• Schuyler Beltrami

2022 Midterms Preview –Colorado


(Photo: Wix Media)


The Millennial Agora continues our complete preview of the upcoming midterm elections for Congress with the state of Colorado. A state of just under six million people, Colorado is home to the Rocky Mountains, the rapidly growing capital city of Denver, and vast prairielands in the state’s eastern third. The state, like many of its neighbors in the West, was a stronghold for conservatives, but slowly began to turn increasingly bluer in the late 2000’s. Today, Colorado is nearly a guaranteed win for Democrats in Presidential Elections (President Biden won the state by 14% in 2020), but the landscape for House elections is more equal. The state can be politically divided into three parts. The center of the state, running along Interstate 25 is deep blue, as many of the largest cities, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Fort Collins can be found along this middle axis. To the east of this corridor, the flat prairie of Colorado’s eastern third is deep red and a hub for agriculture. Similarly, the area to the west of the I-25 corridor in the heart of the Rocky Mountains also trends Republican but is more competitive mostly due to ski resort towns like Aspen and Vail which are very favorable to Democrats. In 2022, there will be elections in Colorado for the House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor of the state. Colorado has eight seats in the House of Representatives, which is an increase of one seat after redistricting in 2020 to reflect changes in the United States’ population, and many of the existing districts were redrawn, meaning that some incumbents have been switched into different districts. Currently four seats are occupied by Democrats and three are occupied by Republicans.


House of Representatives

Colorado receives eight seats in the House of Representatives and all seats will be up for election in November. The overall CVPI for the entire state is D+4, making Colorado’s House races (taken as a whole) to be slightly in favor of the Democratic Party. (The CPVI, or Cook Partisan Voting Index, is the main metric to measure the strength of a political party for a particular House district or Senate seat. The measure was created and managed by the non-partisan Cook Political Report and uses historical data, as well as polling, to create the “partisan lean” of each district or state. A CPVI rating of R+15 would mean that on average, Republican candidates win elections in that district or state by an average of 15%, while a rating of D+15 would mean the same thing, but for the Democratic candidate. A district or state with a CPVI with double digits is considered to be non-competitive).



I. CO-01:

A. Current Representative: Diana DeGette (D)

B. Population Distribution: Urban

C. Demographics: 76% White, 29% Hispanic, 9% African American (Demographic Percentages may Exceed 100% since Residents Could Choose a Supplemental Ethnicity along with Hispanic)

D. Cook PVI: D+29 (Strong Democratic)

E. Outlook: Colorado’s first district is the most Democratic district in the state and is centered on the downtown area of Denver, the capital of Colorado. Incumbent Representative Diana DeGette has represented the district since 1996. Democratic candidates received more than 80% of all the votes cast in the individual primaries.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)


II. CO-02:

A. Current Representative: Joe Neguse (D)

B. Population Distribution: Mostly Urban or Suburban, Some Rural

C. Demographics: 90% White, 13% Hispanic (Demographic Percentages may Exceed 100% since Residents Could Choose a Supplemental Ethnicity along with Hispanic)

D. Cook PVI: D+17 (Strong Democratic)

E. Outlook: The Colorado second district encompasses the very blue college towns of Boulder and Fort Collins, along with a wide swath of the Denver suburbs and rural areas of national park land. The ski resort town of Vail is also located in this district. The incumbent Representative Joe Neguse has represented this district since 2018. Rep. Neguse received nearly two times as many votes as his Republican challenger during the closed primaries.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)


III. CO-03:

A. Current Representative: Lauren Boebert (R)

B. Population Distribution: Majority Rural, Some Urban

C. Demographics: 92% White, 15% Hispanic (Demographic Percentages may Exceed 100% since Residents Could Choose a Supplemental Ethnicity along with Hispanic)

D. Cook PVI: R+7 (Leans Republican)

E. Outlook: The Colorado 3rd district is the largest in the state and includes the entire western third of the state as well as much of the state’s southern border with New Mexico. The cities of Grand Junction and Pueblo are in this district. Rep. Boebert, who has represented this district since 2020, has been a controversial figure within the Republican Party for her outspoken views on election denialism, but remains popular with conservative voters in the district. Her district became more conservative due to redistricting as it now includes many parts of the rural south of Colorado. Her Democratic opponent, Adam Frisch, is a former city councilman from Aspen, one of the few Democratic strongholds in Rep. Boebert’s district. Although he will surely be able to raise a high amount of fundraising dollars due to his opponent being so well-known on the national stage, the district is very favorable to Rep. Boebert who should have no problem keeping her seat.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


IV. CO-04:

A. Current Representative: Ken Buck (R)

B. Population Distribution: Mostly Rural, Some Suburban

C. Demographics: 88% White, 31% Hispanic (Demographic Percentages may Exceed 100% since Residents Could Choose a Supplemental Ethnicity along with Hispanic)

D. Cook PVI: R+13 (Strong Republican)

E. Outlook: The Colorado 4th district includes the whole eastern third of the state and borders Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. While the majority of the district is in the flat heartland of Colorado, some parts of its western arm extend into the southern suburbs of Denver. Rep. Buck has represented the district since 2014. Although the district was made slightly more competitive due to redistricting, Republican candidates received three times more votes than Democratic candidates in the state’s closed primaries.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


V. CO-05:

A. Current Representative: Doug Lamborn (R)

B. Population Distribution: Mostly Urban, Some Rural

C. Demographics: 80% White, 17% Hispanic, 6% African American (Demographic Percentages may Exceed 100% since Residents Could Choose a Supplemental Ethnicity along with Hispanic)

D. Cook PVI: R+9 (Leans Republican)

E. Outlook: The Colorado 5th district is centered on the city of Colorado Springs, which is home to the United States Air Force Academy and thus many military personnel and their families. Rep. Lamborn has represented this district since 2006, and while the district did become slightly more competitive due to redistricting, the odds are still in Rep. Lamborn’s favor. Former President Trump won the district by ten points and Republican candidates received two times more votes in the state’s closed primaries.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)

VI. CO-06:

A. Current Representative: Jason Crow (D)

B. Population Distribution: Suburban

C. Demographics: 71% White, 21% Hispanic, 11% African American, 6% Asian (Demographic Percentages may Exceed 100% since Residents Could Choose a Supplemental Ethnicity along with Hispanic)

D. Cook PVI: D+9 (Leans Democratic)

E. Outlook: The Colorado 6th District includes many of the eastern suburbs of Denver, including Aurora. Rep. Crow has represented the district since 2018. Rep. Crow has received key endorsements from national liberal groups and has seen his polling averages remain steady at around a 20% lead over his Republican challenger. There was a relatively strong showing by Republican voters at the state’s closed primaries, but Rep. Crow still received around 14,000 more votes than his Republican challenger.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)


VII. CO-07:

A. Current Representative: Ed Perlmutter (D)

B. Population Distribution: Mostly Suburban, Many Rural Parts

C. Demographics: 90% White, 13% Hispanic, 4% Asian (Demographic Percentages may Exceed 100% since Residents Could Choose a Supplemental Ethnicity along with Hispanic)

D. Cook PVI: D+4 (Leans Democratic)

E. Outlook: The Colorado 7th District includes the western suburbs of Denver but also a large portion of Central Colorado to the west of I-25. Incumbent Rep. Perlmutter announced that he would retire at the end of his current term, and so the seat is open. The Democratic candidate seeking to keep control of the seat is Brittany Pettersen, a current member of the Colorado State Senate. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. For the Republicans, their candidate is Erik Aadland, an army veteran who won the Republican primary by a margin of 12%, and has received endorsements from the Tea Party as well as Cory Gardner, the former Republican Senator of Colorado. Although the district has a relatively low CPVI and includes many rural areas, there are many good signs for Ms. Pettersen coming into the election. President Biden won the district by around 15% and her average lead in the polls has remained constant at around 8%. One of the most positive signs for Republicans in the district was their very high turnout for the primaries, in which Republican candidates received about 20,000 more votes than Ms. Pettersen. However, this high difference can be attributed to the fact that Ms. Pettersen ran unopposed in her primary, thus limiting the need for a high voter turnout. Despite decent primary data and a somewhat rural district, Ms. Pettersen looks poised to take over for her Democratic colleague Rep. Perlmutter and find a place in the House in 2023.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)


VIII. CO-08:

A. Current Representative: NONE (New District)

B. Population Distribution: Mostly Suburban, Partly Rural

C. Demographics: 86% White, 30% Hispanic, 4% Asian (Demographic Percentages may Exceed 100% since Residents Could Choose a Supplemental Ethnicity along with Hispanic)

D. Cook PVI: EVEN (Toss-up)

E. Outlook: The Colorado 8th District is the state’s new district it was awarded due to population growth over the past decade. It spreads from the northern suburbs of Denver to the city of Greeley with small towns and agricultural land in-between. The district is the first in our entire series of previews to have a CPVI of EVEN, meaning that neither party holds a true advantage. The district is truly a toss-up, however the hint to see who might win may be found in the polling data, which we will get to at the end. First, the Democratic candidate for the seat is Yadira Caraveo, current member of the Colorado House. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. The Republican candidate is Barbara Kirkmeyer, current member of the Colorado Senate. She won the Republican primary by a margin of 16%. First, the good news for the Republicans. The district is largely made up of rural or exurban areas, areas where Republicans traditionally due well, even in a blueish state like Colorado. In the Republican primary, around 20,000 more voters took part, but again this number is probably higher than the Democratic number, since the Democratic candidate ran unopposed. Finally, Ms. Kirkmeyer has been leading in the polls since day one and still is. For example, polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight gives her around a 56% chance of winning this election. However, the better news may be on the Democratic side. They were still able to mobilize over 70,000 voters to a primary that was uncontested, their candidate has received a wave of endorsements from local, state and national liberal leaders, they have been able to raise over four times as much money as Ms. Kirkmeyer’s campaign and, perhaps the best piece of news for Democrats in the Colorado 8th: The change in the polling data. While it is true that Ms. Caraveo is still behind in the race, her numbers have been surging upwards over the summer, following a trend seen by many Democratic candidates in pink and light blue districts around the country. In the beginning of June, Ms. Kirkmeyer enjoyed an average lead of 7% in the polls. That number is now down to just 1%. If that trend continues until the beginning of November, it can be very difficult for the Republicans to keep up, especially in a district in which President Biden won by 5%. The Colorado 8th is definitely one of the closest races we have looked at yet and will be a fantastic barometer to look at on election night to see how both parties are doing on a nationwide scale. The Republicans will almost certainly take back the House, but we do not believe that the Colorado 8th will help them get there.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (GAIN)


Senate

As with every other state, Colorado has two seats in the Senate, with one of these seats being up for election in 2022. Incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennett will be seeking a third term as Senator. Sen. Bennett ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. His Republican challenger will be Joe O’Dea, the owner of a local construction company. Mr. O’Dea won the Republican primary by a margin of 9%. He has received many endorsements from local and national leaders from Colorado, but has an absence of key endorsements from pivotal national Republican leaders such as former President Trump or former VP Mike Pence. Although this year will be a positive year for Republicans, Sen. Bennett looks poised to capture his third term. Colorado has not elected a Republican senator since Cory Gardner in 2014, and even then, he only won by a margin of 2%. The polling shows a favorable margin for Sen. Bennett, although there were periods in the summer where Mr. O’Dea was able to close the gap relatively quickly (going from 15% back to only 5% back in the span of two months). However, Sen. Bennett has been able to restore some of his polling lead, now enjoying a 10% aggregate lead in the polls. An incumbent Democrat in a relatively blue state who has been popular with is constituents is a good combination for Sen. Bennet, who should see a third-term in Washington, even if Election Night may cause him and his team to sweat just a little.


Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)


Governor

The third and final race in Colorado is for Governor of the state. Incumbent Democratic Governor Jared Polis is looking for a second term as the highest official in the Centennial State. He has served as Governor since 2018 and with his election victory that year became the first openly gay Governor in the history of the United States. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. His Republican challenger is Heidi Ganahl, a member of the Regents of the University of Colorado. She won the Republican primary by 7%. Much like the Senate race, Gov. Polis has history on his side in this race. Colorado has elected a Democratic Governor for four straight elections and polling seems to show that this race will make that five in a row. Gov. Polis has enjoyed a large lead over Ms. Ganahl in the polling (the closest they came was a brief period in late July when the margin was 10% in favor of the incumbent Governor) who is currently up by around 15%. The only polls which have been favorable to Ms. Ganahl have been those sponsored by her own campaign, but even then, she was trailing by around 5%. With history and demographics on his side, Governor Polis will more than likely enjoy a second term in office.


Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)


Analysis

The Millennial Agora is predicting that the House races in Colorado will lead to one gained seat for Democrats, in the newly formed 8th district. All other races will remain with the incumbent party.


Thank you for reading our preview of the midterm elections in Colorado. Check back tomorrow as we preview Connecticut, the first state in New England to be featured in our midterm coverage.



The state of the House after our predictions in Colorado. Made at 270towin.com

The state of the Senate after our predictions in Colorado. States in light grey have no Senate seats up for election this year. Made at 270towin.com

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