Republicans ahead of Dems in Colorado early voting, Obama surrogates still confident

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Data released today from the Secretary of State's office shows that in Colorado's early voting period, more Republicans have cast ballots than Democrats. The GOP says there's no getting around the numbers -- the facts show they will take Colorado. But Obama's surrogates here have a different spin: The state will still go blue, but it will be closer than 2008.

Most polls at this point show that Colorado is a toss-up -- making the early voting data particularly of interest to pundits and members of the media trying to predict which candidate will earn the highly sought after nine electoral votes Colorado has to offer.

Since Colorado is one of the swingiest of swing states just four days before election day, the Republican team here is actively promoting the numbers from the Secretary of State's office that show them ahead at the voting booths.

Based on figures sent out this morning, the voting score is: 547,150 Republicans, 509,091 Democrats and 390,875 listed as unaffiliated. With the other third parties collectively capturing a total of 15,047 votes, that comes out to 1,462,163 ballots cast so far in the race.

Today is the final day for voters to hand in ballots as part of the early vote period.

Using the latest numbers, 38,059 more Republicans than Democrats have voted in Colorado -- which, according to an e-mail sent out this morning from the Republican National Committee, is a sign that Romney ultimately is going to take Colorado.

RNC officials sent out this excerpt from an Atlantic article for their spin:

Who's leading the early vote: Republicans, 38 percent to Democrats' 35 percent.

How significant is it: Very. Nearly 80 percent of voters voted early in 2008.

The spin: Democrats say they are leading among "non-midterm voters" who are voting early. But there's no getting around it: Republicans -- who lost the early vote in Colorado by 4 points in 2008 -- are winning it this time, and the early vote is a huge majority of the total vote in this state Obama won by 9 points in 2008.

Who's really winning: Republicans.

In basic registration numbers, Colorado has always been a clear battleground, since the state is split roughly into three even slices between the Democrats, Republicans and those who are registered as unaffiliated. That last group, based on the latest registration data, is the largest, with 1,293,987 voters who aren't aligned with either party. Behind that group, Republicans have a very slight edge, with 1,157,373 registered voters, over the Democrats, at 1,151,198.

As Obama surrogates have pointed out, the Democrats outpaced Republicans in new registrations in the final weeks of the race.

With 3.6 million total voters in the state, roughly a third have actually voted. That fact, combined with the unknown choices of the unaffiliated voters, creates a good amount of uncertainty.

Continue for the Democrats' spin on the early vote numbers. For their part, the Democrats remain confident, at least in their public appearances.

On the heels of an Obama rally with roughly 10,000 supporters in Boulder last night, the Colorado team this morning held a press conference with Senator Michael Bennet and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick at a field office in Denver to push the final day of early vote.

We asked the speakers if they are concerned about these numbers.

"I think we feel good about where we are. We've gotta keep making sure we get our vote out," Bennet responded. "We need every young person in this state to vote today and on election day, but I think we feel like we're executing our plan."

Another reporter asked for response to the opponent's spin that the numbers are an especially bad sign for the president in Colorado, given that the Democrats are not at the same pace that they were in 2008, when Obama took the state by nine points.

"I think I can assert that the president is not going to win Colorado by nine points this year," said Bennet, who in 2010 narrowly defeated his Republican challenger in a race that some see as a useful road map for Obama's path to victory in Colorado. "Two years ago, when I was running, we won by just over a percent, which translates to about one vote a precinct all across the state of Colorado. And the...[Obama] campaign is ahead of where we were in 2010 in terms of getting the vote out. But nobody can slow down -- we need to get everybody to cast their vote."

He added, "I will say this -- he may not win by nine points, but he is going to win Colorado."

What about the unaffiliated voters?

"I believe the president's not just gonna get Democratic votes -- I think he's gonna do very well with unaffiliated voters, and he's gonna get some Republican votes as well," he said. "The combination of that will put him over the top."

In Colorado this campaign season, the Obama team has promoted Republican supporters for the president and the other side has pushed "Democrats for Romney."

Patrick, of Massachusetts, chimed in on the importance of independent voters, noting that there are more independent voters in his state than Republicans and Democrats combined.

"President Obama will win Massachusetts by 20 or 30 points," he said. "It's because we know Governor Romney and we trust President Obama. And I think that same calculation could be made...for Colorado."

More from our Politics archive: "Photos: Ten Obama supporters on why they've already voted (or not)"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.

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