"Holy Shit! Talk about your all-time backfires."
– Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore
Amid all the talk of the secession effort, or "51st State" movement, we tried our best here at Colorado Pols to keep things in perspective. At the same time, others tried to prop up the rural revolt against
Democrats the Denver Metro area as a significant political moment, not just in Colorado but perhaps even nationally. Before votes were being counted in the 11 counties considering secession, we thought it was important to consider the total number of people involved — the entire population of those 11 counties is about 360,000, or 7% of Colorado's population.
One thing we never really discussed here is what might happen if Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway's pet project completely backfired. Yes, we were dismissive of the secession effort, but we were still surprised at how miserably it failed:
TOTAL SECESSION VOTES
NO: 50,614 (55%)
YES: 40,757 (45%)
The results are so bad that it will be hard for Conway and others to continue to support their argument that rural Colorado is "fed up" with the Front Range. After Weld County rejected secession by a 57-43 margin, Conway told the Denver Post that they will "continue to look at the problems of the urban and rural divide in Colorado." But why will anyone listen? He and other "51st state" advocates put all their chips in the center of the table, and voters called their bluff.
Conway and friends will point out that the secession question passed in 5 of the 11 counties, but so what? The "51st state" effort was billed as a "movement," and any halfway-serious discussion of secession depends on more than just a handful of sparsely-populated counties. Supporters of secession called it a symbol of rural anger, etc., and that is how the outcome must be judged. The number of counties that voted in favor of secession is of secondary importance to the total vote count on the issue.
The Denver Post reported, rather ridiculously, that the measure passed "by strong margins" in those 5 counties. While that is true when you look at percentages, it's more than a bit misleading when you don't bother to point out that the largest number of votes in favor of secession was in Yuma county — where a whopping 2,008 people voted YES. Only 91,371 people bothered to vote on the issue — not even 2% of Colorado's population even cast a ballot.
Of those 91,371 votes, 64% were cast in Weld County alone. In fact, if you add up all of the votes cast on the issue in the other 10 counties, the number (32,620) barely adds up to more than half of Weld County's votes. With that perspective, what does it say that 5 counties voted in favor of secession? Not much.
Take a look at the vote breakdowns by county after the jump:
|COUNTY||OUTCOME||YES VOTES||NO VOTES||TOTAL|
|Kit Carson||YES (54-46%)||1,452||1,226||2,678|