Friday, October 24, 2014

Udall Behind Beyond MOE

Mark Udall is losing his bid to be re-elected and a major reason is his poorly constructed media campaign that has raised his unfavorability rating more than his opponent’s. Now down by more than the margin of error (MOE) in most of the recent Colorado polls, Udall, in a desperate last move, is releasing advertising showing him smiling and climbing mountains, his preferred activity.  Too late.

The latest poll to be released by USA Today/Suffolk University, their second of the season, shows him losing to Cory Gardner by 7 points (their Sept. 16 poll had Udall down by 1 point). Udall is now behind by 4 points on the Real Clear Politics arithmetic average and predicted to lose in Nate Silver’s 538 forecast by 80 percent.

It is the USA Today/Suffolk poll that highlights Udall’s poor favorability rating as a major factor in his poor performance.

Udall’s favorable to unfavorable rating is 41 percent to 54 percent, a 13 percent negative spread. Gardner has a 45 percent to 41 percent rating, or 4 points to the positive. The USA Today/Suffolk poll asked which candidate ran the most negative campaign and Udall won that 46 percent to 29 percent for Gardner.

The Denver Post, in their endorsement of Gardner, captured Udall’s problem when it referenced his “obnoxious one-issue campaign” that was an insult to women. Or, as my blog of October 14 said: “His multi-million dollar ‘war on women’ ad campaign is now damaging him more than Gardner.”

In an analysis by Harry Enten in the 538 blog, the difficulty of making up deficits in polling averages of 4 points with get-out-the-vote efforts is highlighted.

Of course, part of Udall’s problem is that in the last week the President has lost 2 points in his approval average and Republicans have picked up 2 in the generic ballot test. It may not be a wave yet, but the water is very deep for Democrats.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

War on Women – An Overkill

After spending millions to convince voters, especially women, that Republican Cory Gardner is an extremist on women’s issue, the latest round of polls show the Democrats’ “war on women” strategy has become the war to alienate men.

Mark Udall is losing in four polls shown below and one reason is that he’s losing more men than the de minimis advantage he is achieving from winning women. This is not news. We reported it in late August (The Gender Divide: Men Favor Gardner as Much as Women Favor Udall), but the campaign and its “independent” allies have ignored the data and run near saturation "war on women" advertising for more than two months.

In the PPP poll, Udall has a 4-point advantage with women, but is losing men to Gardner by 7 points, similarly in each of the polls (the Udall vs. Gardner percentages: PPP – Udall 43%, Gardner 46%; Monmouth – Udall 46%, Gardner 47%; Quinnipiac – Udall 41%, Gardner 47%).

However, the capstone of Udall’s failure is highlighted in the latest USA Today/Suffolk poll, which Gardner wins 46 percent to 39 percent, but most important, the gender gap has disappeared. Gardner is winning with both men and women.

This does not mean the gender gap has permanently disappeared. But, it does suggest as a template and blunt instrument for Democrats the “war on women” is over.

Janet Hook in the Wall Street Journal captures this story's national reach: GOP gains in key senate races as gender gap narrows (Oct. 24, 2014).

Colorado’s Battleground Counties

Cory Gardner leads the polls, but Mark Udall wants to lead the counts. Seven Front Range counties provide the clearest framework to observe the race Election Night. They are the best indicators of where the race will be fought. The data came from the 2010 Michal Bennet vs. Ken Buck race for U.S. Senate.

Boulder and Denver provide the largest Democratic majorities among the state’s top 11 counties. Douglas and El Paso contribute the largest Republican majorities of the top counties. The swing counties that provide the closet results are Arapahoe, Jefferson and Larimer counties.

In 2010, Bennet carried the seven-county battleground area by 51 percent to 44 percent, and won statewide by two points.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hispanic Voters – How Many Vote by What Margin?

Hispanic voters are becoming a key element in Colorado politics, representing more than 10 percent of the vote and likely to double that amount in a few years (they are 20% of the population).

Most recent polls tend to give Democrats about a 20-point advantage with them. A 60-40 percent split would be about the Hispanic level of Democratic support in the 2010 midterm.

But by a number of public opinion measures, Democrats appear to have been hurt by the recent delays in immigration decisions. A number of Hispanic political leaders and opinion writers are sending, at best, warnings to the party and, in some cases, encouragement for the community to not vote to punish Democrats.

Gallup reports that among the overall population, only 15 percent of adults rate immigration important, but 25 percent of Hispanics do – their second biggest issue after the economy. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll had Hispanics approving the president by 56 percent above his 42 percent national average, but below the 62 percent approval Hispanics gave him in 2010. That gap is a measure of the decline in Hispanic enthusiasm for Democrats. And, although 62 percent said they prefer Democratic control of Congress, that is down from 90 percent in 2010.

At the very moment embattled Colorado Democrats need their base to turn out and support them, national politics may be undermining the effort.

Wall Street Journal: Frustrated Hispanics are down on this year’s midterms
Gallup: Obama’s September job approval rating among Hispanics is lowest of his administration
Pew: Neither party gets good marks from its base for handling illegal immigration

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Generational Change

Mark Udall is only in his first senate term, but because he started his senate career at 58 years old and is being challenged by 40-year-old congressman, he is seen as part of Washington’s poorly functioning congressional establishment. Stories often describe Cory Gardner as the young, energetic congressman. And indeed, Udall is an older member of the Baby Boomers and Gardner represents the increasingly dominant Generation X.

Udall’s senate career was delayed by four years due to Ken Salazar jumping into the 2004 primary for the open senate seat of retiring Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a party contest in which Udall had been the frontrunner.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Independents Could Decide Colorado’s Senate Race

The percentage of voters registering independent (unaffiliated in Colorado) or stating their independent status to pollsters has surged in recent years. It is a reflection of America’s dissatisfaction with government and belief that both parties are to blame.

Independents are now the largest bloc of voters in Colorado. From Barack Obama’s first election to today’s midterm, unaffiliated voter registration in Colorado has increased 40 percent.

Today, 37 percent of registered voters are unaffiliated. However, they are an even larger bloc of inactive voters. They tend to vote less frequently.

Normally, in polls of likely voters they are the smallest group in the sample, typically between a quarter and 30 percent. Because of Colorado’s population growth since 2008, overall voter registration has increased more than 411,000 voters.

Repeal Marijuana Legalization?

Marijuana, which had not been an issue in the governor’s race largely because both candidates did not support legalization, suddenly became part of the conflict during last Thursday’s Fort Collins Channel 9KUSA debate.

From a question by Brandon Rittiman, KUSA’s political reporter, Republican candidate Bob Beauprez said he believes marijuana has a deleterious effect on young people and he would support repeal. Governor John Hickenlooper was more cautious and said repeal was not called for at this point.

Recent polling appears to show some deterioration in pubic support for legalization. Only 50 percent of Colorado voters support it and less than half (42%) approve the state’s effort at regulation.

Democrats, including Hickenlooper and Senator Mark Udall, have been recipients of marijuana industry campaign contributions and Congressman Jared Polis is a high-profile advocate of federal legalization.

It is not clear the issue will move any voters. Coloradans are closely divided on the legalization and commercialism of marijuana. But, a repeal has not had a public discussion. Does Beauprez win votes as the most anti-marijuana candidate, does he lose libertarian Republicans, does he attract late money to oppose him from the pot industry or is the issue of low interest and little affect?

Washington Times: Colorado governor slams marijuana legalization, then takes pot lobby donations
9News: Should Colorado repeal legal marijuana?