Even left-leaning ski counties caught up in anti-HH avalanche | CRONIN & LOEVY

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Tom Cronin and Bob Lovey



HH, a proposal that would have reduced statewide property taxes and eliminated TABOR tax refunds for public K-12 education, suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Colorado voters several weeks ago.

Sponsored by a Democratic governor and unanimously approved by all Democrats in the state Senate and House of Representatives, the comprehensive fundraising measure failed to win in some of the state’s more strongly Democratic areas.

Or put it this way: By generating a wave of “no” votes, Proposition HH has led county after county in Colorado to break away from the mainstream Democratic party to tread a sea of ​​conservative tax policies and anti-government spending on public education.

Here’s a regional breakdown:

Denver Metro

In recent decades, the Denver metropolitan area has been voting strongly Democratic. Not this time. Proposition HH lost metro Denver by 45% yes to 55% no. Only two metro area counties, Boulder (59% yes) and Denver (58% yes) support Proposition HH.

Even that is bad news for Democrats. In typical elections, Boulder and Denver tend to vote 60% to 70% or more Democratic, not 50% to 60% Democratic.

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The biggest losses for Democrats in metro Denver were the big suburbs around the city. These densely populated counties have recently been a major reason for Colorado’s shift from a Republican-voting state to a Democratic constituency.

But on Proposition HH, Arapahoe County voted 56% no, Broomfield County 56% no, Jefferson County 60% no, and Adams County 61% no. These are all densely populated districts. A major driver in the outcome of the election was their refusal.

For the record, Proposition HH lost metro Denver by 100,000 votes.

Front Range – Not the Denver Metro.

The Front Range is a corridor in Colorado that stretches from Pueblo to the south through Colorado Springs and Denver to Greeley and Fort Collins to the north. Denver metro includes most of the Front Range, but there are five major regions on the Front Range outside of the Denver metro area.

Two of those counties, El Paso and Weld, are two of the most Republican counties in the state. In El Paso County, which includes the city of Colorado Springs, 67 percent vote no. El Paso County had the largest margin of victory of any Colorado county with no votes — 68,000 votes.

In Weld County, where Greeley is the county seat, 71 percent turned out.

Pueblo County, along with its historic steel mills and labor union, used to vote Democratic but has tilted Republican in recent years. 59% voted no. Teller County (Cripple Creek) 68% no.

Larimer County (Fort Collins) used to be Republican but, as the home of Colorado State University, has become increasingly Democratic in recent years. In terms of Proposition HH, however, 58 percent voted.

Together, the five precincts — not including Denver metro — precincts turned out 65% of the vote and had a re-no margin of victory of about 130,000 votes.

Ski resort districts

We have long been interested in ski resort districts in the Rocky Mountains. Mostly staunchly Republican 50 years ago, in recent times they have become liberal and progressive and strongly Democratic. Combined with the Denver metro area, these ski counties have been an important part of Colorado’s recent Republican-to-Democratic transition.

Please note: Along with ski resort counties, we include counties that have popular historic steam railroads (Durango and Silverton narrow gauge railroads in La Plata and San Juan counties) or are summer vacation spots for Texans. Mineral County).

The number of ski counties has grown to 14, and they cast about 104,000 votes in this election, the same number as Adams County in the Denver area, which cast 101,000 or more votes.

Ski resort counties have moved away from their recent Democratic leanings and average 55% no on Proposition HH. Only three of the 14 counties voted yes. Pitkin County, home of Aspen ski resorts, voted 60% yes. In San Miguel County, home to the Telluride ski resort, 61 percent said yes. Lightly populated San Juan County, Silverton, a stop on the narrow-gauge steam railroad, went in with 55% yes.

We were surprised by the number of popular and high-profile Colorado ski districts that voted NO on Proposition HH. Eagle County (Vail resort) went 56% no, Routt County (Steamboat Springs ski resort) 54% no, and Summit County (Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper ski resorts) 60% no.

Southern Colorado

With its deep Hispanic roots and culture, Southern Colorado is traditionally seen as a pro-Democrat party. Obviously, democratic bias does not apply to matters of taxation and education. Southern Colorado voted 63% against Proposition HH. Alamosa County is the most populous county with 67% of the no.

Eastern plains

Stretching from the Front Range to the Colorado borders of Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, the Eastern Plains consist of large amounts of high plains, much of which is used for agriculture. There are 15 counties involved, but with relatively small populations. However, the East Plains is a traditionally Republican and conservative part of Colorado.

As expected, Eastern Plains had the highest percentage of states voting no on Proposition HH – 76% no. The 500 or so voters in Kiowa County, on the Kansas border, with the county seat in Eds., voted the highest of any county HH – 85% no.

Western slope – no skis

There are eight counties on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies that have no ski resorts and are therefore primarily rural and agricultural. Similar to the Eastern Plains counties, these counties are conservative and Republican. HH at 68% no. The most populous county in the group, Mesa County, with Grand Junction as the county seat, passed 69%.

Eastern mountains

These counties are in the Rocky Mountains but on the eastern slope of the continental divide. They are sparsely populated and have limited agriculture, mainly sheep and cattle breeding. Conservative and Republican, 69% voted no on Proposition HH. For example, Fremont County, which hosts the Royal Gorge and Cañon City State Prisons, voted 72% no.

Summary

Voter revolt against Proposition HH was geographically widespread in Colorado. Only Boulder County, Denver County and a few hip and high-end ski resort counties supported it. The ruling Democratic Party in Colorado must go back to the drawing board if it wants to increase much-needed tax revenue for Colorado’s state and local governments.

Three factors help explain HH’s failure:

1. It was a poorly written and confusing ballot measure.

2. Coloradans like TABOR refunds.

3. Mr. Jared Polis, who is popular in general, seems to have tried to pass this secretly, but he could not present the case.

Tom Cronin and Bob Lovey are news columnists who write about Colorado and national politics.



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