Mar 17, 2021 - Politics
Colorado GOP's 2022 hopes tumble as voter registration plummets
Data: Colorado Secretary of State's office. Chart: John Frank/Axios
Data: Colorado Secretary of State's office. Chart: John Frank/Axios

The outlook for a Republican rebound in Colorado in 2022 is looking more improbable.

The state of play: The state's Republican Party lost more than 63,000 voters since the 2018 election when Democrats won all statewide offices and the General Assembly in a historic landslide, state data shows.

  • That equates to a 2.6% decline as a share of registered voters.
  • By comparison, Democrats lost 0.7% of their ground, or roughly 13,600 voters.
  • The decreases reflect inactive voters cut from the rolls and Republicans who fled the party after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: Beyond a demonstration of party enthusiasm, the fact Democrats can claim 125,000 more voters gives them a baked-in advantage.

By the numbers: Unaffiliated voters — those not aligned with a party — continue to grow in Colorado, as part of a broader political disalignment and how Colorado now registers voters.

The registered voter breakdown in February:

  • 43% unaffiliated
  • 30% Democratic
  • 27% Republican

Be smart: To win in Colorado, candidates need to win over unaffiliated voters, but they split 60-40 toward Democrats.

What they're saying: "All things being equal, the electorate looks much better than it did in 2018 for Democrats," said Chris Griswold, a Democratic consultant at Hilltop Public Solutions who analyzed the data.

  • "I don't think 2022 is going to be competitive in Colorado."

The other side: "Yes, it's bad for Republicans but the notion that everything is hunky dory for the Democratic Party belies the facts," said Josh Penry, a prominent Republican consultant with the 76 Group.

  • A rise in crime rates, a weakened economy and the garbled vaccine rollout is leading voters to question whether the state is on the right track, his polling shows.

The bottom line: The stimulus bill and vaccine rollout mean Democrats own what happens in Colorado and the nation when it comes to the economy and pandemic.

  • How voters view both will set the tone for 2022.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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