Colorado, the Centennial State, gained statehood in 1876 and has voted predominately Republican from 1920 until 2004. Since then, the state has seen a distinct shift towards Democrats and has voted Democratic in the last three presidential elections. Many people don’t often think of the Western U.S. when they hear the term “Battleground state” but Colorado has solidified its status as just that.
Colorado’s House delegation began the 21st century in the 106th Congress with six members and a 4-2 Republican majority. Most importantly, the number of seats in Colorado’s delegation has consistently increased over time. The state had merely four seats until the 93rd Congress, five seats until the 98th Congress, six seats until the 108th Congress, and now the state has a total of seven seats. The majority has shifted over time, but Democrats currently have the advantage.
Senate seats have historically varied between both Democrats and Republicans. Republicans held both of Colorado’s Senate seats from 1995 to 2005 with Senators Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Democrats held both seats from 2009 to 2015 with Senator Mark Udall along with Senator Michael Bennet. Today, Colorado’s Senate seats are split by Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner, who bested Udall in 2014.
The office of Governor and Lieutenant Governor has also swung between Republicans and Democrats, but Democrats have held control of the office since 2007. The Governor is currently Jared Polis and the Lieutenant Governor is Dianne Primavera. Republicans last held the positions from 1999 to 2007.
Colorado is home to roughly 5.6 million people and is the 21st most populous state in the United States. The state is projected to grow to 7.8 million people by 2040 – a 47 percent increase from today. Rural communities account for a significant portion of Colorado’s landscape. Out of the state’s 64 total counties, over a third are classified as rural at 24 total counties.
In the last three presidential elections, Colorado went Democratic each time, pointing to a potential longer-term bluing of the political landscape. In 2008, former President Barack Obama beat John McCain 53.5 percent to 44.9 percent. In 2012, President Obama beat Mitt Romney 51.2 percent to 46.5 percent. And, in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton took the state, winning 48.2 percent to Donald Trump’s 43.3.