By Reed Schaefer
In almost 365 days, it will be Election Day: Nov. 3, 2020. For many of us, this will be the first major election in which we can vote. On top of this, Colorado is an important battleground state, meaning that partisan politics will be on full display as presidential candidates seek to garner as many votes as possible. Seize this opportunity to play a role in the political process! Now is the time to begin informing ourselves for the decision we will make next November. Vote, but also challenge yourself to actually participate in off-year elections, such as this one.
Candidates are already campaigning fiercely for the 2020 election, which have the potential to reshape our nation and our political landscape permanently. President Donald Trump hopes to secure a second term, but more than 20 Democratic candidates have thrown their hats in the ring. Just as importantly, the U.S. Senate and House of Representative elections may shift the balance of power in Washington.
Colorado has been identified as a key state by both political parties in state elections, more so than in the upcoming presidential election. The state has nine electoral votes, which is relatively low in comparison to other states.
Colorado will play a critical role in the 2020 election because Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is up for reelection, opening up a vital seat in the partisan battle for the Senate.
The current balance in the Colorado state Senate is 53 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and two Independents, who have historically sided with Democrats. Democrats have targeted Gardner, in hopes of fracturing the Republicans’ hold over the Senate by a slim margin. Republicans have heightened the saliency of Gardner’s campaign through massive donations and backing by large names and organizations. Currently, Gardner claims to have upwards of $6.5 million in campaign funding. With support for Trump waning, Gardner has tried to distance himself, even though he has sided with Trump approximately 90% of the time, according to 5280 magazine. Regardless, the Trump Victory Committee plans to come to Colorado in 2020 and will likely include Gardner on the agenda. Republicans have the advantage of an unopposed, clearly defined an incumbent candidate — something the Democrats are lacking at the moment.
Similar to the Presidential election, Democrats must decide between a number of choices for the seat. The Democratic Party has put its support behind former democratic gov. John Hickenlooper, but the Colorado Democratic Party remains neutral going into primary election among many strong candidates. Democrats plan to ride the anti-Trump wave and the recent increase in Democratic voter turnout for this election. Colorado is a politically competitive state, and it would be folly for Democrats to treat this election as an easy win. If the 2016 elections taught us anything, it is that no major election is a guarantee, and Democrats must turn out in higher numbers than their GOP counterparts in order to win.
While politics may be frustrating and elections complicated to navigate, we owe it to ourselves and to our communities to take part in the election and the broader political process. Ignoring the process will not make politics any better. Regardless of your political preferences, being a thoughtful participant is the best solution. Make a plan-of-action:
Register! To be eligible to vote, you must register. Many states, including Colorado, allow you to register online. In some states, including Colorado, you may register as late as election day, but don’t wait in case there are complications. You can register either in your home state or in Colorado.
Educate! Learn about the candidates and the issues at hand. Several websites exist which can help you sort through the many candidates, such as OpenSecrets.org, PolitiFact.com and Project Vote Smart, to name a few. Watch or attend candidate events, forums, and debates.
Campaign! If you find a candidate or issue that you are passionate about, campaign for them. You can get active on campus, in Colorado Springs, or in the state as a whole. Host a candidate on campus or hold a forum on an important issue.
Vote! While federal election day is Nov. 3, 2020, primaries will be held beforehand. Colorado will hold its primary on March 3, 2020—Super Tuesday. And if you are registered here in Colorado Springs, two questions are presented on a municipal election next Tuesday, Nov. 5. Don’t wait, be politically active, and prepare yourself for 2020!