Early-voter tallies released by the Colorado secretary of state today list registered Republicans in the state leading the pack. Of the more than 626,000 ballots so far collected here, Republicans have turned in 39.0 percent, Democrats 36.1 percent and unaffiliated voters 23.0 percent.
The numbers have understandably buoyed Republican campaign officials, but the tallies of course change constantly at this stage of the voting, and all parties concede that it’s the unaffiliated voters, unsurprisingly lagging behind their more fervent counterparts on the left and right, who will decide the race.
There are roughly 3.6 million voters registered in Colorado. Democrats comprise 31.6 percent of that number, Republicans 31.8 percent and unaffiliated voters 35.5 percent. So Republican and Democratic ballots make up a far greater percentage at this stage of the voting than they probably will in the end.
Colorado early voting totals as of October 26, with percent of total votes cast
DEM …. 225,850 …. 36.1%
GOP …. 244,263 …. 39.0
UAF …. 149,877 …. 23.0
Total votes cast: 626,097
Colorado 2012 voter registration totals:
DEM …. 1,150,527 …. 31.6%
GOP …. 1,157,083 …. 31.8
UAF …. 1,293,492 …. 35.5
Total registered voters: 3,644,344
Democrats today argued that the numbers signal the kind of positive trends that will end in victory.
Obama campaign Senior Adviser Craig Hughes told reporters here on a press call this afternoon that left-leaning voters tend to cast their ballots later than do right-leaning voters. He said he was confident the small lead notched in Colorado now by Republicans will close fast as Election Day approaches.
Hughes and campaign field director Jeremy Bird said the strength of the campaign’s grassroots organization, built up in the state over the course of years, has already won key voter registration gains and will excel at turning out the vote in the crucial days to come.
They also pointed out that the percentage of left-leaning voters registered in the state– including in particular women, young people and ethnic minorities– has climbed over the last four years and over the last few months in particular.
“We’ve registered more people than we did in Colorado in 2008. We’ve knocked on more doors. We’ve talked to more people and those people will talk to more people,” said Bird. “Our field efforts will pay off. It takes time to build a grassroots organization. You can’t match a ground game like this with phone banking and an [advertising] air war.”
Indeed, those ground-game efforts appear to be reflected in the votes cast so far in the state’s nine most populous Front Range counties, where elections in Colorado are always decided and where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by roughly 56,000.
Although Republicans lead Democrats in early voting totals statewide by 3 percentage points, for example, in the key Front Range districts Republicans lead Democrats by just 1 point, or roughly 4,700 votes.
Here’s a chart showing voter turnout and registration in numbers and as percentage of total votes cast as of 26 October 2012 and total voters registered in key Colorado Front Range counties Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Mesa.
GOP …. 178,705 …. 38.0%
DEM …. 174,031 …. 37.0
UAF …. 113,312 …. 24.1
Total ballots turned in across all parties: 470,660
Key Front Range Voter Registration:
GOP …. 848,084 …. 30.6%
DEM …. 903,989 …. 32.6
UAF …. 989,562 …. 35.7
Total registered voters in these nine counties across all parties: 2,775,188
Obama campaign staffers expect the larger number of Democrats to turn out and said they have been wooing the state’s less frequent, less dependably partisan voters– first time voters and unaffiliated voters.
“Our volunteers are longtime members of the communities where they are working. They’re part of the fabric,” Hughes said. “Making a phone call from far away is not the same as knocking on doors.”
[ Image by gocyclones via Flickr ]