Colorado’s reputation as the ultimate purple state isn’t a fad. Just look at this chart — after solidly Republican beginnings, party control of the state has been all over the map.
And forget Republican vs. Democrat. There was a period in the 1890s where the upstart Populist party took over state government. At other points, the Colorado House and Senate had coalition control, with Democrats and Populists joining with a breakaway party called the Silver Republicans to hold power.
That’s what makes this election so potentially historic. If Democrats do what pollsters say is possible and sweep the state executive offices — that’s governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer — it would be the first time they’ve done that since 1948.
Update: They did it.
The last time any party accomplished the feat in an election was 1970, when Republicans captured all of the offices. (The GOP had all the offices at once after the 2004 election, but that was because Ken Salazar’s move to the Senate allowed Republican Gov. Bill Owens to appoint Republican John Suthers to the attorney general’s office.)
The chart below shows which party controlled which statewide office following a gubernatorial election. Just a side note: Until 1958, Colorado elected its governor and other executive offices to two-year terms, hence the higher number of elections in those years.
(Play with the data yourself here)