Sunday, December 06, 2009

Colorado State Senate 2010 Forecast.

We are going to begin our look at the State Senate Elections with this observation.

During the last three election cycles there have been 25 elections held in districts which should be competitive on paper. These are districts where neither the Republican nor the Democratic Parties have a registration advantage of greater than 10%. Of these 25 races the Republicans won 3. That is right, a win percentage of 12%.

Is the Republican Party really that dismal in Colorado? The answer is complex, but in short, no. In 2002 the Colorado State Constitution was amended, what resulted was a game changer for local elections. Amendment 27 radically changed Colorado Legislative elections, while many can debate its merits, its effects have been to cripple Republican fundraising.

Here are some examples from the 2006 election cycle:

SD 5. Democrat Schwartz raised $222.8K vs. Republican Entz who raised $125K. This district had a 7% Republican registration advantage. Schwartz squeaked out a 51-49 win. Who says you cannot buy an election?

SD 6. Democrat Isgar raised $97K vs. Republican Tate who raised $26.5K. That is nearly 4-1.

SD 11. Democrat Morse 120K, Republican Jones 61.6K.

SD 20. Democrat Keller 126K, Republican Sargent 41.6K.

SD 16. Democrat Fitz-Gerald 147K, Republican Neilson 22K.

In 2008 Democrat Dan Gibbs ran to finish the second half of Joan Fitz-Gerald's term in SD 16. He raised 122.7K, Republican Ytterberg raised 63.5K.

We will reserve our detailed analysis of Amendment 27 (it is a joke, and a complete failure at its stated goal, which was to reduce the influence of money in politics) for a later date. Let us just say that 2004 was a watershed election in Colorado, and that the Democrats have been in power ever since.

As for the current election, here is our forecast of the five top races. Remember, the current breakdown of power in the Colorado State Senate is R 14 D 21. The number to get to in order to gain control is 18.

District 6: Senator Bruce Whitehead (D) took over this Four Corners district when former Senator Isgar left for a post with the Obama administration. The current makeup of this district gives the GOP a 10% registration advantage (that would be a R10 in Mile High Delphi speak). Fundraising will be critical and we don't expect the GOP to be outspent 3-1 this time around. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, who represents House District 59, has announced that she plans to challenge Senator Whitehead in 2010. According to the Colorado Secretary of State, Roberts already has $22,500 cash on hand. Senator Whitehead has $3000.

After District 6, things really get a lot less fun. The Republican's dismal record in close registration races makes the probability of them picking up 3 additional State Senate Seats nearly impossible. Here are the four most competitive races that we forecast:

District 5: The two parties are locked in a registration dead heat in this mountain district. However, as we mentioned before, the GOP wins only about 1 out of 9 times in races where it has less than a 10% registration advantage. We mark this as leans Democrat at the moment. However, if the Republican's do pull off something like 2002, with the Gubernatorial candidate and the Senate candidate pulling off big wins, we could see a coat-tail effect.

District 16: Another mountain district that has a registration dead heat. Our model gives the GOP a one out of nine chance of winning it. See above for further analysis.

District 2: This South Eastern Colorado District looks like it should be solid GOP territory, but don't tell that to the voters, the GOP only has a 2% registration advantage. The Democrats could, with a carefully picked candidate win this district. Keep an eye on it.

District 11: Colorado Springs. Take a district with a small GOP registration advantage, outspend the Republican incumbent 2-1 and, abracadabra, you get a Democratic pickup. That was in 2006. Now this district has a Democratic registration advantage of 5%. This one has probably forever slipped away from the GOP. But we will watch it anyway.

Honorable Mention: District 20. This is Moe Keller's old Wheat Ridge centered district. It is made up of aging inner ring suburbs. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D) lives in this district (he used to represent it). It is currently rated D+7. An Likely Democrat hold. Hell, this side of town elected Gwen Green (D) and she could have been outsmarted by a bulldog. Seriously, she couldn't debate anyone, she couldn't hold a conversation, she may not have been able to hold a thought. The days of "Jeffco" being a Republican stronghold are over.

We will flesh out this forecast over the next year. With, we promise you, a look at all the races. As things stand now, look for next year's State Senate to have 14-15 Republicans and 20-21 Democrats.

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