Keeping Secession in Perspective

The Washington Post ran an interesting story today about a rapidly aging population in Iowa, which included some fascinating figures:

Iowa is one of eight states where the population hasn’t doubled over the last century. It’s the only state that hasn’t grown by at least 50 percent in the same time, said Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Iowa had 2.2 million residents in 1900; the 2010 Census estimated the state had 3 million residents.

Those numbers got us thinking about the Colorado counties that are planning to ask their citizens to vote on seceding from the state. There are 11 counties, by our count, that have approved a ballot measure asking voters if they want to secede from Colorado (which, of course, is only a very small step toward an otherwise implausible final outcome). Weld County, the ringleader of this circus, is far and away the largest of the 11 counties considering secession. With a 2012 population estimate of 263,691 residents, Weld County has grown at roughly the same rate as the State of Colorado since 1910 — increasing its population by about 650% in the past century.

But what about the other 10 counties in question (see chart below)? That's where things start to look a bit silly when news articles lump the counties together as a "movement." The combined estimated 2012 population of those 10 counties is 96,270 — or just about 37% of the entire population of Weld County. Some of those 10 counties saw modest population increases in the last 100 years, but four (Cheyenne, Lincoln, Sedgwick, and Washington) actually had more residents in 1910 than in 2012. 

So as we hear more about Colorado counties trying to secede from the state, it's important to keep in mind the amount of people we are talking about here. This isn't to say that the opinion of a rural county resident is less important than someone in Metro Denver — there are just fewer of those opinions by an exponential amount. Population shifts to the Front Range created more Front Range legislators, which is exactly how our representative Democracy is intended to function.

COUNTY 2012 POP. 1910 POP.
Weld 263,691 39,177
Cheyenne 1,874 3,687
Elbert 23,383 5,331
Kit Carson 8,094 7,483
Lincoln 5,453 5,917
Logan 22,631 9,549
Moffat* 13,200 5,129
Phillips 4,367 3,179
Sedgwick 2,383 3,061
Washington 4,766 6,002
Yuma 10,119 8,499

*Census data for Moffat County begins in 1920, not 1910.

22 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ClubTwitty says:

    But the sheep are pissed too.  And there are lots of them. 

  2. MichaelBowman says:

    My head hurts just reading this.  So, they want to create a state that will have approximately the equivalent assessed valuation of the City and County of Denver.  with, what? 30% of it's population IF you include Moffat?  They are simply trading a perceived "Denver/Boulder" problem for a "Weld County" problem.  What an incredible waste of time.  Two words for the leaders of this movement:  Arrested.  Development.

  3. davebarnes says:

    So, I presume that this new state will have a legislature that is elected based on square area? Otherwise, the citizens of Weld will overwhelm the wishes of the citizens of Cheyanne.


  4. dwyer says:

    Again and again, these are citizens who have a beef and they are attempting, successfully, to use this secession tactic to draw attention to their situation.

    The response, here?  Ridicule and dismiss.  I wonder how this secession movement contributed to the sucessful recall efforts by reinforcing the discontent of many outside the metro block?   But hey, one is not supposed to mention that the recalls were successful.  


    • mamajama55 says:


      You're right in that both the recall efforts and this succession movement attempt to draw attention to the perceived discrimination against rural Coloradans issues (hunting, water, energy costs). 

      We ridicule and dismiss the secession effort because it can't succeed.  We (liberals) are angry and bewildered and sad that the recall efforts did succeed. Contradictory? Yes. On the other hand, you don't have the NRA and the Senate Majority Fund and the Koch Bros contributing bajillions to create Dumphuckistan. It's not in their interests to do so.  There just isn't much profit to be made if NW Colorado splits off. Like Brophy, they try to be sympathetic, but noncommittal. 

      So what do you think we should be doing about the secession movement, if not ridiculing and dismissing? Be more sympathetic to their concerns? What? I'm honestly asking. 


      I haven't seen anyone tell you, me or anyone that we are not supposed to mention that the recalls were successful. Me, I haven't really processed the recall yet. I'm still incredibly angry and sad that my outstanding Senator Giron has been put aside for a third rate, barely articulate sherriff.  I'm still figuring out a) what happened, b) how I feel about it.  That doesn't mean that you can't mention it. I suspect that, like me, you're still processing it. 

      Although when conservatives on here start gloating, or bloviating like Henson of the Chieftain did in his Sunday column, I get pretty pissed. I'll probably have to write some kind of response to it, unless Pols or you or someone beats me to it. 

      • cdsmithus says:

        Thanks for that comment.  I'm not sure what exactly happened in Pueblo, either.  I don't know the local political landscape there.

        I do know SD-11, though.  It's where I lived for 11 years, from when I moved down from Woodland Park in 2001 until I sadly had to move to California last summer.  I'm very proud to call John Morse a friend.  I met him shortly before his 2006 campaign.  I posted about him here (and was soundly laughed at, as I recall, for suggesting that a democrat might win in Colorado Springs).  In that case, I've got a pretty good idea what happened: a special recall election, and a massive voter suppression effort, which John almost managed to overcome anyway.

        In the end, though, you have a lot more reason to be upset about Sen. Giron.  I'm pretty sure John will be fine.  He was nearly term limited in a year anyway, and it turns out at $30K annually, President of the Colorado Senate isn't exactly the road to riches.  And as far as Dem chances to hold the district, I have a feeling that a year of Bernie Herpin will have the moderate voters of the district ready for the good old days of reasonable representation next year.

      • dwyer says:


        Thank you for responding to the issues I raised in my comments.  On succession:

        1) I think that "we" should engage the succession people in dialogue on all mediums available.  I think that the ridicule and dismiss response, that is automatically programed into "liberals, democrats" is self-defeating.  Of course with the flood tragedy, this is not the time to do it.  But the time will come – Town Hall meetings with dems from Denver; debates on talk radio….like the Rosen show. ENGAGE.

        2) "We ridicule and dismiss the secession effort because it can't succeed – See more at:"

        The effort certainly could result in a Republican controlled state legislature and governorship in 2014 and then there would be no need to push for succession…..

        There are paths, possible but not probable, paths to a successful move to succeed…or more likely to make that option legally easier.  The #1 non-fiction book on the NYTimes is Mark Levin's book strategizing how the states could convene a constitutional convention and redress the balance between federal and state governments, in favor of the states, via  proposed amendments or even rewriting the constitution.  It would take a 3/4 majority of the state legislatures to pass the revisons.  I have not read the book, and so it may not be legal…just a stretch.  However, my continuing fear is that the right wing radicals and their corporate sponsors are after the Constitution.  I see the focus on reinterpreting the 14 th amendment.  I do not dismiss these people. It really pisses me off, when the only response from the "other side,"…my side, is to ignore, ridicule and dismiss…. I feel like passing out fiddles.

        As for the recall successess:

        1) The initial response on this blog was really denial…."nothing changed" "the laws remain the same" "the dems still have a majority in the Senate."  I posted that the 

        Republicans had WON.  The response was to attack me personally for always being negative.  This is crazy-making.

        2) While all of us are still "processing,"  the recall victors are fast at work.  They have sent out a questionnaire to all members of the state legislature asking if they

        would be in favor of repealing the gun control laws in the next session.  The "recall victors" are networking with gun people in other states and seeking support to overturn all gun control legislation.  The veiled threat may well be the legal threat of a recall election or a strong opponent in the upcoming 2014 elections….elelctions that are critical to the future direction of this country.  The Republicans are concentrating their power in the states; the dems are not.

        3) What happened in Pueblo?  I don't know.  This are my questions:

        -Voter suppression.  If the computers were tampered with, or if the election laws ambiquity and the loss of the mail-in ballots, contributed to the loss, then where the hell is the legal challenge before Gessler certified the elections?  Where are all the legal eagles from the democratic party?  I think that OFA can not participate on the part of any candidate (I have strong opinions about the whole thing…later), but they sure as hell should be able to bring all their money and data to bear on a legal challenge….Let me CLEAR.  If there is any real evidence of voter suppression,t hen

        it is imperative to mount a legal challenge, IMMEDIATELY.  To claim voter suppression and not to follow up is to call "wolf" and to do a great disservice to real voter suppression.


        4) It is important to find out why people voted as they did.  Not to vote is also to make a statement.  I still think that the "hunting culture" and the whole subgroup of 

        prison guards and personnel was a factor.  I could be wrong.  But there needs to be polling.


        I respect the work that you have done, mj55.  You model what I think every democrat should be doing.  So to see that effort fail, is very discouraging to me.

        However, it is IMPERATIVE, to find out, objectively, what the hell happened.



        • gaf says:

          Most voter suppression is not the "illegal" kind. It is writing the law and the rules and setting the mechanics in such a way as to create barriers to voting. In this case, the lawsuits and delays caused by the lawsuits eliminated the all-mail ballot process. That  was not illegal, and it was determined by the courts, so it is not open to further legal challenge at this time. But it did surpress votes. Turnout would have been greater with mail ballots. (I don't think that made the difference in Pueblo, but I think it definitely made the difference in the very close Morse election.)

        • mamajama55 says:

          @dwyer:I've been discreetly asking people about the possibilities of "vote flipping" in the Pueblo recall election Noone seems to think that happened,or if it did, it will be impossible to trace. The County Clerk runs a tight ship.

          So…probably no vote flipping, or if so, it's unproveable. Which leaves the other possibilities:

          1.Low Democratic voter turnout,(31%) and overall low (35%) turnout, compared to high district-wide Republican turnout (48%).  I may have even contributed to that in a small way, via my optimistic predictions of a wide margin of victory for Giron,

          2. Democratic and unaffiliated voting for the recall, which is what Henson is promoting in the Chieftain these days – all without, of course, admitting to the shoddy journalism and outright libel that the Chieftain itself engaged in, promoting Henson's own pro-recall agenda. Jeff Tucker's relatively balanced  post-recall analysis in the Chieftain showed that there was very little crossover Democratic voting for the recall.

          Senator Giron herself has said that voter suppression, via the lawsuits which prohibited mail ballots, was the main factor in her defeat. She has said that in the Huffington Post,  and on Al Jazeera. Tonight on Chris Hayes "All In" show, Giron said, "We will continue to confront the NRA." When asked if she was defeated by the gun lobby or gun owners, Morse answered for her, "In my view, it was 100% the gun lobby."

          Certainly, the distorted negative ads, paid for by the NRA, the Koch brothers "Freedom Works", and the Senate Majority Fund, may have contributed to the pro-recall intensity.

          Various people, including writers on Pols,like to promote the idea that Pueblo Democrats worked against each other, contributing to Giron's defeat.

          Respectfully, as someone who was very involved in the anti-recall campaign and spent much time with Pueblo Dems, I didn't see that. I saw the usual tensions, resentments, and miscommunications between national and local, paid and unpaid staff, old hands and young Turks. These are common, I've found, in any high-profile campaign. There wasn't anything vicious, or anything that really impeded the work.

          I didn't agree with some of the decisions made by national staff, and made my disagreements known, not that it made any difference.

          I think we should have done more voter registration, and emphasized the whole birth control/personhood issue less in heavily Catholic Pueblo. Even though Pueblans use birth control and abortion as much as any other group in America, it does conflict with what their faith promotes. I also didn't agree with the strategy of not talking about gun issues, and refusing to debate George Rivera.

          I do know that those 65% anti-recall numbers I was promoting were from my own tracking of phone calls I made to likely voters before the mail ballots were ruled out. This fit with other campaign numbers. We also had almost a week of confusion about how voters would vote – the week before the election, in fact. These were, as many others have said, deliberate voter suppression tactics, which were ultimately successful.  We have to do better.

          I'll probably research more, and rework this into a diary at some point.   The Chieftain's victory dance is just too galling.

          • dwyer says:


            Thank you very much. I will look forward to more research and analysis from you.  I think that people in the field are by definition more valuable and knowledgeable than we "bystanders."

            Voter suppression has currently been used to describe the laws passed by Republican legislatures to suppress the Democratic vote.  That was not the case in Colorado.  The law that caused the most problem was passed by the Democratic legislature.  Potential conflicts were not identified soon enough. Wasn't it the Morse campaign that challenged the original ruling in CS and then decided not to appeal the decision?  

            If the PPP polling had been released showing Giron behind a week before the final election day, do you think it would have made a difference?  

            Also, would that polling data now be available to the campaign, the Democratic party and the public?  I would love to know if PPP polled  subgroups and what that looked like.

            Again, I don't know Pueblo, now, but I still would like to know how prison guards/personnel who live in Pueblo voted.  I think that was a factor, but again I could be wrong.

            I think emphasizing the birthcontrol/personhood issue doesn't work unless the candidate comes directly out and specifies that he/she would vote to suppress reproductive rights.  I thought the Rivera thing was a stretch and wrote so, here.

            Please don't leave the field, until you are sure that you know definitely what happened.  It will be so important for 2014.  Again, your efforts are really appreciated.

    • MADCO says:

      I am around really young kids less and less in recent years.  I suspect they still make ridiculous requests  like ice cream and candy for breakfast (Fruit Loops are not food). And I hope the adults around them are just as firm in dismissing their requests as I usually was.

      Do the voters of "downstate"have different concerns than the voters in Chicago? yes.  Do the rural residents of Hawaii have different concerns than the residents in Honolulu? Of course.  Shasta and the rest of rural CA compared to the metroplexes there? You betcha.  This is true in all 50 states and I could go on but  any careful reader already knows this.

      Does this disparity mean all these states should be spplit up?  NO!  I am pro-union.   (Insert several ironically applicable Lincoln Douglas quotes here)

      It's a ridiulous ploy – but dad, I just want chocolate frosted  sugar bombs instead of oatmeal and ice cream insteaf of milk – for attention and sympathy.

      Dismissive ridicule is exessive, but It does not mean "no – now eat what I gave you and be quiet" isn't a fair response.

      The really complex political reality of Colorado urban/rural differences is the water law and other property rights.  We should all agree that the current law is …archaic. And we allow too much water to be controlled by downstream "users".

      Dont even get me started on the Colorado River and how Senor Nicolas Trist bothed that  deal.  Speaking of Hawaii, can you name the other state that also has no true upstream neighbors? (Though part of the Green does flow into CO it also then flows out)

      But it's ok cuz we got guns and whiskey and if we just had none of those foolish background checks, well we be ok.

      Transportation, education, communication, energy, employment – this where are common interests lie.  If the "secessionists" ever want to talk in terms of these issues and what their 51st state would look like (1/2 of the residents of Weld county would work out of state or leave) I'll have the conversation.  Until then – they get about 1/2  the dismissive ridicule they deserve.

  5. UglyAmerican says:

    Why are you guys even talking about this? It can't happen, there is no way to make it happen, and you're just giving these nimrods oxygen they don't deserve.

    • Duke Cox says:

      I agree.

      Pity the sad, mistreated farmer who feeds the nation and, by accepting the nations' generosity in the form of roads to market their products, electricity and water rights to run their farm,  a weather service to help them increase productivity and profits, and a basket full of subsidies and write-offs, are generally doing very well. 

      These are not the struggling sharecroppers like my Uncle John, upon whose farm I learned the meaning of work for many summers during my upbringing. Most farmers nowadays, in contrast, are doing pretty well.

      I would like to tell you of a conversation I had with such a farmer when my wife and I bought a small acreage on Silt Mesa several years ago.  We built a house, mostly with our own hands BTW, on that acreage, and as we installed an irrigation system, we discovered that the ditch company wanted us to install a meter on the water, even though water was delivered in the big ditch only by the week and supplied 24 hrs. a day during that period (with a significant minimum call).

      We only watered, with a three HP pump (not very big) about 3 hrs. to 5 hrs. per day and 4 days a week, on average. It seemed to us unfair for them to force us to pay for expensive meters (so they could charge extra if we overwatered…not at all likely) that would have to be replaced frequently because ditch water wears them out rapidly.

      During a "standing around in the kitchen" discussion with the ditch rider and the president of the ditch association (who happened to live down the ditch and was the beneficiary of my unused water), he said to me, "well, you know, these farmers are the ones who had these ditches installed and maintained all these years and we think the newcomers on these small acreages should pay if they use too much.

      My answer to him was the same thing I would say to all these pissed off country folk out on the prairie. I said, "who do you suppose it was that made you a wealthy man? Alfalfa didn't make this land worth $10,000 an acre. It was people like me who have made your land so valuable you can make a fortune selling it to us.

      Todays' eastern plains farmer has a chip on his shoulder because he has forgotten that his deal with the city folk is a two-way street. He can put his side of the bargain in a basket and set it on a table. The other side of the equation is somewhat less obvious, and our brethren in the hinterlands seem to have forgotten that.

  6. gertie97 says:

    Sorry, but Dumbphuckistan is over, sports fans. The flooding took care of that nicely.

    Sad. I like the name so much.


  7. Harley says:

    O.K., with all the numbers being thrown out concerning the 11 counties population—really how many people from those counties moved into the Denver metro area and have made the area a permanent home for themselves and family?

    I'd bet a lot.

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