Democrats lead Summit County early voting but polls suggest races are tightening |

Democrats lead Summit County early voting but polls suggest races are tightening

Jack Queen
Nearly half of Summit's active Democrats and Republicans have already voted, but independents appear to be biding their time.
Source: Magellan Strategies |

With Election Day right around the corner, nearly 7,000 Summit County voters have already cast their mail-in ballots. As of Nov. 2, Registered Democrats have posted a 750-ballot lead over Republicans in Summit and have narrowly cast more ballots than independents, the county’s largest voting bloc, according to Republican-leaning polling firm Magellan Strategies.

At latest tally, Summit had just fewer than 19,000 active voters, with 4,393 Republicans, 5,935 Democrats and 8,253 unaffiliated. Roughly 40 percent of both Democrats and Republicans have already voted in the county, while 28.4 percent of independents have cast their ballots.

Compared to this time in 2012, the Republican share of the vote in Summit is off by about 3.5 percent, while Democratic returns are up 3.7 and independents are steady.

There are no Republican challengers in the two county commissioner races, although independent Jonathan Lerner appears to be a de facto GOP standard-bearer; while he has returned a donation from the Summit County Republicans and is not technically affiliated with the group, his message of limited government will likely resonate with those voters. The Summit GOP has also endorsed independent Gary “GW” Horine, who is running against Democratic incumbent Karn Stiegelmeier.

Party affiliations may play a limited role in the race for Summit County Sheriff despite grumblings of partisan logrolling in the appointment of Democrat Jaime FitzSimons as interim sheriff. The Summit Daily has received numerous letters from Democratic supporters of Derek Woodman who say they will be crossing the aisle to vote for the Republican.

Colorado in play?

Statewide, Republicans have been steadily closing the early 23,710 ballot lead Democrats established at the start of early voting, narrowing the advantage to 7,658 as of Friday morning, according to Magellan. Pollsters suggested this might be because rural, Republican-leaning counties have taken longer to submit their early ballots.

Those numbers could also suggest flagging support for Hillary Clinton in the wake of fresh developments in her enduring email scandal. Last Friday, FBI director James Comey dropped a bombshell by announcing his agency was looking into 650,000 new emails gleaned from the computer of a top Clinton aide.

A University of Denver poll released on Wednesday showed Trump and Clinton tied at 39 percent in Colorado, with a 4.2 percent margin of error. That poll also indicated that U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn has trimmed Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet’s comfortable double-digit lead to 8 percent.

ColoradoCare is headed to a drubbing with 67 percent opposed and only 25 percent in favor, according to the same poll. Those numbers are flipped for the medical aid-in-dying measure, which appears to be coasting to approval.

On Thursday, Magellan released a new poll of its own, showing Clinton up 6 percent, 44 to 38, with a 4.38 percent margin of error. That’s slightly higher than Obama’s lead in the final weekend of the 2012 election. Both top-ticket candidates have gotten equal boosts by picking up votes from Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, for whom support has been weakening in the run-up to Election Day.

An amendment that would make it harder to amend the state constitution — known as Raise the Bar — is still too close to call, with 51 percent in favor, 41 percent opposed and 8 percent undecided according to a new poll by Magellan. Opposition has been growing fast among registered Democrats and younger voters, possibly in response to a grassroots backlash against the well funded “Yes on 71” campaign.

An increase in the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, meanwhile, seems positioned to pass, with 54 percent support and only 3 percent undecided, according to a Nov. 4 poll.

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