Colorado was once a reliable Republican win in presidential elections. In the 18 elections that took place between 1920 and 1988, Democrats won the state only four times. In the seven elections since, Democrats have won four times, including the last three.
As the cities vote, so goes the state
Colorado’s population increased by nearly 90 percent between 1980 and 2015 — from about 2.9 million to 5.4 million — with the majority of that growth happening in urban areas.
Because urban residents so heavily outnumber rural* residents, urban voting patterns largely mirror state totals, shifting Democratic in recent elections.
Rural voters still lean Republican, but their relatively small numbers are overshadowed by the urban centers.
How Colorado voted in the 1980-2016 presidential elections
In 1980, nearly every county, including Denver and Boulder, went for Republican Ronald Reagan. In 1984, Denver County went for Democrat Walter Mondale. In 1988, Denver, Boulder and Adams counties went for Democrat Michael Dukakis — all have been blue ever since.
Other urban Front Range counties such as Arapahoe, Jefferson and Larimer have followed suit in recent years. El Paso and Douglas counties have remained reliably Republican.
2016 presidential election
In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won rural voters by a 15 percent margin (about 52,000 votes) — 54 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 39 percent — but among urban voters, Clinton enjoyed an 8 percent margin (about 188,000 votes), 50 percent to 42 percent.
Explore shifts in presidential voting patterns at the county level in the following graphic: