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GOP candidates for statewide offices outperform Boebert in 3rd District

Research shows the Republican’s gubernatorial candidate was the only one who fared worse
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., addresses attendees during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit on July 23, in Tampa, Florida. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press file)

All but one GOP candidate for major statewide office outperformed Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District this year, according to a Colorado Sun analysis of 2022 election results.

The analysis, first reported Tuesday in The Sun’s political newsletter, The Unaffiliated, refutes the congresswoman’s claim that other Republican candidates may have dragged her down.

The Sun compared the votes cast in Boebert’s race with the results of five major statewide contests in 26 of the 27 counties in the 3rd District, which spans the Western Slope into Pueblo and southeast Colorado.

The Sun didn’t analyze the votes cast in Eagle County because just a sliver of the county – an area in the Roaring Fork Valley where roughly 6,000 voters live – is in the 3rd District. Boebert lost in the Eagle County part of the 3rd District by 44 percentage points, or about 1,800 votes.

In the 26 counties whose election results were analyzed by The Sun, Boebert beat her Democratic challenger, former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch, by 2,375 votes, or 0.7 percentage points. The only Republican candidate for major statewide office who fared worse than Boebert in those counties was Heidi Ganahl, who lost to Democratic Gov. Jared Polis by 1.62 percentage points, or roughly 5,000 votes.

Ganahl lost to Polis statewide by about 20 percentage points in the worst showing by a Republican gubernatorial candidate in two decades. Boebert’s overall margin of victory in the whole district, including Eagle County, is expected to be about 550 votes, pending the results of a mandatory recount in the coming weeks. Frisch has already conceded because of the extremely slim chance the recount will change the outcome of the contest.

The numbers complicate Boebert’s narrative explaining why her race in the Republican-leaning 3rd District was so close. The GOP has a voter registration advantage in the district, which hasn’t elected a Democrat to Congress since 2008.

“I don’t know if there wasn’t enough enthusiasm for our top ticket candidates for governor and Senate or what happened there,” Boebert told reporters in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, according to The Wall Street Journal, “but there was a lot of shifting in the votes.”

While Ganahl may have fared worse in the 3rd District than Boebert, every other GOP candidate won by a larger margin than the congresswoman in the district, even as they all went on to lose their races statewide by double digits.

The Republican candidate for statewide office who fared the best in the 3rd District counties analyzed by The Sun was Lang Sias, a former state representative, who beat Democratic Treasurer Dave Young by 7 percentage points in the district.

Republican attorney general candidate John Kellner, the top prosecutor in Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, beat Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser by 5 percentage points in the 26 counties analyzed by The Sun.

Republican secretary of state candidate Pam Anderson, a former Jefferson County Clerk, beat Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold by 3 percentage points in the 3rd District.

And, finally, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea beat Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet by 2 percentage points in the district.

The Sun also examined county-level results in the 3rd District to understand why other Republicans did better than Boebert.

In Garfield County, where Boebert lives, the congresswoman lost by 14 percentage points, whereas O’Dea lost it by 8 percentage points and Kellner lost there by 5 points.

In La Plata County, a Democratic county home to Durango, Boebert lost by 26 percentage points. O’Dea and Sias lost in La Plata County by 18 percentage points, while Anderson lost there by 19 points and Kellner by 20 points.

In Mesa County, a conservative stronghold and the second most populous county in the district, Boebert won by 16 percentage points, whereas O’Dea won by 18 points and Kellner won by 21 points.

Pueblo County, the most populous county in the 3rd District, was an exception.

Boebert lost in Pueblo County to Frisch by 6 percentage points, whereas O’Dea lost by 9 percentage points in Pueblo County and Anderson lost there by 8 points.

The 3rd District was made more favorable to Republicans when its boundaries were redrawn last year as part of Colorado’s once-in-a-decade redistricting process.

Voters in the district backed Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s unsuccessful reelection bid by 11 percentage points in 2020. In 2018, a year that was devastating for Colorado Republicans, voters in the district backed Republican Walker Stapleton’s unsuccessful gubernatorial bid by 6 percentage points. And former President Donald Trump won the district by 14 percentage points in 2016 even as he lost statewide.

Republicans also have a voter registration advantage in the 3rd District, which has not sent a Democrat to Congress since 2008. Forty-four percent of active registered voters in the district are unaffiliated, while 31% are Republicans and 24% are Democrats.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.