All of Colorado’s seven U. S. congresspeople are up for reelection on Nov. 6, but there’s one race that’s dominating the political landscape: Democrat Jason Crow is challenging incumbent Republican Mike Coffman in the 6th Congressional District in East Denver and Aurora.
Many experts, like Ken Bickers at the University of Colorado Boulder, say Coffman is vulnerable. Bickers, a political science professor, focuses on local and national elections. KUNC’s Kyra Buckley sat down to talk with him about this year’s congressional races and what to expect in the future.
Kyra Buckley, KUNC: The 6th Congressional District has probably gotten the most coverage of all the races. What are you looking for in that race and in the other contests in November?
Professor Ken Bickers, University of Colorado Boulder: The 6th is clearly where the action is, and the 6th is the one where the incumbent is really in deep trouble. I was looking at the money raised and spent in that contest -- so this excludes the outside sources of funding that are also being spent to influence voters in that district. Coffman has a lot of money, but that challenger Jason Crowe has enough money that historically puts him in a really good position to try to knock off an incumbent.
If there was a huge blue wave -- huge blue wave -- the other one (race) that I would look at is the 3rd Congressional District with Scott Tipton and his opponent Diane Mitsch Bush. She's raised a fair amount of money, but not nearly as much as Crow has in the 6th. The other five congressional contests in the state, the challengers are raising really very small amounts of money.
Buckley: What about some of the other districts surrounding Denver -- the 1st and 7th? Democrats Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter represent them and are likely to win again. Are you watching anything in those races this cycle and in the years to come?
Bickers: It's very likely that after the next redistricting exercise, that Colorado will get another congressional seat. It seems very, very likely that there will be an 8th district in the state.
The first district is likely to just shrink geographically, but that makes it even bluer. (...) In the 7th District, that new district (...) could cause the biggest change to the 7th, making it either more blue or more red. We have to wait to see how the the new district boundaries are drawn, but that will take effect as of 2022.
Buckley: How will the growing population and rising number of unaffiliated voters affect U.S. congressional elections?
Bickers: The growth of unaffiliated voters has been striking in Colorado. It it actually going on around the country, too. One of the interesting things about unaffiliated voters is that politicians really want to know how people are likely to vote -- so again we're coming into a redistricting exercise in just a couple of years, and when those district boundaries are drawn they have a sense of how people are likely to vote in all of those different places. But if more than a third of the registered voters are not affiliated, that makes it just more unpredictable.
Buckley: What’s at stake in this election?
Bickers: Well, this is a big election -- I mean, that what's at stake is control of Congress. Control of Congress, whether it's just the House or potentially the Senate, will determine what the Trump administration can and can’t do, if anything, over the next couple of years.
A lot of people are fired up. That's because the stakes are very high terms of who controls Congress and what Congress does and whether they're going to be supportive or unsupportive of this particular administration.