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Steamboat Springs Democrats and liberals in Routt County and across Colorado had plenty of reason to celebrate Tuesday night.
Amendment 64, legalizing marijuana for those 21 and older, and Amendment 65, which seeks campaign finance spending limits — both popular among liberal bases — won handily.
Colorado Democrats took control of the state House and look likely to elect current minority leader Mark Ferrandino as its first openly gay leader. And in the state Senate, Pat Steadman might have enough votes to become its first openly gay leader. Regardless of who’s named leader, Democrats retaining control of the Senate and gaining control of the House appears to pave the way for civil union legislation that failed to push past partisan gridlock last session.
Routt County’s Diane Mitsch Bush contributed to the Democratic takeover of the state House with a win in House District 26 against Republican Chuck McConnell.
Mitsch Bush solidified her lead among Routt County voters in early voting, beating McConnell by 2,084 votes, or about 20 percent of early ballots cast in the race as of the most recent count.
In fact, despite having a slight lead in registered, active voters, Republicans were beaten by Democrats in early voting in every partisan Routt County race.
Registered, active voters by affiliation according to the Colorado Secretary of State office’s most recent report
• Republicans: 4,420
• Democrats: 4,303
• Unaffiliated: 5,456
Total active voters in Routt County including third parties: 14,463
Routt County voter registration numbers available from the Secretary of State for the same month ahead of 2008’s presidential election do not separate active voters from registered voters, but each party’s share of voters remains similar, with unaffiliated voters making up a slightly larger share in 2008 and Democrats having less than a 0.3 percent lead against Republicans.
But perhaps one of the most interesting trends to emerge locally this election season was how Routt County’s early voting numbers bucked the statewide trend.
Total early ballots cast in Colorado, including third parties: 1,872,987
• Republicans: 675,797
• Democrats: 642,834
• Unaffiliated: 534,012
The average point difference between Republican and Democratic candidates in Routt County early voting was +15.6 for Democrats. The point difference shrank drastically for Election Day voting to +1.13 for Democrats.
In two races, Republicans beat their Democratic opponents after losing in early voting.
• 3rd Congressional District Republican candidate Scott Tipton beat Sal Pace, a Democrat, in Election Day voting in Routt County by 1,165 votes to 971 votes (8.42 points). Overall, Routt County voters chose Pace by 6,268 votes to 5,484 votes. Tipton won the race.
• Senate District 8 Republican candidate Randy Baumgardner beat Emily Tracy, a Democrat, in Election Day voting in Routt County by 1,131 votes to 996 votes (5.94 points). Overall, Routt County voters chose Tracy by 6,408 votes to 5,343 votes. Baumgardner won the race.
Average of vote ratios across all races for Republicans (percents rounded to nearest two decimal points)
• Early votes: 41.04 percent
• Election Day votes: 47.59 percent
• Total votes: 42.25 percent
Average of vote ratios across all races for Democrats (percents rounded to nearest two decimal places)
• Early votes: 56.64 percent
• Election Day votes: 48.72 percent
• Total votes: 55.17 percent
To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4254 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com