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Colorado 3rd Most Expensive Senate Race In U.S.

DENVER (CBS4)- The Senate race in Colorado between Democrat incumbent Mark Udall and Republican challenger Cory Gardner is the third most expensive Senate race in the country. And it all depends on voter turnout.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, the third most expensive Senate race is in Colorado behind North Carolina and Georgia.

The center also finds the campaigns and outside groups have spent more than $40 million on airtime for nearly 60,000 broadcast TV ads, that doesn't include cable, with Democrats outspending Republicans.

Cory Gardner, Mark Udall
Cory Gardner, left, Mark Udall, right (credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

In the past week 7,000 ads have aired on average two ads every three minutes.

With the on air campaign getting intense in the final days before the election, the on the ground effort is reaching overdrive.

Udall's plan on a final blitz of Colorado is to log more than 2,000 miles before election day Nov. 4 and rally the troops.

Udall is trailing in the polls and knows that turnout is everything now. He is facing a tough reality: Democrats are less likely to vote in midterms.

The campaign is hoping for a repeat of 2010 when Sen. Michael Bennet, also behind in the polls, pulled off an upset by 30,000 votes.

His methods worked so well and were so sophisticated that the strategy is modeled nationally as the "Bannock Street Project" named after one of Bennet's old field offices.

Volunteers are the key and Udall's campaign says it has 4,000 people. Wayne Mautz is one of those volunteers.

"They are there if we just reach them and show them it does matter and it does count," said Mautz.

Republicans also have a name for their voter turnout machine "Victory 365." The grassroots effort is to engage GOP voters year-round and get them to the polls on election day.

The group has had volunteers on the ground for a year, opened a record number of field offices and invested heavily in data to target voters.

At a Thornton field office, volunteer Mary Dambman makes up to 100 calls an hour.

"It's just a very narrow group that will make a difference in the outcome," said Dambman.

The Udall campaign hoped to register 100,000 voters this year but Democratic registrations over the last six months total a little more than 19,000. At the same time 28,000 Republicans have registered and almost 24,000 unaffiliated voters.

Mail-In Ballots Elections Vote Generic Voting Voter
(credit: CBS)

With more than a million ballots turned in, 45 percent of active Republicans have turned out compared with Democrats' 37 percent.

In the swing counties, Republicans lead by nine percent in Arapahoe, 12 percent in Larimer, eight percent in Broomfield and eight percent in Jefferson County.

Democrats lead by four percent in Adams County.

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