Sunday, November 2, 2008

Early voting in Colorado

After my earlier post I decided to take a closer look at the early vote numbers in Colorado.

Statewide Democrats have cast about 6,000 more votes than Republicans, 376,000 to 370,000.

141,000 votes have already been cast in Denver - both mail and early voting, 34% of all registered voters have already voted. 194,000 ballots were requested, that's about 47% of all voters in Denver. 101,000 of those ballots have been returned as of the last report (4:30am Halloween). Those are huge numbers, there were only 157,000 votes cast in Denver in the 2006 gubernatorial race. 65% turnout would put Denver at about 270,000 votes. As I've noted before, high turnout in Denver can push Democrats over the finish line in close elections - just ask Senator Pete Coors.

What about the GOP base? El Paso county has 374,000 registered voters and there have thus far been about 128,000 have voted, thats about a 34% turnout so far in El Paso. This is a number that has concerned me since I started monitoring the early vote numbers last week. This is supposed to be a year with heavy Democratic turnout, a campaign where the GOP base is demoralized and high Democratic turnout swamps the GOP. Seeing our base county running neck and neck with the GOP base county in turnout is worrisome.

And the swing counties?

In Arapahoe
  • 51,046 Democrats 49%
  • 48,633 Republicans 50%
  • 29,908 Unaffiliated 37%

In Jefferson
  • 62,730 Democrats 61%
  • 62,708 Republicans 59%
  • 45,377 Unaffiliated 47%

Both the swing counties are neck and neck and as per usual the independents will decide the election. But why are the independents turning out in such lower numbers? Obama needs around 60% support from independents state wide to win, he's right in that zone in the recent polls but low turnout from independents will cause problems. Hopefully the much vaunted Obama GOTV machine can get those folks to the polls on Tuesday.

I still feel confident that Obama will win the state on Tuesday but there are some troubling signs in the data 36 hours or so out. The GOP base does not seem to be deflated and independent voters are turning out in significantly lower numbers than Dems or Republicans. If those two trends hold through Tuesday we will have a very tight race on our hands.

Keep in mind that this data is from Friday morning. The next update from the Secretary of State could very well show a surge of Democratic voters in Denver, a leveling off in El Paso or increased independent turnout in Arapahoe and Jefferson. Any one of those would help Barack Obama tremendously.

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