Democrats and Republicans nearly tied in early balloting, with 800,000 votes cast in Colorado

Returns show Republicans are off pace from the 2014 election

Ballots being collected outside the Denver Election Commission. (Photo by Phil Cherner)

A week before Election Day, Colorado Democrats and Republicans have turned in nearly the same number of early ballots, with the GOP leading by about 1,000 votes.

Yesterday, Oct. 29, Republicans had a 4,411-vote advantage, which Democrats narrowed considerably in the course of 24 hours.

By the morning of Oct. 30, 801,385 of nearly 3.3 million active voters in Colorado had turned in ballots. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Last week, on Oct. 24, Democrats had overtaken Republicans by 390 votes, but only after the GOP out-voted them by 2,245 votes on Oct. 23, the first day the secretary of state released return numbers. Republicans swung back on Oct. 25 to take the lead by 2,222. On Oct. 26 they consolidated a few thousand more votes to hold the advantage going into the weekend. On Monday, the GOP had nearly doubled its gains on the Democrats. But on Tuesday, Democrats made up some of that ground.

Ryan Winger, who is tracking the ballot returns and offering analysis for the Colorado-based Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies, wrote today that Republicans “remain well off their pace from 2014,” and that in all but one of Colorado’s top 12 counties, “fewer Republicans have returned their ballot than at this time in 2014.”

Long story short, Winger says, “it does appear that an enthusiasm gap exists right now, and that it favors Democrats. The advantage that Republicans enjoyed at this same point in 2014 is simply not there, and so Republican campaigns around the state will have to work hard to turn out their voters in this last week leading up to Election Day.”

Meanwhile, Colorado’s more than 1.2 million unaffiliated voters, the state’s largest voter pool, have cast 231,675 ballots as of Oct. 30. A big question is which way they will swing to affect the partisan statewide and legislative races on this year’s ballot.

We did get an idea of how they might vote if the results of this year’s primaries are any indication. This was the first year unaffiliated voters could participate in a party primary, and they could only pick one. The number of unaffiliated voters was about 270,000. Of that number, 63 percent chose a Democratic ballot and 37 percent picked a Republican one, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. Already, 132,066 unaffiliated voters have cast ballots in this election.

On the third-party front, 6,047 Libertarians have cast ballots and 1,545 Green Party members have voted. Members of The Unity Party, a new third party, cast 117 votes so far.

Voters between the ages of 41 and 60 are casting more early votes in Colorado than any other age group, data shows. Women are ahead of men in early voting by about 20,000 ballots.

More voters in swingy Jefferson County are turning in early ballots than anywhere else, to the tune of 105,092. Next up is El Paso County, home to a large bloc of Republicans, who have turned in 92,740 ballots so far. Voters in Arapaho County cast 90,070. In Democrat-rich Denver County, voters have cast only 82,286 ballots. Democratic-leaning Boulder County turned in 55,716 so far. (Both those counties tend to turn ballots in later.) Voters in the battleground county of Larimar have cast 55,873 votes. Republicans lead there by just a sliver.

Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli said the fact that Democrats are leading by a couple thousand votes in Arapahoe County could indicate problems for Republican Congressman Mike Coffman. National issues could be having an impact on turnout there, he added.

Here’s the breakdown as of of Oct. 30 of Colorado’s early ballot returns in the 2018 General Election, per the secretary of state:


  1. With the overseas mail in ballots from active duty members already in the batter, it appears that Crow will be blowing out Coffman’s candles.

  2. Biggest problem I’d see for Mike Coffman is the partisan breakdown (thanks! Magellan Strategies).
    Congressional District 6:
    R-2014 50,493 R-2018 39,581
    D-2014 35,341 D-2018 37,720
    U-2014 27,554 U-2018 32,880

    And if the stat on primary votes carries over to this district (half of the voters participated in the primary and split 60-40 to Dems), my magic math says 16,440 * 60% is 9,864 and 40% is 6576, a margin of 3,288. That more than covers the current gap in partisan ballots in the district.

  3. I am looking at historical versus current trends and now can envision that 2.4m ballots will be cast but that UFA’s just might lead the way contributing 33+% while R’s and D’s fall back to 31-32%. This will harbinger a fundamental shift as registrations leading to 2020 will gather great UFA’s pushing their share over 38%.
    UFA’s really surge late the final weekend so watch their share grow from 28.9% as younger adults get more involved, this will be esp pronounced in urban centers.

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