The 2010 census has completely changed the landscape of many states for the current election. Congressional districts that used to be “safe” for a particular party are now toss-ups, giving both parties the opportunity to pick up seats in the 2012 election.
In Colorado, redistricting has completely opened up a once safe Republican district. Colorado District (CD) 6 used to consist of several counties that leaned heavily Republican. After redistricting, more independents and unaffiliated voters have been placed in the district, making it harder for Republicans to establish a base of support.
Republican Mike Coffman is the incumbent representative for the race, and is still the Republican Party nominee for the general election. His challenger is Democrat Joe Miklosi, who was unopposed in the primaries for the Democratic Party nomination. The race has been declared a toss-up by several analysts, making it extremely valuable to Republicans who wish to maintain control of the House of Representatives after November 6.
The most recent polls done by national organizations are from September. They showed Coffman leading by 3 points over Miklosi, 42% to 39%. At this point, almost 10% of voters were undecided about a candidate, meaning that the vote could swing towards any candidate.
The poll was also well with the margin of error, meaning the district could easily go either way. Many analysts believe that Coffman will retain his seat with a narrow victory over Miklosi. Polling will most likely not help us predict this race, so we will need to wait until Election Day to see which candidate gains the congressional seat.
Both candidates agreed to a debate that was held last week. In such a close race, a major win in a debate could help a candidate gain the lead over his or her opponent. Both candidates came into the debate hoping to score a win for their respective campaigns.
After the debate started, the candidates immediately started sparring over records. Miklosi attacked Coffman’s voting record in the U.S. House, while Coffman returned the favor by criticizing Miklosi’s voting record in the Colorado House.
That debate and the final debate focused heavily on jobs and the economy. Both candidates claim they will help create jobs for District 6 and the state of Colorado. Although it is not clear if the debates affected the race, any perceived win by either candidate may help in such a narrow race.
Money has been a major factor in this race, as outside sources have been heavily funding each of the candidates’ campaigns. Coffman has significantly outraised and outspent Miklosi, with $2.6 million in contributions coming in for him compared to $1.4 million for Miklosi. More money means more ads and voter registration activities, something that will definitely help a candidate. With status as an incumbent, the extra money may help push Coffman to a narrow victory.
Another factor that may contribute to his race is the independent vote. The Libertarian Party has fielded several candidates for the U.S. congressional races this year. Patrick Provost, only 26 years old, has made it onto the ballot for the Libertarian Party in CD 6. Colorado voters have a particularly independent streak, not affiliating with Democrats or Republicans. If Provost can gain enough support, he may pull votes away from Republican Coffman, allowing for a Democratic victory by Miklosi.
Finally, high level endorsements are playing a role in the CD 6 race. Bill Clinton visited Colorado this week to help campaign for President Obama. During his speech, he clearly gave his support for Miklosi, telling voters that they need to push him forward over Coffman. Voters pay attention to high level endorsements like this, so Clinton’s support may convince undecided voters to choose Miklosi in this close race.
CD 6 is a very close race, and will be hard to call. However, I believe Republican Mike Coffman will gain a narrow victory over challenger Miklosi. He has the advantage of being an incumbent, which gives him clear name recognition in the parts of his district that remain from redistricting. Furthermore, he has a fundraising advantage over Miklosi, which can definitely help lead to a victory if it is used for voter turnout on Election Day.
Will Republicans maintain control of the U.S. House? If they can hold onto Republican seats like this one, then yes. That is why the party has been heavily funding Coffman and other Republicans all across the nation. CD 6 is just one of many congressional races that will ultimately determine control of the House for the next Congress.