Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Adams County Asks Voters 3 or 5 Commissioners?

The image of Adams County government collapsed under the weight of corruption charges and aggressive news coverage from the Denver Post.  It cost one commissioner party re-nomination and another is retiring.  As part of a wide-scale effort to remodel county government and rehabilitate its reputation, a series of reforms were proposed by the county manager and approved by commissioners.

One of the reforms is to ask voters their preference for the number of county commissioners – three or five.  Voters, in our latest survey for Adams County, were very concerned about corruption (84%), but undecided on adding commissioners.
Denver-based Ciruli Associates found that nearly 47 percent of county residents somewhat supported or strongly supported an increase in the number of commissioners from three to five. About 550 Adams County residents were polled in the survey.
There will be a campaign for and against adding commissioners, with Republican Commissioner Erik Hansen (former mayor of Thornton) leading the charge in favor.  Hansen had the good fortune to be a new commissioner untouched by the politics of Brighton.

See Our Colorado News:  Survey tracks concern about county leaders

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Loss of Confidence in Public Education May Hurt DPS

As Denver Public Schools considers asking for hundreds of millions of new money, the national backdrop of public education is not positive.

The Gallup research organization, which has a long track record in measuring Americans’ viewpoints about public education working with supporters, just published its latest survey showing confidence in public education has hit a new low of only 29 percent.

Confidence in public schools collapsed in the last fifty years, from 58 percent to 29 percent.

Although Democrats are slightly more confident in schools, in fact, only one-third (36%) claim a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence.

Schools now tie the criminal justice system and are behind the military, small business, organized religion and the presidency in public confidence.  They are ahead of unions, banks, organized labor and TV news.

Unfortunately for public schools, they are associated with organized labor, which fared even worse in public confidence.

Although the Denver Public Schools has most of the problems of urban school districts, it has fought visible battles with unionized anti-reform forces and mostly won.  But, with confidence in most public institutions low and the economic recovery slow, the expensive proposal the DPS citizens committee recommended may have to be aggressively trimmed by a more realist school board.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Will Colorado Pass Marijuana Legalization?

A new Rasmussen poll indicates legalization of marijuana in a “similar manner to the way alcohol and tobacco cigarettes are currently regulated” has majority support both nationally and in Colorado.
At least one initiative legalizing small amounts of marijuana for recreational use will be on the Colorado ballot.
Recent national polls have shown near or slight majorities for legalization (Rasmussen 56% and Gallup 50%).
However, in an early May survey (non-robo poll) of California voters found only 46 percent supported legalization, about the percentage legalization received in the 2010 defeat of a statewide legalization initiative.
Opponents to Colorado legalization have just started to organize behind Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck.  Proponents have already raised more than $2 million to get the initiative on the ballot.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Michelle Obama More Popular Than Husband

First Lady Michelle Obama had a 66 percent favorability rating in a national poll during the 2010 election.  The average in recent polls is 65 percent.  The recent visit to Pueblo was a hit.
Her husband’s favorability in 2010 was in the 40-percent level, and is now averaging 52 percent favorable.
Interesting that more Americans claim to have heard of Sarah Palin than Bill and Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
See Pueblo Chieftain articles:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Will the Polls Move?

After a difficult start in June, will President Obama’s approval rating drop?  His rating recovered to the upper-40 percent range since January after hitting the low 40 percent range during much of 2011.

Following Real Clear Politics’ approval index since Obama’s January 2009 inauguration describes a great start (62% approval on February 1, 2009) to the lows in late 2010 when the Democrats lost the House of Representatives (46% approval November 1, 2010).  The killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 caused a surge in May (52%), but, in general, the President has remained below 50 percent approval since late 2009.

However, compared to presidents Carter and George Bush Sr., he did not descend to below 40 percent as they did in their failed re-election efforts.  (Both had 39% approval ratings in the April of election years.)  Democrats have mostly remained supportive and he’s received a sufficient percentage of independents to avoid a collapse.  Obama begins his final election push vulnerable, but with sufficient approval to win.

The key question is after the terrible couple of weeks, will his approval rating drop and will he fall behind Mitt Romney in the head-to-head polls, who he has led consistently since Romney secured the nomination (post Rick Santorum’s dropping out).  On June 1, Gallup reported a 48 percent approval to 48 percent disapproval and he was only one point up over Romney (46% to 45%).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Europeans Pick Least Hardworking and Most Corrupt

The Pew Research Center has just published a poll of citizens in eight European nations concerning views of the European Union.  There were 9,108 respondents in the month-long survey completed on April 16, 2012.

The conclusions were that European unity was being severely strained by the economic crises.

One of the most interesting and humorous aspects of the otherwise rather bleak results of the survey were the answers to questions which asked respondents to rate the countries, including their own, as most or least hardworking and most and least corrupt.

All countries, except Greece, believe Germans are the hardest working.  The Greeks believe they are.  The least hardworking reputation was shared by Greece and Italy.  The Greeks thought the Italians were and the Italians said the least hardworking were Romanians.

Italy dominated the most corrupt category, even the Italians agreed.  But, many countries elected themselves – Greeks said Greece, Poles said Poland and Czechs said Czech Republic.

Finally, the Germans were judged the least corrupt, even by the Greeks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

There Will Be No Significant Third Party Candidate in 2012

With the collapse of America Elects, the only well-funded effort to mount a third party campaign in 2012 has ended.  Although upwards of 5 percent of the presidential vote will be syphoned off into a myriad of third parties, they will be only a footnote in the race.

Since 1980, only Ross Perot in his 1992 effort was able to draw a significant vote.  Colorado tends to provide third party candidates a higher percentage than they draw nationally.  It typically gives third party candidates 5 to 10 percent of the vote.

Of course, there are a few occasions, such as 2000, when the strategic placement of third party votes can make a difference in an election.  Had Ralph Nader’s votes in Florida gone to Al Gore, he would have been president.

Two new Colorado polls that show the election is tied or two points for Obama (Rasmussen 45% to 45% and Purple Strategies 48% to 46%).  Both polls show most voters making a choice between the major party candidates.  However, neither poll offered an unnamed choice or don’t know.
Of course, there is always the possibility of a Greek-style election.   If a substantial number of voters become disenchanted with both party candidates, they could fragment to obscure third parties.  That is a very remote possibility.  Lower turnout among the disenchanted is more likely.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Could RTD Get Any More Embarrassing?

The latest “surprise” over Burlington Northern wanting more money, sooner than RTD’s managing team expected, adds to the pervasive distrust RTD generates from the public, including even supporters of transit.

As obvious to most, the 2004 regional transit proposal was a political plan, not a transit plan.  It’s no longer credible or relevant.  A $4 billion plan that now costs $8 billion will not be funded in this economy.

So, if areas want transit, and many do, they need to get creative. Mayor Steve Hogan has proposed the citizens of Aurora tax themselves to fund bonds to build the proposed I-225 rail line.  RTD’s funding stream would pay it off over the years.

As Sara Castellanos described in the Aurora Sentinel:
“Voters need to be guaranteed that the project will be completed on time, on budget, and that RTD will repay the loan over a period of time, said Floyd Ciruli, political analyst and Denver pollster.”
“‘One of the problems with RTD is that its projections of revenue or expenses has not been good and has raised a lot of skepticism,’ Ciruli said.  ‘But if people were confident that indeed they would get this, I think this might be a potential solution.’
He said Hogan’s idea falls in line with the city’s recent efforts to spearhead economic development.
‘My sense is that Aurora and certainly its leadership are anxious to get some things done,’ Ciruli said.
Next year is as good a year as any to put this type of question on the ballot, he said.
‘The general rule of these projects is that there is never a perfect time,’ Ciruli said.
Either the economy is too sluggish or there are competing ballot questions that take attention away from the transportation question, he said.
‘Ultimately when a project is this big and takes a long time to get done, you sort of just have to set a date and push forward,’ he said.”

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wisconsin Piles On

President Obama’s campaign is playing serious defense.  The economy appears to be slowing and unemployment headed back up. Bill Clinton and Cory Booker are providing counter-messages, and now the unions and Democrats have lost a major battle in a Democratic-leaning state.

The Wisconsin loss will shadow the Democrats for weeks.  It was a:
  • Major loss for the local and national Democratic Party and its message of social equality through government unions.
  • Major loss for unions in the only segment of the economy where they have grown – government
        The battle may have helped Mitt Romney and the Republicans
        solidify their support from the White (non-government) working
  • Obama did not lose, but he won the state by 14 points in 2008, and now is ahead by only 7.  Substantial, but close enough to let the Republicans at least dream of an upset.  (If Democrats claim Arizona is in play, so is Wisconsin.)  
        Obama’s credibility was also hurt by his failure to show up and
        provide support.  Many unions and Democratic leaders will
        resent the Chicago campaign leadership’s calculations.

And although Governor Walker is unlikely to be the vice president, he is now a party superstar and will be treated as such in Tampa.

See Ralph Hallow’s analyses in The Washington Times, 5-5-12:
“One unknown in the political equation is whether Mr. Romney is enough of a risk-taker to go for someone seen as a hero to the party base but who inspires intense negative passions in the opposition.
 ‘I believe Romney goes with the safest and most comfortable vice president,’ said Denver-based pollster Floyd Ciruli.”
Also see The Weekly Standard:  Morning Jay: Why Wisconsin Matters

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Obama’s Challenge is Turnout

Gallup reports a dead even race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – 46 percent to 46 percent.  The candidates are closely matched, with nearly symmetrical support among the primary demographic groupings:  gender, partisanship, religiosity, ethnicity and age.

Obama has the support of 50 percent of women voters and 42 percent of men, the precise reciprocal of Romney’s support.  Obama only loses 6 percent of Democrats to Romney and Romney holds all but seven percent of Republicans against Obama.
Obama’s challenge is that two of his core constituencies – Hispanics and voters under 29 years old – indicate a low likelihood to vote.

Charlie Cook uses in his analyses a Gallup question that asked voters to rate their likelihood to vote on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 the highest certainty.  Younger voters and Hispanics are more than 10 points below Black voters or non-Hispanic Whites in likelihood to vote.
Hence, Obama’s attention to Hispanics and young voters is more about turnout than persuasion.  And, all that field work is his reinforcements.

National Journal:  Trouble for Obama
Gallup:  Structure of U.S. presidential race shows little change so far

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Colorado: Obama Up by Less Than Margin of Error

Three polls in the last month confirm Colorado’s toss-up status.  President Obama is ahead by less than the margin of error in an average of the three polls maintained by the political website,

The NBC sample showing the race is one point for President Obama is the largest, but was conducted without identifying the most likely voters.

Expect the race to remain close due to the committed blocs of partisans and partisan-leaning independents being in close balance in Colorado.  The volatility is mostly a reflection of weak partisans’ and independent voters’ inclination to change positions due to campaign and other factors, such as the latest headline on the economy.

Also, polls have numerous methodological differences – some deliberately designed, some unidentified methods – that produce variation.

See The Buzz blog:  Colorado presidential race within one point in nonstop politics to conventions

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Westword’s Michael Roberts and 5280’s Robert Sanchez Post on Colorado’s Last Two Weeks of Political Turmoil

John Hickenlooper, Mike Coffman could see political fallout, pollster says
By Michael Roberts

“John Hickenlooper and Mike Coffman aren’t exactly ideological twins. But at the end of this big political week in the State of Colorado, they both face political fallout, albeit for very different reasons: a special session that failed to pass civil unions and comments questioning Barack Obama’s birth records, respectively.  Will they be hurt by these events?  Quite possibly, says Floyd Ciruli, Colorado's preeminent pollster.” (May 18, 2012)

Politics: Reading the Tea Leaves of Colorado Politics
By Robert Sanchez

“Floyd Ciruli has been polling in Colorado for nearly three decades.  We asked him for his opinions on the state’s biggest topics.

Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli is mindful of the state’s hot topics – and perhaps none is hotter than the presidential race.  Ciruli – whose company, Ciruli Associates – has been polling and consulting for nearly three decades, talked to 5280 this week about a variety of Colorado-based political issues.  (Some of the Ciruli’s comments have been condensed and edited for brevity.)” (May 30, 2012)

Also see:
Denver PostThe Spot:  U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman: Repeat after me

Monday, June 4, 2012

Colorado Presidential Race Within One Point in Nonstop Politics to Conventions

Historically, presidential campaigns begin after Labor Day with massive advertising and field activities.  That was even mostly true in 2008, but this year, neither presidential candidate wants to be behind on Labor Day and neither is trusting a bump from their respective conventions.

Colorado, as a targeted state, is receiving the full effect of a presidential campaign on the first of June.

Campaign commercials from Super Pacs and candidate campaigns are two or three deep on local 10:00 pm news channels and presidential visits are now counted in weeks.

Both campaigns are building ground games as Colorado has closely balanced blocs of base voters and one of the country’s largest contingency of swing voters.  President Obama started last fall and Mitt Romney is only now catching up.

Expect the intensity to continue.  An April published poll from a self-described bipartisan organization called Purple Strategies calls Colorado a 47 percent to 47 percent tie.  Carl Rowe cited the poll in his recent Wall Street Journal column claiming the national election for Romney and Colorado a key state that will be in the Republican camp.  A couple of new May polls, one from the Democratic group Project New America states Obama has a four point advantage over Romney (48% to 44%), and a NBC News/Marist poll claims a one-point Obama advantage.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Silver Tells Us What We Know: Colorado is a Toss-up

Nate Silver, New York Times election data analyst, produced a report on what he calls swing voters and elastic states.  Colorado has one of the nation’s largest percentages of swing voters and, hence, is a very elastic state with a high percentage of voters who switch positions depending on campaigns, candidates and trends, such as changes in the economy.

But, there are states with high percentages of independent-type voters that are not toss-up states.  Colorado has the second necessary condition to be a toss-up, and that is close partisan balance; i.e., the base vote of each party is relatively close in size (see Silver’s report for background on his logarithmic technique).

Mary Winter for the Columbia Journalism Review reported on the topic:
“Floyd Ciruli, a longtime Denver political commentator and pollster, pointed to another important voting bloc he sees as key to the election: independents.  ‘Thirty percent of voters here are not attached to either party,’ he said, which means they will be micro-targeted via social media and advertising by both major parties.  (Though when discussing self-declared independents, it’s useful to remember that most of them have some attachment to one party or the other.)
Independent voters, Ciruli said, ‘get most of their cues from the media.  They are ad-oriented, they make decisions late, they have less commitment, and they can change their minds.’  They need to be constantly persuaded, and ‘typically, you do that by putting a headline in front of them that says the other person is extreme or terrible or corrupt.’”  (Columbia Journalism Review, May 22, 2012)
Many western states have a lot of swing voters, but Colorado and New Mexico are considered toss-ups due to also being closely balanced in partisanship.  Arizona and Montana, which also have a lot of independents, lean toward the GOP in their partisan balance, and Oregon and Washington lean toward the Democrats.

Silver’s rating of the fifty states is shown in the table below. Colorado is in the elite group with Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and New Mexico as the most volatile (elastic) and most closely balanced.

States also considered battlegrounds are in the center column, but tend to have fewer swing voters, such as Nevada, Florida and Ohio. Finally, there are states with very few swing voters, but the base groups are closely matched, such as North Carolina and Virginia. North Carolina will be all about turnout versus Colorado, where working the base is only a part of the story.  Attracting the independent or swing voter will be the key.

New York Times blog – FiveThirtyEight:  Swing voters and elastic states
Columbia Journalism Review:  What’s the swingiest state of them all?