Colorado GOTV: Reconciling Election Results & Exit Poll Data by David Ramos

This is a look at the aftermath of the Colorado GOP ground game by reader David Ramos:

The pundits have had their two cents commenting what the election results and exit polling data says and does not say. In this case, a summary of how Colorado voted in the election using exit polling data available at Fox News and election vote numbers available at the Denver Post. Please note exit polling data and actual vote data may have changed over the past few days.

The D/R/I split –

In the 2008 election, the party split on election day was Democrat 30%, Republican 31% and Independents 39%. If the election were based strictly on these numbers, Romney would have carried the state. Both sides did very well in keeping their core voter bases. If there was any crossover voting, it was pretty much a wash. Neither gained much from these type of voters. The unaffiliated (independent) voters, according to exit polling, went for Romney by a 50-45 margin. This would indicate unaffiliated voters in Colorado essentially returned to their conservative-leaning roots. Following the party ID D/R/I split, it appears Romney was the preferred choice.

This poses the question on how Romney, then, could not carry Colorado by leading with unaffiliated voters by a 5-point margin. Brit Hume on election night alluded to “moderate” voters. Hume surmised many who call themselves “moderate” are actually reliably liberal Democrat voters. They don’t view themselves holding extreme positions, or consider themselves to ever vote for a Republican. When the exit poll asked “how you view your political alignment, liberal-moderate-conservative”, moderates in Colorado broke for Obama by 8-10 points. That alone, Obama was able to negate whatever vote advantage Romney may have had with the D/R/I split.

Down Ballot Influence –

With no statewide offices or contentious initiatives on the ballot, there was very little or no influence that could sway the presidential race in one direction or another. The congressional races were pretty much tame, with the incumbents expected to hold their seats. In the Republican held congressional districts, it appears some voters may have split their ballot – keeping their Republican congressmen and voting for Obama.

The most serious challenge the Democrats made was in CD 6, a district that has reliably voted Republican since the lines were first drawn. Reapportionment had shifted more Democrat voters into the district. As such, the Democrats thought they may have a chance of beating popular Republican incumbent Mike Coffman. Coffman held his seat by a 50-45 margin, even narrowly carrying Arapahoe County, a swing county that was carried by Obama. In CD 5, the Republicans had no Democrat challenger, allowing incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn to handily win re-election. Yet, one county in CD 5 was carried by Obama and two counties were narrowly won by Romney. Lamborn won those same counties by comfortable margins. In Republican stronghold El Paso County, the centerpiece of CD 5, apparently there were unaffiliated voters who chose Obama over Romney. Romney won El Paso County by a 57-43 margin, slightly improving on McCain’s 55-45 win in 2008. For a Republican to strongly compete for Colorado and help offset the Democrat margins in the Denver Metro area, El Paso County needs to be carried by at least a 65-35 margin. In 2000, Bush 43 carried the county by a 68-32 margin. In 2004, Bush 43 won by a 75-25 margin (best-ever).

Reconciling the numbers –

With reports of widespread failures in the Project Orca GOTV, it might be quite fair to say Colorado slipped away from the Romney column in the same way. Heading into election night, Team Romney believed it would be able to flip Colorado into their column. There was good optimism and high enthusiasm based on the huge Red Rocks rally and the Fiddler’s Green rally (Nov 3). But, then again, large rallies are not good indicators of election results. George McGovern, for example, was drawing large rally crowds at the end of his campaign. And, John Kerry drew a crowd of 80,000+ in Madison, only to win Wisconsin in 2004 by a narrow margin.

Shortly before the polls closed in Colorado, Team Romney believed their numbers pointed to a win. With 1.9 million early votes cast, a possible 800,000 votes could be cast on election day. As noted previously, no one knew how anyone voted in the early voting period. PPP suggested Obama held a 6-point lead among unaffiliated voters, giving him a slight lead going into election day. From exit polling, unaffiliated voters were breaking for Romney 50-45. It appears unaffiliated voters actually broke for Obama instead, and not Romney.

It appears, though, the difference between the Romney and Obama campaigns is the turnout model. The Obama campaign thought they would be able to recreate a portion of their 2008 turnout by getting the turnout they needed from the groups they needed. The Romney campaign turnout model was based on turnout levels would return to historical norms. Dick Morris, Karl Rove, and others on the conservative side believed turnout levels would return to historical norms. While Obama lost half of his victory margin in Colorado compared to 2008, a reduction in victory margin was likely calculated into their turnout model.

— David Ramos


  1. Kevin Paradine
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The 2004 coalition was a one time thing, and the absolute maximum vote that could be assembled by that method. 8 years of erosion and Romney’s vote count is the maximum that can be assembled by 2004 rehashed. Care to imagine 2016?

    I believed in the 2004 fairytale until election day. Unskewed polls, my foot.

  2. PeterJ
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Returning the historical “norm”, assuming that norm doesn’t change much over longish periods (big assumption), might have been a reasonable assumption. Indeed Nate Silver often talks about regression to the mean. But that is in a vacuum. There was additional evidence in the form of poll aggregations that indicated otherwise. So we should have accepted that more current contrary evidence and rejected arguments about returning to the norm, as well as unreliable evidence like crowd sizes at campaign rallies. If in the next cycle we simply accept polling aggregates as largely correct in areas where there is sufficient polling by reliable organizations, and there is a return to historical norms or crowd sizes suddenly become good predictors of turnout, then we still will err on the side of caution, which is preferable to erring on the side of anecdotal indicators, enthusiasm and other hard to quantify factors like how the electorate as a whole perceives the economy (we see sluggish low growth as bad but many apparently see it as OK).

  3. Kevin
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Crowd sizes can be important, if, (there’s that little word that means so much) if a campaign can capitalize on it. Announce on the PA that staff, and volunteers are going out into the crowd and will sign up anyone that isn’t registered to vote. While on the PA, ask if anyone would like to join to be a volunteer in the get out the vote effort. If so, go to “this location” of the rally, talk to members of the campaign. It’s not the solution to getting people registered, or to get out the vote, but every little bit helps.

    The GOP must start passing out yard signs, t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, etc at their rallies. People like free stuff, so give it to them. Have this stuff packaged in bags, except for the yard signs. Make sure you have plenty of everything so you don’t run out. How embarrassing would that be? How hard is it to figure out that if they are at a campaign event to support a candidate, they’ll advertise for free with the free stuff you give them.

    The GOP never uses modern technology at these rallies as a fund raising tool. While on the PA, ask the crowd if they’re interested in making a small donation of $10 to text “such and such” to “this text number”. If they would like to donate $20 dollar, text “such and such” to “this text number”. Hell, I’m dumb and I can figure this out.

    If it’s a crowd of 500, 5,000, or 35,000, it’s a big resource of people, yet, the Republicans are never aggressive, and never use these simple steps to strengthen their base, increase their fund raising, or expand their get out the vote efforts.

  4. Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree all things need to change and advance…from thinking to messaging to polling and GOTV efforts.

    But I must say that for all of the people claiming Republican’s can’t win with just white people…while philosophically that is true, you have to expand, reproduce and evolve or you die. But the facts are that white still make up just under 80% of the US Population. if a candidate can win the white vote by a shade over 70-30 (even if the turn out is a reduced 70) you will be the next President of the United States. And that would be assuming getting 0 of the non-white vote. So yes appealing to the MAJORITY population of the US is still a winner. but some assistance by bringing along the minority will help.

    When all is said and done…who will be blamed if Obamacare is fully implemented, entitlements are not reformed and Obama gets his MASSIVE tax increases and more than 3/4 of a million jobs are lost, unemployment stays high, consumer prices for everthing from home energy to gasoline to food and clothing goes up and the economy continue to slug along at sub 2-3% growth?

    I suspect that Obamacare will end up costing more jobs and raise prices far more than any direct income tax will. The worst is not upon us as Americans suddenly are paying between 40-100% more for their insurance, can’t find a doctor that can get them in and salaries at work continue to decline as long as employers are expected to provide healthcare.

  5. Prescient11
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This post does not tell us much about numbers.

    What is the R number of registered voters. What is the D number of registered voters. What is the I number of registered voters. (all in CO of course).

    How many Rs and Ds and Is early voted in CO.

    What was the number of votes that Zero won by in CO.

    Anybody got answers to these questions. That’s what we need to look at to plan for 2014 and 2016. Muchas gracias!!

    • Dave
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      “The Obama campaign thought they would be able to recreate a portion of their 2008 turnout by getting the turnout they needed from the groups they needed. The Romney campaign turnout model was based on turnout levels would return to historical norms. Dick Morris, Karl Rove, and others on the conservative side believed turnout levels would return to historical norms. While Obama lost half of his victory margin in Colorado compared to 2008, a reduction in victory margin was likely calculated into their turnout model.”

      What was the rational for believing that turnout would return to historical norms? No wonder republicans lost. Their models were based on hope and fluff while the dems were based on objective numbers. If you know how many votes you need to win (and dems did) then it’s easy to know how much work you have to do. If you base your analysis on the expectation that historical trends will revert back, then there is no way to know how much work you have to do. Why are they going to revert back? What if they don’t or not as far as you think? If they used these models simply to motivate the base because they knew couldn’t get enough voters to overcome a 2008 turnout, then that’s a means to an end and that’s reasonable. But to sit there and say I expect turnout levels to revert back to historical norm with no plan to make it so that’s dreaming. I can’t believe those guys based their math on that. They also knew the other side had the same candidate and knew good and well what they need to do to win–fraud or no fraud.

    • David
      Posted November 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The party ID split on election day 2012 – 32.3% Democrats, 33.8% Republicans, 32.7% unaffiliated (independent).
      The 2012 EV ballot share – 34.2% Democrats, 36.0% Republicans, 28.7% unaffiliated.
      Obama wins Colorado by 113,099 votes.

      The key to winning Colorado has always depended upon being able to “read” the electorate, in particular determining which direction the unaffiliated voters are leaning. Once you know the alignment of the unaffiliated voters and their important issues, then you organize accordingly.

  6. mike's wondering
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Kieth can you please prove that we were not cheated. I can’t seem to grasp how Romney got 5x the rally size as Mccain in Ohio, Voter enthusiasm polls were way higher than 2008 and yet…. We didn’t turn out the way we did in 2008.

    Can I just say. Bullsh*t!

    And now with the fraud going on for Allen West to lose, and all the Republican senators to lose. I just smell a big fat Rat. And does anyone think this Regime wouldn’t do this.

    • prescient11
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink | Reply


      Not only that, but the small crowds Obama was pulling. I mean what the fuck is going on.

      Crowd size is not determinative, but obummer could barely pull 15k in Cleveland!!! People were driving hours to see RR.

      It definitely boggles the mind.

    • Kevin Paradine
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s idiotic to think that the Obama machine could convince GOP administrations in many states to collude with their vote fraud scheme.

      • D. Burleson
        Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        What I would like addressed is why in some key battleground states voter turnout exceeded voter registration…like in some counties voter turnout was 120%, 147%, and so on and in some areas Romney got ZERO votes. I think way too much voter fraud went on and should be investigated. I think we were robbed…need to do quite a bit of investigation on this matter. I have stated here before that in 20 states including most battleground states voting machines were being used that are owned by a company in Spain, the company used to be a US company but was bought out a few years ago. Why are votes being tallied in Spain, then after the election is over and a winner is declared those votes are erased so no one can go back and check the validity of the votes. Guess who owns huge stock and shares in this company, George Soros, who also funds, and guess who met with Obama yesterday at the White House… along with Labor Unions and progressive Special Interest Groups who helped him steal the election. Beware of the large labor unions…and they needed him to win, they want to unionize as many federal employees as possible since they are being shown the door in the private sector. Information of the TSA unionizing was held up until after the election just like everything on Libya is still being stonewalled and this whole thing with Petraus was kept quiet until after the election to keep him from talking. Everything about this election and this White House is a fraud! Progressives/Liberals will do anything to gain a foothold, just like in our universities that have been taken over by liberals and that answers the question as to why young people are progressive and liberal. A majority of young people polled think socialism is better than capitalism. When liberals control the media, labor unions, the establishment, the universities and so on…how does conservatism have a chance in the future? Too many people had to much to lose in this election and they did everything they needed to do to keep their manchurian president in office. Just heard today that Warren Buffet is already endorsing Hillary Clinton for 2016 and plans on funding her campaign. See what I mean??? Just like the way Obama ran his campaign…dividing and conquering, pitting one class against another, convincing young people, single women, Latinos and blacks that big business is bad and greedy yet they provide jobs for people. Or Republicans are going to take away contraception and they believe rape is ok…Really??? Anyway, just food for thought. The wool has been pulled over our eyes…just research it for yourself.

      • Dave
        Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        My feeling is that it begins with respect. And respect comes from the message you send to voters from beginning of the primaries. If the republican party continues to put extremist right wingers up on stage during the primaries spouting all sorts of nonsensical extremist points of view, with all sorts of strange backgrounds, the republican party will forever be negatively branded.

        Currently, any republican candidate coming out of those primaries has to run not only for the job as president but has to run away from the reputation of the republican party. When republicans start fielding articualte, charasmatic, thought provoking individuals that at least appear to weight both sides, not knee-jerk idealogues, that’s when more people will warm up to the party as a whole. They don’t call it the MIDDLE for effing nothing people. With the exception of Romney and perhaps Paul, all the candidates in this year’s republican primaries were scarry to most voters. Herman what’s-his-name couldn’t get enough of himself and apparently most women he came in contact with. Bachman made money exploiting gays. Newt is a fat hypocrite with political ideas from the 50s. Santorum can’t seem to get past his social views.

        As far as George Bush goes, I think he did a lot of damage to the republican brand. The Obama camp seemed to think running against Bush this election was a good idea too. I think politics aside, people are happy with Obama representing them as president because he comes across as intelligent and articulate and that’s something the country didn’t see for 8 years under Bush.

        The die is cast. The Obama campaign has written the book on how to slaughter republican opponents. In the future it will depend on the candidate whether the slander sticks. For Romney, given his background and business-like stature, it stuck. If it had been Reagan, it probably wouldn’t have stuck as well because he didn’t look the part. Until republicans find a way to moderate the debate in the primaries, they will always be stuck between the fringe right and moderate right-leaning middle who have no qualms voting for a centrist dem.

        As far as Clinton goes, there’s no way she runs. Or at least gets the nomination. She’ll be 69 in 2016. At the end of 4 years she’ll be 73 and at the end of that 77. Can a 69 year old women who already has run one blistering primary campaign motivate a base? I don’lt think so. And history says no too. The primary age for women running for office is mid 50’s. Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher all were in their 50’s when they first ran. Is there any women elected official that won an election 1 years shy of 70? Warren Buffet, god bless him, is dreaming a pipe dream. You know there’s no telling what money and fraud can do so anything is possible but if elections in this country still are elections, and elections are aboiut the will of the people not the will of rich philanthropists then there is little chance she makes it.

  7. Zang
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    John Kerry pulled in a crowd of 80,000 in 2004. John Fucking Kerry. Need I say more about crowd size as an objective measure of anything?

    • Mike's wondering
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m not saying crowd size is determinitive! Duh. I’m saying crowd size, buzz, enthusiasm, actual polls thru Rasmussen etc. All those variables would point to beating 2008 Mccain numbers. But the results say we had less voters than McCain 2008. That to me just doesn’t smell right.

      All it takes is one lie to be exposed like a weak link in the results and then you smell a RAT!!!!!
      Right now this one bothers me. Why would our turnout be less than MCCains. It’s just bullsh*t. McCain and Palin turned off suburbanites, people were tired of bush, many obama voters swore off obama and said they were voting for Romeny. Yet still less votes than 2008? Obama care, raiding medicare and still less votes than Mccain? 4 years of hell, 8% unemployment, way more money and still less votes than Mccain? BULL FUCKING SHIT. I’m realizing it was a fraud election.

      You could have convinced me Obama beat Romney. But you will never convince me MCCAin in 2008 beat Romney in 2012. Take that to the bank! Kieth am I right or am I right.

      Then other evidence comes to light, like what happened in Wests county in Florida. New Blog site. 2012 was a and then we’ll meticulously go thru the election data. Affadavits, county organizers, maintenence workeres on the machines etc. I know it in my bones this was a stolen election. the Us is under attack from within.

      • M.White
        Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

        Share the link about the 2012 voter fraud. I can’t find it with what you posted.

    • Dave
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’d love to see republicans dig into that. Or some reporter ala Watergate. It really makes no sense and it does smell rotten. That is the election wasn’t a show and Obama hadn’t already been selected to be president.

  8. Tony
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    If Republicans continue to be in denial, if they mess around with this no tax hikes for the rich in the “fiscal cliff” mess, (which will cause millions of Americans to lose their jobs), if they continue to be the “moral party”, and if they don’t get over this fantasy of deporting illegal immigrants….they will be extinct in 2016.

    • Dave
      Posted November 15, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink | Reply

      “fantasy of deporting illegal immigrants”

      You must be for raising taxes on all americans to pay for healthcare for every last fking Mexican on the planet.

  9. PeterJ
    Posted November 15, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink | Reply

    M. White,

    There is an interesting and handy thing on the internet called a “link”. It enables you to not have to dump whole (copyrighted) articles in a blog. Check it out.

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