Our ongoing project to calculate statewide election results according to congressional and legislative districts returns to Colorado for a look at the 2014 elections. This new data set joins our earlier calculations for the 2012 presidential and Senate elections, which you can find on our master list covering every state.
Democrats were mostly on the defensive in the Centennial State last cycle, but while the GOP made some key gains, it could have been worse for Team Blue. Republican Rep. Cory Gardner unseated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall 48-46, but Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper held off former GOP Rep. Bob Beauprez 49-46 to win a second term. At the same time, the GOP recaptured the state Senate with an 18-17 majority, while Democrats narrowly held on to the state House, 34 seats to 31.
Udall actually won a small majority of seats in both chambers despite losing statewide: 18 of 35 in the Senate and 35 of 65 in the House. While we aren't accustomed to seeing Democrats pull off feats like this given how most gerrymandering following the 2010 Census benefitted Republicans, Colorado’s legislative maps actually favored the Democrats. (They were drawn by a commission, but an independent tie-breaker sided with Democratic members, and the maps were later upheld by the state Supreme Court.) Unsurprisingly, Hickenlooper did better than Udall, taking two additional Senate seats and three extra House seats while losing no districts Udall won.
Both parties will be fighting hard to win the Colorado Senate next year, when half the chamber will be up.
Two suburban Denver Senate districts backed Udall while voting for a Republican legislator, and Hickenlooper won one additional seat GOP-held seat. SD-16, which is represented by U.S. Senate candidate Tim Neville, backed Udall 48-47 and Hickenlooper 51-44. SD-19, held by Laura Woods, voted for Udall by a 0.50 percent margin and 50-45 for the governor. SD-27 in Arapahoe County, held by Republican Jack Tate, is the only Romney-Hickenlooper seat in the chamber. Romney carried it 51-47 and Gardner took it 52-44, but Hickenlooper eked out a 49-48 victory.
SD-16 and SD-27 won’t be up again until 2018, but because Woods was only elected to fill the final two years of an unexpired term, she’ll need to face the voters again this year in SD-19. Obama won her seat 52-45, and there’s a very good chance that the party that holds it after 2016 will also control the state Senate.
On the flipside is SD-25, which is also in metro Denver and was the only Democratic-held Senate seat that voted for Gardner and Beauprez. Democrats will be playing defense here, but they have two advantages: It’s up for re-election this year (a presidential year), and Obama carried it 55-42 in 2012.
As far as the state House is concerned, Democrats can’t take anything for granted, but they should be favored to hold the chamber. Udall won two GOP-held seats while Gardner carried one Democratic-controlled seat. Hickenlooper took another two GOP-held seats, both of which backed Romney. Hickenlooper ran ahead of Udall in almost every legislative district. HD-55, located around Grand Junction, split its ballot more than any other area: While Hickenlooper lost it 57-39, Udall got crushed 65-31. Udall did outperform Hickenlooper in two House seats and one state Senate district around his Boulder base, but the difference was very small.
While Hickenlooper’s statewide win was more modest than President Obama’s 51-46 victory two years before, Hickenlooper ran ahead of Obama in 16 Senate districts and 28 House seats. Hickenlooper showed the biggest improvement over Obama in HD-06 in Denver: Hickenlooper took it 71-26, while Obama carried it 67-32. The biggest drop in Democratic performance was in HD-17 around Colorado Springs: Obama took it 58-39, while Hickenlooper narrowly lost it 47-45. (That’s reminiscent of what happened in the state Senate recalls in 2013, when Democratic performance also fell off badly in the Colorado Springs area.)
Udall ran a little ahead of Obama in one Senate seat and in two House districts, but not by a huge amount. Udall’s biggest underperformance compared to Obama was also in HD-17.
The GOP currently holds four of Colorado’s seven congressional districts. Fittingly, the most competitive seat, Republican Rep. Mike Coffman’s 6th District, voted for the winner in both major statewide races. Udall lost it 49-46, while Hickenlooper carried it 50-47 (Obama won it 52-47). The 7th District was once very competitive territory, but Udall won it 50-43, and the GOP appears to have given up seriously targeting Democrat Ed Perlmutter. While Beauprez represented a previous version of the 7th during the last decade, he lost the seat to Hickenlooper 53-42; Obama won it 56-41.
We also have the results calculated for the 2014 races for state attorney general, secretary of state, and state treasurer (the GOP won all three contests), as well as for Amendment 67. Amendment 67 was the far right’s latest attempt to pass a “personhood” law in Colorado, which would have severely restricted abortion rights. Personhood amendments have consistently gone down in flames in Colorado, and Amendment 67 was no different. Amendment 67 lost 65-35, prevailing only in five state House seats and two Senate districts.