LITTLETON, Colo. —
But the shifting politics of such places has come mostly from the mixing of different groups with strongly held political beliefs: There are swing districts, but with increasingly few swing voters.
At a Panera cafe, it is not uncommon to find Republicans and Democrats sitting at tables near one another, each group saying they socialize mostly only with those with similar political views.
The challenge for both campaigns, then, is to find their supporters — house by house.
For the Obama campaign, their suburban strength will come from women. They believe suburban voters, particularly women, are increasingly finding Romney too out-of-touch on economics and too extreme on social issues.
They are voters like Elia Brovarone, 24, who was eating an early dinner here on a recent night before clocking in at her job at a nearby Yankee Candle store, the second of two jobs she must work to make ends meet.
Brovarone said her fiance will support Romney, and she, too, believes the Republican's got some ideas worth listening to on the economy. But she will vote for Obama, in part because of her strong support for gay and abortion rights.
"I don't doubt that both candidates want to fix the economy; I have no doubt of that at all," said Brovarone, who lives in Wheat Ridge in Colorado's key Jefferson County. "So I'd rather pick someone who has views I agree with economically but who then can also stand up for social issues that I believe in, too."
The Panera voter also suggests a hidden strength for Obama in these communities: passionate support of the Democrats' health-care overhaul from those who have tangled with the nation's complex health-care system.
To win in places such as Virginia's key Loudoun County, Romney will need to bring voters like Janet Dewey, who cast her ballot for Obama in 2008, back into the fold.