Update July 17, 2008 D 18 R 15 Toss Up 2
The Colorado State Senate (hereto after referred to simply as the “Senate”) is made up of 35 members. Each member is elected to a four year term, and term limits state that no member shall serve more than two terms. Due to appointments and a court ruling a Senator can serve up to ten years, but in the vast majority of circumstances you can group Senators into one of two groups, either a first termer or a last termer. Elections are staggered for the Senate, with 18 seats up during presidential election years and 17 seats up during mid-term elections. The 18 seats that are up during presidential election years will be referred to as Class 1 and the remaining 17 Class 2 seats will be decided during the midterm elections two years later. The Senate is currently made up of only Republicans and Democrats. The Democrats have a five seat majority, meaning that the GOP must win three seats in order to take control of the chamber in 2009.
The Class 2 seats currently are made up of 8 Republicans and 9 Democrats. Of the Class 1 seats up for election during this cycle 14 of the seats are not competitive. Below we list the Senate Districts based upon their “partisan differential.” The P-Diff as we call it is basically either the Democratic or Republican Party’s registration advantage as a percentage.
Before we begin with a look at each Senate District in particular, let’s just do a quick macro view of the political landscape in Colorado. In 2004 the Democratic Party took control of the State Legislature for the first time in forty years. Colorado has moderated greatly since the beginning of Bush 41’s Presidency. All things being equal you would expect that if the registration between the two parties is equal, i.e. the P-Diff is 0, than each party would have an equal chance of winning the district. Today that is not true in Colorado. The “horizon” as we call it is currently somewhere out near R +7. That means that demographically, districts where the GOP has a 7% registration advantage are “toss ups.” As a matter of fact the GOP only holds one Senate District where they have less than a 9% registration advantage, SD 2 in southeast Colorado, which has a P Diff of R +2. Basically, the GOP has to slug it out in order to win districts where it holds single digit registration advantages, while Democrats easily skate to victory in comparable districts. As things stand right now, we only see four competitive districts this cycle, with each party having to defend two seats each. Since the GOP needs three seats to capture control of the Senate we put the probability of the GOP taking control of the Senate at 1%.
Our current projection is Democratic control: R 13-16 D 19-22
Here is a look at the four most competitive districts:
Open. P-Diff R +5.5. Westminster. Formerly held by Sue Windels (D) for eight years.
Open. P-Diff R +9. Broomfield. Shawn Mitchell (R) Running for re-election.
Open. P-Diff R +9. Northwestern Colorado. Formerly held by Jack Taylor (R) for eight years.
Incumbent Bob Bacon (D) is running for re-election. P-Diff R+2.5. Fort Collins.
Update 03/31/2008: This projection is very preliminary, we still have some more research to do and we need to mine a little more data, but if the election were held today the Colorado State Senate could switch control, even though it looks very unlikely. Our range shows that the Senate could go from a five seat Democratic majority to a two seat Republican majority. Most likely, the GOP may pick up one seat.