Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Colorado Polling Averages

After a month of polls, Senator Udall remains ahead by a point and Governor Hickenlooper by slightly less than two in the Real Clear Politics average. Both Democratic putative frontrunners had to deal with the first credible poll that showed them behind – Quinnipiac, which has a long-track record in Colorado.

The NBC/Marist poll was warmly received by Democrats, but felt like an outlier. Between margin of error and timing, it’s possible to see significant shifts, but a 7-point lead for Udall in mid-July appears excessive and would have to be confirmed by other polls. And, although the Governor had reported double-digit leads earlier in the year, a closer race is now reflected in a couple of polls (Quinnipiac and Rasmussen – tie). But, in this race, more data will be needed. The presumption remains that Hickenlooper has the advantage.

Coloradans tend to re-elect incumbent senators (last incumbent senator (D) lost in 1978, a Republican lost in 1972) and governors (last elected incumbent (D) lost in 1962, appointed (R) in 1974). But in 2014, both incumbents are going to have to work hard to keep their jobs.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Hickenlooper vs. Polis – The Fight’s On

Big win for Colorado’s political consultants. A minimum $10 million, and possibly $20 million, ballot
Gov. Hickenlooper joins Old Crow Medicine Show
on stage at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, July 16, 2014.
Photo: Seth McConnell, heyreverb.com
campaign appears to be on the way. Proponents only need to come up with about 30,000 signatures per week between now and August 4 to make their 86,000 valid signatures. It is costing a likely $200,000 per week to pay gatherers to get it done, but small change in this war.

Big loser at this point is the Democratic Party. Governor Hickenlooper and legislative Democrats with business allies could not unite their own forces. And, not surprising, Republicans didn’t join since the disarray in the Democratic ranks is in their interest in November.

Over the next three months, a media and public relations war will be waged between Democratic officeholders and candidates and the left-leaning and environmental base of the party. It won’t be pretty. Although each side will try to sound like they have reasonable arguments and solutions, environmental polluters and corporate lap dogs will likely soon be battling urban eco-extremists and anti-jobs trust funders.

As Brandon Rittiman at 9News reported:
It’s a serious loss for Hickenlooper on a couple of fronts.
“No. 1, he put a lot of political capital into this, he worked hard on it. It failed,” 9NEWS political analyst Floyd Ciruli said. “It's a leadership question and [Republican challenger Bob] Beauprez will clearly take advantage of it.”
The issue is also poised to divide Democrats in a contentious election year, with top-of-ticket candidates like Hickenlooper supporting the oil and gas industry despite strong sentiment against fracking among environmentalists in the party’s base.
Ciruli says the danger for Democrats is not that some liberal voters will vote for GOP challengers, but that they will vote on the ballot questions and leave the big races like governor and senator blank.
“That could be 3,000 or 4,000 votes. It could be a few more. It’s hard to say. As you know, this is a very environmental state,” Ciruli said. “The reason why they were fighting so hard against [a ballot question on fracking] is that they feel it could hurt the entire Democratic ticket.”
Rep. Jared Polis
Jared Polis is a winner today. He agreed to a “take it or leave it” compromise, which was rejected, and he has the money to get on the ballot and run a campaign. He argues that his initiatives are popular and will connect the party to a popular issue and passionate constituency.

Ironically, Polis helped create the modern Colorado Democratic Party. But his ballot strategy is seen as divisive in a difficult election year. A Democratic governor, U.S. Senator and control of the State Senate are at risk. If they lose, he loses.

See The Hill: A fracking problem for Dems

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Dems Slip Behind

In a significant political turn of events, the latest Quinnipiac poll shows Colorado’s two top Democrats are now running behind their Republican opponents. The biggest surprise was Governor John Hickenlooper, who by conventional wisdom was near certain to win re-election. He is now trailing Republican Bob Beauprez.

But, U.S. Senator Mark Udall’s campaign must be even more concerned. The narrative for most of Washington’s political class is that, although Udall was on the vulnerable list, the seat leans Democratic. This poll begins to change the narrative to Udall is in a “fight for his political life.”

Two of Washington’s top political handicappers – Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg – had the race a toss-up, even throughout most of the forecasters using historical political data thought the blue hue of recent elections offered Udall a cushion. But, as the election draws closer, polls begin to tell the story. Udall is now behind Gardner and many of the internal figures are not promising.

Colorado politics is volatile and it’s reflected in the polls. The next three months will likely see many changes of position, but, as of July 17, Colorado is in for a first-rate contest.

Barack Obama’s Last Visit

For a guy who hates to lose, John Hickenlooper has had a bad couple of weeks. First, he gets his clock cleaned in a couple of pool games with President Obama. And then, in a poll in the field one day later (Quinnipiac, 7-10 to 7-14), he drops four points in approval in four months and loses his first poll since breaking out of a multi-candidate mayoral field at the start of his career in 2003.

Pres. Obama w/Gov. Hickenlooper, rear,
 at Wynkoop Brewing Co. July 8, 2014.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Unpopular presidents cost fellow party candidates votes. But, Hickenlooper and the Democrats have also contributed to their own demise.
  • The Quinnipiac poll showed guns in second place from a much lower position in an earlier poll, no doubt due to the Governor’s failed apology to County Sheriffs and the kerfuffle it raised.
  • Hickenlooper never fully recovered from the runaway 2013 legislative session, which he became fully identified with bill signings and his failure to use the veto.
  • His futile effort to reach a compromise on fracking to avoid a public fight highlights a divided party.
One figure that must cause the Governor’s campaign pause is that his signature issue of the economy was not helping him, in spite of some increase in voter satisfaction with it.

Given these poll results and Senator Udall’s gyrations to avoid the president don’t expect another visit before November 4.

The Buzz: Governor’s race a toss up
Denver Post Opinion: Ciruli: Electable GOP team rises out of sleepy race

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Denver Post: 6th CD and Immigration Reform

In the close fight between Congressman Mike Coffman and Andrew Romanoff, immigration reform is garnering attention. The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee (who is about to become an online and multi-platform reporter for the LA Times) provides an in-depth analysis of how the candidates are maneuvering on the issue.

Immigration is a complex issue for both parties. Although the public, in general, prefers reform – that is, a path to citizenship with conditions – significant factions within each party have their own agendas and can be highly disruptive. Also, events, such as a in the children on the Mexican border, can create very uneven ground that is hard to maneuver.

Coffman’s challenge is to hold his base while attempting to adjust to the new reality of his more liberal and minority populated district. Romanoff must deal with his past pragmatism. The public seldom lists immigration reform as a top issue, but candidates of both parties are vulnerable if they don’t show concern and reasonable sounding solutions.

As Lee reports:
“(Coffman) realized quickly his positions from his old district are simply just not politically acceptable in his new district. He had to shift his tone and his ideas,” said longtime political analyst Floyd Ciruli. “And a lot of times with voters, they can be swayed if there’s movement in a candidate to work in the best interests of constituents. Will it help him? It certainly seems like it will be a good year for Republicans, and Coffman has Democrats in Washington offering him praise for his legislation.”
Ciruli said Democrats have the upper hand when it comes to Latino voters, who often vote in lockstep with the party.
“Romanoff's message is the same message that every Democrat running for office this year is expressing: ‘Comprehensive immigration reform is a must,’” he said. “It’s a message that resonates with Latinos. The question for Romanoff is: Can he turn out these voters in an election cycle where minorities often do not cast ballots?”
See Denver Post:
Past immigration stances problematic for Coffman, Romanoff
Colorado advocates say immigration reform not “a play for amnesty”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Los Angeles Times: Democrats Target Women Voters to Help Udall

Sen. Mark Udall
A July 11th LA Times article by Maeve Reston describes in considerable detail the Democrats’ strategy to save Mark Udall’s senate seat. Two key elements are the Bannock Street Project ($60 million), which will attempt to raise the turnout of women (especially single), minorities and 18 to 29 year olds. It’s named for and following Michael Bennet’s 2010 re-election strategy.

Secondly, wedge issues, such as reproductive rights (e.g., subsidized and free contraceptives), will be used in a targeted fashion to motivate turnout and to increase the Democratic vote share among women.

Republicans, such as Cory Gardner, counter with their own positions on women’s reproductive issues and argue that they’re reasonable and open to discussion. Gardner’s most dramatic action to make that point was to shift his position on Colorado’s “personhood” amendment.

The essence of the Democratic strategy in Colorado and elsewhere is the argument that their opponents are extremists.
Rep. Cory Gardner

Floyd Ciruli, an independent pollster and analyst, said Gardner had strengthened his position by switching his position on personhood, which he said was the candidate’s greatest liability. “Painful,” he said, “but a smart move.”

Ultimately this year, Ciruli said, “Colorado is a battle for looking like you're reasonable.”

Udall’s team clearly believes he is endangered and must use the best items from the 2010 campaign, even if they are among the most obvious and ubiquitous tools in the Democratic playbook.

See Mischiefs of Faction: Republican Party factions and the Hobby Lobby decision

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On a Roll – LeBron and Republicans Have Given Cleveland a Lift

I predicted Cleveland as the GOP’s best political choice in May, mostly due to the battleground status of the state and its position in the economic heartland that is still struggling. If their nominee can move the region’s voters, they could win the White House in 2016.

See The Buzz: Denver is a Top Tier Political City