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Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck, who upset Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the GOP primary, lost narrowly to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet after Democrats successfully tarred Mr. Buck as a fringe candidate on issues including abortion. Mr. Bennet’s margin of victory came largely from unaffiliated suburban women who “voted for all those Republicans, and then decided they couldn’t vote for Ken Buck,” said Mr. Wadhams.

While it’s hard to predict how Colorado Republicans will fare with a change of guard, at this point state Democrats may consider themselves the biggest winners.

“The Democrats are smiling this morning, in my opinion,” said Mr. Ciruli. “Not only is a good tactician resigning, but the Republican Party is being taken over by the tea party. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what they think.”