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May 06, 2021 02:13 PM UTC

Can a Trump-Loving Republican Win in CO Next Year?

  • by: Jason Salzman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Before we get too worked up about next year’s elections in Colorado, how about we talk about whether a Trump-loving Republican has any hope of winning statewide here at all in 2022.

GOP pollster David Flaherty answers that question, in part, by saying it depends on Trump’s impact on Unaffiliated voters, who represent about 40% of the electorate, versus Democrats (29% of registered voters) and Republicans (at 28%).

With Republicans and Democrats unlikely to vote for the opposing party, Unaffiliated voters will likely decide the election. Again.

Flaherty, who runs Magellan Strategies, expects the anti-Trump intensity, which made Unaffiliated voters so excited to vote for Democrats last year, to lessen. The question, he says, is by how much.

Scenario One: a subdued Trump may zap the inspiration of unaffiliated voters, who were hell-bent on dumping Trump last year, to turn in their ballots, says Flaherty.

Scenario Two: Trump is “loud and pushing all those buttons like he loves to do,” says Flaherty, which would motivate Unaffiliated voters to 1) cast their ballots and 2) do so for Democrats.

A loud Trump would make it even easier for Democrats to link Trump-supporting Republicans not just to the former president, Flaherty continues, but to unsavory stuff like the insurrection, the election conspiracies, and the larger Trump agenda (climate-change denial, health care destruction, general chaos, etc.).

How could you not bet on Scenario Two–or at least enough of Scenario Two to knock out GOP candidates in statewide races?

And the consensus is, there’s almost no chance that anyone but a Trump-adoring, Boebert-like Republican can win Colorado’s statewide GOP primaries next year.

“You want to win a Republican primary in Colorado? You question the election results and you say Donald Trump is the greatest president ever,” Flaherty told me. “There is no room for a center-right Republican in this state at this time. It’s Trump 24-7. It’s Lauren Boebert, unfortunately.”

And, says Democratic pollster Chris Keating, “if you have a candidate who supports Trump and has to believe all the conspiracies, he will get his ass handed to him by Governor Polis.”

Keating says the other statewide officeholders, like Attorney General Phil Weiser, Secretary of State Jena Griswold, and Treasurer Dave Young, would also be expected to prevail.

But what if… what if… a Trump-hesitant Republican candidate somehow, someway won the GOP primary in Colorado?

“Yes, a GOP nominee who is critical of Trump would probably stand a decent chance in a Colorado election,” Denver University Political Science Professor Seth Masket wrote in response to that question, “but it’s hard to imagine how such a person could become a GOP nominee as long as they have a primary to get through.”

It’s particularly hard to imagine because not a single Republican elected to a state office in Colorado said they opposed Trump prior to the last election!

State Sen. Kevin Priola (R-Adams County)

Just a handful didn’t chest-thump their support for Trump. One was state Sen. Kevin Priola (R-Adams County), who is one of the few Republicans who will sometimes vote with Democrats at the Capitol. He never divulged his stance on Trump last year, despite repeated requests to do so. And Priola won.

And the Republicans mentioned as possible statewide candidates, like former Arapahoe County-area District Attorney George Brauchler and CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, are on record as pro-Trump.

Keating makes a larger point about the Republican problem in Colorado that rings true when you look at polling of our state’s unaffiliated voters.

Not only are most unaffiliated voters younger and don’t believe the Trump-related conspiracies, says Keating, but they are also “very progressive” when it comes to voting rights, climate change, abortion, and more.

“You put all that together and it’s not happening for Republicans,” says Keating bluntly.

So even if you somehow cancel Trump completely from the picture next year, you’ve got major problems, if you’re a Colorado Republican who likes to win.

If you like to lose, which seems to be the overwhelming desire of Colorado Republicans, you’re golden.

Correction 5/9/2021: Seth Masket is a professor at Denver University, not CU, as stated initially in this post.


14 thoughts on “Can a Trump-Loving Republican Win in CO Next Year?

  1. According to the Secretary of State's voter registration report, at the beginning of May Republicans make up 26.37% of Active Voters and 23.52% of the Inactive Voters. 

    Flaherty's analysis of the 2018 General Unaffiliated voters found "59% of respondents said they voted for Jared Polis and 25% voted for Walker Stapleton, for a Polis win margin of 34%."  That same report asked the Unaffiliated how they usually voted:  Always Democrat 20%; More Dem than Rep 31%; Both Parties equal 16%; More Rep than Dem 14%; Always Republican 10%; Unsure/Refused 9%.

  2. In reality, there isn't a 'Republican Party' anymore … even in Colorado it is now the 'Party of Trump'.

    There won't be any 'moderate' Republicans on the ballot next year, they will all be 'Party of Trump' candidates. And … they will be electorally slaughtered once again.

    1. Republicans will not be slaughtered if the Democrats run bad campaigns, something they often do Normally Dems run on policy and intellect, while Republicans run on fear and mis-information.

  3. Why didn't the opinionators mention the impacts of the big 2020 realignments? It is like they are still living in 2004.
     – College Educated (subuurbs) shifted to the Democrats
     – Republicans solidified their dominance with Rural, White-non-college, Racists & Christianists, while reducing the Democratic lead with low-info Hispanics.

    Those realignments are important because the Democratic Party had some major failures in 2020 losing a number of House seats in Biden-won districts, not to mention losing a Senate seat in Maine.

    It is true that the Republicans are doubling down on Donald Trump, but it is notable that the "Trump" wing of the GOP was ascendent in Colorado before they attached to him specifically.

    The Republicans are working very hard at identity politics running conservative Blacks, hispanics, women and celebrities. That may be shallow as hell, but it has plenty of potential for success in a low info or low turnout election.

  4. “Scenario One: a subdued Trump……”

    Jason must have been residing in an alternate universe yesterday when he wrote this piece.

    @ParkHill: you correctly focus on the realignments and the Dem failures in 2020. Defund the police, open borders, WOKE, prevent socialism, all were winners for Trump Republicans in many states as they appealed to low-information voters. 

    Despite comments from a few on this website, the “progressive nirvana” has yet to arrive. And with redistricting as the red states gain congressional seats, it will be tough for the Dems to retain control of the US House next year.

    A good example of progressive stupidity, for me, was the news that AOC was creating a PAC to support a primary opponent for Joe Manchin in W VA. And Manchin probably still gets 80% plus in the Dem primary.

    (changed the post to reflect Manchin is up in 2024, not ’22)

    1. A good example of progressive stupidity, for me, was the news that AOC was creating a PAC to support a primary opponent for Joe Manchin next year in W VA. And Manchin probably still gets 80% plus in the Dem primary.


      Have not heard about that.  Manchin is not up again until 2024.  If she is doing that, that is strategically dumb.  She should focus on winnable races for 2022 like PA, NC, and WI, as well as holding AZ, GA, and NH.

      1. Manchin is toast. There is no way a Democrat will win in West Virgina given the Republican realignment. Republicans will claim Manchin wants to defund the police, and the game is over.

        Actually, Manchin might have a shot if he goes all-in on Biden’s infrastructure, care funding and re-investment. Biden is offering a huge bet on convincing the White, non-college populace of West Virginia that a liberal/social-democratic Government benefits them.

        1. Manchin is above all a Koch creature. He is the only Senate Democrat the Kochs donate to consistently. He's also supported by financial and energy industry PACs.  Manchin is loyal to his donors, not to his constituents. AOC is correct to try to primary him. Someone should, and the Senate Dems and Biden won't, because they are terrified that he'll go over to the Republican side.

          Hence, one corrupt politician gets to play "King of the Senate" and hold the entire Biden agenda hostage. Let's hope that our Hickenlooper isn't taking notes on how to achieve that "executive power" in the Senate.

    2. Do you know of any Democrats advocating for defunding the police? 

      I know Republicans keep saying that, but they say a lot of things. The Fox News – Steve Bannon multiverse is intentionaly poisoning democracy, as Liz Cheney might say.

      1. @ P. H.: not really. “Defund” is the same kind of propagandizing as open borders. No Dem that I’ve read supports “open borders.” Some down-the-ballot Dems talk about “De-fund.” But again, it’s mostly Bannon/Boebert/Lin Wood style propaganda.

  5. Of course.

    County Supervisors (of which there are way too many) 
    School Boards
    Several state House and Senate seats
    Several Sheriffs

    State wide?
    Maybe, but probably not the US Senate. 

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