Last Monday, one day before Election Day, I made my predictions for the major political races in Colorado. Here’s how I did, and where I went wrong:
Any idiot could have told you that Democrat Bill Ritter was going to beat the snot out of Republican Bob Beauprez. I predicted a victory in the range of 10 points. Ritter won by nearly 16. Anything above 10 points is a blowout is a statewide race, but I was still a little surprised by the 16 point margin. I thought Beauprez would at least get within 10 points because he’s a Republican in a Republican-registered state.
I thought Republican John Suthers would beat Democrat Fern O’Brien by a relatively close 4-7 points. Suthers won by about 9 points. Close enough.
I predicted a narrow victory (3-4 points) by Democrat Cary Kennedy over Republican Mark Hillman. Kennedy won by 2 points.
Secretary of State
The final votes probably won’t be counted for awhile here, but I thought Republican Mike Coffman would win a close race over Democrat Ken Gordon. The 2-3 point margin I predicted is about where it will end up in Coffman’s favor.
I predicted that Democrats would win two additional seats for a 20-15 majority in the state Senate. I was dead-on, but Democrat Paula Noonan nearly beat Republican Mike Kopp in SD-22 to make it 21-14.
I thought Democrats would keep control of the state House by picking up a few extra seats to compensate for losing a couple of targeted races. I would never have predicted, nor would anyone else, that Democrats wouldn’t lose a single incumbent and still pick up extra seats. This, to me, was the biggest surprise of the election. The Democrats’ victories here were absolutely stunning in their enormity and were the result of a perfect storm on every front. I don’t know that you could repeat this sort of success again – not on purpose, anyway.
First Congressional District
Democrat Diana DeGette was a shoo-in because she didn’t have major party opposition. She won by nearly 60 points.
Second Congressional District
Democrat Mark Udall did have a Republican opponent, but not much of one. He won by 37 points, as anyone (including me) would have predicted.
Third Congressional District
I thought that Democrat John Salazar would win re-election by about 7 points, but he pulled a huge surprise by beating Republican Scott Tipton by nearly 25 points. Salazar’s gigantic victory was the result in part from his heavy presence on television, while Tipton had stopped running TV ads in early October because it was obvious that he couldn’t pull ahead (and didn’t want to spend his own money to try it).
Fourth Congressional District
This was the only race I got wrong outright; I thought Democrat Angie Paccione would pull out a really close victory over Republican Marilyn Musgrave. The polls in this race tightened in the last two weeks, which I thought indicated bad news for the incumbent Musgrave, but she managed a 3 point victory in part because of a lead in absentee votes. Paccione didn’t really do a strong advertising push until mid-October, by which time many of Musgrave’s negative ads had sunk in with early voters. Had Paccione responded sooner to Musgrave’s attacks, she might have done enough to win.
Fifth Congressional District
This was a hard race to call because there was no recent history to rely upon for guidance (retiring Rep. Joel Hefley had held the seat, easily, for the last 20 years). I was confident that Republican Doug Lamborn would beat Democrat Jay Fawcett because the voter registration advantage was just too much for a Democrat to overcome, but I was surprised by the 19 point margin of victory (I had predicted a 5 point win). What this told us, I believe, is that CD-5 probably just isn’t winnable for a Democrat. There are too many Republican voters in El Paso County and surrounding areas who are going to mark an ‘X’ for a fellow Republican regardless of the warts. Lamborn was a bad candidate, but he was a Republican in a Republican district.
Sixth Congressional District
It was an easy call to pick Republican Tom Tancredo over Democrat Bill Winter, because Winter was a virtual unknown to the average voter. Tancredo won by about 19 points, which was no surprise.
Seventh Congressional District
I guessed that Republican Rick O’Donnell would fall to Democrat Ed Perlmutter by 5-7 points. Perlmutter won by about 12 points, which was a little surprising given how competitive this seat was supposed to have been. Still, I don’t think it was too hard to predict a comfortable victory for Perlmutter.
I took at stab at predicting the outcomes of the 13 top races in Colorado, many of which were pretty easy to guess at (Ritter and Suthers, for example). I picked 12 of the 13 outcomes correctly – outright – but had a little trouble with some of the margins. Most people knew that this would be a Democratic year, but most – including me – were surprised at just how big of a landslide it was for the donkeys.