Liberals face a big problem. Despite well-publicized voter registration efforts, Democrats have fallen further behind Republicans from the June to July active voter numbers in Colorado. They now trail Republicans by almost 116,000 voters here in Colorado. In the 2008 election Colorado's Republicans had a scant 19,000 advantage in partisan turnout. That's potentially nearly a 100,000 vote change in our state's political climate.

Liberals count on registering and turning out “their” voters. And in 2008, it worked.

Registering Voters

Speaking of previous elections,”fully 12% of the voter registrations in the country come from c3 [IRS non-profit] civic engagement organizations.” These liberals registered women, younger voters, minorities and unmarrieds. Slightly more than half of new registrants actually cast ballots. Did these people register and vote because of civic engagement organizations (and Democratic campaigns) or due to the extraordinary level of excitement about the Obama candidacy?

Liberal groups face strong headwinds in 2012. “Registration rates among key segments [unmarried women, youth, minorities] have been hardest hit by the foreclosure rates and job loss that cause people to move and fall off the voter rolls.” Additionally, these voters “are disenchanted with the pace of change….”

Canvassing for Higher Colorado Turnout

America Votes reports plans for 2012 to canvass 85,000 Colorado voters and use mail and phone contacts targeted to 220,000 voters here. 2010 saw Colorado canvassing of 335,000 doors by the “Neighborhood Project Field Canvass.” Unless other groups pick up the slack, perhaps Democrats aren't up to their previous elections' standards.

Research shows that “door-to-door field programs produce one additional vote for every 14 registered voters contacted.”

¿Cuánto cuesta?

Analyzing Grassroots Solutions and Rocky Mountain Voter Outreach reports (both in 2010's Colorado Neighborhood Project) suggests it costs $4.37 per voter contacted. That's $61.19 per extra vote cast in our state.

Extra Votes for Obama?

Just to catch up with current Republican active voter numbers, liberals must turn out an “extra” 116,000 votes. At that $61/vote figure, Democrats need to spend $7.1 million on voter turnout – on top of ordinary voter persuasion costs. That cost parallels, btw, my guesstimate of Bennet's canvassing for votes costs (about $2 million) to create his 30,000 winning margin in 2010. His cash advantage let him do that.

If midsummer registration numbers are predictive of turnout, Colorado's turnout will not grow much at all from 2008. And the partisan distribution of active voters isn't helping the Democrats. Compared to July 2008, active voters have changed as follows (Secretary of State reports):

  • Democrats, down 28,069
  • Republicans, up 23,449 (note the direction of change difference in the two parties)
  • Independents, up 14,282
  • Others, up 10,379.

Things don't look good for Obama in Colorado. Obama leads mostly because pollsters' estimates of Colorado's partisan turnout simply don't match what's happening in county clerk's offices as they process voter registrations.

AFTERWORD: Folks, if I've missed Democrats' reported plans for canvassing in Colorado, use the comments to point me, and readers, to other fellow travelers' plans to boost Democratic turnout. Include source links, please. In three months of press releases by the state Dems, however, they never mentioned canvassing. But they do say local Democrats must do what used to be done by top-of-ticket campaigns. That's gonna be tough.