Ballot Return Momentum Swinging–Right Now, Right On Cue


FOX 31's Eli Stokols has smart analysis up today about what's really going on with ballot returns in Colorado:

Much is being made of the Republicans’ voter registration advantage in Colorado’s early voting, which inched from 104,000 Saturday to 106,000 on Sunday, seemingly a sign of yet another contested U.S. Senate battle tilting toward Republicans.

But election observers from Denver to Washington, DC would be wise to pay attention to another figure: that voter registration margin as a percentage of the overall vote.

As more votes come in, what was a 10-point GOP edge last week has slipped a little bit with each new early voting report from the Secretary of State, down to 9.2 percent Thursday, 9 percent Friday, 8.6 percent Saturday and now 7.9 percent Sunday.

As we’ve seen over several election cycles in Colorado, the early voter registration numbers can be deceiving; and the early Election Night returns often reflect few of the ballots cast over the final days of the race, offering little indication of how a race will end.

The last few elections in Colorado have given us a primer on what to expect this year, which is why Democrats have not seemed as nervous as one might expect as the GOP posted an early lead: Republicans reliably get their mail ballots returned promptly, which makes their numbers look good early. But as we approach Election Day, the pattern switches, and Democrats rapidly close the GOP's lead. By Election Night?

Well, based on 2012 and 2010, we know what's likely to happen on Election Night. Democrats outperform the public polls, and win on the strength of their late-inning ground game. And as the New York Times' Nate Cohn reports, that's exactly what's happening–right before our eyes once again.

Registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by three points over 80,000 received ballots on Saturday. It was the first time that Democrats outpaced Republicans, and it was enough to narrow the Republican advantage to eight points, 40 to 32…

Democratic gains were underpinned by a continuation of the favorable demographic trends that had allowed them to whittle away at the G.O.P.'s percent margin over the last week. Voters under age 45 bumped up to 31 percent of returns.

Voters who didn’t participate in 2010 reached 33 percent of Saturday’s tallies, also a first.

The margin for Democrats to overcome this year is greater these the two previous general elections, but the impact of 100% mail balloting for every registered voter has yet to be fully understood in the context of those prior results. Likewise with same-day voter registration, though that seems very likely to work against Republicans in the same way mail ballots work for the GOP in early returns. The bottom line is that anyone telling you that this election "is over" by any stretch is misleading you for a very specific purpose.

Not only is this election far from over, the same dynamics that brought Democrats victory here in prior years are taking shape as we write this.

Tuesday night, and not a moment before, we'll know if it was enough.


64 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. FrankUnderwood says:

    How dare you post this kind of stuff!!!  You're going to make our resident librarian's head explode!

  2. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    "Let me help you..(fill in the blank)"

    ~Andrew Carnegie

    • Big Time says:

      The only thing that is steady and mounting is the stream of BS pouring out of AC's comments … it was ankle deep last week, now it's knee deep … by tomorrow it will be waist deep and if we are all lucky, by Tuesday, it will be over AC's head and he'll have to finally shut up. 

  3. MooMooMoo0MooMooMoo0 says:

    Zippy and Skippy on Election Night-

    The rest of Coloradopols-


  4. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Right on target.  

    Lead continues to grow.  

    Percentage of increase may be dropping but percentage of votes that are still out there is also dropping.

    Dems don't make up any votes.

    Great news for Dem, amount of votes they are down continues to grow.  That is great news?  If you handicapped the race and gave Udall 5%, maybe that is great news.  But the reality is you have not made a dent in the lead.  It grew.


  5. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    Did highly targeted GOTV today. People who were either on lists as definitely or most likely voting for Udall and Romanff but who weren't recorded as having voted yet. Most weren't home but we left them the hanger telling them do not mail and where to go. Of those that were home, every one told me they either had just recently mailed or dropped their vote, or had their ballot filled out and would drop Monday. This GOTV effort was mainly in the Centennial area and many of the people I talked to were young, the typical demo that votes at the last minute. So there are plenty of Dem votes still coming in and the localUdall/Romanoff GOTV kicks ass. Great volunteer turn put today.   

  6. Old Time Dem says:

    Current numbers are 40% Rep, 32% Dem, and 28% unaffiliated.  Reps and Dems get about 95% of their registrants votes, Dems get 60% of unaffiliated.

    That means 50.8% Rep, 49.2% Dem.  Maybe a little less for Dems, but the trend is clear:  Dems are closing.  We're going to win this one!

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      I don't think your 95% each figure is correct. Source?

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Current numbers may be behind. Talked to many Dem supporters of Udall and Romanoff today  doing my bit in a big Centennial area GOTV push who either dropped ballots in the mail a couple of days ago so not listed voting yet or plan to drop off Monday. I'm guessing more late voters are voting for Dems and few R votes were still out there or not processed  as of this weekend. 

      • Big Time says:

        Similar story in Denver today canvassing – many voters had turned in ballots yesterday and today and more were planning to turn them in Monday and Tues. Dems are definitely turning out now.  

      • mountain mama says:

        BC you are spot on.  We dropped our ballots at a Jeffco polling site noon on Thursday.  Didn't post until last night…. and I know all of my adult children are dropping ballots today.  

    • Andrew Carnegie says:

      Old Time, Your UAF numbers include minor parties.  Knock off 2% to be accurate. The current numbers are 40.5 R, 32.4 D, 26 UAF.  Dems are not getting a 20% boost from uaf, maybe 10%.  10% from the UAF still has you down by 5%.

      • Old Time Dem says:

        I simplified by treating the minor party voters as unaffiliated, since polling is useless with respect to them.  Hickenlooper gets on the high end (60%) of unaffiliated, Udall probably a little lower.  I lay out my assumptions, and you feel free to challenge them.  Good for you, but otherwise your posts are bullshit:  As more votes are received, the GOP absolute margin (which you trumpet in big letters) can increase even while the GOP percentage advantage over Dems decreases, and what is relevant is the percentage of unaffiliateds and how they break.

  7. nota33 says:

    AC and moderatus should have kept their traps shut getting all giddy about the early returns when they know that democrats have come back and won races when being down in the early returns. 😉


    from WSJ,

    "In Colorado, the GOP held big advantages heading into Election Days in 2010 and 2012, only to watch Democrats take a Senate seat in 2010 and the state’s presidential electoral votes two years later. Both Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Mr. Obama outperformed Colorado’s early-voting party registration by more than eight percentage points. The race between Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and GOP Rep. Cory Gardner may not be decided for days after the election as provisional ballots are counted."


  8. dustpuppydustpuppy says:

    Hi Democratic Underground!

    Robb the dingbat is hiding here somewhere, folks.

  9. nota33 says:

    From the WP.


    THORNTON, Colo. — Sen. Mark Udall had come to address members of his clipboard Army.

    "We are surging," he told volunteers at his field office in this Denver suburb. His operation, he said, has 7,500 volunteers across the state. "You are an army with clipboards. Put those clipboards up. Those are the weapon of choice."

    Udall's soldiers have one mission: to get as many Democrats and independents as possible to vote for him between now and Tuesday.

    "We are leaving no community untouched," he said.

    The next 50 hours or so are crucial for Democrats, who readily acknowledge that they are procrastinators when it comes to voting. Joe Neguse, Colorado's Democratic candidate for secretary of state, told the group that he was lamenting to his fiancee that Democrats weren't voting.

    "She said, 'Joe, your ballot is still on the kitchen table,' " Neguse said to the chuckling crowd.

    Colorado now makes it very easy to vote by mail or in person, and right now Republicans have an advantage. As of Friday, just over 1.1 million people have mailed in their ballots. About 465,677 of those ballots, or 41 percent, are from Republicans. Democrats have mailed in 371,190 ballots, or 32 percent, and unaffiliated voters have sent in 290,600 ballots, 25 percent of the total.

    But Udall and Democrats think that if the total reaches 2.1 million, they will win because of the strength of their ground game — Udall said his volunteers knocked on 65,000 doors Saturday — and that a surge of Democratic ballots will be counted after the next mail delivery Monday.

    "We feel very good about where we are," Udall said in a brief interview while walking back to his campaign bus. Thornton was the fourth of sixth stops he made Sunday.

    "That’s just the way we vote. We take our time, we study the ballot issues," Udall said of Democratic dithering. "You’re going to see a big surge tomorrow with the numbers, and a quarter to a third of the vote will come over the last 48 hours."

    Or, as former congresswoman Betsy Markey said, "This is what we do best, our ground game." Markey was defeated by Udall's opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner.

    Many of the officials thanked the volunteers for showing up while the Denver Broncos were playing.

    "You have some dedicated volunteers to be out here while the Broncos are on," Neguse said. "To hell with the Broncos!" a woman yelled.

    Udall was even compared to one of Denver's biggest legends, former Broncos quarterback John Elway.

    "You remember The Drive?" Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette said, referring to the time Elway drove the Broncos down the field to score a touchdown that tied them with the Cleveland Browns in the final five minutes of the 1987 AFC Championship game. Elway had the Browns where he wanted them, DeGette said, and the Broncos won in overtime.

    "Mark Udall has them where he wants them," she said. "Let's complete that drive."

    Volunteers waited to snap photos with Udall, who gladly obliged. One woman asked that he autograph the back of her campaign shirt.

    "He's the best," said the woman, Pauline Selig, 71. "He just stands for the people."

  10. pharris1882 says:

    PPP with some dire numbers for us tonight. Other than Hick, we're in trouble:

    • kwtreemamajama55 says:

      The PPP poll is concerning – it does oversample older voters, though (68% older than 49). This is more the pre-all-mail ballot "reliable voters" sample, wherein retired people could be counted on to "turn out" to the polls. PPP needs to get on board with the "turn in" mail ballot election model.

      I'm frustrated that I'm always teaching or driving these days – can't help with GOTV the way I want to. At least I'm done with the worst part of moving house.

  11. taterheaptom says:

    The view from Tater Heap: Tomorrow will not be a day where Dems gain ground, but it will not be a Republican wave–but they will have the better night nationally. Senate control will be a nail biter.  Dems will do better in CO than nationally.  Coffman is the only statewide or federal race where an incumbent will lose.   

  12. I think we as Democrats need to be concerned about the potential effects of all-mail ballot elections. We don't really know how they'll affect our actual turnout, or that of Republicans.

    With the change in the law we have a number of changes to in-person polling locations that might cause problems for our traditional in-person voting advantage. And I'm not sure we're picking up the extra voters via mail-in balloting that we were hoping for, either.

    GOTV is everything.

  13. mountain mama says:

    And talk about lag time…. we turned our ballots in on Thursday ~ still not updated in our vote info as received.  I will continue to followup~

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