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A Look at Colorado

Posted: 10-29-2004 01:36 AM
by mudwoman
by Tom Schaller
Fri Oct 29th, 2004 at 00:43:29 GMT

Looking at quadrennial changes in certified voter registration totals in Colorado gives me pause. Unlike some of the other analyses I have done here on DKos (i.e., for FL, IA, MI, NH), the trend has either been a slight boost in the two-party share of Democratic registrants, or a rise in independents, or both.

In Colorado, neither is the case. That may bode well for party resurgence, and I'm all for that. But, to summarize the data, in 2000 the final registration totals showed 35.4% Republican registrants; 29.9% Democrats; and the remaining 34.6% (with rounding) either third-party or independent. Four years later, the movement is slightly Republican: 36.4%-GOP; 30.6%-DEM; 33.1% other.

Yes, what county-level registration gains the Dems have made have come mostly in the bigger, more densely-populated counties that should thusly be more efficiently mobilized (Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Jefferson & Larimer). Still, the two-party statewide share of all registrants has nudged ever-so-slightly Republican: from 54.2% statewide in 2000, to 54.3% now. What's most curious to me is that independents and others have not gained relatively, as is happening elsewhere.

So, cutting to the chase: Can Kerry get it done in CO?

I'm fully aware of the hopeful notion of a "reverse coattails" effect from Ken Salazar's senate campaign on Kerry's candidacy; no doubt Mr. Salazar will draw new voters, especially Latinos, to the polls. But will this effect, coupled with resources from Kerry and Dems that Gore did not invest four years ago, be enough to swamp registration stagnation that provides little reason to suspect Kerry can erase Gore's 8.4% margin of defeat in 2000? I'm not too confident, although I've been wrong before and hope I am again. (Keep in mind: "Colorado" is a butchered, Anglicized derivative of the Spanish "color rojo" -- a "red color" reference to the state's famed red rocks...and thus hard to make blue?)

And so, based on my game theory training from grad school days (courtesy of Mike Munger and Emerson Niou, thanks!), my strategic recommendation to Colorado Kerry supporters is to vote Kerry and vote "aye" on the proportional-electors ballot initiative. If it passes and Kerry wins, it will cost him four electors. But if Kerry loses, as is my hunch, ballot passage still guarantees the senator four more electors than Gore won in 2000. (At least, that is, until Brett Kavanaugh and the Federalist Society goons get involved.)