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Colo. Democrats slash GOP’s voter registration advantage

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DENVER — Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, an unabashed Republican partisan who’s been a constant target of Democratic criticism, heralded the success of a month-long voter registration drive that ended at midnight Wednesday.

“Colorado is doing a better job than ever before of registering people to vote,” Gessler said during a morning press conference Wednesday. “This is a spectacular success.”

But, after FOX31 Denver’s analysis of the data, Democrats should be just as excited as Gessler — if not more so — about major gains in registration across the board.

Although more than 45,000 new registration and registration changes are still pending due to a backlog, Democrats have more than cut the GOP’s overall registration advantage in half, including with those voters who are both active and on the Pemanent Mail-In Voter list.

In early September, Republicans had a 72,585 voter edge in that category — or 4.6 percent.

One month later, that edge has shrunk to 30,347 voters — 1.6 percent overall.

“Now our job is going to be to turn those registered voters into votes,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told FOX31 Denver Wednesday afternoon.

Gessler, whose been criticized for what Democrats see as efforts to make it harder for certain voters to cast ballots, heralded a registration drive that saw 1.1 million visitors to the Secretary of State’s website and 34,129 newly registered voters who submitted their forms online, based on a preliminary count issued by Gessler Wednesday.

Overall, Colorado continues to have more unaffiliated voters than registered Democrats or Republicans; and, following that pattern, more new voters registered themselves as unaffiliated than any other party during the recent registration drive.

From Sept. 1 to Oct. 9, Democrats registered 39,517 new voters, compared to 21,325 new voters who registered as Republicans — trimming the GOP’s overall registration advantage of 27,788 Colorado voters down to 9,596.

But Republicans have long pressed a much larger advantage with active voters, because far more registered Democrats are inactive than Republicans.

But that advantage has been diminished somewhat as well.

On Sept. 1, Colorado had 97,954 more active registered Republicans than active registered Democrats; and their advantage with Republicans classified as active who are also on the Permanent Mail In Voter (PMIV) list was 72,585.

As of Wednesday, the GOP’s advantage among those voters, who are viewed as the most likely to vote in every election, was down to 30,347 voters.

At least 45,000 registration forms, many of which were submitted on Oct. 9, the final day before the deadline to register in time for the Nov. 6 presidential election, have yet to be added to the totals because of a backlog experienced by county clerks across the state.

But a graph of registration by party affiliation shows that, even on Oct. 9, the spike in registration submissions followed the consistent pattern with unaffiliated voters leading the way, followed by newly registered Democrats and then Republicans.

“This tells me this is much more likely the result of the Dem Party’s legwork and Obama For America’s legwork and not the Secretary of State’s campaign,” political analyst Eric Sondermann told FOX31 Denver Wednesday afternoon.

The major Democratic gains would loom even larger if not for the huge bloc of Colorado voters who self-identify as unaffiliated; but, according to Sondermann, it’s more than significant enough to give President Obama a better shot at capturing the state’s nine electoral votes.

“That has been regarded as the Democrats’ big ace in the hole, the ground game. And getting voters registered is a huge part of that,” Sondermann said.

“I don’t think there’s any serious person out there who doesn’t expect Colorado to be decided by a percentage point or less. So any time you can manufacture an edge of 30- or 40,000 voters, of course that’s huge.”