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October 21, 2010 12:12 AM UTC

Fresh and Hot: First General Election Turnout Numbers

  • by: Colorado Pols

THURSDAY UPDATE: The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder writes:

Democrats are happy with early vote totals in general, but the news appears grim in Colorado, where Republicans have requested and returned more ballots than Democrats. However, a look behind the numbers shows something slightly different.

There is no Republican surge/tsunami/wave/upwelling/flood/what-have-you.

Democrats are “losing” statewide, but they’re losing at a pace that is similar to the pace they were losing in 2008, when they won the state. Democrats say that their voter rolls have shrunk, generally, because they’ve tended to them well — and because 50,000 voters have moved out of state.

A few points: there are more Republicans on the permanent absentee list, so it doesn’t surprise either Democrats or Republicans that the total number of ballots returned will favor Republicans. However, of regular midterm voters, Democrats are casting ballots at a slightly higher rate than Republicans…


The Secretary of State’s Office has just provided the first batch of ballot numbers for the General Election. Read the complete PDF for more details, but here’s the nitty and the gritty:

As of October 20, 2010

195,293 Total Ballots Counted

(There are 3,258,098 total registered voters in Colorado as of Oct. 1, 2010)

Democrats: 71,325

– 7% of all registered Democrats

– 9% of “active” Democrats

Republicans: 81,545

– 7.5% of all registered Republicans

– 9% of “active” Republicans”

Unaffiliated: 41,068

– 4% of total registered Unaffiliated voters

– 5% of “active” Unaffiliated voters


34 thoughts on “Fresh and Hot: First General Election Turnout Numbers

  1. Are not registereed voters split in equal 3rds among Dems, Repubs and Unaffiliated?  I think the above would show the lack of enthusiasm on the moderate side in terms of how low the uanffiliated count is. Probably on balance not good news for my team but have to keep working.  Again will come down to GOTV.

      1. Unaffiliated turnout is always lower in mid-term elections. But this is really low. One might assume the most fervent voters — partisans even — are most anxious to cast their ballots early.

        1. And in a close election, “roughly” will matter.

          GOTV will win this election or lose it.

          By the way, unaffiliateds usually vote late.  They’re predominantly low information voters and a little slower on the uptake.

          This is where a little persuasion can still have an effect.  There’s a big chunk of voters who are not convinced yet.  Convince them and the election is yours.

          1. Plus, the campaigns are making sure they’ve got their solid votes in first, so those will be in the bank. Unaffiliateds always vote at lower rates than partisans in midterms, and it wouldn’t be surprising if their numbers stayed relatively low.

  2. After we have voted by the same means enough times, yes, we’ll be able to model turnout from early numbers.

    But it seems like we change voting methods often enough that it’s difficult.

    Some 58 percent of the voters in Mesa County have now registered for permanent mail-in status.  That’s up some from last time.  Also, we moved one of our early voting locations.  That’s gonna change the numbers locally too.

    Maybe someday…

    1. I couldn’t resist a little comparison.  H-Man’s analysis in his thread this morning forecast a 12.7% voter edge for Republicans.  It’s early yet, but his “sciene” ain’t looking so good given the actual advantage so far is only 5.3%.

      That said, given how independents look to be breaking this year, in some races the Dem will have to do even better than that to come out on top.

      1. I expect the majority of Dems and Independents to vote on Nov. 2 at their neighborhood polling places.  I also expect the Independents to break for Bennet by more than 10%.  I am also encouraged by the surge in Dem voters so early.

        1. Dems active registration 33%, Republicans 35.4%.  If they both voted in equal percentages Republicans would get 51.75 to the Dem 48.25, 3.5% difference.

          Actual voting so far, Republicans 53.34% to Dem 46.66, 6.6% difference.

          Is that extra 3.1% important?  Let’s see how many races fall within that differential.

          1. Obviously, in a close race any difference in turnout is important.  That said, you predicted Republicans will be voting at a rate 33% higher than Democrats (that is, only 30 out of 100 Dems would vote, but 40 out of 100 Reps).  That was an awfully bold assumption on which to base your analysis, and the early numbers suggest it was downright nutty.  A 5% differnce in voting rates looking more realistic (e.g., 40% of Dems vote and 42% of Reps).  That leaves Hick’s victory quite secure, and if Buck continues turning off independents puts him in serious jeopardy.

            1. I did not predict the % rate that Dems would be voting.  I created a model as to the total Republican vote, total Dem vote and total independent vote.  

              As to registered voters as a starting point there are 35.4% republicans, 33% Dems and 31% unaffiliated.  I thought that at the end of things the vote would be 40% Republican, 30% dem, 30% unaffiliated or other.  In early voting the numbers are 41.75% Reppublican, 36.5% Dem and 21.7 other.  Unaffiliated tend not to vote as frequently early but it is looking more likely to be closer to 40%, 35%, 25% than my original model.

              Some keys to note.  Dems need to win Denver and Boulder big in order to win a statewide office.  So far El Paso is up more Republicans then Denver is up Dems.  Similarly, Douglas is up more Republicans than Boulder is up Dems.  Things don’t look good for Perlmutter either.  Jefferson county is voting Republican.

              1. I thought you were assuming 40% of Repubs would vote, 30% of Dems, etc.  As clarified, I still think you were optimistic, but I retract the “nutty.”

    1. Don’t forget the higher Republican crossovers and the 10-point advantage with Independents, and Buck’s 5/42 favorability with Undecideds. (All from PPP)

  3. In looking at the numbers for the metro area counties and Colorado Springs, the only county underperforming is Denver, and it is underperforming substantially based upon population counts.  It should be 19% of ballots cast in those counties and it is only 11%.  Big problem for Dems if this continues.  Where is the GOTV in Denver????

  4. If you plug these counts into the partisan splits for the Fox 10/16 poll (which projected a slight 46/45 Buck lead) you get 89,977 (46%) for Buck vs. 88,563 (45%) for Bennet.  Too close to call.

    If you plug these numbers into the 10/2 PPP poll (which projected a slight 46/45 Bennet lead), you get 90,523 (46%) for Buck v. 86,863 (44.5%) for Bennet.  Too close to call.

    The obvious unknown (or known unknown if you are a Don Rumsfeld fan) and deciding factor is how the undecideds will break.  The repubs on this site seem to want to bang the drum that the undecideds will break against the incumbent.  Two reasons to doubt this: 1) Is Bennet really the incumbant?  Aren’t there a significant number of people who, having never voted for him, will decide late in Bennet’s favor?  2) Who is getting all of the bad press now, while many have ballots on their kitchen counters?  Buck seems to be getting hit, from self inflicted wounds, on a daily basis.

    1. If anyone wants to check my math – no guarantees on calculations after 9:00 pm – Fox had the splits for Buck at 82/6/46 for R/D/I, and Bennet at 9/92/38.

      PPP had Buck at 84/9/38, and Bennet at 8/85/48.

      There seems to be a significant difference between the two on unaffiliated voters.

    2. Is whether either poll was accurately guessing at who is going to vote.  If the votes cast by the actual voter pool differ just a couple percentage points from their “likely” voter pools, it’s enough to make the difference.

  5. Raw data about how many Republican versus Democratic ballots have been mailed in is meaningless: what is needed is a comparison between 2008 and now, and this article provides it:

    Democrats are “losing” statewide, but they’re losing at a pace that is similar to the pace they were losing in 2008, when they won the state.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this finally pans out – to put it mildly.

    1. Rs have traditionally been the better early voters and cities like Denver have long had lower percentages of early voters as opposed to  those voting at polling places on election day. It’s a demographic thing. The fact that the gap is no wider at this point is more encouraging for Colorado Dems than otherwise.

      1. Key takeaways in my view:

        Denver + 5,360 Dems; El Paso + 6,614 R

        Boulder + 3,271 Dems; Douglas +4,286 R

        Michael Bennet’s brother’s mag thinks things are going swell for the Dems.  That must bring great solace.

            1. I’m not saying this is going to be a great year for Dems. I’m not indulging in any hyperbole about how Dems are going to carry all before them. Just mentioning one of those facts you dislike so much: Rs always outperform as early mail in voters. Urban voting patterns are different than suburban. Period. You can look it up. Doesn’t take much to get you’re undies in a bunch, does it?

              As usual, I won’t be awaiting any response beyond regurgitated talking points. You’re pretty much the Beej with better writing skills.

            2. Stop the voting – asap. Oh, wait. That’s probably against the law.

              Second best- stay away from microphones. Especially those that come with cameras and questions.

  6. Received mine just last week…. really my parents in Arizona have had theirs for 2 months now! Filled it out yesterday and it will  be in the mail today.

    Oh and count me in that group of little Dems who vote through absentee…. gotta love living out of the country and still getting to vote!

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