Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Returns Near One Million, Republicans Still Ahead

The second update on the 2014 turnout shows returns of 905,500 as of Wednesday, October 28. They are slightly less than half of the expected turnout of 2.2 million (41%). The estimate based on voter turnout in 2010 is about 2.2 million voters (72% of active voters of 2.9 million).  They are 31 percent of the active registration of 2,916,145.
Ballot mailing began Tuesday, the day after Columbus Day, October 14. First returns were reported Friday, October 17.

Broncos – America’s Team

The Denver Post story by Mike Klis on October 14, 2014 cited a new Harris poll that reports that the Denver Broncos are the most popular NFL team in the U.S. (not the Cowboys). Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (head of Georgetown University alumni) said Pat Bowlen is one of the greatest owners in modern NFL history. A key player over the years in labor negotiations, TV rights, new stadiums and global reach. Hall of Fame – next time!

Democrats in Full Defense

Mark Udall’s team and allies are fighting back against the dominant narrative that polls and national forecasters are projecting – Udall loses.

He has released three internal Democratic consultant polls in the last week claiming that he is ahead. Mark Mellman, one of the party’s best known pollsters who correctly predicted the Democrats would win North Dakota in 2012 in spite of most of the public poll predictions, claims Udall is three points ahead (44% to 41%). President Obama’s pollster, Joel Benenson, also claims Udall is up three (47% to 44%). Finally and most recently, a local pollster, Chris Keating, asserts Udall’s lead has declined to one point, but he’s still up.

These polls were released the week of October 20 as Udall was contending with the “war on women” meme and poor national polls. They also argued public polls in Colorado have underestimated Democratic votes, especially Hispanic and cell phone voters (i.e., youth). FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten wrote a blog addressing most of the criticism, but, of course, one benefit of election polling is that on November 4 there will be a hard count.

The campaign’s main alternative narrative is not arguing polling accuracy, but highlighting what it hopes will pull the race out – GOTV.

Election 2014

My election analysis in the Denver Post Perspective section, October 26, 2014:

Colorado is still a political battleground

After 2012, Washington pundits characterized Colorado as “leaning blue” following two convincing wins by Barack Obama and Democratic control of its U.S. Senate seats, the governorship and the state legislature. Indeed, as 2014 began, both incumbents — Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper — were expected to win re-election, possibly not by large margins given the challenges of a midterm election with an unpopular president, but win nonetheless.

First, no incumbent Colorado governor or senator had been defeated since the 1970s. But also, during the last 10 years, the Democratic Party built one of the best state-level political machines in the country with interlocking funding, candidate recruitment and support, and an advanced get-out-the-vote operation.
Despite these advantages, Colorado’s 2014 Senate and gubernatorial races are among the most competitive in the country. In fact, now Washington analysts believe control of the U.S. Senate may be decided with the fate of Mark Udall.

Ground Zero on Money - $100 Million Senate Race

Mark Matthews, The Denver Post’s D.C. reporter, adds up the money and finds Colorado spending on the U.S. Senate race alone is above $80 million as of the September 30 reports compiled by various media and good government non-profits (Center for Responsible Politics, Colorado Public Radio).

Once again, the misnomer that Republicans are better funded is refuted. Udall raised nearly twice as much as Gardner. It is the independent money that is keeping Gardner competitive in the race, which explains why Democrats are so opposed to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which provides new sources of revenue for independent campaigns.

It is very likely the race will raise and spend more than $100 million before November 4.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The U.S. Senate is in Play – Republicans Have Narrow Advantage

The major forecasters have the Republicans winning the six seats needed to take control of the U.S. Senate. Colorado is now placed in the Republican column – a shift from before Labor Day when Udall was ahead and earlier in September when it was a toss-up. However, all the observers agree that the latest polls are too close to rule out a Democratic win in Colorado and Republican falling short of six seats.

The Colorado prediction is based on the track record of a race with Colorado’s characteristics; e.g., incumbent Democrat (forecasters look at different characteristics, some only use polling data), and Republicans having a two-point lead seven days out. Historically, in a contest like that, the Republican has an 80 percent likelihood of winning.

At the moment, Democrats look to hold incumbents in New Hampshire and North Carolina, but not in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado and Louisiana.

Early Returns Show Low Turnout, Republicans Dominate

The Buzz will be publishing a regular update on the 2014 turnout.  The estimate based on voter turnout in 2010 is about 2.2 million voters (72% of active voters of 2.9 million). The returns of 518,000 as of Friday, October 2014 are below what would be expected a week into the election (18%).

Although each election is unique in its turnout pattern, given the attention on voting in the 2014 election and the universal mail-back ballot, it was assumed about a third of voters would return ballots the first week. Ballot mailing began Tuesday, the day after Columbus Day, October 14.