Talk About Your All-Time Backfires: 51st State Effort Fails Miserably

"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:


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.

Sean Conway

Sean Conway and his plaid jacket

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:

Cheyenne  YES (62-38%) 570 346 916
Kit Carson  YES (54-46%) 1,452 1,226 2,678
Phillips  YES (62-38%) 1,114 676 1,790
Washington  YES (58-42%) 1,115 802 1,917
Yuma  YES (60-40%) 2,008 1,356 3,364
Elbert  NO (43-57%) 3,810 5,137 8,947
Lincoln  NO (45-55%) 806 1,005 1,811
Logan  NO (43-57%) 2,713 3,566 6,279
Moffat  NO (49-51%) 1,923 1,978 3,901
Sedgwick  NO (43-57%) 437 580 1,017
Weld  NO (43-57%) 25,291 33,460 58,751
TOTAL  NO (45-55%) 40,757 50,614 91,371





18 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MichaelBowman says:

    While the five surviviors are a block of contiguous land that does not share a border with Wyoming [which didn't want us, anyway], they do share a common border with Kansas and Nebraska.  Perhaps one of the enterprising commissioners in one of our counties is on the phone to Govs. Heineman and Brownback today to start a bidding war. 

    Unfortunately, Kansas has already drug us to court and now effectively owns our water, begging the question, "why would they want us?"  – so perhaps Gov. Heineman will be left as our only suitor.  I'm guessing Commissioner Conway may be dusting off his resume today.  At least Brophy and Gardner straddled their positions on the vote in a coy enough way it won't get hung around their respective necks in the '14 elections. 

    • ohwilleke says:

      Honestly, these counties are a better fit for either Kansas or Nebraska (they can't even see our iconic mountains) and I for one would be happy to let Colorado transfer these counties to either of these states in the interest of greater mutual political well being for all.

      • gertie97 says:

        Either state would give them the same gripe. In Nebraska, it would be the Omaha/Lincoln metroplex, in Kansas, Kansas City and its burbs. Even in Wyoming, the small townspeople gripe about Casper and Cheyenne.

        Conway will have to find some other way to justify his existence. I'm sure he'll think of something.


  2. Moderatus says:

    Conservatives are winning now. Give us city folk until next November to deal with the overreaching Democrats. It'll all work out.

    • ParkHill says:

      I don't understand the "overreaching" thingey. Examples?

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Really sorry to hear that you've already been canned from your gig as spokemodel for rural Colorado . . . surprise

      . . . ever consider a career as a holiday greeter at Wal-Mart?

    • roccoprahn says:

      So less than 10,000 TOTAL votes means the pinkos are winning?


      It means that 9,000+ assholes showcased thier anger at a President not completely white by voting to seceed, without realizing they're putting thier subsidy checks in the balance.

      Uue the Deliverance banjo music.

    • nota33 says:

      You conservatives are losing. Did you watch the VA race last night? A f grade democrat beat a tea party extremists. Overreaching from you republican nuts will cost you right wing nuts seats in 2014 and beyond

    • nota33 says:

      Conservatives sure as hell didn't win in VA. you conservative wackjobs are done.

      • Urban Snowshoer says:

        The Democrats ought to be careful not to read too much into the Virginia gubernatorial race.  Although Virginia has shifted Democratic in more recent years, Terry McAuliffe likely won more  as the result of voters rejecting  Ken Cuccinelli and his insane ideas (e.g. transvaginal ultrasounds, banning sodomy, etc) than a major shift towards the Democratic Party.     

        • BlueCat says:

          That in itself is evidence of quite a shift.  VA has not become a blue state by any means but the shift from the time when it was too red to be in play for the presidential is persistent and undeniable.  A Dem candidate for Gov. who wasn't so widely perceived as a putz probably could have done better. Comparing the Gov to Lt. Gov races it seems like a chunk of the I'm not voting for the crazy TPer but McAuliffe gives me the creeps vote went to the more moderate than Cuccinelli Libertarian.  If I recall correctly, the far right GOTP losers in both races got almost exactly the same percentage of the vote even though there wasn't a third party candidate running for Lt. Gov. 

    • nota33 says:

      Hey, did you hear that the NRA got beat in their home state? Conservatives are losing. Anything you republican loons don't like you call overreaching. I guess one could mark the argument that Cuccinelli in VA was overreaching and that is why he lost.

  3. MichaelBowman says:

    I'm sure it will. 

  4. Diogenesdemar says:

    Hell, whatever happened to good old' gerrymandering . . . ??

    Tell ya what three-corner hatters, next time we'll keep Greeley and those towns from Johnstown south along I-25 and the rest of you goobers can just leave peaceably.

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