Colorado Gov. Campaign Highlights Benefits of Innovative Map Analysis

July 9, 2023
“We saw on the maps, things we never would have seen in the crosstabs.”
- Colorado pollster Rick Ridder

Although Jared Polis was heavily favored to win the 2022 Colorado gubernatorial election, the success of the Democratic candidate’s re-election bid depended heavily on Hispanics, who account for more than 1 in 5 state residents.

Hispanic turnout in Colorado tends to be lower than average, and the task of getting as many rural Hispanic supporters to the polls was complicated by the diversity of the population. Significant political differences exist among Hispanics in certain age groups, urban and rural parts of the state, and even countries of origin and ancestry. Early polling data by the governor’s campaign showed a decline in support among rural Hispanics.

The Polis campaign, however, was looking in the wrong places. It assumed that rural Hispanic support was dwindling in the southeastern part of the state. But maps developed by Political Explorer showed that support was actually falling sharply in western Colorado and around Greeley, where large meatpacking plants are among the largest employers.

The polling data showed the big picture; the Political Explorer tool helped the campaign focus on specific problem geographies. Using better information gleaned from the maps, the governor’s campaign designated an extra $100,000 for door-to-door and other voter contact in the places where it would do the most good in boosting turnout and support among his rural Hispanics.

The more accurate information and a data visualization that clearly showed the benefits of focusing on rural Hispanics in western Colorado and the Greeley area, rather than spending in the southeastern part of the state. Polis won re-election handily, scoring more than 58 percent of ballots and a 500,000-vote margin over his opponent.

The governor’s targeted effort to persuade and turn out rural Hispanic supporters also boosted the Democratic congressional candidates in key races. Democrat Yadira Caraveo prevailed in the newly created swing 8th Congressional District, which stretches from north Denver to Greeley. Caraveo, whose district was rated by as “Likely R,” won with a margin of victory of only 1,632 votes.

It also played a part in one of the most surprising results of 2022 – Democrat Adam Frisch coming within 546 votes of defeating Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert in the “Solid R”-rated 3rd Congressional District.

The Political Explorer tool was used successfully in 2022 in the Colorado governor’s race and in defeating an anti-abortion referendum in Kentucky.