The midterm election has come and gone. In Colorado, what occurred wasn't a blue wave, it was a blue avalanche. It was a signal so strong that you could wonder if this is even a purple state anymore.
Colorado is known as a purple state for good reason.
Over the last two decades, the state has voted for an equal number of Republicans and Democrats for president, and voters are evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
But this year, the state’s political identity is up for grabs. Democrats want to prove it has become more of a blue state, but Republicans could show it’s more of a red state than anyone realized. So….it’s not so much red or blue...or even purple. It’s Purpl...ish.
Hosted by CPR News Reporter Sam Brasch, this podcast dives into the ...ish. Each week until Election Day 2018, he'll ask a big question about Colorado’s democracy and where it might be headed next. Subscribe and learn how state government can be fun, or at least fun-ish.
Colorado boasts some of the highest voter turnout in the country. Seventy percent of eligible adults submitted a ballot in the 2016 election, putting the state fourth in the country for voter turnout.
But that still means 30 percent of eligible adults sat it out. Why? Many of the common barriers to voting don’t exist in Colorado. The process is easy. The elections are competitive. So we’re turning to one group that can help with some answers: nonvoters themselves.
Unlike in other states, convicted felons in Colorado who have completed parole are allowed to vote. New laws require people leaving the criminal justice system to learn about their voting rights and give parolees the chance to pre-register. A bipartisan coalition is behind those changes, but how far is it willing to go toward re-enfranchising people within the criminal justice system?
Democratic presidential candidates are on a winning streak in Colorado. The state voted for Barack Obama twice and for Hillary Clinton in 2016. It’s been even longer since Colorado elected a Republican governor. Those results have led some to wonder if the state shouldn’t be considered purple anymore. On the electoral map, it might now be more of a light blue.
One expert says not so fast.
Gerrymandering is on the Colorado ballot this November. Amendments Y and Z promise to take the politics out of the drawing of congressional and legislative boundaries. To do it, they would hand the responsibility to a pair of commissions made up of heavily screened citizens -- not politicians or their hand-picked representatives.
This week on Purplish, we look back at the troubled 2011 redistricting process and how it led to the current calls for reform. And we discover the amendments aren’t just about putting politicians in line. They also try to balance voters' dueling desires for electoral power and community.
Neglect can be a powerful political force. Southern Colorado spent a century mostly voting for Democrats, but in 2016 many countries in the region voted for President Trump. It was the first time some had supported a Republican in decades. The reason many voters cited was a sense of feeling forgotten by state and national politicians too focused on urban and suburban corridors.
Reporters Nathaniel Minor and Allison Sherry recently visited Southern Colorado as a part of CPR’s election road trip series. They talked to voters about whether they feel like politicians are listening now--and what that could mean for November and beyond.
A name can be a tricky thing for a politician. For Walker Stapleton, the Republican nominee for governor, his name does double duty, tying him to both a controversial Denver mayor and the Bush dynasty.
Stapleton trumpeted both those ties at the beginning of his political career. Today, he’s running more as his own man. CPR’s Ann Marie Awad dives into both the legacies embodied in Walker Stapleton’s name--and examines whether either might matter on Election Day.
Congressman Jared Polis has spent an unprecedented amount money on his campaign for governor. By the latest count, he’s donated $18.3 million of his own money. That’s more than the total candidate spending in the 2014 gubernatorial race. The Democratic nominee says self-financing buys him political independence. Unlike his opponent, he refuses donations from corporations and special interests, which he argues frees him to push bold proposals. Meanwhile, Republican nominee Walker Stapleton accuses Polis of trying to buy the election. These opposing talking points raise bigger questions. What does it mean for democracy when someone is ready, and able, to spend whatever it takes on a campaign? How does that change the dynamics of a race? And where does it leave voters? This episode looks back at the origin of the candidate’s fortune and how it’s long been a potent force in Colorado politics. And we’ll explore why he’s likely to be far from the last wealthy candidate in the state or the country.
In Colorado, voters have incredible power to pass laws at the ballot. The initiative process was born out of the Progressive Era. Reformers hoped that by giving people a say in state government, they could check special interests and their influence over lawmakers. Things haven't gone exactly as planned. Today, the initiative process is often Colorado's highest-stakes political poker game, attracting a wide range of corporations and wealthy donors. So has direct democracy made Colorado voters into scientists in the laboratory of democracy? Or the test subjects?