Washington (CNN)Registered Republicans overtook Democrats in terms of ballots already cast for the first time since voting began in Colorado, according to the latest numbers released Monday.
Republicans take late lead in Colorado voting
But even though there are signs that Republicans have late momentum in the Centennial State, they are still behind their 2012 pace, which ultimately wasn't enough for then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney to win.
Colorado is conducting its election almost entirely by mail this year, for the first time in a presidential cycle. Ballots were mailed out to all registered voters starting October 17, and more than 1.8 million Coloradans have already cast their votes by mailing in their ballots or dropping it off at a polling center.
On the eve of the national election, 652,380 Republicans and 645,020 Democrats have cast ballots, according to the Colorado secretary of state. That's a razor-thin Republican lead of 7,360 votes, which is much smaller than the roughly 31,000-ballot edge Republicans had at this point in 2012. So even though Republicans can celebrate taking the lead Monday, they are still underperforming compared to 2012.
The 2012 numbers are from Catalist, a data company that works with progressive candidates that CNN has partnered with to receive detailed early vote return information this year. Catalist's voter list connects returned ballots with demographic and registration information, such as party registration, gender and age, and allows a closer look at who has already cast a vote in the election.
These are not results -- ballots aren't tallied until Election Day. But the findings provide clues on who is voting and which party is turning out to vote. And while the numbers track voters' party affiliations, not all Democrats are voting for Hillary Clinton, and not all Republicans are supporting Donald Trump.
Even though Republicans led through much of the early voting window four years ago, President Barack Obama carried the state by 137,858 votes. He won thanks in part to a late surge of votes from younger voters, who often wait until the last minute to cast their ballots. So far this year, voters over 65 years old are 28% of the electorate that has already voted, even though they were only 16% of the final electorate in 2012.
This time around, it was the Democrats who held the lead during much of the voting process. Their advantage peaked in the last weekend of October, when they led Republicans by about 27,000 voters. Since then, their edge dwindled with every new voting update from the Colorado Secretary of State.
The Clinton campaign dispatched former Vice President Al Gore to Colorado on Monday for get-out-the-vote events in Boulder and Lakewood, a key swing area in Jefferson County. Trump made his final visit to Colorado on Sunday, holding a rally in Denver.
Clinton and Trump were tied at 39% in a recent poll of likely Colorado voters, released last week by the University of Denver and the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research. The survey showed a much closer race than much of the polls throughout the election season that gave Clinton a comfortable edge.