Early voting in Colorado shows a large GOP turnout and a large enthusiasm gap between the Republicans and the Democrats. Nationwide, 2010 was the first year since 1930 that the GOP had more primary voters than the Democrats. Simply put, there are generally more Democratic voters than Republicans and it almost always shows in primary elections-but not this year. 2010 has seen Democratic affliation drop somewhat and Republicans gain. With that, the average GOP voter is very fired up to vote in the midterms and that will decide a number of races on the state and local level.
In Colorado there is an odd race for Governor, a close race for Senator and three contested House seats. Along with that, control of the State Assembly and Senate is being contested by the GOP. For years there were more Republicans than Democrats in the state but there are also a ton of Independents who decide close elections. In 2000 and 2004 George Bush carried that state but in the second battle the GOP couldn't hold a Senate seat (Ken Salazar won 51-46 and I think that will be the margin of victory this year for Republican Ken Buck) and lost the state legislature. 2004 showed the strength of unions and their GOTV efforts and even though that didn't help John Kerry it did have a huge effect down the ballot.
This year should be very different. Ken Buck will win the Senate seat (that gives the GOP 49) and Tom Tancredo may win the Governorship (its still hard to say-it will be very close). There are three House seats that are contested; CDs 2, 4 and 7. Early returns point to GOP wins in 2 and 4 and 7 is going to be very close. 7 is an interesting case as it has Ryan Frazier, one of the three African-Americans running as a Republican nationwide. The GOP may well flip control of the state legislature as well but we probably won't know until Wednesday morning.
Nationwide the trends continue to favor the GOP. I've said for two weeks that the Republicans would gain 64 seats in the House and 8 in the Senate. Now it is quite possible that it will be higher. For those few undecided voters who are still left on the weekend before the election 2/3 generally vote for the challenger. With the GOP already way ahead in the generic ballot we're looking for an election wave we haven't seen for two generations. To me it looks like the Republicans will carry at least 8 Senate seats with 3 (Washington, West Virginia and California) too close to call. If the GOP carries the 8 that they're ahead in and two more they'll seize control of the Upper Chamber. That's a tall order but I give the Republicans about a 35% chance of pulling it off.
On Monday I'll have my last picks for all the House and Senate seats.