About DENependent

Independent voter interested in the analysis of the "whys" of politics. Resident of Denver, Coloradan since 1980.

300, the Denver College Affordability Fund, Is a Photo Finish

As of 1pm the day after the election Initiated Ordinance 300 is behind by just 43 votes. This is out of 79,175 for and 79,218 against. With more than 6,000 undervotes and 21 overvotes (Source: DenverGov) a recount seems incredibly likely.

With four other tax increases on the ballot this effort may have just been one too many for Denver voters. Also, opponents raised the issue of if this should be a function of city government. Though language was submitted to the blue book to oppose this measure there was no organized campaign against it other than statements made by the usual suspects.

The rest of the Denver tax increases, 2A, 301, 302, and 7G passed by wide to significant margins.

Parks – 61.44% yes
Mental Health – 68.11% yes
Childhood Healthy Meals – 57.42% yes
Flood Control – 60.04% yes (Denver alone)

District Wide
Flood Control – 55.35% yes (source: Denver Post)

Early Voting in Colorado 2016 and 2018

I have often read that registered Democrats tend to vote later. Is this the case in Colorado with our mail in ballot? The evidence from 2016 seems to say that it is unaffiliated voters and registered Republicans who are late turning in their ballots.

Election day in 2016 was on November 8th, as late as it can be. So one week until election day fell on November 1st. The press release from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office on early voting put out on 2016 Nov. 2 had the following voting breakdown:

Nov. 2
ACN 2,660 0.22%
Democrat 443,517 36.94%
3,182 0.26%
Libertarian 10,606 0.88%
Republican 420,330 35.01%
Unaffiliated 320,210 26.67%
Unity 167 0.01%
Total 1,200,672

The totals announced on December 9th were:

 Dec. 5
ACN 7,654 0.26%
Democrat 943,921 32.72%
Green 9,399 0.32%
Libertarian 3,2819 1.14%
Republican 963,061 33.38%
Unaffiliated 927,346 32.14%
Unity 607 0.02%
Total 2,884,807

So this has Democrats returning 23,187 more ballots around a week out than Republicans and making up a plurality of 36.94% of the total electorate at that point. By the end of the election were ahead by 19,140 ballots and were 33.38% of the total electorate. The unaffiliated vote surged up to be around 1/3 of the total from only being around 1/4. Likewise the minor parties all increased their percentage of the electorate by the time all valid ballots were received.

So what does this suggest for 2018? Well the Democrats are not doing well relative to this time in the presidential election. They are probably doing well relative to their usual performance in midterm elections. SoS Press Release for Oct. 31, 2018.

ACN 1764 0.18%
APV 21 0.00%
Democrat 331,263 34.82%
Green 1,868 0.20%
Libertarian 7,206 0.76%
Republican 331,706 34.86%
Unaffiliated 277,458 29.16%
Unity 145 0.02%
Total 951,431

As usual, the total votes are down in a midterm election, so nothing unexpected there.

If the pattern is the same as last cycle then ballots from Republican affiliated voters will will pull ahead by about 2.5%, though the surge of unaffiliated voters should give many Democrats a win on election night. Unaffiliated voters are already ahead of where their ballot returns were in the last cycle and if that holds their percentage of the voting electorate may exceed that of the major parties for the first time. It also could be that Democrats were just unusually fast to turn in ballots in 2016 because they were totally clear on who they wanted to vote against.

Big Government Saves Western Water Users (Again)

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

But the Future Water Supply is Uncertain

For the last 18 years the Colorado River Basin and the southwestern states supplied by the river have been dry. How dry? The Department of the Interior said in 2016, “the Basin has experienced its lowest 16-year period of inflow in over 100 years of record keeping”. KUNC published an article in March asking, “When a drought lasts 18 years, does it need a new name?

Despite the low flows and droughts the users of the Colorado River have not had to cut back much. In 2001 the lower basin states (Arizona, California, Nevada) and Mexico used 9.974 million acre feet (maf) of water. In 2017 the lower basin states and Mexico used 8.296 maf. The August 16 report that prompted the associated press news story projects that there will be no cutbacks in 2019 either. Being news organizations they made the 52% chance of cutback in 2020 their headline, because fear doom and gloom sell better than hotcakes. Weirdly. Myself, I prefer a nice stack of wheaty cakes with butter to bad news.

Under the current rules if Lake Mead is lower than 1075 above sea level on January 1 of a year then there will be mandatory cuts of 320,000 acre-feet for Arizona, 13,000 acre-feet for Nevada, and 50,000 acre-feet for Mexico. That is 11.4% of the water Arizona uses in a year, so now is not the time to get a vacation home in the Valley of the Sun.

We here in Colorado and the other upper basin states will not feel the pinch directly unless Lake Powell runs dry. We are obligated under the Colorado River Compact to ensure there is at lest 8.2 million acre feet of water for the lower basin to use each year (7.5 for the states and 0.7 for Mexico). Then it is possible that we will have to cut back, though it gets complex because it is an average over 10 years. In most years up to now we’ve actually been sending 9.0 maf down the river so there is a potential cushion depending on how lawyers interpret the agreement.

Needless to say if the lower basin decided to invoke a “call” on the river it would head to court at a speed somewhat faster than bad news, itself known for breaking the speed of light under laboratory conditions.

The bottom line we are fine for now and sitting at around a 50-50 chance of mandatory cutbacks in 2020 for Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico. Further out it gets even more murky with the potential for everyone feeling parched if the winter snow average does not improve.

Is Measles Outbreak a Preview for Colorado?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)


The BBC reports that more than 41,000 people in Europe have been infected with measles in the first six months of 2018. There have been 37 deaths caused by this outbreak.

Of the 57 states, districts, territories, and commonwealths in the most recent CDC report on kindergartners who had received the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine Colorado ranked last. Just 87.3% of kindergartners had received the two doses needed to protect them.

In the Ukraine, where 23,000 of the cases in 2018 have occurred, there have been years of problems getting the population vaccinated. Wars, lack of vaccines, and a medical system that makes the US look like a model of competence and efficiency caused the rate to dip as low as 31% of 6 year olds in 2016 from a high of 95% in 2008. The WHO estimates there were 621,000 under- or unvaccinated people in Ukraine in 2017. The good news is that about 80% of them have been given at least a first dose of the MMR vaccine. The bad news is that the outbreak will undoubtedly be used by anti-vaccine lobbyists to “prove” that vaccines are the problem. Ignoring the inconvenient fact that the countries with the lowest vaccination rates are the places with the most infected or dying people.

In 2017 Italy has a similar vaccination rate to Colorado at 85% of school aged children being vaccinated (The Guardian). The 2018 August ECDC report on measles and rubella found 3,341 cases in that country since last year with a rate of 55.1 per million. Five people have died in Italy in the last year. A similar outbreak in Colorado would cause 300 cases of measles.

Colorado is one of 16 states that allow parents to opt out of vaccines for “personal reasons” instead of religious or medical reasons.