Sabato's Crystal Ball

Colorado (04) House 2010

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidate: Betsy Markey, Incumbent

Republican candidate: Corey Gardner, State Representative

Recent Updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: October 5th, 2010

From the day of Democrat Betsy Markey’s 2008 victory in this Republican district, this seat has been at the top of the GOP target list. So far she’s had the airwaves to herself, as her Republican opponent, state legislator Cory Gardner, has yet to run a television ad, but that has not given her the head start you might expect. Her own polling shows her tied and sitting at just 38%, a miserable situation for a sitting congresswoman. With Gardner going on air with a sizeable ad buy starting next week, expect significant movement in his direction. As a result, the Crystal Ball changes our rating from Toss-Up to Leans R.


Republican Coloradans have been burning since 2008 when Democrat Betsy Markey remarkably raised more money than three-term Republican incumbent Marilyn Musgrave and snatched Colorado’s 4th District after nearly 40 years of Republican domination. Musgrave barely slid by in the election of 2006 when her hearty conservatism gave her a victory by fewer that 6,000 votes in a heavily leaning Republican district. Coupled with rising Democratic propensities and a Democrat challenger who could appeal to middle-of-the-road conservatives and independents, the factors pushing against Musgrave snowballed and brought her chances of a fourth term avalanching down. In the upcoming election in 2010, Republicans Tom Lucero, a regent of the University of Colorado, and state representative Cory Gardner hope Markey’s election has not started a new trend. Colorado’s 4th district voted 58 percent in favor of George Bush in 2004 but in 2008 Obama was able to carry 49 percent of the vote, highlighting a distinguishable difference in voters’ preferences.
Although Markey is a Democrat in a snowfield of conservative minded Coloradans, Lucero and Gardner will have to do better than merely attacking her as another Democrat obsessed with federal spending. Markey’s conservative stance on a number of social issues has pulled moderate conservatives to her side, and together with a blizzard of political contributions, the longstanding GOP stranglehold has also melted. Clearly something has changed in last year’s presidential election Obama captured 49 percent of the vote “Local issues” appear to be the only topics of debate thus far, but Republicans must be weary of Markey’s capabilities or there could be a couple of cold winters for the GOP along Colorado’s Front Range.