A Closer Look at Early Voting in Colorado

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Democrats are happy with early vote totals in general, but the news appears grim in Colorado, where Republicans have requested and returned more ballots than Democrats. However, a look behind the numbers shows something slightly different.

There is no Republican surge/tsunami/wave/upwelling/flood/what-have-you.

Democrats are "losing" statewide, but they're losing at a pace that is similar to the pace they were losing in 2008, when they won the state. Democrats say that their voter rolls have shrunk, generally, because they've tended to them well -- and because 50,000 voters have moved out of state.

A few points: there are more Republicans on the permanent absentee list, so it doesn't surprise either Democrats or Republicans that the total number of ballots returned will favor Republicans. However, of regular midterm voters, Democrats are casting ballots at a slightly higher rate than Republicans.

And of all the ballots cast, Democratic ones make up a higher percentage than they did in 2008 -- 36.8 percent to 36.5 percent. Democrats have tracked 15,000 votes from Denver over the past two days, and only 22 percent of them are Republican.

Democrats say that independent voters are breaking for Sen. Michael Bennet* by 10 percentage points -- 55 percent to 45 percent, according to Dem polling. If this is correct, both Democrats and Republicans have requested about an equal number of ballots, given that 513,000 Democrats, 558,000 Republicans, and 450,000 independents requested them.

*Disclosure: Sen. Michael Bennet is the brother of Atlantic editor James Bennet.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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