All blogs
All three things
All news
Featured News
Primary Problem

Primary analysis: 82% of Colorado's State House elections will be over after today

Read our latest release to learn how the Primary Problem played a part in Colorado State House elections.  

Ross Sherman
Press Director
June 25, 2024

Coming out of Tuesday’s primaries, 82% of Colorado State House elections (53 of 65) will effectively be decided —months ahead of the November general election. These 53 elections represent “safe” or uncompetitive districts, where the Democratic or Republican candidate won by more than 10 percentage points in 2022.

“The utter lack of choice and competition in our elections is Exhibit A for why Colorado should replace party primaries with all-candidate primaries,” said Nick Troiano, Executive Director of Unite America and author of The Primary Solution, referencing the proposed election reform headed to the ballot this November. “While Colorado does a great job making voting easy and secure, our current election system renders too many ballots meaningless in the general election.”

Because of low turnout and the limits of party primaries, we expect a very small percentage of eligible voters to cast ballots today that effectively decide those 82% of state house races. Further, 39 contests feature an uncontested primary in a safe general election district.

That means, across these 39 districts, 2.3 million Colorado voters (61% of active registered voters) will have no say in who represents them in the state house come 2025. The following are examples of state house candidates who were effectively elected without having to win a single vote:

  • Rep. Scott Bottoms
  • Rep. Ken DeGraaf
  • Rep. Emily Sirota (HD-9): Effectively elected by just 14% of active registered voters in her district in 2018, she has not faced a competitive election since.
  • Rep. Javier Mabrey (HD-1)

These same dynamics — where a tiny number of voters are electing most representatives — also play out across the Colorado Senate Senate and the state’s congressional delegation. For more on Colorado’s “Primary Problem," check out Unite America Institute’s full analysis.