More Republicans head to ballot box early in Colorado

By John Ingold
The Denver Post
Posted: 10/26/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 10/26/2010 09:08:45 AM MDT

Workers Elizabeth Gibson and Frank Fraizer reconcile a ballot Monday at the Denver Elections Division. A week before Election Day, about 443,600 ballots have been cast in Colorado. (Judy DeHaas, The Denver Post)

Republicans are beating Democrats early in the race to the ballot box in Colorado, according to newly released numbers from the secretary of state's office.

But the differences aren't so great as to portend a GOP landslide come election night, some analysts said.

With one week until Election Day, Republicans have cast about 25,000 more votes than Democrats at either early-voting sites or through the mail. About 443,600 ballots have been cast statewide.

Republicans are also winning the turnout battle, with about 17 percent of Republicans having cast a ballot so far compared with about 15 percent of Democrats, according to the figures released Monday.

The two parties are almost equal in terms of overall registration numbers. Unaffiliated voters, who are lagging behind Democrats and Republicans both in ballots cast and turnout, make up the state's largest voting bloc.

Kenneth Bickers, a political science professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said the numbers are "slightly good news" for Republicans.

"Party affiliation doesn't tell you how people voted," he said. "But, as a proxy, party works pretty well."

The numbers are flipped from where they were two years ago, when Democrats outnumbered Republicans in ballots cast early. In the last week of October 2008, Democrats were about 15,000 ballots cast ahead of Republicans. By the end of the election, Republicans had voted in greater numbers and turned out in higher percentages, but unaffiliated voters swung heavily toward Democrats.

This year, Bickers said, national polls show independents leaning toward the right. He points to counties with higher turnouts so far of independents ó such as Weld and Jefferson ó as places that might decide the election.
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