Polls and pundits had anticipated a “red wave” for Republicans in this year’s midterms, and a conservative district represented by a GOP firebrand seemed to be a sure thing for a party that was expecting to flip both chambers of Congress. But as ballots continue to be counted in Boebert’s district, it could be the one that costs Republicans the House.
As of 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday, Boebert was leading her Democratic opponent, Adam Frisch, by less than 500 votes.
Many have been left puzzled by the tight race, but Frisch said he’d anticipated an upset all along.
“I spent 10 months trying to convince donors and journalists and political strategists everywhere that there was a path forward,” the middle-of-the-road Democrat told the Associated Press just after midnight on Wednesday. “People started to believe it a little bit a month ago, and people believed that a lot four hours ago.”
Frisch spent the election cycle appealing to frustrated Republicans and independents in the district, making the argument that Boebert was leaving her constituents behind as she paved her way in Congress as a rising MAGA star.
In an appearance on MSNBC‘s The ReidOut on Wednesday, Frisch told anchor Joy Reid that Colorado voters want elected officials who will focus on the economy and health care “and not spend most of their time traveling around the country, especially an inordinate amount of time down in Mar-a-Lago, Florida,” Donald Trump‘s estate.
In a Republican-learning district, Frisch merely offered a “lower-key, saner alternative” to voters, Seth Masket, a political science professor at the University of Denver, told Newsweek.
The Cook Partisan Voting Index, which measures how strongly a district leans toward a political party, gives the district an R+7. (The higher the number, the stronger a district leans toward that party.)
It would be difficult for any progressive candidate to campaign in the western Colorado region, where Trump won decisively in both 2016 and 2020. But by running a campaign as a conservative Democrat who is “not really pushing a strong party line,” Frisch was able to mount a real challenge to Boebert, Masket said.
At the same time, “the effectiveness of Frisch’s organization has to be part of the story,” Kyle Saunders, a political science professor at Colorado State University, said.
Saunders told Newsweek that Frisch’s campaign had touted its mobilization and organizing efforts, saying they resulted in a lot of momentum for the Democrat. But because of the fundamentals at play in this year’s midterms—including historical trends, President Joe Biden‘s poor approval rating and inflation—”nobody really paid attention to them.”
“It is a lesson to everybody that every single vote matters,” Frisch told Reid this week.
Despite the unexpected turn of events that Frisch has managed to pull off, both Masket and Saunders emphasized that the race in Colorado is still “largely about Boebert.”
As Tom Carpenter, a resident of the 3rd District, told Colorado Public Radio, “I voted for anybody but Boebert. I’ve been a Republican since Carter, and Boebert was just a total embarrassment to me.”
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