Arapahoe County is turning blue, at least when it comes to voter registrations in what was once considered a GOP stronghold. For the first time in …
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Arapahoe County is turning blue, at least when it comes to voter
registrations in what was once considered a GOP stronghold.
For the first time in its history, figures from the county
clerk’s office showed registered Democrats outnumbering
Republicans, by more than 3,000 registrants, 117,119 to
The last time a Democratic presidential candidate carried the
county was the election of Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Mike Hamrick, chairman of the Arapahoe County Democratic Party,
says the surge of Democrats shows the party is energized and
motivated in Arapahoe County — and that Sen. Barack Obama is
“[The Democratic Party] started early on to generate interest
and to register people as Democrats to participate in this year’s
caucuses,” Hamrick said. “Once Obama was chosen as the candidate, a
lot of people registered. The numbers can largely be attributed to
their campaign voter drives.”
Pat Waak, chairperson of the Colorado Democratic Party, also
attributes the increase in numbers, in part, to Obama.
“He has excited, enthused and motivated a lot of citizens who
may not have been involved in the political process in the past,”
Aside from Obamamania, the registration shift stems from a few
Like neighboring Jefferson County, Arapahoe County has become a
competitive battleground, in part because of a growing Hispanic
population and the Democrats’ increased popularity among
The unpopularity of the Bush administration has probably also
played a role in the realignment of voters, Waak said.
Both chairs said the fact that Democrats embarked on major voter
registration drives early in the year is the primary reason for the
“As a result, registering to vote has been easier and more
accessible,” Waak said.
Still, Republicans are confident they will capture the
Nathan Chambers, chairman of the Arapahoe County Republican
Party said the increase in Democratic voters is merely part of the
ebb and flow of politics and that Republicans will bounce back in
“The change in numbers is really insignificant,” Chambers said.
“The county has always been competitive.”
He also attributes the shift in numbers to the county’s changing
Nancy Doty, Arapahoe County clerk and recorder, said the
Republican Party has always led the county, and election races have
been competitive for only the last two years.
“Historically, [Republicans] have always had about a
20,000-person registration lead,” Doty said. “This year is the
first year it’s gone the other way.”
According to statistics from Oct. 10, Arapahoe County Democrats
have a 2-to-1 lead.
Most agree that independents, comprising about 32 percent of the
county’s registered voters, will ultimately decide the presidential
election and the races all the way down the ballot.
Still, Democrats are optimistic about their chance to win over
the unaffiliated, a group the party is aggressively targeting.
Hamrick said he doesn’t think there’s an unwinnable seat in the
county, but thinks independents will ultimately decide the
“Unaffiliated numbers have stayed the same. But people are ready
for change, for a different vision, a different direction,” he
Chambers said he firmly believes Republicans and Sen. John
McCain will win in Arapahoe County.
“We have a great slate of candidates this year,” Chambers said.
“I certainly hope good judgement will prevail and that McCain will
win the state and the county.”
With more than 3,000 more Democrats registered than Republicans,
Arapahoe County now boasts a nearly three-way split between the two
major parties and the unaffiliated.
The once-dominant Republicans make up about 33 percent of the
county’s registered voters to the Democrats’ 35 percent.
Unaffiliated voters boast the remaining 32 percent.
Since the 2006 election, Republicans have lost about 42,000
voters statewide, and Democrats have picked up about 32,000.
"What this shows is that Coloradans are moving away from the
Republican Party. I think it's great news,” Waak said in a
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