Candidates still have plenty of time to get out the vote before Tuesday, but an eleventh hour report released by the Colorado Secretary of State has put Democrats on notice, and upped the pressure on Republicans to maintain their momentum heading into election day.

Via the Associated Press:

A report from the Secretary of State on Friday showed that 104,000 more Republicans than Democrats had cast their ballots as the state conducts its first major mail-in election.

Republicans usually lead in early returns in Colorado but rarely by such hefty margins. Democrats and some observers expect that lead to shrink by Election Day.

But more than half the ballots are in and the filing suggests how difficult it might be for Democrats such as Sen Mark Udall to survive a year in which Republicans are highly motivated.

In a state where a high profile Senate race has come out to a toss up, a 9 point edge with over half of all eligible ballots already in the hopper is no guarantee of success, but it’s also not insignificant.

The Real Clear Politics Average has once-trailing Republican Senate Candidate Cory Gardner up 3.8 points over Democrat incumbent Mark Udall. This represents an almost mirror flip on the numbers since mid-September; a September 15 poll had Udall up 3.7 points, but by September 26, Gardner had closed the gap and gained a point over Udall.

Colorado Republicans aren’t breathing yet, though, because the gubernatorial race is much, much closer, with Republican Bob Beauprez enjoying (suffering through?) just a 0.3 point lead over Democrat incumbent John Hickenlooper.

As Ed Morrissey at Hot Air notes, Republicans are dominating with demographics generally considered a sure thing for Democrats:

More than 60 percent of those whose votes have been sent are 55 or older, a segment that grew from 45 percent in the midterm election in 2010.

Democrats have been trying to turn out voters who usually skip lower-interest midterms. But it’s Republicans who normally miss those elections who are voting in greater numbers this year.

The GOP even leads Democrats among voters 18 to 25, a group that has been the backbone of Democrats’ dominance over the past decade in Colorado.

“They wish they were in our position right now,” Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said of Democrats.

Additionally, a poll released today by the Des Moines Register has Republican Jodi Ernst up 7 points on Democrat Bruce Braley; Ernst enjoys 51% support among likely voters and all the confidence that Braley’s camp has lost during the last half of the cycle:

The news will thrill Republican activists nationwide, who are counting on Iowa as an anchor for regaining the majority in the U.S. Senate. On Saturday, a progressive group organized a conference call with Majority Leader Harry Reid to urge Iowa Democrats “to double down and save the Senate.”

“If we win Iowa, we’re going to do just fine,” he said. “Iowa is critical, there’s no other way to say it.”

If Republicans control the Senate, Reid said, “think of what that would mean for our country.”

It’s hard to see much in these poll results that Braley could capitalize on to build a groundswell, [pollster J. Ann] Selzer said. “None of this looks good for him,” she said.

Braley has lost vote share since an early October Iowa Poll (he dropped from 46 percent to 44 percent) while Ernst has increased her share (from 47 percent to 51 percent now).

Another sign of trouble: Braley is losing by 3 points in his home congressional district in left-leaning northeast Iowa. In the early October poll, he was up by 1 point there.

The era of assuming votes in American elections is over. GOP efforts to broaden the base in states like Texas, Iowa, and Colorado give me hope for the future of the Party, and for the future of great candidates who are willing to work in districts and states that many conservatives left for dead in 2012.

Aggressive messaging on token issues isn’t enough. GOTV efforts and base-broadening have contributed to gains in both Colorado and Iowa, and if Gardner and Ernst pull it out on Tuesday, it will be what most contributed to their victory. Conservatives put a lot of pressure on the national advocacy groups to serve up ideal candidates for key offices, but that system doesn’t work unless local voters put on their walking shoes and help their candidates win.