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Joe Biden, Donald Trump easily win Colorado’s presidential primaries

Voters show up at the polling center on March 5, 2024, at Mesa County Central Services in Grand Junction.
Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun
Voters show up at the polling center on March 5, 2024, at Mesa County Central Services in Grand Junction.

The Colorado Sun originally published this story at 7:07 PM on March 5, 2023.

Former President Donald Trump cruised to victory Tuesday over former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in Colorado’s Republican presidential primary, while President Joe Biden easily won the state’s Democratic presidential primary.

The Associated Press called the Republican presidential primary race in Colorado for Trump at about 7:10 p.m. when Trump had 61% of the vote to Haley’s 36%. Haley’s share of the vote total increased to 34% by 9:30 p.m., but Trump’s share increased as well to 63%.

On the Democratic side, The AP called the race for Biden at 7:06 p.m. when the president was winning 85% of the vote. The “non-committed delegate” option on Colorado’s Democratic presidential primary ballot was in second, at 7% — nowhere near enough to secure any delegates. The results hadn’t shifted much by 9:30 p.m.

The noncommitted delegate option — essentially a none-of-the-above choice — has become a way for some liberals to protest Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. In Michigan, the “uncommitted” delegate option received 17% of the vote in that state’s Democratic presidential primary last week, enough to mean that two of the state’s 117 delegates to the Democratic National Convention won’t be tied to Biden.

In Colorado, however, it appeared a late push among Biden critics to get Democrats to choose the option fell flat.

A closer look: 2024 primary election results

Colorado is one of 15 Super Tuesday states that held their presidential primaries Tuesday. It likely marks Haley’s last chance at winning the GOP nomination — and the national results Tuesday were looking dismal for her.

Haley’s campaign was sending texts to unaffiliated voters in Colorado on Tuesday urging them to vote for her. “Get out and vote for Nikki Haley,” one of the messages said.

Colorado’s presidential primaries are not winner-take-all contests. The final results will determine how many Republican and Democratic delegates to the parties’ national convention each candidate will — or won’t — get from Colorado.

Both parties allocate delegates proportionally through a complicated algorithm based on how they perform statewide and in each congressional district. Democrats require candidates to receive 15% of the vote before they start receiving delegates, while the GOP threshold is 20%.

It will likely be a few days after the election, once results are finalized before the delegates start being divvied up. But it appeared likely Tuesday night that Trump wouldn’t win all of the state’s delegates.

Colorado Democrats will send 87 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August. Republicans will have 37 delegates at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in July.

Unaffiliated voters were casting more ballots in the GOP primary

Unaffiliated voters, who make up 48% of the state’s registered electorate, were choosing 2-to-1 to vote in Colorado’s Republican presidential primary over the Democratic primary.

About 34% of the Republican presidential primary ballots cast in Colorado through Tuesday at 3 p.m. were from unaffiliated voters. By comparison, 23% of the ballots cast in the Democratic presidential primary through that time were from unaffiliated votes.

Turnout among active voters was 33% as of 3 p.m. on Election Day.

Voter voices

Colorado Sun reporters visited polling places across the state to ask voters who they were backing on Tuesday — and why.

Republicans Rachel Boim, 47, and Doug Thorner, 53, of rural Arapahoe County voted for Haley at the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Library on East Colfax Avenue in Aurora.

“I don’t think that Trump is an honest, good man,” Boim said. “I don’t think someone like that should be representing our country.”

Thorner said he voted for Haley because “it’s time for change.”

“I believe in Nikki. I like her. I’ve always liked her when she was governor,” said Thorner, nodding to how Haley was South Carolina’s governor before she was Trump’s U.N. ambassador.

In Lone Tree, Barret Harper, a registered Republican who lives in Highlands Ranch, voted for Nikki Haley.

“I believe in American democracy,” said Harper, 35. “I want a president who also agrees with that.”

Harper said he wouldn’t vote for Trump in November if he’s the Republican nominee.

In Colorado Springs, 55-year-old Republican Paul Glad voted for Trump. He said Trump’s border policies and what he sees as Biden’s role in inflation drove him to back the Republican.

“Gas drives everything,” Glad said. “If they were able to reduce the cost of that by producing our own oil, you will see prices drop.”

Dwight Miller, an unaffiliated voter, cast his ballot for Trump in Douglas County on Tuesday after previously being a longtime supporter of Democrats.

Miller, 61, worries about the direction that Biden has taken the country, rattling off a list of his concerns, including an influx of people illegally crossing the border, crime he sees as “out of control,” and inflation that he said is “killing us.”

“I believe that the Democratic party today is evil,” said Miller, a Lone Tree resident. “I truly believe that.”

At the Denver Botanic Gardens, Democrat Tai Bickham cast a ballot for the noncommitted delegate option.

“I just don’t have the confidence in Biden that I may have had four years ago — and especially (given) how he’s been handling the Palestinian war,” said Bickham 44, who described herself as “pro-Palestinian” and “pro-humanity.”

Even local issues have steered her away from supporting Biden, she said, including the growing number of people experiencing homelessness and the dearth of affordable housing in Denver.

After casting her ballot at the Denver Botanic Gardens Tuesday afternoon, Bickham said she would vote for Biden in November if she has “absolutely no choice.”

“I’m definitely not voting for the other one,” she said, referring to Trump.

Patricia Ryder, a 45-year-old Democrat in Colorado Springs, also cast a ballot for the uncommitted delegate option.

“I don’t trust the cognitive ability of Biden anymore,” she said.

Julia Sare, a registered Democrat also voted Tuesday at the Denver Botanic Gardens, said she voted for Biden.

“I don’t want anyone else to win,” she said, expressing concern about another Trump term in the White House and calling him as “crooked.”

“I feel like I’m not having a lot of hope for the future right now,” said Sare, 41. “And it feels very us vs. them.”

Karla Wright, a 60-year-old Democrat in Colorado Springs, voted for Biden, too.

“I took the lesser of the evils. I am not pleased with either candidate, but at this point, I think Trump is a complete and utter danger to the country,” she said.

Colorado Sun staff writers Sandra Fish and Olivia Prentzel contributed to this report.

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