Thursday, July 2, 2015

June 2015 – A Big Obama Month

June may have been the most successful month in Barack Obama’s presidency. The Supreme Court saved his signature legislative accomplishment for a second time in three years with a ruling concerning state-level subsidies (June 2012 ACA mandate ruled constitutional as part of taxing power). The Court also expanded gay rights by finding a constitutional right to marry. Republicans gave the President fastback trade legislation for eleven Asian-Pacific nations. Finally, on June 30, Obama announced an exchange of embassies’ agreement with Cuba and a new climate pact with Brazil (more of a soft pledge from President Rousseff to set a target by the end of the year).

Although the month brought mixed news on the economy, the public was more comfortable with Obama’s handling of it. And, of course, this president was able to highlight his commitment to improve race relations and his rhetorical if not music skills with a powerful eulogy in South Carolina and vigorous rendition of Amazing Grace.

In an early review of the President’s month, CNN showed his approval rating above 50 percent for the first time since his re-election and second inaugural. It had been a difficult two years since those heady days in early 2013, culminating in the 2014 election debacle. But Obama appears to have momentum.

The June 29 reading reflects a five point jump since the end of May (45%, May 31, 2015). He also improved his standing with the public on handling the economy (52%, up from the mid to lower 40% since 2009, the start of the Great Recession).

Although CNN numbers were the highest in the RealClearPolitics compilation of recent polls, it highlights the President’s powerful month. (The last time Obama’s CNN approval was above 50% was in May 2013 – 53%, inaugural 55%, 2012 re-election 52%).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Colorado’s Special Relationship with Gay Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning gay marriage bans as unconstitutional is the capstone of an extraordinary rise in public support, including among Coloradans. Nationally, support for gay marriage moved from 27 percent in 1996, to 37 percent at the beginning of the new century, to a majority for the first time in 2011. In April 2012, a PPP poll showed 53 percent of Colorado voters supported gay marriage, up from 47 percent in late 2011. Today, Gallup reports 60 percent of the nation favors legalizing gay marriage (57% in latest Pew poll).

Colorado has had a special and controversial relationship with gay rights. A high profile battle began in 1992 when social and religious conservatives initiated and helped pass by 53 percent a prohibition on state and local government allowing protections for gays in areas such as in housing and employment. It lead to a court fight, ending four years later in the Supreme Court where it was ruled unconstitutional in Romer v. Evans in an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

In spite of that legal progress, Colorado voters waited another 10 years (2006) before joining many other states to approve a statewide constitutional ban on gay marriage. That same year they also rejected a referred statute legalizing civil unions.

But by 2012, with gay marriage gaining public opinion support and President Obama announcing his own evolution, the issue gained powerful political momentum. Advocates pushed state courts and legislatures toward legalization. Colorado’s Democratic-controlled legislature passed civil unions in its 2013 session. Finally, federal courts ruled the 2006 ban unconstitutional in 2014, which was upheld in last week’s Supreme Court ruling. Twenty-three years elapsed in Colorado from a ban of legal protection to a constitutional right, and from a narrow minority position to a public opinion majority. Amazing.

Pew: Support for same-sex marriage at record high, but key segments remain opposed
Gallup: Record-high 60% of Americans support same-sex marriage

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Western Conservative Summit Attracts Seven of the New NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll’s Candidates

Congratulations to John Andrews and the Western Conservative Summit for attracting nearly half of the Republican presidential field – the largest field in memory. Each year, the event has grown and become more important in the conservative firmament of major ideological conferences. Now, it is a presidential-level event in a year with a wide open race.

Colorado may be a battleground state in the general election, but the state is often ignored in the nomination battle. The state’s caucuses are typically a non-event, with low turnout, esoteric rules and held the same day as many other nominating events.

But in 2015, Colorado will host a CNBC debate on economics in October, which will bring at least ten candidates who have survived the first two debates and are in the top tier of the polls. And now in early summer, Colorado has a Republican presidential forum with half the field. The presidential debate raised DU’s profile. The host institutions – the Centennial Institute and Colorado Christian University – have raised theirs.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, June 2015
Western Conservative Summit info
The Gazette: Western Conservative Summit bringing GOP presidential hopefuls to Colorado

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bernie Sanders Draws Crowd to DU

With a full throat attack on billionaires and Wall Street, Bernie Sanders brought his longshot/no-shot presidential campaign to Colorado.

Although Colorado’s Democratic activists tend toward the far left and preferred Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008, the 5,000 activists who showed up at DU to listen and cheer Sanders will likely not carry the state caucus or be part of the winners in Philadelphia in July 2016.

But clearly the party is divided as severely as the Republicans between ideological wings who want hot rhetoric and controversial solutions, which for the Democrats tend to be expensive and require much more government.

A couple of recent surveys summarize the Democrats’ dilemma with Sanders.
See: Denver Post: Bernie Sanders delivers condemnation of business, billionaires in Denver

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fracking Ban Politics Runs Out of Gas

The activists hoping the fracking bans were the next issue that could attract the money, media and voters for a new anti-growth political movement in Colorado have run out of gas.

In a June 12th cover story, Valerie Richardson in The Colorado Statesman ran down the reasons the anti-fracking movement has lost the headlines and likely momentum for a 2016 ballot initiative.

Some of the reasons I cited in the article are:

Denver political analyst Floyd Ciruli points out that it’s still quite early in the 2016 election cycle, but he agreed that the anti-fracking movement has lost momentum.

“I approached this year with the thought that activists would continue to promote (a statewide initiative), but indeed, the public anxiety and interest in it has receded,” Ciruli said.

He cited a number of reasons, including the governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force, whose recommendations are being implemented, as well as the industry’s ongoing advertising and education effort, led by Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development.

“The industry has been relentless in their continuing to advertise,” Ciruli said. “There are still lots of TV ads and other media proclaiming the benefits of fracking and the lack of a negative environmental impact, and I think that probably has a tendency to undermine the issue getting some traction.”

Then there’s the decline in global oil prices. The U.S. industry has cut back on drilling operations as Saudi Arabia refuses to curtail production, which has cause the price-per-barrel to plummet.

“Even if it doesn’t affect current production, it changes the atmosphere,” Ciruli said. “It’s no longer an ever-expanding industry — it’s now one with at least some level of contraction. Even in these small towns, there’s been some impact on the economy. It just sort of reminds everyone that for all the inconvenience, there is an economic upside.”

“[T]he 2016 election is a lot like 2014 in terms of the Democratic Party leadership,” Ciruli said. “There still is tremendous reluctance to have anything approaching a fracking ban on the ballot, simply because it divides the party so much, which is one reason the governor worked so hard to find a compromise.”

“The actual passion about the issue has dissipated,” Ciruli said. “While there may be more liberal-leaning voters in the electorate, they may be more interested in other issues.”

Read her entire article here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ambassador Mamet Welcomes Crossley Center to Argentina

U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, Noah Mamet, welcomed Floyd and KK Ciruli to the beautiful ambassador residence, the Bosch Palace.

Ciruli, representing the Crossley Center, was in Argentina to join polling colleagues from around the world for a WAPOR conference.  The World Association of Public Opinion Research meets yearly for presentations, panels and papers on major topics in public opinion.

Ciruli presented a paper on the historical, political and public opinion context concerning the U.S. change in policy toward Cuba. Ambassador Mamet pointed out the positive effect the policy changes have had for Latin American diplomats.

The Crossley Center is a part of the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. Ciruli also participated in a panel with international public opinion experts in “Polls, Media and Elections,” organized by Kathy Frankovic, former polling director/CBS News.

Ambassador Mamet is a California resident and a UCLA graduate.

(L to R) Ambassador Mamet, KK Ciruli and
 Floyd Ciruli at Bosch Palace

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Revolt Hits Mexico

In Mexico’s recent state and local elections independent and protest candidates won a governorship and numerous municipal races. The three old-line parties are beginning to lose their pull on votes after 27 years of free (i.e., post-PRI dominated) elections.

In the state of Nuevo León, with its rich business capital Monterrey, Jamie Rodríguez became the first governor independent of the three dominate parties. Independents won the mayorship in Cuernavaca and Guadalajara. Also, although he didn’t win office Lopez Obrador, the wild leftist former mayor of Mexico City, is back with a party winning congressional seats in the city.

Nearly 40 percent of Mexican votes went to third parties, some merely gathering around a single charismatic candidate, such as Morena created by Lopez Obrador.

Mexico has well-established polling professionals. Final polls from major polling outlets were accurate, except for some polls overestimating the PRD’s vote, no doubt due to its accelerated late losses to Morena and other parties.

Although the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) lost seats in this election, President Peña Nieto holds a congressional majority, joining parties on the left, such as the Green, and some other small parties.

President Salinas was the last president elected under the old corrupt system that made presidential elections a one-party event for more than 70 years.