Republican voters more eager so far in Pitkin, Eagle counties
October 28, 2014
pitkin county voting
Registered Democrats: 4,112
Democrat voters: 908*
Registered Republicans: 2,078
Republican voters: 546*
Registered unaffiliated: 5,345
Unaffiliated voters: 690*
*As of Monday morning.
Source: Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder
A greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats have returned ballots in Pitkin and Eagle counties so far this election, mirroring the statewide pattern in Colorado.
In Pitkin County, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. Given that advantage, more Democrats have voted in sheer numbers, but on a percentage basis, more members of the GOP have voted. There are 4,112 registered Democrats and 908 had voted as of Monday morning, according to Bill Mast, elections manager for the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder. That is a 22 percent turnout, thus far.
There are 2,078 registered Republicans in Pitkin County. As of Monday morning, 546 had voted, a 26 percent participation rate.
Pitkin County's large block of unaffiliated voters haven't been inspired to cast ballots, yet. Out of 5,345 voters unaffiliated with either party, only 690, or 13 percent, have returned ballots, according to the Clerk's Office.
It is hard to draw any conclusions from the turnout thus far, said Frieda Wallison, chairwoman of the Pitkin County Republicans. The number of participating voters is low, and party affiliation doesn't necessarily correlate to votes, she said.
"We don't know how anybody's voting," Wallison said.
In Eagle County, registered voters are nearly equal between the two major parties, but considerably more Republicans have voted so far, according to Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton.
There are 7,291 registered Republicans. Of them, 1,911, or about 26 percent, had voted as of Monday morning, according to the clerk's data.
Democrats have returned 1,550 ballots. That is about 21 percent of the 7,380 registered voters.
As in Pitkin County, only about 13.5 percent of unaffiliated voters in Eagle County have returned ballots. There are 11,396 registered voters who are unaffiliated. As of Monday, 1,539 had voted.
In both counties, the numbers are for active voters who have regularly participated in recent elections. County clerks also track inactive voters, those who are technically registered but haven't participated in an election for some time.
There is plenty of time for the numbers of voters to swell before the Nov. 4 election. All Colorado voters received ballots in the mail this year. Polling places also will be open on Election Day.
Simonton said it was her educated guess that about 60 percent of voters will turn out for the midterm election. "I'm thinking 16,000," she said.
On one hand, a high turnout could be expected because all ballots have been mailed and people can vote in the comfort of their home and return their ballot, she said. But there's no historical reference point since there has never been a midterm, mail-in ballot offered in the past.
In Colorado, about 40,000 more Republican ballots have been returned than those by Democrats. The Denver Post reported that 145,824 Republicans had voted statewide compared to 105,401 Democrats as of Oct. 22. There were 77,000 ballots returned by unaffiliated voters.
State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush is seeking re-election to House District 26, which includes the Eagle County portion of the Roaring Fork Valley. Mitsch Bush, a Democrat, said Friday that turnout among Democrats in Eagle County wasn't as high as anticipated. She said she believes negative advertising — the hallmark of many races this campaign season — has turned voters off.
"I talked to a woman in her front yard (Thursday) in Basalt who said she was not voting because of the negative TV ads, and she thought it really did not make a difference," Mitsch Bush said in an email to The Aspen Times.
In addition, Mitch Bush said many people don't realize the high stakes of this election — including control of the Colorado House and Senate, the governor's chair and one U.S. Senate seat. Polls show the governor's race and the Senate race are too close to call.