300,000 more Colorado voters in 2013 than in 2011? That’s a big difference — particularly for an off-cycle election without a flashpoint issue statewide. Certainly some moderately hot button issues (secession rumblings in 11 counties, A66 question, fracking in a few counties, local school boards) deserve credit for drawing new/lapsed voters into the process. I would give more credit to an all mail election for simply easing the burden of voting. Ten minutes of drawing blue/black arrows and peeling a stamp certainly doesn’t require the casual voter to work up much of a sweat to participate.
The A66 folks wanted a high turnout. They got it… and still got killed 2-to-1. As others have noted, it will take some time and number crunching to figure out all the lessons of this election. Voters soundly crushed the A66 education tax question — leaving little hope to come back in the next couple years with anything similar. But voters weren’t simply rejecting education as a public endeavor — voters clearly voiced their support for fundamental educational change at their district levels by supporting reform boards in district after district. They demonstrated their hunger for K-12 change without a price tag attached.
In past elections, issue campaigns could simply push advocacy and turnout to their base and to just enough of the middle to win. Now that a whole bunch of previously disengaged swing voters are back in the process with simplified balloting it’s time for campaigns and candidates to recalibrate for 2014/5 and beyond. A66 was a muddled grand bargain tax that never got the buy-in from GOP leaders, major biz community or the vital center. Hopefully one of the lessons of 2013 will be that winning campaigns in the future should work from the center out to the partisan ends instead of the other way around. http://m.denverpost.com/denverpost/db_/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=MViUpLZK&full=true#display