DENVER (CBS4) – It’s clear that voters nationwide are scratching a six-year itch midway through President Barack Obama’s second term, and that’s played a massive role in the senate and governor races in Colorado.
But will that disgruntlement with Obama trickle down into state legislature races in Colorado?
Republicans hope they’ll dent the Democrats’ lead in the state House, where Democrats hold a 37-28 majority. They’re also attempting to flip the state Senate, which Democrats control 18-17.
Unhappiness with the president, coupled with an improved Republican ground game, may do that.
“I think they either could take it or they’ll be down by one,” state Rep. Amy Stephens, a Republican in El Paso County, said.
Stephens said close Senate races between Democrat Jeanne Nicholson and Republican Tim Neville in Jefferson County, and Bernie Herpin and Michael Merrifield in El Paso County could decide the balance.
She said turnout by party in Boulder and El Paso counties would be significant.
Penfield Tate, a Democrat and former Colorado representative and senator, said state races don’t get the attention that national and governor battles do, but they’re more important in voters’ lives.
“What may impact people in Colorado more directly is what happens in the state senate and state house,” Tate said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Election Day In Colorado
He said two Democrats defending their seats in Jefferson County — Andy Kerr and Rachel Zenzinger — are facing tough re-election bids against Republicans Tony Sanchez and Laura Woods.
Ground game will be key.
“Clearly, the turnout’s been heavy, and everybody has got their ground game in full gear,” Tate said.
Democrats lost two Senate seats in Pueblo and Colorado Springs after voters purged two Democrats in recalls over gun-control measures passed by the Democratic-led legislature, and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, in 2013. The two Republicans who won those seats, Herpin and George Rivera, face re-election.
Dominic Dezzutti, an analyst for CPT-12, said that while the GOP’s ground game and get-out-the-vote effort has caught up somewhat in recent years, if they don’t perform well on Tuesday, it’ll show they haven’t improved enough.
“If you can’t win this year with Cory Gardner, if you can’t when with Obama’s approval rating where they’re at, when can you win?” Dezzutti said.
Gardner, running to unseat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, was leading 50 percent to 44 percent with roughly half of precincts reporting at 8 p.m.