Real Clear Politics, one of the nation's most respected online political publications, has a must read by Erin McPike on the state-of-the-race in Colorado.  The summary of the story neatly fits into McPike's headline…"Once Obama's to lose, Colorado is up for grabs."  

If there was any doubt about why Obama was scrambling in Grand Junction (of all places!), the Real Clear Politics story ends any doubt.  

The Obama campaign, once quietly confident that Colorado was a sure bet, is not so sure about that any more.

When it became clear in April that Mitt Romney would become the Republican presidential nominee, his boosters — including the political team at the Republican National Committee — thought Colorado was unlikely to be competitive for him come the fall.  

Washington-based GOP operatives gaming out the electoral map didn't go so far as to equate Colorado with New Mexico among difficult swing states, but they believed it would be a pretty safe bet for President Obama to win again.  

That’s no longer the case. According to Republican sources, Colorado Springs is the top market for ad spending this week when one combines expenditures by both campaigns, their supportive super PACs and the national parties.  

Both sides say a new Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS News poll showing Romney with a five-point lead is something of an outlier, but they don’t dispute that the race is now close. And yet, both sides also say that Obama has the upper hand in Colorado heading into the fall. (The president leads in the RCP Average by 1.2 percentage points.)  

Said Mike Stratton, who has led a number of Democratic statewide campaigns there:

“President Obama will win Colorado, but he won’t win overwhelmingly like he did before.” Stratton noted that there has been more spending per capita in the Centennial State than elsewhere, and that in all of the 42 Electoral College pathways to victory the two campaigns have mapped out, Colorado is always in the win column.  

The state has been trending blue in recent years, but that is due, in part, to a weak bench. Starting with Pete Coors’ ill-fated Senate run in 2004, Republicans have been fielding what many in the party call an uninspiring set of candidates, including Bob Schaffer for Senate in 2008, and Dan Maes for governor and Ken Buck for Senate in 2010. Those losses have amounted to a dismantling of the state’s GOP, which may make Romney’s prospects look even dimmer.

Separate from the thorough analysis piece is Real Clear's Colorado tracking. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of the Obama statistical slide in Colorado, that is definitely true. Check the sinking of the trend line, as Red closes in on Blue with the passing of every month.    

Remember, Real Clear averages all of the polls, so this source gives you a, excuse the pun, Real Clear sense of the direction of the race here.  

And the direction for Obama isn't good. As McPike headlined, "Once Obama's to lose, Colorado is up for grabs."  

Better schedule a return trip to Colorado, and soon, Mr. President.