Independent Voters Surge in Midterm Election
November 1, 2006
By Floyd Ciruli
Independent voters are likely to dominate Colorado politics for the next few elections. Unaffiliated identifiers now trail Republicans by only 67,000 registered voters, down from a 97,000 spread in 2004. The Colorado Secretary of State reports that 46 percent of voters registering since January 1, 2006, have declined a partisan label and declared unaffiliated (54% of new voters who registered in the month prior to the deadline registered unaffiliated).
Although Colorado has become more politically competitive and, in 2004, Colorado Democrats won U.S. Senate and House seats, along with both houses of the legislature after a decade of Republican dominance, in fact their overall registration position has not improved and they remain 170,000 party members behind Republicans. The last time Democrats had a plurality of registered voters was in 1992, the year Bill Clinton won Colorado’s electoral votes.
Source: Colorado Secretary of State, The Almanac of American Politics, Ciruli Associates, 2006
Midterm election registration normally declines from the previous presidential election. Colorado’s current registered voter total has slipped under the 3.1 million who have registered for the 2004 presidential election (down 139,000 registrants since 2004). Historically, turnout is also lower in midterm elections. If recent off-presidential election turnout trends hold, 1.8 to 1.9 million voters should participate, or about 60 to 65 percent of 2.9 million voters.
With Colorado’s population on the upswing after the economic slowdown early in the decade, Colorado can expect a surge in new registrants for the 2008 presidential election. They are likely to be more independent.
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Ciruli Associates is a non-partisan research firm providing polling, election analysis and political commentary to Colorado and national media organizations since 1976