DENVER — Roughly 1.8 million Coloradans have already voted in the election that concludes Tuesday, according to new numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.
Republicans continue to hold a slight edge over Democrats in the number of total ballots turned in, but that advantage continues to shrink gradually, more evidence that Colorado is shaping up to be one of the closest swing states on the board.
As of Monday, 624,778 registered Republicans have returned ballots; 590,417 registered Democrats have sent in their ballots, as have 474,437 registered unaffiliated voters.
That amounts to 36.5 percent of the total ballots coming from GOP voters, while 34.5 have come from Democrats — a margin of exactly two percent.
On Friday, at the end of early voting, the margin stood at 2.3 percent, down from 2.6 percent the day before.
Republicans have been confident, given their improvement in early voting numbers from four years ago, when Obama crushed Sen. John McCain and went on to win Colorado by nine points, despite McCain winning more voters on Election Day itself.
Republicans are also leading early voting in Colorado’s key swing counties: Jefferson, Arapahoe and Larimer.
But, Democrats, who narrowed the GOP’s active voter registration advantage to 1.8 percent, are increasingly confident that they will win unaffiliated voters by a wide enough margin to overcome the current gap.
That’s been the road map to victory for Colorado Democrats in recent cycles, most recently with Sen. Michael Bennet eking out a 2010 win over Ken Buck by winning undecided voters and suburban women by large margins after Buck’s careless comments.
But Romney, despite comments during the GOP primary about de-funding Planned Parenthood and overturning Roe v. Wade, has been tougher to paint as an extremist on women’s issues — in part, because the Obama campaign has also sought to portray Romney as a say-anything-to-win salesman, undercutting its own argument about the candidate’s extreme convictions.
The Obama campaign’s turnout operation is focused on driving up the numbers among low frequency voters — Latinos and young voters, mainly — and that, if successful, could provide a buffer should Colorado’s unaffiliated voters split more evenly than they have in past elections.
Ultimately, those unaffiliated voters will determine which candidate wins Colorado and its nine electoral votes — and possibly the White House.