Colorado Republicans are far outpacing Democrats in voting, according to figures from the Colorado Secretary of State, with 62,480 more Republicans than Democrats casting their vote so far in the state’s all-mail election.
Republican voters have turned in 43.7 percent of all votes cast to date, compared to 31.7 percent from Democrats. The Republican lead in early turnout has held since the beginning of the week, when the Secretary of State began releasing numbers.
As of Friday morning, 226,923 registered Republicans have voted, compared to 164,443 Democrats. The critical unaffiliated bloc, which makes up a third of the state’s electorate, have cast 121,812 ballots.
Democrats have been gearing up for months to inspire their supporters to turn out for embattled incumbents Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall.
According to the Denver Post, Udall’s “ground team” is triple the size of Sen. Michael Bennet’s 2010 campaign, and includes 25 field offices and about 4,000 volunteers. Udall has also organized a statewide bus tour to encourage voters to mark their ballots and drop them in the mailbox. Both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama have visited Colorado in recent days to stump for his campaign.
“[W]e are focused not so much on TV ads but on the things that will be kind of old-fashioned, 18th-century American politics, of trying to get local people to talk to local voters and citizens about what’s important and why it’s important enough for them to get off the couch and go down to the polling place in the second Tuesday in November and show up,” said Tom Steyer, a Democratic billionaire who has pumped millions of dollars into Colorado politics, at a conference in Aspen this summer. (RELATED: Tom Steyer: Environmentalists Are The ‘Biggest Drop-Off Voters’)
So far the strategy seems to be off to a slow start, but political strategist Steve Welchert told the Denver Post that the GOP surge could have something to do with its base.
“Older, whiter voters tend to vote early and that favors the GOP,” he told the paper. “So Republicans have an early boost, and the Democrats will have to rely on later voters and see if they can rally enough of them to overcome the Republican surge.”
The early Republican turnout trends with the findings of a Quinnipiac University poll, which found that they were more sure of their choices, especially for Senate. Twelve percent of Udall’s supporters told pollsters they may still change their minds, compared to only 9 percent of those who support Gardner.
Republicans aren’t quite ready to open the champagne, however. Republican political strategist Kelly Maher allowed that a last minute rally among procrastinating Democrats can still turn the tide.
“I will feel more confident if we see that same spread a week from now,” Maher told the Post. “Every day that spread holds true is advantageous for Republicans.”
Voters can mail or drop off ballots at polling locations, which opened this week, through Nov. 4. Colorado is only one of three states utilizing an all-mail election.