

"Something definitely changed the last week or so of this campaign," Kyle Saunders, a Colorado State political scientist, said in an email interview. "If you look at the poll aggregation, and especially so here in Colorado, President Obama pulled away in those last few polls. President Obama had a lead, and was likely to win, but that likelihood increased in the days prior to the election."

Many experts, even Republicans, especially credit the Democrats' superior "ground game" -- contacting voters, knocking on doors, driving some voters to the polls -- in Colorado and elsewhere for giving Obama the edge.

Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said his party had an unprecedented field operation that contacted voters 500,000 times just on the eve of the election.

But in the end, the candidates mattered the most to the voters, he said. And the ad campaigns helped draw the contrasts between the two men, he said.

"This was not just about ads, this was not just about a ground game," Palacio said. "This was about a president that the majority of American people thought deserved a second term."

By RAJU CHEBIUM, Gannett Washington Bureau

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