Thursday, April 24, 2014

2014 Advertising Assault Begins Now

Good news for Denver’s media outlets. The television assault for the U.S. Senate seat has begun.

Given 2014 looks like 2010 “light,” observers assumed U.S. Senator Udall could have a close re-election. Then on February 26, Congressman Cory Gardner got in the race, and political judgment, backed by early polls, make it a one- or two-point race.

The first million-dollar TV ad buy came from the Koch Brothers attacking Udall on Obamacare. Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Senate Majority PAC respond quickly with commercials calling the anti-Obamacare ad a lie and Gardner the tool of the insurance industry. Now, a million-dollar campaign from the mostly Democratic League of Conservation Voters PAC begins the expected attack on Gardner for his environmental positions and being the tool of gas and oil interests.

We are approaching $3 million in expenditures, the Koch Brothers are preparing another blast, and it’s only mid-April.

Some observations:
  • The early advertising model was developed in the Obama campaign’s attack ads against Mitt Romney in May and June 2012. Before Romney was even near the formal nomination (end of August), Obama was hammering him as an out-of-touch plutocrat – Romney’s image never recovered.
  • For all their complaining about money in politics, Democrats tend to have and spend more than Republicans. The first wave of Colorado attack ads are more against Gardner than Udall.
  • In 2008, President Obama said good-bye to federal campaign spending subsidies and limits, received no real criticism for it and never looked back. He outspent both John McCain and Romney.
This model; i.e., big money, massive TV, negative advertising and starting early, is here to say. Hang on Colorado.

2014 is 2010 “Light”

Although it appears Republicans have the advantage in terms of the structure of the 2014 contest; i.e., Democrats have more Senate incumbents in states Romney won and they have the hostility of voters unhappy with the economy, President Obama’s job performance and the ACA, the advantage appears less than 2010 when Republicans retook the House.

One measure of election performance is the voters’ judgment of the favorability of the party brand. Fox News published a recent history of voters rating the two parties’ favorability. In the last poll they conducted before the respective midterm and general elections since 2006, the party that won the House had an advance indicator as to what would happen.

Today, the Democrats have a 2-point deficit in their brand (44% to 46%), which is well below their 8-point deficit in 2010 nor the massive deficit Republicans had in brand in 2006 (13 points). It confirms that whatever Republican structural advantage exists in 2014, as of April, other indicators are less conclusive.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two-Point Senate Race

The latest Colorado voter poll by Republican political action committee, American Crossroads,
confirms previous polls. Senator Mark Udall is ahead as of mid-April of Congressman Cory Gardner 45 percent to 43 percent. Colorado may have given President Obama two presidential wins, but in off-year elections it is two-point state.
After $2 million in attack ads from both sides, the race remains locked, with a slight incumbent advantage (see March 2014, Udall vs. Gardner– Déjà Vu). Another Democratic PAC for the environment, the LCV, will spend one million dollars the next several weeks attacking Gardner.
Three polls since Gardner entered the race on February 26 have shown a two-point or less race with the incumbent ahead.
  • The latest poll from American Crossroads shows that Obama’s approval numbers in Colorado are somewhat worse than the national average (Real Clear Politics average: 43% to 50% national; Crossroads in Colorado: 41% to 55%, a negative 14 points).
  • The ACA continues to be a drag on the incumbents, but possibly not fatal. ACA is approved by 41% of Colorado voters and disapproved by 54%. Six out of ten say it will influence their vote.
  • Udall’s approval rating is weak in this poll, with only 38% approving and 46% disapproving – a negative 8 points.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Colorado Minorities Impact Congressional Politics

The Hispanic population in Colorado has grown from 13 percent in 1990 to 20 percent today. The percentage of African Americans has remained constant over the twenty years and the Asian community increased by fifty percent. Hispanic and other minority local elected officials and state legislators are now a common sight, and in both the U.S. Senate and competitive Sixth Congressional District races, minority voter turnout could be decisive.

Denver’s 1st CD, Pueblo’s and Western Slope’s 3rd CD, and Denver metro west side’s 7th CD has the largest Hispanic populations. The African American community is significant in size in Denver and the newly configured 6th CD. The Asian community, while still a small percentage, is most important in the 6th CD.

Monday, April 21, 2014

As LBJ was Honored by Civil Rights Leaders, Liberal Democratic Era Revs Up

The assassination of President Kennedy set the stage for the legislative victories of President Lyndon Johnson, in particular, the long stalled civil rights legislation. Civil rights and other leaders came to the University of Texas LBJ Library to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of these laws.

Johnson’s reputation is burdened by the Vietnam War and his unreconstructed Cold War viewpoint. But, equally controversial at the time and a burden for Democrats through most of the 1970s and 1980s, was Johnson’s unreconstructed adoption of the New Deal solution to poverty.

The huge Democratic victories in the 1964 election empowered Johnson and liberal Democrats to pass a flood of legislation creating programs, agencies, and departments with associated spending that became the “Great Society” (commencement speech of University of Michigan 1964).

Not only did the Vietnam War destroy the Johnson presidency, but the cost of guns and butter and a backlash to the liberal activism was used in constructing Richard Nixon’s Silent Majority and war on crime. It also led to the long Neoliberal debate in the Democratic Party as to the efficacy of big government solutions to social problems and their tendency to produce unintended consequences.

The Democratic Party’s dominant liberal wing is preparing for a new war on poverty. And, there’s no doubt the current liberal era launched with the Democrats retaking the House in 2006 and the election of Barack Obama would already be recognized as the next high point of liberalism after the FDR and LBJ administrations, but for Washington gridlock and the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

American Foreign Policy Moving to the Right

The American foreign policy consensus in favor of a more modest international role is being challenged by events and domestic politics. The likely result will be a split in both political parties between more militant interventionist forces and isolationist and pacifist wings. But, for the first time since 2006 when the war in Iraq was in the news and voters’ minds, foreign policy will be a backdrop in the 2014 congressional elections and front and center in the 2016 presidential debate.
  • World events and adversaries appear to challenge the Obama administration’s basic foreign policy principles of adherence to universal norms, negotiations, non-military sanctions, withdrawal from military commitments and playing a supporting role in multilateral coalitions.
             - Palestinian/Israeli negotiations are at an impasse (no surprise, participants
               ignoring negotiations)
             - Russia and President Putin seized Crimea and are destabilizing Ukraine
               (expected, ignoring sanctions and negotiations)
             - Iranian negotiations are opaque and highly uncertain (Iran and Russian
               are untrusted)
             - Syrian conflict continues and President Assad appears securely in power
               (negotiations ignored, lack of military options)
  • Domestic politics is focused on the administration’s competence and ability to lead as a result of Washington gridlock and the Affordable Care Act meltdown. The foreign policy challenges contribute to administration woes.
  • Public appears supportive of administration’s basic principles, but express increasing concern over America’s position in world. They believe President and U.S. have lost respect and influence. In recent challenges, significant percentages want more forceful action.
  • Republican establishment escalates criticism of administration on “failures” in Middle East and Ukraine/Crimea. But some elements of party take more isolationist view and aim criticism at abuses of executive power in NSA and drone policies.
  • Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ leading candidate, is attempting to travel in same direction as administration, yet not get hit by the incoming fire. She has indicated a more aggressive posture with President Putin, even if only rhetorical and a more cynical position on the Iranian negotiations.
  • “Freckless,” a word used by a Washington Post editorial last winter to describe Secretary Kerry’s negotiations with Syria and a description of the President’s viewpoint on military options as “defeatist,” set the mark for criticism and have become the themes for many editorial and foreign policy elites’ viewpoints over the last couple months as foreign impasses appear to mount.
It is clear a debate at the leadership level is beginning in both parties, and the loudest voices today are moving American policy away from the administration’s strategy and assumptions to a more forceful position, that is, to the right.

The Keystone Pipeline Became a Colorado Senate Issue

Senator Mark Udall’s decision to not join with eleven fellow Democratic senators and sign a letter to President Obama endorsing the Keystone Pipeline will ensure the issue enters the Colorado senate contest.

His Republican opponent, Congressman Cory Gardner, is an early and strong supporter of the pipeline. 

The Colorado Observer: Udall absent from pro-Keystone Dem letter
The Washington Free Beacon: Environmentalist group may target vulnerable Senate Dems
The Daily Caller: Poll: Keystone XL pipeline looms large inColorado Senate race