Trump, Biden easily carry Colorado’s presidential primaries

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Old and new ballot boxes at the Summit County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in Breckenridge on Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Primary voters in Colorado and 15 other states pick their party’s candidates to run in the fall presidential election today. Election judges reported a quiet morning.

As expected, Colorado fell in line with most Super Tuesday states — swiftly awarding the majority of its primary votes to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

“I voted with my own pocketbook, and I know my bank account was much better when Donald Trump was in office than it is today by a long shot,” said Andy Shawcroft of Colorado Springs. Shawcroft returned his ballot last week, and said he was relieved that Monday’s Supreme Court ruling ensured his vote would count.

Donna Shugrue, who also voted for Trump said she doesn’t love the former president, but she does trust him.

“I don't care if people don't like Donald Trump,” said the longtime Colorado Springs resident. “I'm not sure he would be my best friend under any circumstances, but he did a wonderful job for our country and look where we're at now.”

Still, Trump’s margin was not quite as commanding in Colorado as in many other Super Tuesday states.

Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley took around a third of the vote, finishing 34-to-63 against Trump in preliminary results.

Political watchers had expected Haley to do relatively well here. As the state has skewed bluer in recent years, Republican primary voters have generally gone for their more moderate options. In the runup to the 2022 midterms, primary voters rejected the further right candidates in every statewide race.  

Drew Johnson, an unaffiliated voter from Colorado Springs who chose Haley in the primary, said his concerns about Trump motivated him to cast his Republican ballot this year. 

“Very happy to be an independent and have the option to vote either way,” Johnson said. “I saw the opportunity to vote for Nikki Haley. Anything to resist Trump.”

Haley’s campaign seemed to hope for an inroad in Colorado too; she made time for a quick rally in the state last month.

While there are still more votes to be counted, Haley did about as well here as she did in Virginia and Massachusetts.

Her finish in Colorado was enough to secure some of the state’s 37 delegates to the Republican National Convention, but the exact split between her and Trump will be calculated by party officials.

Biden by a landslide, against none-of-the-above

On the Democratic side, Biden pulled in more than 84 percent according to early returns. 

“I think he's one of the most legislatively productive presidents we've had in a long time,” said JJ Raynor, a Biden voter who worked on the National Economic Council for the Obama administration. 

However discontent with the incumbent had tens of thousands of voters choosing the ‘uncommitted delegate’ option. 

The party added it to the ballot last year, in the hopes of attracting younger voters to participate. But in recent days, pro-Palestinian organizers began urging voters to choose it as way to show their anger at Biden’s handling of Israel’s war in Gaza.

“I'm sort of not voting for Biden for ‘all the above’ reasons,“ Deep Singh Badhesha, a progressive organizer from Denver, said. “I'm not voting for him because of what he's done with the war in Gaza. I'm not voting for him because I feel like he struggles with his age, appearing confident, appearing coherent, appearing as a leader. I'm really worried about his poll numbers against Trump.”

Early returns showed the non-committed option garnering 7 percent of the vote, which is on par with how it fared in most other Super Tuesday states that offered the choice, but well short of the 15 percent mark needed to be awarded delegates to the Democratic National Convention. 

Colorado’s uncommitted showing was also below Michigan’s 13.2 percent result last week or Minnesota’s 20 percent showing on Tuesday. 

Some Democratic voters, while not enthusiastic about Biden, viewed “non committed” as just opening the door to a second Trump term. 

When asked why he went for the incumbent, Jon Schauble, a Biden voter in Jefferson County, said “because I’d like to maintain a democracy.” 

“A vote for a third party doesn't do anything. For better or worse, we're just stuck in a two party system,” Schauble said. “I don't agree with it, but I will do what I can to maintain our way of life, basically.”