Fewer than 40,000 voters in seven key Colorado counties were the difference between a clean Republican Party sweep of all statewide offices, and both Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, the two Democrats standing for re-election, holding onto their seats, according to an analysis by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News.
Instead, those voters split their tickets, choosing both Hickenlooper and the Republican senatorial candidate, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner.
The I-News analysis looked at voting results in three swing counties: Jefferson, Arapahoe and Larimer. And it examined two Democratic strongholds, Denver and Boulder County, and two Republican bastions, El Paso and Douglas counties.
Gardner beat Udall by about 48,000 votes statewide and Hickenlooper defeated Beauprez by about 58,000 votes out of some 2 million ballots cast. A switch of fewer than 30,000 voters could have changed either result.
The analysis showed that both Hickenlooper and Gardner’s paths to victory had striking similarities.
Gardner squeaked out narrow victories in one of the swing counties, Larimer, while Udall eked out wins in Arapahoe and Jefferson counties. Hickenlooper handily won all three over former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez. Hickenlooper received almost 11,000 more votes than Udall in GOP territory, El Paso and Douglas counties, and picked up 8,000 more votes than the incumbent senator in Democratic Denver.
“By and large, most voters are in one camp or another,” said political analyst Eric Sondermann. “But there is always going to be that swing of 4 or 5 percent that is willing to go back and forth.”
Final, unofficial results showed Udall winning Jefferson County by less than 1,000 votes – 121,109 to 120,240 for Gardner
Gardner hung on for an even narrower win in another swing county, Larimer. He won by just over 500 votes – 69,198 to 68,659.