Blue in Colorado

by | Nov 26, 2022 | Blog, Capitol Review | 3 comments

“Democracy,” wrote H.L. Mencken, “is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”  A majority of Colorado voters have made it clear that they want to be governed by Democrats.

With Democrats presiding over a struggling economy, widespread crime and social disorder, this result is dumbfounding.  Surely, Coloradans were ready to restore some measure of political balance?

Instead, voters soundly rejected Republican candidates across the board.  Democrats won every race in which both parties devoted resources.  They even won some seats they expected to lose.  Lauren Boebert’s tentative win in the 3rd Congressional District could be considered the exception, but the fact that this “safe Republican” district will be decided by less than 0.5% is more evidence of Colorado’s blue avalanche.

This was a back-breaking election for Republicans in Colorado.  Too many voters won’t even consider a candidate with our party’s label.

Democrats now hold every statewide elected office, five of eight congressional seats, and massive majorities in the state legislature (46-19 in the House, 23-12 in the Senate).  The last time Democrats boasted numbers like this was 1909-1914 when elections weren’t a year-round business and the size and scope of government a mere fraction of what they are today.

Democrats relentlessly focused on beating Republicans, while Republicans, especially in two of our state’s GOP strongholds, wasted their efforts by tormenting each other.  In El Paso County where GOP leadership has been obsessed with purging other Republicans, Democrats won three State House seats and another in the Senate.  Likewise in Douglas County, another hotbed of GOP infighting, Democrats won two legislative seats for the first time since the county became a burgeoning metropolis.

For 20 years, Democrats have consistently focused on political fundamentals – like year-round door-to-door canvassing.  Those investments have paid off, something prudent Republicans would surely understand in a business context.  But rather than learning from Democrats’ success, Republicans investors regularly fall for shortcuts, relying on solely technology rather than combining the hard work of sustained grassroots outreach with technological innovation.

Democrats have built a prolific fundraising machine on the ActBlue platform.  They donate to their political candidates as if politics was their religion, and for many, perhaps it is.

Democrat candidates for Secretary of State and Attorney General each out-raised their Republican opponents by more than 10-to-1.  It’s virtually impossible for Republicans to be competitive if they can’t even afford television or streaming ads while their opponents are omnipresent.

A Republican comeback is now exponentially more difficult.

Republicans’ decline began as early as 2000 when Colorado voters chose George W. Bush for President but handed the State Senate to Democrats for the first time in 38 years.  Thereafter, Democrats’ fortunes have risen steadily while Republicans water down their definition of “winning.”

In 2004, Republicans reached their zenith with 176,000 more registered voters than Democrats.  Eight years later, Democrats pulled even.  Today, they’re ahead by 169,000.

In 2014, 110,000 more Republicans than Democrats turned out to vote, and Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman won 57% of the unaffiliated vote.  No Republican has won unaffiliated voters since.  Republicans are now losing the turnout game (by about 60,000) and losing unaffiliated voters by about 2-to-1.

In 2014, Republicans’ winning margins ranged from 176,444 (Coffman) to 39,688 (Cory Gardner).  This year, Republicans lost by anywhere from 480,534 for Governor to 257,517 for Treasurer.

Not long ago, Colorado voters elected Democrats and Republicans in the same election.  Now a majority of voters won’t even consider voting for any Republican.

Coloradans are participating in “the big sort” whereby people increasingly move to communities where their neighbors agree with their politics.  Our state is now politically indistinguishable from California, Oregon or Washington.

For the past two years, Colorado Democrats were cautioned against legislative “over-reach.”  But when Senate President Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) reacted to his newly-expanded majority by proclaiming that voters gave Democrats a mandate, it’s hard to argue that he’s wrong.


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