Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Polls, Elections and the Media

A plenary session on “Polls, Election and the Media” is being organized by former CBS News public opinion expert Professor Kathy Frankovic at the June World Association of Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) to be held in Buenos Aires.

Participants in the panel are:

This panel will discuss polling, especially election polling, in its international context. The quality of polling, its reporting, and the impact of changes in technology and techniques are the main topics.

There are also plenary panels concerning recent Latin American elections and their continent-wide trends and the upcoming presidential election in Argentina.

Marijuana Debate Begins in California

Powerful political and financial forces are beginning the campaign to legalize recreational use of marijuana in California in the 2016 presidential election. A new PPIC poll shows that support for legalization has climbed to 53 percent, an all-time high, although support has been above 50 percent since 2013.

Democrats favor legalization by 63 percent and Republicans oppose it by 54 percent. It has produced an early split among top Democrats, in spite of support from two-thirds of the rank and file. Governor Jerry Brown expresses reservation about legalization, but the current frontrunner to replace him in 2018, former San Francisco mayor and now lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, is an avid supporter.

A new study of the challenge legalization of marijuana in California must address was just published. It includes a litany of issues the Colorado State Legislature has been working on starting in the 2013 session related to child safety, driving and taxation.

Contra Costa Time: Marijuana legalization in California: ACLU-Gavin Newsom panel releases road map on the issues
The Sacramento Bee: Gavin Newsom’s pot legalization panel identifies challenges
LA Times: Newsom, other supporters call for study before 2016 pot ballot measure
The Buzz: California ready for marijuana?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Balance of Power – Coffman and Perlmutter

9KUSA’s Brandon Rittman had Congressmen Mike Coffman and Ed Perlmutter describe the incompetence that drove the VA hospital from $600 million to $1.7 billion.

If Senator Michael Bennet gets the nod for Democratic vice president, Rittman may have provided a preview of the 2016 senate race: Coffman vs. Perlmutter.

L to R: Rep. Mike Coffman, Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Brandon Rittiman
Photo: 9 KUSA

Harry Reid is Out; Bennet is Up

Democrats want to win back the U.S. Senate in 2016, but they need to hold two seats while winning five. It just got harder to hold Nevada. Harry Reid, after 30 years, has quit.

Reid was going to be in a very tough re-election, and now it’s an open seat.

Reid’s retirement reflects that difficult re-election, his recent health problems and the loss of the majority, substantially due to years of his partisan obstruction. Nearly every Republican running in 2014 ran against Harry Reid’s senate leadership

Michael Bennet will now be the Democratic senator most endangered. Will the Nevada change motivate a strong Colorado Republican to get into the race? The D.C. super PAC believes Bennet can be beaten, but it will take a very good candidate. With the exception of Mark Udall’s 11-point win in 2008, Colorado senate races have been won by 5 points or less.

California Ready for Marijuana?

Mark Baldassare, one of California’s best opinion researchers and head of the foundation-supported think tank, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), published his latest poll showing 53 percent of Californians believe that marijuana should be legal, the highest reported percentage in the last five years (2010). Among likely voters, 55 percent favored legalization, which is the percentage it passed by in Colorado in 2012. Numerous advocates and entrepreneurs are attempting to get a recreational marijuana proposal on the California ballot in 2016. Legal marijuana was defeated in California in 2010 and Governor Jerry Brown remains skeptical.

California Gov. Jerry Brown
The PPIC poll also showed:
  • Gov. Brown has a 55% approval rating after his easy November re-election – about 10 points higher than President Obama’s national approval, but the same as his California approval.
  • The public hasn’t bought off on the Governor’s $68 billion high-speed rail project, only 47% favor it and 48% oppose it.
  • To get more state funding, 52% support the university system capping tuition, a Brown position, with only 18% saying give the UC money even if they raise tuition. Twenty-seven percent wouldn’t give them any more money period.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Iranian Agreement – Produce It, Then Sell It

The administration is responsible for both the substance and the politics of the Iranian nuclear negotiations. The deal will have a series of critical terms and compliance metrics that various experts and interest groups will weigh in on. Elite opinion will be critical as the deal’s elements unfold. It is unlikely to receive overwhelming acclaim or condemnation. And, there will be follow-up and aftershocks. The following is a brief review of some of the stakeholders and the current American public opinion environment.

American Public

A majority of the public could support a deal, but it will need to appear credible on its face and have substantial elite and interest group support.
  • Terrorism moved up on list of major public concerns in 2014.
  • Iran has had slight image improvement, but still near top of enemy list with Russia and North Korea. Very little trust.
  • Public supports negotiations, but not convinced they can stop Iran bomb making intent.
  • Sees Iran with a bomb as a threat and will support military action.

Democratic Party’s Stressful Support Hillary Clinton

The Democratic Party establishment and rank and file support Hillary Clinton’s nomination. But, as the recent e-mail controversy highlights, it’s not without its stress.  Hillary Clinton comes with baggage:
  • She and her husband have been involved in various controversies, many of their own initiation, some not, since their entry into national consciousness in 1992.
  • Hillary escaped the Clinton zeitgeist as Secretary of State, but her re-entry into partisan politics has been weak.
    • Claims of financial hardship,
    • Hundreds of thousands in speaker fees,
    • Big foundation salaries from CGI,
    • Solicitations from the mega rich and foreign governments for CGI,
    • And, her conducting public business on a private communication system
Hillary Clinton
But, the Democratic Party has few alternatives and many reasons to ride with Clinton regardless of any doubts.
  • The Party’s identity politics has prioritized a women president. Powerful Senate and House feminist leaders will not be denied their turn – Pelosi, Boxer, Mikulski, etc. nearing or at their retirement – intend on securing the nomination for Clinton.
  • Clinton has earned Democratic support for more than two decades of service on women and liberal issues.
  • She got 48 percent against Obama and, but for some bad luck and an inept campaign, would have been the nominee and president in 2008.
  • A Democratic third term will be difficult. But Clinton is not just most likely the best candidate, she may be the only plausible candidate – Biden and Kerry are even more burdened by their relationship with Obama. Gore would be a Democratic nightmare. The ambitious Warren and O’Malley are unknown, untested, and mostly far left in an election that is unlikely to move to the left of Barack Obama.
So regardless of baggage and a stumbling start, Democrats are hard-pressed to not be “ready for Hillary.”