Aurora has changed from a modest suburban bedroom community to a significant urban area doubling in population since the 1980s. And, its politics have evolved from mostly a moderate Republicanism characterized by its mayors – from the Tauer family. Paul and Ed (1987 to 2011), to Steve Hogan (2011 to 2018). But in 2019, the former Republican congressman, Mike Coffman, barely won an election, and was joined by a city council increasingly dominated by a progressive majority, with one self-identifying socialist.
In a long article by Dennis Huspeni in Colorado Politics (10-18-20), I attributed the shift primarily to the growth and changing demographics of the electorate:
Republicans are actually in third place among registered voters in Arapahoe County, behind Democrats and independents, said longtime Colorado political pollster and analyst Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion and Research at the University of Denver.
At the behest of the Arapahoe County commissioners, Ciruli conducted a study in 2017-18 to get a better handle on the changing nature of the county’s demographics.
“Arapahoe County and Aurora for a long time was moderately Republican, producing politicians like (former Colorado Governor) Bill Owens and Mike Coffman,” Ciruli said.
But the study showed a “huge influx” of younger people – many of whom were minorities. The study showed 28% of the county’s population to be Hispanic, and the African American population almost doubled to 17% since the 2010 Census.
Those changing demographics had a large impact on that pivotal 2018 election “sweep” in Arapahoe County.
“I think the (Republican) party was shell shocked at the growth and changing ethnicity,” Ciruli said.
Mayor Coffman suggested it was just the normal national swing of the electorate in off-year elections, and without being specific, the negative impact of President Donald Trump. In which case, there might be relief for local Republicans in 2021 and 2020. We shall see.
|Aurora Municipal Center | John Leyba, special to Colorado Politics|