Bennet trending over Buck, with a hitch

The campaign for U.S. Senator Michael Bennet is spinning early voter numbers. A release put out by the campaign Sunday, two days after early voting ended, sees “Signs of Bennet victory in shifting voter trends.” Looking at numbers released by the Secretary of State Friday and at the results of the latest polling on the race, the Bennet campaign may have done something unprecedented by underestimating the trend that may be shifting in its favor!

A weekend survey of 1,059 likely voters conducted by
Public Policy Polling (pdf) found that Buck and Bennet were in a dead heat. With a 3 percent margin of error, the survey found Buck leading by 1 point. More interesting was that, among the 66 percent of respondents who had already cast their votes, Bennet had notched a clear lead 52 percent to 46 percent.

But looking at the numbers of registered voters and at the numbers of votes cast compiled by the Secretary of State’s office, Buck should be swamping Bennet in the votes already cast category.

The total number of registered voters this year in Colorado is roughly 800,000 Democrats and 863,000 Republicans.

As of Friday, the last day of early voting in the state, roughly 327,000 Democrats and 380,000 Republicans had cast votes (pdf). That means roughly 41 percent of Democrats have cast their votes and 44 percent of Republicans.

In other words, more Republicans have cast their votes as well as a higher percentage of total Republican voters have cast their votes and yet, according to PPP, Bennet is clearly leading.

From here on out more Democrats seem likely to vote than do Republicans. That bodes very well for Bennet, especially given voter turnout trends in past elections, where a higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans cast votes on Election Day.

What’s more, as Bennet Spokesman Trevor Kincaid pointed out in his Sunday release, more traditionally progressive Denver county voters are turning out this year than are traditionally conservative El Paso county voters.

From the release:

[W]hile it’s hard to determine what Election Day turnout will yield for either party, the 2006 pattern may again offer historical perspective. In 2006, the mail-in ballots and early voting trends showed similar movements with Democrats closing the registration gap heading into Election Day. But Democrats also had higher turnout on Election Day in 2006, which resulted in statewide victories…. Current turnout figures show Democrats heading into Election Day exceeding 2006 margins, which means that even the smallest of turnout margins on Election Day could result in a win for Bennet.

On a county-by-county examination, even in 2008, where Democrats won by historic margins, more voters from traditionally-conservative El Paso County cast ballots than traditionally-progressive Denver County. However, this year Denver is exceeding expected turnout by already producing more ballots than in El Paso County. Again, if these trends continue, Democrats will head into Election Day with an additional advantage.

There’s one hitch in all of this Bennet trending.

According to Tom Jensen at PPP, Buck leads solidly, 55 percent to 41 percent, in the weekend survey among those who have yet to cast their votes.

How to explain that? Buck leads with unaffiliated independent voters and they have been holding onto their ballots and are making up their minds.

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