Muftic: The power of the unaffiliated is working for Democrats in 2018 |

Muftic: The power of the unaffiliated is working for Democrats in 2018

Felicia Muftic
Courtesy Photo

Colorado just had its first “open primary,” permitting unaffiliated to vote in a party primary of their choice. It benefited the Democratic Party turnout and gives a preview of the November 2018 outcome when all House of Representative and numerous statehouse legislative seats, some state and local officials, and the governor are up for a vote. Our purple state appears to be turning bluer.

Nearly 38 percent of all voters in Colorado are registered unaffiliated and the rest are split somewhat evenly between Republicans and Democrats, with Democrats having a slight edge. What the unaffiliated do in November is key to the results. Many register unaffiliated because they are not very loyal to one party or another. The unaffiliated polled are leaning more heavily Democratic.. The Democratic party is relatively unified. There was no cross the board ideological sweep by either progressives or more traditional Democrats, with both factions winning individual state wide primary races in June. There were issue nuances, especially in education (charter vs. public) and in methods and degrees of health care insurance access. If the GOP in Colorado was hoping for an ideological split in the Democratic party to give them a chance to waltz into the statehouse and local government, they will be disappointed.

What was very significant was the relative numbers of turnout of those who voted in either party primary. It indicates a greater degree of enthusiasm of Democrats and unaffiliated leaning Democratic in November. A poll of 600 likely Colorado voters by Alabama based Republican firm Cygnal Research found that unaffiliated voters in June planned to vote in the Democratic primary “in sharply high numbers than the Republican primary” and had a negative view of Donald Trump. Unaffiliated voters also favor leading Democrats for governor than leading Republican candidates in November 2018. (Source: Durango Herald, June 26, 2018.) Colorado based pollster Floyd Ciruli reported in a recent Facebook posting “Democrats attracted 119,000 more voters than Republicans, and importantly, 65,000 more unaffiliated voters.”

Our own Grand County voter registration by party affiliation is 22 percent Democratic, 38 percent Republican, 37 percent unaffiliated, the rest minor parties. This is a very red county. Since unaffiliated could vote in the primary of the party they chose, Grand County Democratic primary voters for governor comprised 45 percent of the total primary turnout. In comparison to the 2016 presidential election, 39 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. It appears that in June Democrats outperformed by 6 percent relative to 2016. This shows Democrats turned out in greater numbers and/or more of the unaffiliated chose to vote in the Democratic party primary in June.

This should be a warning to both political parties in crafting their campaign messages it they want to appeal to the unaffiliated in the November midterms. Do not be so extreme on issues you are out of tune with those who are not party loyal. Nationwide, 70 percent do not want Roe v Wade overturned. That has implications for any GOP candidates who are voting to confirm a Supreme Court nominees. For those chanting abolish ICE, it sounds like they want us to have open borders and no restriction on immigration (which is not what they mean: they do propose kinder, gentler replacements), yet a January 2018 poll conducted by Harvard found that 80 percent of all voters said the United States needs secure borders.

Links to polls and data can be found at

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