Who and What Won in Colorado Election 2016

Last week, we published "Who and What Will Win in Colorado's 2016 Election: An Expert's Predictions," in which political analyst Eric Sondermann offered educated guesses about which ballot issues and candidates would prevail on November 8.

Pundits all over the country had a rough election night, as witnessed by their shock over the election of Donald Trump as the next president.

Sondermann, though, did pretty well, as you'll see. However, there were a few surprises — a slavery-related measure among them.

Below are the results of the election as of this hour, based on numbers supplied by the Colorado Secretary of State's Office and Denver Elections, along with links and analysis.

Amendment T
Fifty of 64 counties reporting

Yes/For:  918,897 — 43.14 percent
No/Against:  1,210,971 — 56.86 percent

Amendment T called for the removal of a reference to slavery in the Colorado Constitution that reads: “There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime.” However, the ballot-measure language was poorly written in the extreme; a "yes" vote was required to remove the language, as opposed to a "no" vote. I know of at least one person who accidentally voted to retain the language and had to get a new ballot in order to correct the error. From the looks of these results, there was plenty of confusion to go around — unless there are more slavery revivalists out there than anyone thought.

Amendment U
Fifty of 64 counties reporting

Yes/For:  1,074,168 — 49.27 percent
No/Against:  1,106,218 — 50.73 percent

Like Amendment T, Amendment U was perplexing to many voters. It called for the elimination of a property tax on government property valued at under $6,000, since collecting it often costs more than what it brings in. But that wasn't clear from the language's phrasing, and there was so little publicity about it that voters wound up splitting the difference.

Amendment 69: ColoradoCare
Fifty of 64 counties reporting

From our previous coverage: "The proposal would create a Colorado health-care system with a goal of guaranteeing that everyone in Colorado has health-insurance coverage. Since Amendment 69 won't supersede federal programs such as TRICARE, which focuses on veterans, it's not technically a single-payer plan, but it's close enough to have earned the endorsement of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, a longtime advocate of health-care reform."

Yes/For: 459,411 — 20.32 percent
No/Against:  1,801,634 — 79.68 percent

Sondermann foresaw a big defeat for ColoradoCare. He told us: "No matter how broken our current health-care system might be, this one is just too much: too big, too costly. I don't even think some of the proponents, with the exception of the most ardent, true believers, expect it to pass."

Oh man, was he right.

Amendment 70: Minimum wage
Fifty of 64 counties reporting

From our previous coverage: "Amendment 70 would boost the minimum wage from its current $8.31 per hour to $12 by 2020, with incremental bumps over a three-year period."

Yes/For:  1,255,742 — 54.40 percent
No/Against:  1,052,492 — 45.60 percent

In Sondermann's view, bumping up the minimum wage is a heart-versus-head proposition; the heart wants to raise it, the head has questions. He added that in such contests, the heart usually wins — and it does so in this instance.

Amendment 71: Raise the Bar
Fifty of 64 counties reporting

From our previous coverage: "Amendment 71, known as Raise the Bar, proposes to make it more difficult for constitutional amendments to reach the Colorado ballot by requiring that signatures be collected from 2 percent of all registered voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts, as opposed to an overall number. Additionally, amendments would no longer be approved by a simple majority; they'd have to notch 55 percent support to win passage."

Yes/For:  1,275,420 — 56.92 percent
No/Against:  965,438 — 43.08 percent

Although Raise the Bar was leading in polls, Sondermann thought a populist backlash against a measure supported by the fracking industry and government elites had a good chance of losing. But the pro-71 forces were much better financed and had celebrity support in the person of John Elway, who appeared in ads urging its passage.

Amendment 72: Tobacco tax hike
Fifty of 64 counties reporting

From our previous coverage: "Amendment 72 would increase state taxes on tobacco products. For example, the tax on cigarettes would go up by $1.75 per pack under the theory that the higher cost will prevent children from starting to smoke and encourage current smokers to quit."

Yes/For:  1,071,844 — 46.39 percent
No/Against:  1,238,483 — 53.61 percent

Most pundits assumed Amendment 72 would pass, given the popularity of so-called sin taxes. But Sondermann urged caution, noting that the tobacco industry had pumped a spectacular amount of money — $17 million-plus — into defeating it. That investment paid off.

Continue for more results from Colorado election 2016.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts