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November 13, 2008 02:08 AM UTC

The Presidential Race in Colorado by County

  • by: Precinct854

(We’ve said it over and over, but can we please stop saying that “you need the Western Slope to win a statewide election?” Because you don’t. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

It is interesting (at least to me) to see how close or lopsided the vote was in various Colorado counties in the presidential election.

The five most Republican counties by percentage of the vote are not huge surprises. They’re all rural with a voting turn out of under 4,000 in total. And all but one, Rio Blanco, is on the eastern plains.

Cheyenne 80.11% (890)

Washington 77.77% (1935)

Rio Blanco 77.38% (2425)

Kiowa 76.27% (630)

Lincoln 74.27% (1683)

The five most Democratic counties by percentage of the presidential vote are a little more surprising. Tiny San Miguel County was the most Democratic in the state with 77.06% of its votes going to Obama. Then Denver, a usual suspect, but then two more smallish counties. And then the one that people might have picked out as number one, Boulder.

San Miguel 77.06% (3,345)

Denver 75.29% (195,499)

Costilla 73.40% (1,236)

Pitkin 73.74% (7,260)

Boulder 72.33% (115,339)

But, wait, I have more.

The two closest counties by percentage were both won by McCain. Chaffee County, a mountain county southwest of Park County, went for him by 49.09% to 49.04%, or just 5 votes out of 9,483. Likewise Garfield County north of Grand Junction wanted McCain, but only by 85 votes out of 22123, 49.41% to 49.03%.

The five counties with the fewest votes all went to the Republican, except for the very smallest in turn out San Juan County.

San Juan 496 votes 53.23% Obama

Hinsdale 613 55.95% McCain

Mineral 622 53.70% McCain

Kiowa 826 76.27% McCain

Jackson 914 68.27% McCain

There are no surprises in the five largest counties by voter turn out, all but El Paso went for the Democratic candidate. I am not sure why Denver is not the largest, but I suspect it would be the higher percentage of residents who are not US citizens as well as poor neighborhoods that did not turn out. But it is interesting to note that by this metric both Denver and Boulder are much more Democratic than El Paso County is Republican.

Jefferson 283,468 votes 54.69% Obama

El Paso 264,407 votes 58.97% McCain

Denver 259,647 votes 75.29% Obama

Arapahoe 232,167 55.29% Obama

Boulder 159,469 72.33% Obama

Next Five Largest Counties

Larimer 156,085 54.11% Obama

Adams 155,406 57.99% Obama

Douglas 126,377 57.94% McCain

Weld 104,584 53.46% McCain

Mesa 68,165 64.06% McCain

The five more Democratic counties in terms of how many more voters went for the Democratic Candidate than the Republican are:

Denver 135,233

Boulder 73,695

Jefferson 31,729

Arapahoe 27,957

Adams 27,792

The converse five Republican counties are:

El Paso 51,244

Douglas 21,412

Mesa 20,199

Weld 9,269

Fremont 5,794

Third Party Candidates did best in:

Hinsdale 5.06% (31)

Baca 3.09% (67)

Kiowa 2.91% (24)

Mineral 2.89% (18)

Gilpin 2.86% (94)

I don’t think it is a coincidence that they did best in small population counties. Third party candidates failed to break 2% as a group in any county with a voting population of more than 20,000. Of large counties they did best in Weld and Adams.

Third Party Candidates did worst in:

Douglas 1.06% (1,339)

Phillips 1.18% (2,125)

Rio Grande 1.20% (5,408)

Eagle 1.31% (282)

Pitkin 1.39% (137)

I’ll get around to the Senate Race sometime soon. Number were taken from the Denver Post elections results website:…

Edited to add five more large counties.

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46 thoughts on “The Presidential Race in Colorado by County

  1. I would like to point out that Denver is now more liberal than Boulder. So sxp151 and DavidThi808, you now live in the second most liberal county!

    Also, the only reason Hinsdale had the best numbers for third party candidates is because there are only 2 Democrats left since Alfred Packer ate the majority of them.

    1. Is rather amazing. I mean they had 613 voters turn out for the presidential race and according to Wikipedia they had 790 residents in 2000. That’s a huge turn out (80%) even assuming all those 790 residents are citizens of voting age.

      But, sadly, there are perhaps as many as 239 Democrats. Kiowa County may have the lowest number of Democrats with only 172 people voting for Obama. I’ll have to check and see if there is somewhere on the SoS website to check total registration numbers.

        1. It did not look like rich absentee voter territory. It reminded me of a down at heels small town from the plains that somehow got stuck in a mountain pine forest and made the best of it. A remnant of the old economically depressed Colorado that barely understood tourism.

        1. Ward, on the other hand… 🙂

          And, really, it’s not the ultra-liberal/ultra-libertarian mountain communities who are necessarily the most whacko.  There are plenty of special interests in Boulder proper who are just gone ’round the bend…

    1. Larimer

      Obama 84,461 54.11%

      McCain 68,932 44.16%

      Third Party 2,692 1.72%

      With a spread of 9.95% or 15,529 votes there are 23 counties with a higher percentage for Obama and 40 with a lower percentage. It ranked 6th in total number of voters.

      1. even if Larimer County had tied? that’s fascinating.   Markey must have kicked butt in Boulder and Weld, as well as cutting into r majorities on the plains.

        1. …that Markey got 45% or 47% in Morgan County?

            I was way off on my prediction for C.D. 4.  I figured Betsy would squeak by 51%-49% over the Sore Loser.

            But Betsy’s margin was over 10%.  That’s not simply people tired of Musty.  Or the coattail effects from Obama’s Colorado win.

            I’m thinking that C.D. 4 has changed, and is still in process of changing.

            Betsy still will have a serious race in ’10, but if she plays her cards right (i.e., the constituent service work and immersing herself in agricultural issues) and if the Dems do not screw up, she should do well in ’10.  

          1. 4 has changed THAT much in just 2 years but it was an all of the above (MM fatigue, strong obama organizing and gotv, and a markey campaign a lot better than I gave them credit for being.  

             By 2010, continued demographic change, 2 years solid constituent service and ceaseless self-promotion via the franking privilege translates to BM re-election by 3-4 points. (I’m gonna keepick predicting a close markey victory until those silly voters LISTEN TO ME!)

               On the other hand, if Schaffer is silly enough to make another run, it’s Markey by 10 points.


        2. Markey blew out Musgrave in Weld.  Every CD4 race I’ve ever watched simply hoped to keep Weld close and rack up big wins in Larimer and our little chunk of Boulder.  I figured it would be another nail biter as McCain and Schaffer both handily won, but Markey came out EIGHT POINTS ahead.  Definitely a few toasts to that one.

  2.    Costilla County has been the most Democratic in the state.  I think they also said Elbert was historically the most Republican.

      And least anyone think that Boulder is inhabited by anything other Boulder liberals, Reagan carried Boulder County in 1984.

    1. 11th most Republican this time around. So either it is changing or that was a historical average. 69.04% went for McCain out in Elbert. It is also one of the larger counties with a high third party vote, 2.09%.

  3. Is the only county in the state that voted NO on every ballot measure, including Referenda M and N, to remove obsolete provisions of the Constitution.

    Now THAT is literal dictionary-style conservatism. Keep everything the same.

    1. Huh. I wonder… Now that’s a surprise. Ralph Nader got the most votes of the third party candidates in Cheyenne County with 12 total votes. I almost wish I’d broken out the third party candidates so I could figure out where each did best.

  4. I’ve argued to anyone who would listen that Jeffco/Arapco are the critical counties and this is who the GOP is abandoning.

    The DougCo and elpaso numbers dropping below 60% are the shockers.  

    1. War drags on, economy is cratering, offshoring of American jobs, loose mortgage standards, ballooning credit card debt, negative savings by households, govt printing money (note: M2, M3) like a thief, government liabilities grow-grow-grow, more govt programs, more govt employees, etc… all the while we have a 30% HS dropout rate.

      Although I voted NO in the poll, I was surprised that DougCo wasn’t closer for Obama.

    2. Yes, I think we’re stuck in a sort of “Biggest Thing” mindset. Mesa County and Grand Junction would hardly be mentioned if it was east slope rather than west slope, but it is the biggest thing over there and so it gets attention. It’s the 10th largest county by number of voters, behind Weld County.

      I would not ignore it, but it isn’t a huge population center.

      1. You probably get better returns by not expending more resources in Garfield, which is much more of a “swing” county in terms of presidential voting and still has 30,000 voters. It’s probably easier to get high-yield returns on voter engagement, since it doesn’t vote 66% for Republicans every election.

  5. These numbers do not include provisional ballots which are still being counted. Counties have until Nov. 19th to get this done.

    I don’t know about other counties but the number of provisionals in Denver was rather large, over 12,000. I know we are still counting and I would assume the other large counties probably are too.  

  6. Keep in mind a vote is a vote. While we Dems may get more in Denver (and a few less in Boulder), if we got 0 in El Paso and Grand Junction – we would lose. So what is key is to get as many votes as possible everywhere, and invest the effort where you get the best ROI.

    1. But along with analysis of registrations, the senate race, the congressional races, and the state house and senate seats I hope to paint a better picture of what voters look like by county. I would do it by precinct if I could get the information in an easy to deal with format. Why? Because I love spreadsheets and I also love seeing if I can figure out where and why people split their votes or voted against the party they’re registered with. I’ve already noticed some counties with more Democrats than votes for Obama.

      County level analysis is just easy because the numbers are readily available.  

    2. If Dems got zero this time in Mesa County we would still have sailed away with everything. I’m not saying ignore the west slope since so many of their issues play well in the rest of the state, but they’re not as critical as getting the Democrats in El Paso county.

      Democrats would be down 23,470 without Mesa and 104,670 without El Paso. So while we can get closer to getting another blue county with votes in Grand Junction we actually need Democratic turn out down in Colorado Springs much, much more.

        1. I lived in CSprings for 9 years (5 down in Widefield, and 4 as a student at Colorado College), and the occasional Dem that does get elected winds up being pretty beloved. Very few people attacked Michael Merrifield after his education snafu in 2006, and John Morse will sail to reelection i 2010 barring some massive meltdown of the state and national party. Rep-Elect Dennis Apuan should be able to do well in his seat as well, which has the lowest voter turnout in EPC (so his advantage in constituent services should help, they haven’t voted out a sitting Rep since the 80’s, IIRC).

          EPC is just like Kansas, with 3 parties: Social Conservatives/Fiscal Conservatives, Fiscal Conservatives/Social Moderates, and Democrats. Sometimes the moderates squeak a great candidate through who ends up winning the support of tons of Dems (Mary Lou Makepeace, who I would vote for if she ran for any office, and Jan Brewer come to mind).

          You all know this stuff already, I just feel like it’s important to remember that we will elect Dems down here, but more often our fight is between wings of the Republican Party.  

          1. Are they disgusted at Bush and the GOP folks in Congress and not voting?  Are they voting split tickets?  McCain was supposed to be their man, but didn’t make a very good show of staking out a FC/SM position.

            They don’t seem to be winning the intraparty civil war.

            1. It’s the opposite of Kansas, where FC/SMs have become Dems and moved the overall Dem party to the right but have consolidated a hold at the top of state gov’t (see Mark Parkinson, former GOP state chair who is now Lt. Gov and looking to run for Gov as a Dem in 2010).

              FC/SMs are caught in a bind in the Springs. The EPC Dems are more liberal than their counterparts in Kansas, but settle on conservative Dems with military backstories for Congress who aren’t particularly compelling candidates (I say this having worked for Fawcett and having donated to Hal).

              I think that they’re voting, but holding their nose and voting for a more conservative candidate for national races and slightly more moderate candidates for state races, at least down south. What I think is most likely is a battle between Briargate R’s (the FC/SC type) and city/county/Manitou R’s (the FC/SM type). I think that the Briargate types will win though, under the direction of legislators like Amy Stephens.  

  7. planning most heavily are the absolute vote margins:

    “The five more Democratic counties in terms of how many more voters went for the Democratic Candidate than the Republican are:

    Denver 135,233

    Boulder 73,695

    Jefferson 31,729

    Arapahoe 27,957

    Adams 27,792

    The converse five Republican counties are:

    El Paso 51,244

    Douglas 21,412

    Mesa 20,199

    Weld 9,269

    Fremont 5,794.”

    While percentages are interesting, it is the raw margins that matter in statewide races.  A few fairly large, lopsided counties have a dominant impact on the outcome.

    I am particularly struck this year by the margins in Jefferson and Arapahoe.  In many years, these counties are far less important than their populations suggest because they come out so close to even, so generallized high turnout doesn’t help either party much in those counties.

    On the GOP side, Weld County is most notable.  The huge growth of Weld as a bedroom community could have shifted the county blue more than it did — but it is an underidentified GOP stronghold.

    1. I’m going to do this again in a few days for the Senate race and then the CD races. I’ll put the absolute totals up higher to reflect their greater importance to statewide races and maybe do 10 for each side.

      I think that it is the process of Jefferson and Arapahoe becoming more urban rather than suburban. Infill keeps happening and the usual suspects when it comes to voting Democratic are moving further out. Part of it is disgust with Republicans and I think part of it is the first ring of suburbs going blue.

      I’m sort of thinking of putting together the Republican plains counties except for Weld and considering them sort of like precincts in a very spread out small city for a later diary.

      And I think that Amend. 48 will be good for measuring the level of semi-hard core anti-abortion sentiment. It didn’t come close to passing anywhere, but there were variations.

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