Chris Romer won the general election with 28 percent, or 32,000 voters, in a record low turnout (112,000). It represents a 6-point improvement from the last poll in mid-April that gave him 22 percent in a tie with James Mejia.
But, the story of the night is the late come-from-behind-victory of Councilman Michael Hancock. That same poll gave him 18 percent, yet he finished at 27 percent. Better than Romer, it represents a 9-point improvement. He was 1,587 votes behind Romer and 1,491 votes ahead of Mejia.
James Mejia has to be disappointed. He appeared to be heading for the runoff after the April poll, but only moved up 4 points. In the final two weeks, his fundraising lagged as Hancock’s surged. And, in spite of some early criticism of his campaign, Hancock’s final get-out-the-vote worked.
The winner of the general election does not necessarily win the runoff. In 1991, Auditor Wellington Webb (30%) lost the general election to District Attorney Norm Early (41%), yet won the runoff with 58 percent of the vote.
The runoff starts close. The three top candidates were only separated by 3,000 votes out of 111,000 cast – 3 percentage points. They dominated the race, receiving 81 percent of the votes cast. Romer’s 28 percent is the lowest general election win in the modern history of the race and the smallest margin separating him from his runoff opponent.
9News – Denver mayor election results: Romer and Hancock will be in runoff
9News – Other Denver races also headed for runoffs
denvergov.org – Final unofficial election results – May 3, 2011
denvergov.org – Unofficial write-in results – May 3, 2011
Denver Post – Romer, Hancock a study in contrasts in sprint to runoff