Colorado Republicans feel a wind at their back headed into the critical final weekend before voters decide between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Trump himself will come back to Colorado on Saturday night, holding a rally at the National Western Complex in Denver. He has focused heavily on Colorado, making two campaign stops in Greeley and Golden last weekend.
Both presidential camps are rolling out big-name surrogates in Colorado.
The Clinton camp is using former President Bill Clinton and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are making stops for Trump.
Democrats had a tough week after news that the FBI was taking another look into whether Clinton used a private email server to transmit classified documents.
Meanwhile, early ballot returns started to swing in the GOP’s direction in Colorado.
On Thursday, Republicans returned 52,505 ballots compared with 45,037 ballots returned by Democrats. Unaffiliated voters returned 45,607 ballots.
Overall, Democrats have returned 7,658 more ballots than Republicans, but they’ll have to work to keep pace with the Republican momentum.
“A lot of Democrats wait until the very last weekend to get their ballots in,” said Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party. “If that holds true again in 2016, couple that with the ballot returns that we have already of Democratic voters, I think this is going to be a good year for us.”
One theory is that Republicans initially held onto their ballots because they were uninspired by Trump, which means they could leave the presidential race blank, begrudgingly vote for Clinton, or write-in a candidate, such as Trump running mate Mike Pence.
“This is one of the first elections that we’ve seen in generations where more Republicans are too depressed about their nominees to cast their ballot at all,” Palacio said. “That’s going to make a difference.”
But the Trump camp shrugs off suggestions that GOP voters in Colorado have been unmoved.
“This last week was definitely a game-changer for our campaign in Colorado and throughout the country,” said Patrick Davis, a Trump senior adviser in Colorado. “We do feel like the momentum shifted in our direction this week.”
Observers widely agree that the presidential race tightened over the past two weeks.
Colorado continues to lean in Clinton’s direction, but the campaign isn’t taking any risks. It recently began running ads in major Colorado markets, after not running an ad in the state since July.
Clinton campaign staff in Colorado, however, say the ads are more about a natural tightening of the race in the final days.
“It’s the last week of the campaign, we’re not leaving anything on the table,” said Kristin Lynch, spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign in Colorado.
Behind the scenes, the Clinton camp is directing resources to down-ticket Democrats, a sign that the campaign has a level of confidence in Colorado.
It’s difficult to draw conclusions from volatile polling.
The polls released Friday, one from Public Policy Polling and another from Keating Research, Inc., give Clinton a 5-point lead in Colorado.
Magellan Strategies this week gave Clinton a 6-point advantage.
But a University of Denver poll, taken between Oct. 29-31 – just after news broke of the FBI examination – gave Clinton only a 1-point advantage.
While the two camps have found little to agree on this election, one thing they both acknowledge is that a ground game is the key to success in the final days.
Bill Clinton spoke to voters Friday in the important southern Colorado city of Pueblo, as well as in Denver. He also was scheduled to speak in Fort Collins.
“You’ve got to get every vote you can,” Bill Clinton told a lively and packed audience in Denver. “You’ve got to prove that she means it when she says we have to go forward together. You’ve got to prove that she means it when she says we’re stronger together ... We have to rise together.”
Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who split Democrats and unaffiliated voters this year in a contentious Democratic primary, was expected to campaign for Clinton in Colorado Springs on Saturday.
The Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea Clinton, also stopped through Colorado this week.
A Clinton campaign bus tour through Colorado was expected to make stops through Tuesday, including in Durango on Saturday.
Labor unions and Latino groups also planned to work the ground game for Clinton.
“We always knew it was going to be close,” Lynch said. “For us, it’s just sort of full speed ahead. We’re not letting our foot off the gas.”
Trump’s camp also has been relying on high-profile surrogates to get out the vote.
Carson held events in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock on Friday. He also was scheduled to speak in Aurora.
Giuliani was expected to visit Denver on Saturday, ahead of Trump’s rally.
This week, Pence visited the state, as well as Donald Trump Jr. and Newt Gingrich.
“We feel confident; we feel like we have the momentum in this race,” Davis said. “All of those things help us fuel the momentum behind Donald Trump in Colorado. In politics, showing up is half the battle. Donald Trump is showing up.”
Ballots for the Nov. 8 election should be dropped off at secure, 24-hour drop boxes at: La Plata County Clerk & Recorder’s Office, 98 Everett St., Durango; Bayfield Town Hall, 1199 Bayfield Parkway, Bayfield; La Plata County Administration Building, 1101 East Second Ave., Durango; or Farmers Fresh Market, 535 Goddard Ave., Ignacio. The county clerk recommends against mailing ballots now because they must be received by 7 p.m. Election Day.
Voter registration is open through Election Day.
Voter Service and Polling Centers at the clerk’s office and in Bayfield will be open 8 a.m.-noon Saturday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Election Day. The hours for the service center at the La Plata County Fairgrounds are 8 a.m.-noon Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Election Day.
For a sample ballot and times and addresses for polling centers, visit
For information about all ballot issues and candidates, visit