Jerry Kopel

KOPEL: GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

If trends over the past 100 years hold, it looks really good for Statehouse Dems

Come November 5, you can call me either a sage or a sap.

When the past 100 years of elections to the Colorado Legislature are analyzed, a trend emerges: Whenever major events occur on a national level, such as a depression or a really major “boom,” Colorado elects 71 or more legislators from the same party.

The controversy over the gold vs. silver standard (plus a Democratic convention in Denver) resulted in a Republican collapse in 1908. The Democrats gained 43 more seats than they’d had after the 1906 election. In the Great Depression years of the ’30s, it was literally true that all six Republican senators could caucus in a telephone booth.

In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive) and William Taft (Republican) split the vote in Colorado, easily helping to give Woodrow Wilson the presidency.

War weariness, anger at Wilson and a desire to “return to normalcy” resulted in a 1920 landslide for William Harding, who died in 1923. Calvin Coolidge’s huge majority in 1924 came with “good times” and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado.

Unlike the Vietnam era, the war years in the ’40s produced solid Republican majorities. And so did Reagan’s second election in 1984. The Republicans could have had more legislators elected in 1984, but they let Democrats have a number of seats without a challenge (including mine).

Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.