The results could foreshadow high levels of voter engagement this November.
“I think you’re going to see unbelievable turnout in the fall,” Sandberg said.
But analysts warned against assuming that large Democratic turnout in this year’s primaries would mean another blue blowout in November. There is not a correlation between primary turnout and general election turnout, Flaherty said.
Where did the winners find their votes?
In the U.S. Senate primary, John Hickenlooper won in every county but one: lightly populated Saguache County, which Andrew Romanoff took. While preliminary results show Hickenlooper with a nearly 18 point victory, the margin was much closer in Boulder and Denver, where Romanoff trailed by fewer than five points.
Lauren Boebert, the Republican challenger, took several important population centers as she defeated U.S. Rep Scott Tipton. The counties that include Grand Junction, Montrose and Pueblo all helped her pull off the upset.
Boebert will face Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in the general election.
Their district across western and southern Colorado reversed the statewide trend on Tuesday: Slightly more people voted in District 3’s Republican primary than the Democratic one, according to preliminary results.
Statewide, the primary election also showed some interesting age trends. In preliminary returns, people ages 18 to 44 made up a larger portion of the electorate than in 2018. If younger people show up in large numbers in November, it will be very difficult for Republicans to win, according to Flaherty, who provided the demographic data.
What’s at stake?
Colorado’s U.S. Senate election is critically important to both parties. A Hickenlooper victory over Cory Gardner would be a key step for Democrats to retake the Senate.
The Congressional race in District 3 is less important strategically. Democrats could fortify their majority in the U.S. House if they defeat Boebert and flip the seat. But it’s very unlikely to determine control of the chamber in the way the Senate race could. However, Boebert is sure to get intense national attention as a surprise-win MAGA candidate with a penchant for viral media moments.
At the state level, Republicans are very unlikely to regain control of the state legislature, though they could whittle down the majority, Sandberg said.
“Flipping (the control of either chamber) will be difficult, but I think it sets up for the flip in ‘22,” Sanderg said.
Flaherty’s more pessimistic.
“We think we’re going to lose more (seats) in the state Senate. The House is a pretty low number and it could go even lower,” he said.