Election Day is here! After months and months and months of campaigning, tonight we will finally find out Colorado’s General Election matchups.
To get you prepared for Primary Day, here’s a brief list of where our attention will be focused:
♦ Do the favorites hold in the race for Governor?
For many months, we’ve had Democrat Jared Polis and Republican Walker Stapleton as the frontrunners for their respective Party nominations. Colorado Pols readers appear to agree with that assessment. The biggest unknown may turn out to be the margin of victory for each candidate — particularly on the Republican side, where there appears to be some late concern about the strength of Stapleton’s bid.
♦ Kumbaya…or Nah?
Stapleton will likely win the GOP nomination despite a pretty awful campaign that has generated a fair amount of bad blood among Republicans in Colorado. Both Victor Mitchell and Mitt Romney’s Nephew have regularly blasted Stapleton for one reason or another, but will Republicans unify together no matter the result on Tuesday? There will also likely be some hurt feelings among Republicans in the race for State Treasurer and in CD-5.
Democrats don’t appear to be as bitter with each other as Republicans; it would be a bit of a surprise if the Democratic candidates for Governor don’t coalesce around the Primary winner. The most acrimony of any Democratic race is probably in CD-6, but Jason Crow will likely win by a significant-enough margin that any lingering complaints from Levi Tillemann will smell like sour grapes (though Tillemann might no longer have the ability to smell anything).
♦ Will Unaffiliated voters make a significant difference?
Don’t let anybody tell you they know what is going to happen in Colorado’s first experiment with allowing Unaffiliated voters to participate in Primary Elections. We know there will be a lot of spoiled ballots because many Unaffiliated voters didn’t actually read anything and just robotically returned both Democratic and Republican ballots (in which case both ballots are invalidated). We also know that Unaffiliated voters will contribute to the largest voter turnout in a Colorado Primary Race since at least 2010.
What we don’t know is what effect Unaffiliated voters will have in changing the outcome of key races. There is a long-mistaken belief that Unaffiliated voters could “moderate” the Primary results under the assumption that voters with no party affiliation are inherently more middle-of-the-road Coloradans. But an “Unaffiliated” status just means that a voter hasn’t aligned with a particular political party — it portends nothing about their natural political leanings, and plenty of research has indicated that Unaffiliated voters may vote as party-line as their affiliated counterparts.
♦ Will the race for Attorney General still be a top battle in November?
By just about any metric, Democrat Phil Weiser has outperformed fellow Democrat Joe Salazar in the race for Attorney General, but Salazar may still win the Democratic nomination on the strength of his last name alone. Republican George Brauchler is rooting hard for a Salazar win because the Adams County Democrat has been utterly incapable of raising any real money for his campaign. A Salazar victory will lead to some tough questions for Democrats about delegating resources in the General Election and might well open the door for a relatively-easy election for Brauchler.
♦ Winning the Primary means winning the General Election for these candidates…
Three of Colorado’s seven Congressional spots will essentially be filled tonight. Because of overwhelming voter registration advantages in these districts, tonight’s winners in CD-1 and CD-2 (Democrat) and CD-5 (Republican) should cruise to victory in November. In CD-2 (Boulderish), Democrat Joe Neguse is poised to become the first African-American elected to a federal office from Colorado.
The most interesting numbers to watch here will be in CD-1, where longtime Rep. Diana DeGette is in a real battle with Saira Rao. DeGette will likely win because of her superior name recognition, but if Rao can keep it close, DeGette is probably looking at a much more difficult Primary challenge in 2020.
There are also a number of legislative seats that will be decided tonight, for all intents and purposes. Several acrimonious races in Denver hold particular interest.
♦ The toughest race to call is the fight for State Treasurer
We honestly have no idea who is going to win the Republican nomination for State Treasurer. In an under-the-radar battle for a race that most people don’t care much about, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Brian Watson, Polly Lawrence, or Justin Everett emerged victorious. On the Democratic side, state Rep. Dave Young is a slight favorite over lesser-known challenger Bernard Douthit, but either candidate could conceivably capture the nomination.
Remember, friends, that it is wayyyy too late to put your ballot in the mail if you have not already voted. Go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on where to take your ballot before 7:00 pm.
Check back often here at Colorado Pols for updates as results become available tonight.