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Legislative Year: 2019 Change

Colorado Eyes & Ears »

To see what may happen in the 2018 elections, check out these trends in voter registration over the last decade.

Since 2008, the state has added 550,000 residents, a “pseudo city” with a population size between Denver and Colorado Springs. The state had 2.44 million voters in 2008 at 35% GOP, 35% Dems, 30% Unaffiliateds (UAFs) with active voters at 76% of the total.

In 2010, with the Tea Party movement, voter registration dropped by 600,000 and active participation sagged to 56%. Republicans took the lead of active voters at 39%, with Dems at 34% and UAFs at 27%. The impact of the Great Recession hit hard on voter activity. Dems and UAFs dropped out.

By 2014, the numbers began to change. Active voter registrations rebounded at 81% of total voters and UAFs beat out both parties for registration at 35% with 33% for the GOP and 31% for Dems. In 2016, active voter registrations surged to 87%.

Today, there are 3.2 million active voters, 82% of the total. Democrats have taken a slight lead of 16,500 over the GOP in active voter registrations, with the two parties splitting the percentage at 31% to 31%. UAFs have almost reached the 2010 Republican peak of active voters at 38%.

Voter registration increases will affect the top of metro Denver most, with Broomfield County up 16.6% since 2014, Adams County up 7%, and Arapahoe County up 12%. Looking south, Douglas County registrations increased 14.8% and El Paso County bumped up 11.8%.

Boulder and Denver Counties declined in registration and Jeffco was stable at a 2.3% increase.

Digging deeper, problems for Republicans show up in how active voter registrations currently look. Broomfield County Democrats show a 20% increase in active voter registrations since 2014, Republicans gained 1%. Arapahoe County Dems saw an 11.8% increase since 2014, Republicans got .05%. Jeffco Dems gained 3%, the GOP dropped -7%. Even El Paso County and Douglas County have flu symptoms for Republicans, with Dems increasing their active voters by over 10% to the GOP’s 4.8% in El Paso and 13% to 5.5% in Douglas.

The red wave in 2010 surged on low voter turnout and unrest over the economy. Both the economy and voter turnout have since strengthened. It’s an 11% active voter turnaround for UAFs, from their low of 27% in 2010 to their high today at 38%. The state’s recent primaries confirm the trend.

Both parties have experienced losses to the UAF category in active voter percentages, but the GOP, according to the numbers, is on a black diamond slope with lots of bumps.

What’s different between 2010 and 2018 is that the UAF category has increased so substantially. Old political theory assumed that UAF voters were uninterested and detached. That clearly is not the case now. The 1.2 million active unaffiliated voters in Colorado hold the cards.

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