Tusinski: From swing to safe, why Colorado is no longer a purple state


Collegian | Charles Cohen

Dylan Tusinski, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

This November’s midterm elections definitively proved what many political analysts and armchair pundits have been saying for years: Colorado is now a blue state.


For the last couple of decades, Colorado has been a fierce battleground state. It’s flip-flopped from Democrats to Republicans a number of times over the last 30 years, with both parties running competitive campaigns that earned large swaths of the state’s votes.

Colorado’s historically purple nature is why pundits across the country turned their looking glasses to the state during the midterms. It’s also why the outcome of the elections stunned so many of those same pundits.

Democrats did shockingly well in Colorado. All over the state, they won key races and put up impressively strong campaigns in elections they weren’t supposed to have a shot at in the first place — a result that was replicated nationally.

Colorado is a unique state politically. It’s a microcosm of America’s politics at large, with a roughly even number of Democrats and Republicans, an unusually active group of independent voters, more people of color showing up to vote in recent elections, a sharp urban-rural divide and booming population growth.

The state’s unique social, economic and political makeups create a perfect place to analyze national politics on a small scale.

As a result of its unique demographics, Colorado’s politics mirror many national trends too. Candidates and ballot measures from the far right, moderate right, centrist left and progressive left were on the ballot across the state, and almost all of them were predicted to be competitive.

That said, candidates and ballot measures on the left won almost universally, regardless of how centrist or progressive they were.

One of the best examples of that was in Colorado’s newly created 8th Congressional District, wherein Democrat Yadira Caraveo defeated Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer. The 2022 midterms were the first elections held in the district, which was created just two years ago.

“It’s been said that when it comes to politics, ‘as goes Colorado, so goes the nation.’ If the 2022 midterms have been any predictor, Republicans across the board should be worried about the next couple of election cycles.”

The results were tight. The race was too close to call on election night but was ultimately decided by a difference of less than 500 votes.


Caraveo’s victory was ultimately attributed to her support of abortion rights and a large Latinx population in her district, a trend that was again replicated nationally. Across the country, Latinx and abortion-rights voters were the decision-makers, tipping many races in the Democrats’ favor.

What was interesting about Colorado’s midterms, though, was that the state’s toss-up elections were just as intriguing as the state’s noncompetitive races.

Many pollsters were shocked by Democrats across the state outperforming expectations in races they were already expected to win. The prime example of Democrats’ overperformance was the senate race between Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and Republican Joe O’Dea, which many expected to be relatively competitive.

Even still, most analysts had Bennet in the winning column. After the votes were tallied, those analysts were correct: Bennet won his race. What surprised both analysts and Bennet himself, though, was the 12-point margin by which he beat O’Dea.

The blowout was doubly surprising given O’Dea was considered a model Republican, with moderate views and anti-Donald Trump beliefs. The fact that a supposedly palatable Republican was crushed by a relatively unknown moderate Democrat is incredibly important and may be indicative of voters rebuking the Trump-esque GOP nationwide.

Perhaps the most nationally consequential race in Colorado, though, was in the state’s 3rd Congressional District, where far-right Congresswoman Lauren Boebert was expected to run away with the election. Instead, she stared down the potential for a huge upset.

When votes started being counted, Boebert was locked in a tight race with Adam Frisch, her Democratic opponent. Despite Boebert’s nationwide status as a star of the “MAGA movement” and a massive fundraising haul, she sat with a paper-thin lead over Frisch.

Though she managed to squeak out a win as of Nov. 18, the fact that Boebert was so close to losing a safe seat should be telling for Republicans nationwide.

It’s been said that when it comes to politics, “as goes Colorado, so goes the nation.” If the 2022 midterms have been any predictor, Republicans across the board should be worried about the next couple of election cycles.

Reach Dylan Tusinski at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @dylantusinski.