Colorado’s Secretary of State released the preliminary voter turnout by party spreadsheet and the biggest non-news is that the ranks of the unaffiliateds voted in higher numbers in 2012 as compared to 2008. While this year Democrats saw nearly 31,000 fewer voters and Republicans saw nearly 25,000 fewer voters at the polls, nearly 34,000 more unaffiliateds turned in ballots. The chart below shows how the unaffiliateds bucked the lower-voter-turnout trend this election.
The rise in unaffiliated turnout was seen at the county level in every county except for El Paso County, which showed massively lower turnout than in 2008 across the board. Below is a chart comparing voter turnout between 2008 and 2012 in Colorado’s most populous counties.
The chart that makes some of the shortcomings of the Republicans in this election more apparent; however, is the change in voter turnout by party in the most populous counties.
The most striking change in voter turnout was in El Paso county. To be fair to El Paso county, its population, often comprised of military families, is certainly more transient. Nonetheless, Republicans and Democrats both saw significantly fewer voters turn out in 2012, but more Republicans (in terms of raw #s, not percentage of registered voters) than Democrats stayed home this election. In other words, whereas Democrats were missing 10,544 voters, Republicans were missing 21,581 voters. One could say that El Paso County has more Republicans, so if the trend is that voter turnout is down, Republicans would have more voters stay home.
Two responses to that line of thinking: 1) unaffiliateds bucked this trend here and over 11,000 more unaffiliateds turned out in 2012 than in 2008 2) theoretical-Republican stronghold El Paso County needs to make up for the vast disparity between votes in Denver County and it has failed miserably.
In 2008, the total votes in Denver County and El Paso County were approximately equal at 278,000 and 276,000, respectively. In 2012, Denver County turned in approximately 300,000 votes and El Paso County turned in a paltry 235,000 votes. To break it down further, in 2008, Democrats turned out about 148,000 of their voters in Denver and Republicans turned out 133,000 of its voters, so about a 15,000 vote difference.
In 2012, Denver County Democrats turned out 154,000 of its voters, but El Paso Republicans turned out just 111,000 of its voters, creating a gap of 43,000. Republicans no longer needed to find 15,000 votes in Colorado, they now needed to find another 45,000 votes statewide to offset Denver. That’s a very steep uphill climb.
So, who’s ready to play ball in Denver?