Will you know who won Colorado before the networks call our state for Romney or Obama?

Questions for you to ponder as you watch results:

  • In 2008 849,533 Colorado voters had “permanent mail-in” status. That’s grown to 1,912,002 in 2012. How will that difference impact exit poll accuracy? Especially given the different voting results from 2008 for mail-in vs. early-in-person (Obama won these vote modes) vs. election day (McCain won this one) voting? 
  • As of yesterday, both 2008 and 2012 had just over 1,700,000 early ballots cast. How do we have twice as many permanent mail-in voters and very little growth in voting before election day? Lower interest? Just a shift between early-in-person to mail-in? 
  • Exit poll managers have changed their procedures for 2012 to save money. Almost all the states where they are no longer actually interviewing voters at polling places were states that McCain won in 2008. Will that change any “results”?

Here is a table of major counties and statewide numbers [Secretary of State data, yesterday’s early vote numbers].

You’ll want to figure out what they may mean. One bit of help: in 2008, 1,704,280 Coloradans voted before election day.

County Voted in 08 Voted Early 12 Active Voter Change 2008 to 2012
Adams 162,859 117,646 4,273
Arapahoe 269,555 186,164 15,872
Boulder 173,440 122,558 -2,341
Broomfield 29,658 23,902 1,627
Denver 277,888 187,393 12,116
Douglas 152,981 118,218 12,862
El Paso 275,726 178,941 10,736
Jefferson 298,470 219,437 10,364
La Plata 28,488 18,730 -1,547
Larimer 167,626 129,613 10,566
Mesa 70,189 51,547 -616
Pueblo 74,315 48,680 -1,415
Weld 106,947 77,293 6,004
TOTAL 2,432,034 1,707,805 58,511
  • If turnout, compared to 2008, looks larger in places like Denver and Boulder, Obama may win. 
  • If turnout looks larger in Douglas and El Paso, Romney may win. 
  • A caution about Arapahoe and Larimer. Each is, voting-wise, nearly two distinct counties. Most of Aurora is close to Denver’s voting patterns; the more prosperous southern segments of Arapahoe are more like Douglas. In Larimer County, the distinction is between Loveland/Estes Park and the city of Fort Collins. 
  • Every county with fewer active voters has a college campus in it. What does that mean?

Already Broomfield, Douglas and Larimer Counties have “banked” a larger share of early votes than the statewide average. El Paso, La Plata and Pueblo Counties are lagging behind the state in this same measure. Will those patterns continue, or will election day voting shift some of these county trends?

Most county clerk’s websites, by the way, will post results periodically as they are tabulated. You probably will want to have your laptop and TV both working tonight. (And many households may have the drinking lamp lit … no matter who’s winning.)