Magellan Strategies launched a series of deepish dives into competitive legislative districts yesterday, with a close look at a Westminster/Arvada district that had the distinction of being the closest Senate race in 2016.
Magellan’s conclusion: “Long story short, whether you’re looking at the percentage of registration or simply just raw number of voters, there is a concerning trend for Republicans here in SD 19,” wrote Ryan Winger, Magellan’s Director of Data and Research Strategies.
Winger: “…No, the real problem can be seen looking back at voter registration: The numbers simply aren’t there anymore. It’s basic math. A comparative advantage for Republicans in SD 19 has been completely wiped away by increased Unaffiliated registration and increased voter turnout among both Democratic voters and Unaffiliated voters.
“The result? What was a fairly conventional swing district in 2014 (Cory Gardner and Bob Beauprez narrowly lost the district, while Cynthia Coffman and Walker Stapleton won) becomes by 2018, a district that voted for Democratic candidates by significant margins up and down the ballot. Where Governor Hickenlooper won by nearly 3,000 votes in 2014, now Governor Polis won by 10,000 voters in 2018. Where Cynthia Coffman won the Attorney General race by 5,300 votes in 2014, now Attorney General Phil Weiser won by 5,500 votes in 2018. Those kinds of trends are difficult to reverse, and while in a lot of ways they mirror how Colorado has changed at the statewide level, it is striking to see them at the local level.”
Magellan, a Republican-leaning polling and research firm, is analyzing the swing districts as another way to illuminate how “the political dynamics are shifting” in Colorado.
The apparent intention is, to give Republicans a math-based nudge toward strategies and tactics that can actually help them win elections again.
Winger advises the Republican Party to begin its work by, “not only registering voters but also persuading Unaffiliated voters that the Democrats in state government have overreached and offering them an alternative vision and plans for Colorado. That’s what it will take to run a competitive race in 2020, as there is no reason to believe that the turnout trends since 2014 are an aberration. As I’ve said before, this is the new normal.”
The part that seems to be particularly lost on Colorado Republicans, according to its Democratic and Republican critics, is the “alternative vision and plans for Colorado” part.
Since their crushing losses in 2018, many Republicans in Colorado appear to have fixated on a blame-game over which tactics and consultants failed them the worst, rather than on what issues and ideas can win over Unaffiliated voters.
Winger was unavailable for comment Friday afternoon, but in the past, when asked about what issues would work for the GOP in Colorado, David Flaherty, Magellan’s Founder, has been adamant that Colorado Republicans need to explain to voters how they will get more money into classrooms and, most importantly, lower the cost of healthcare. He wants the GOP to move off guns and immigration.
“We see the Democrat majority coming out with multiple plans to address rising healthcare costs,” Flaherty told the Colorado Times Recorder last year. “Voters love plans. Voters love ideas. Republicans have not put forth a plan or an idea at all. Walker Stapleton had no plan, whatsoever. The one he tried to put forth was not clear.”
“The bottom line is, Republicans have failed at demonstrating, ‘I want to lower your costs,’ rather than being against everything the Democrats are proposing.”