Republicans continue to edge out their Democratic counterparts in partisan ballot returns as voters head into the final weekend before the election, according to figures released by the Colorado Secretary of State.
The GOP holds a 104,487 partisan ballot margin with 1,149,745 ballots returned as of October 31. Republicans have increased their lead by approximately 20,000 votes over Democrats since October 29, out of more than 225,000 additional votes submitted since then.
Numbers show 475,677 GOP ballots have been mailed-in or dropped off at county clerk offices across the state. Democratic voters have filled out 371,190 ballots while unaffiliated voters stand at 290,600.
Republican ballots comprise 41.4 percent of ballots returned, with Democrats trailing at 32.3 percent and unaffiliated voters at 25.3 percent. In 2010, at the same point, Democrats stood at 35.4 percent of the vote, 3 percent higher as a measure of ballots submitted than in 2014. Republicans were almost identical in turnout at 41.1 percent, with unaffiliated voters slightly lower in 2010 by 2 percent.
Overall ballot turnout by percentage has jumped the most since 2010 in El Paso and Pueblo counties, both sites of contentious 2013 recalls of Democratic state legislators over gun issues. Republicans have picked up an additional 22,469–a nearly 45 percent increase in votes than they registered at the same point in 2010. And while El Paso county remains a solid stronghold for statewide Republican aspirations, traditionally Democratic Pueblo is also seeing Republicans make inroads with increases in ballot returns in absolute and percentage calculations, indicating strong get-out-the-vote efforts in the waning days of the election.
Among the battleground bellwethers Jefferson and Arapahoe counties, Republicans hold on to leads over Democrats. Republicans hold an 11,155 ballot lead, or 7 percent, over Democrats in returned ballots in Jefferson county, and a 10,598 lead, or 8 percent, in Arapahoe county. Republicans are also faring well in newly purple Larimer county, holding an 11 percent lead.
By election day, however, partisan ballot returns will have to factor in unaffiliated voter sentiments–how these voters break will ultimately determine whether the Republican partisan ballot lead is representative of a strong showing by Republican candidates and newly competitive GOP get-out-the-vote efforts, or an illusory and ephemeral lead that will once again disappear in urban Denver counties, delivering narrow Democratic victories in key races just as they did in 2010.
With just around half of the expected ballots returned, pollster Floyd Ciruli expects a “rush” of a million ballots by the end of Monday, “with possibly an exceptional drop-off of procrastinators and people who prefer having an ‘Election Day’ event.”
For now, here’s a look at how partisan ballots have fared against active registered voter numbers (as of October 1) for each of the top 12 battleground counties.