Udall/Gardner: Everything’s Changed! Nothing’s Changed!

There’s been some news and events in our senate race here, but the facts are still harder to come by than opinions. I’m gonna be a bit sad if CO moves out of the “swing state” national spotlight that we’ve held for quite a while, I really am. Anyhow, Gardner and Udall locked down their party’s nominations, and the news people started talking about the 2013 Dem overreach in the state gov’t.  NPR has a big story on us today, saying “Backlash Over State Party’s Progressive Agenda May Hobble Udall”- but I don’t think the evidence supports their claim. The real problem with the story is that we currently don’t have much in the way of evidence. There’s some anecdotal evidence that people are excited by Gardner, and that it’s gonna be a tight race, but anecdotal evidence had Romney doing well, too. In the generic congressional ballot (a ballot of just GOP/DEM, not actual personalities), the Democrats still hold a slight lead nationwide, and in local polling, Udall still has about the same lead he did before Gardner was in the race. The most interesting claim of the NPR article was made by Floyd Ciruli, the pollster from Denver. He

predicts that voter turnout this fall will be about 30 percent less than it was two years ago, when Obama won the state and Democrats took over the Legislature. 

I couldn’t find any evidence on the Ciruli website for this claim, so I don’t really know where he’s coming up with that guess. If voter turnout dropped by 30% from the 2012 election, that would be a drop from 2.495 million voters to 1.746 million. That’s pretty large. By comparison, 1.82 million voters came out in 2010, the last non-presidential election cycle. If Ciruli is right, that would be the smallest turnout since 2006 (which seems really unlikely). I wrote down my estimates of demographic/voting patterns in the upcoming senate election, and I’d still say they’re fairly good guesses (for being guesses). I’d like to see some new polling numbers statewide, but until that comes, we’re just have to tolerate more factless opinionating. Oh well, worse things have happened.

 

TL;DR: no news is no news.

 

Does anyone else have some baseless speculation to throw in? C’mon, you have as much info as the talking heads on the TeeVee.

Some Numbers

Given the ongoing demographic shift in Colorado, the current GOP is position to lose a lot of ground for the next few elections. The traditional GOP voting block (white evangelicals) is shrinking in proportion to the current DEM coalition of young people and minorities. The state has shifted from strongly red to blue, and much of that shift is explicable through pure demographics. I used some charts from the Census bureau to look into Colorado’s demographic shift, and it doesn’t look good for the GOP. Here’s a look at the biggest shift happening in CO these days, the decline of (as labelled on Census data) “White (non-Hispanic)” voters, and the rise of “Hispanic (of any race)”.

In 2010, people who identified as “White (Non-Hispanic)” made up 79.7% of the CO population, and cast 86.37% of the votes. Voters identifying as “Hispanic (of any race)” made up 13.10% of the CO population, but cast only 7.9% of the vote. The DEMs did pretty well in CO that year, especially compared to the GOP swing nationally. Hickenlooper won his race, as did Michael Bennet (this despite the race being called a tossup, or even favorably GOP).

In 2012, “White (Non-Hispanic)” came in at 79.01% of the population, and accounted for 84.39% of the vote- a drop of almost exactly 2 percentage points. “Hispanic (of any race)”, on the other hand, had risen to 14.02% of the population, and had climbed to 10.38% of the vote- a gain of 2.48 pp. Nationally, Hispanic/Latino voters went for Obama at about 71%– so I’d reckon it that the DEMs picked up roughly 1.75 pp from 2010 to 2012.

We can only estimate the 2014 data, but the general patterns shouldn’t change too much. If we assume the same population shift from 2010-2012 will carry through to 2014 (as most people I’ve found do), then 2014 should see the “White (non-hispanic)” voting population at about 75%, and the “Hispanic (of any race)” voting population at about 19%. The Secretary of State’s office has put out it’s own projections, which indicate an even bigger shift (White <70%, Hispanic ~20%).

Rates of voter participation are a little easier to estimate, because they’re a bit more stable. Going off the last non-presidential cycle (2010), we can guess that the “White (non-hispanic)” share of the vote will be  ~80%, while the “Hispanic (of any race)” vote should make up about 11.5% of total votes cast. If we use Gessler’s population estimates, then the White vote will be down around 75%, while Hispanic votes rise to about 12.5% of the total votes cast. If we assume that this election really brings out the voters, and rates are closer to 2012, then the Hispanic vote could rise up to about 15% of the total electorate.

Even in the conservative estimates, the GOP loses over a percentage point every election, about 2.5 points every 4 year cycle. This is only true, of course, if the states demographic groups continue to vote the way they do. But the current crop of GOP candidates and ideas don’t show much in the way of change, and so I can’t imagine the voting patterns will, either.