We here at MHD felt that just looking at the increases in Colorado State's unemployment rate during the Ritter years, and during the years since 2005 when the Democrats took control of the Colorado State Legislature for the first time in forty years, is rather unfair.
A better measure of how any party is dealing with the macro environment in Colorado would be to compare Colorado's unemployment rate to the national rate, that difference is the measure that we have created to look at how Colorado's State Government has performed.
We looked at the yearly rates for both Colorado and the United States as a whole (not seasonally adjusted) from 1998 to 2008 and at October 2009. That gave us 12 data points. Five of these points had the State Government in some form of split control, three with GOP control of both the legislature and the governor's office and four with total Democratic control.
From 1998 until 2001 Colorado generally outperformed the nation as a whole by about a percentage point. From 2002 until 2006 Colorado basically performed the same as the United States as a whole. During this time the Democrats swept into power, in what has since become know as the Colorado Model . From 2007 until October of 2009 Colorado has again outperformed the nation as a whole.
On average during the years of split control Colorado outperformed the national unemployment rate by about a third of a percent. During years of GOP control Colorado did even better, about .83 percent. From 2006 until 2008 the Democrats outperformed the national average by .06%, but they currently are outperforming the national average by 3.3%, with Colorado's October 2009 unemployment rate at 6.9% vs. the national average of 10.2%.
On average the Democrats beat the national average by 1.275% when you include the October data.
The Republicans would do well to point out the number of lost jobs since the Democrats have taken office, and especially since Democratic Governor Bill Ritter took office. However, the Democrats, if they are smart, will quickly retort with "but it could have been worse" and demonstrate how Colorado, under their stewardship, has outperformed the Nation as a whole.
Look for a sneak peak at the State Senate elections coming up next week. The Republicans need to pick up three seats to gain control of the chamber, and to deny the Democrats total control over redistricting, much as the Democrats did a decade ago.