Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Ambassador Christopher Hill Joins Columbia University Faculty

Chris Hill was just appointed the George W. Ball Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. The announcement from SIPA Dean Merit Janow follows:

I am also pleased to share that Ambassador Christopher Hill will serve as the George W. Ball Adjunct Professor at SIPA in Spring 2021. As the George W. Ball Adjunct Professor, Ambassador Hill will teach a course on diplomacy and also deliver the annual George W. Ball lecture, among other activities. His extraordinary foreign policy experience will be of tremendous benefit to our students and intellectual community, and we look forward to welcoming him to SIPA this spring.

Chris was the Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies for 7 years, professor of diplomacy and head of a DU Center of Global Engagement. Chris and I frequently presented on politics, elections and foreign policy.

Congratulations Chris on your Columbia appointment.
Floyd Ciruli and Chris Hill present a post-election event,
Nov. 2016 | University of Denver photo

Monday, September 21, 2020

Three Republican Senate Seats in West at Risk

Democrats could pick up three of the four seats they need to take control of Senate. If they win all three, Democrats would have a bloc of 7 western states out of 11 and control both members of the delegation (14 members), or about a quarter of their Democratic senate majority. Forest management and climate change would move up in the priority list.

Among the competitive western states, Republican incumbent Martha McSally (Arizona) has been consistently behind Mark Kelly (up 7 points, RealClearPolitics). President Trump won the state by 3 points in 2016, but has been behind Joe Biden (now 5 points). The map below is the latest from Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball forecast at UVA. 
Colorado may be the keystone state for Democrats to win the Senate. John Hickenlooper appears to be ahead of Cory Gardner by about 5 points in spite of an inarticulate candidate and an onslaught of negative Republican advertising. He is riding the reverse coattails of Donald Trump, who is losing the state by at least 10. He lost the state to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 5 points and would be very lucky to get that close this year. 
Montana is a more difficult state for the Democrats. Trump won it by 20 points in 2016, but is only ahead today by 6 points. And, Steve Daines, incumbent Republican senator, running against the current Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, is 2 points ahead. In Montana, Trump helps Daines. 
Other races Democrats have good chances and rated as “toss-ups” by Sabato are Maine: Susan Collins -6, Trump -1; North Carolina: Thom Tillis -4, Trump -1; and Iowa: Joni Ernst -1, Trump +2.

Crossley Center Fall Election Program

The Fall Election Program has begun with virtual presentations, which started with pre-Labor Day Zoom update on the status of the election and a podcast commentary on the accuracy of polling. China and its impact on the election is the first virtual conversation. A panel of Colorado election experts is next in October and November 3 results discussed post-Election Day. YouTube, podcasts and virtual events are adjusting to the pandemic. Join us for the most important election in the century.

Election Central: Pre-Labor Day Update
The recording of the “Election Central: Pre-Labor Day” session is available. Join with the 140 Friends of the Crossley Center who participated in a review of the major issues, such as the pandemic, race relations and the economy, and the position of the campaigns on September 1, the major questions related to polls and forecasts, and what Election Night will look like.

Podcast: Political Polls: Can We Trust Them? 
For those of you who want to know more about what happened with the 2016 presidential polls and if it could happen again, tune into a DU RadioEd podcast I did on the subject. LISTEN HERE

The U.S. and China in the 2020 Election: A New Cold War?
On September 30, our opening program “The U.S. and China in the 2020 Election – A New Cold War?” brings together Professor Sam Zhao of the Center for China-US Cooperation and Professor Floyd Ciruli of the Crossley Center in a conversation addressing the questions around the U.S.-China relationship’s effect on the election and whether the campaigns are ensuring a new Cold War regardless of who wins. Plan to join the program on Zoom at 3:00 pm on September 30. REGISTER HERE

Colorado Political Experts Election Panel: Presidential, Senate and Third Congressional
Some of Colorado’s best political minds will share their assessments of the major races and ballot issues as early voting starts. They will also discuss Election Night and what to expect as the returns roll in. Zoom, October 21 at 3:00 pm. REGISTER HERE

Election 2020: What Happened? Why?
On November 4, Dean Fritz Mayer and Professor Floyd Ciruli will discuss the available results and lead a conversation of what happened and why. Zoom, 3:00 pm, November 4. SAVE THE DATE

Friday, September 18, 2020

Majority of Asian Americans Voting for Biden

A majority (54%) of Asian Americans are voting for Joe Biden. Donald Trump is receiving 30 percent support. They are the fastest growing (39% since 2000) racial group (growing faster than Hispanic – 21%, Black – 33% and White – 7%) and have been a new bloc of voters for Democrats. Exit polls show they voted Republican before the 2000 election. They then shifted, narrowly to Al Gore, and have been increasingly in the Democratic camp. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton won the Asian American vote by more than two-to-one. Support for Biden this year ranges from a high of 65 percent among Asian Indians and 61 percent among Japanese to a low of 36 percent among Vietnamese Americans.
There are 11 million Asian Americans eligible to vote this year. The largest concentrations of Asian Americans are in California (3.5 million), Maryland (900,000) and Texas (700,000). They exhibited high turnout levels in the 2018 midterm elections, and could be important constituencies in battleground states of Arizona, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Forecasters Mostly See Colorado Senate Race as “Lean Democratic”

Although there’s no post-Labor Day polls (as of 9-17-20), the three late August-early September polls had the senate race favoring John Hickenlooper by 5 to 10 points over incumbent Cory Gardner. The latest polls reflect voter opinion after millions have been spent since June by the GOP and its allies on negative advertising attacking Hickenlooper.

As of now, national political forecasters have placed the senate race in the “lean Democratic” category, with one exception, the Cook Political Report. Most recently, RealClearPolitics and Politico moved the race from “toss-up” to “lean Democratic.”

In a September 5 article, Joey Bunch in a Colorado Politics analysis speculates on the race shifting in favor of Gardner. The consensus from his interviews was that it was possible, but unlikely as the ballots are mailed on October 9, well ahead of Election Day. He wrote: “Time for changing hearts and minds is neigh.”
Bunch quoted me from a summer DU donor event:
“That 6 points is still a lot of ground to cover,” Ciruli said, noting that Gardner must support a president consistently polling around 13 points down in Colorado.
“His challenge is to get this in a one-on-one race with Hickenlooper and get people to think of this as a choice between them, because he’s a good campaigner and he thinks he’s had a good six years,” the veteran pollster said.
He expected the polls to tighten after Labor Day, when pollsters focus on the “likely voters,” instead of those less engaged.
“And Biden could make a mistake,” Ciruli cautioned.
But the polls haven’t narrowed sufficiently to change the forecasts tilting against Gardner running with a president that is consistently 10 or more points out.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Kick the Tires and Light the Fires: Forecasts

 Campaigns are now in their final run. Conventions are over and polls continue to accumulate. And, of course, the forecasts are being published. In the table below are the six forecasts I’m following, providing a range of views on the race as of September 15.
Presidential Election Forecasts
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, shown in the map below, lists the toss-up states’ electoral votes, which corresponds to their view of what’s in doubt. They have Joe Biden with 269 electoral votes and 65 toss-up states. They forecast a close race in popular and electoral votes. The Crystal Ball also offers a best Republican map and best Democratic map (243 Biden, 295 Trump/350 Biden, 188 Trump). All the forecasters emphasize that this is a state-by-state race and generally list similar states in play: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Two other well-known forecasters who use polling – current and historic – plus information on specific state campaigns, Cook and Inside Elections, have Biden with more than 270 electoral voters and a small number of toss-up states. Cook does expect a close electoral contest based on recent elections.
RealClearPolitics only uses reported polling and believes there are 211 electoral votes in play, partially because of inadequate current polling. But when forced to distribute all electoral votes by current available polling, they give Biden 352 votes to 186 for Donald Trump.
Finally, two forecasters distribute all their electoral votes and publish a confidence factor. The best known is Nate Silver’s 538, which uses a sophisticated formula to weigh the quality of polls, add historic data and consider factors, like undecided voters. They have Biden with 321 electoral votes, but with a risk factor of 28 percent, the same amount as in 2016 when the forecasts were wrong and many with 98 and 99 percent confidence levels.
Crystal Ball
Electoral College Rating
September 10, 2020
Finally, a new forecast is from the weekly, The Economist. It has Biden with 334 electoral votes with a risk factor of only 16 percent.
It should be restated that the forecasters were dramatically off in 2016. They are more cautious today, and much of the current polling, especially state-level, has improved. The national polls were accurate, but overstated Hillary Clinton’s position, which contributed to the models under-considering risk factors and commentators (and Clinton) considering the win a certainty (i.e., no concession speech). Forecasts are still useful gathering places for all the data available and the latest thinking about the political environment. Just remember the risk. These are tools, not certainties.

Battleground States Remain Tight, But Biden Advantage Holds

 The national popular vote as portrayed in polls only indicates the direction of the presidential race, currently steady with a Joe Biden lead, greater than Hillary Clinton’s four years ago, but not so great as to be comfortable. The real race is in a dozen battleground states, and these races tend to be within the margin of error, and the numbers have been mostly drifting closer the last 30 days.
Biden has had a consistent, albeit narrow, lead since mid-April in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Donald Trump has mostly led in Georgia and Iowa. North Carolina has shifted back and forth – today, Biden is up by one. Florida has closed and is now two points.
At the moment, 50 days ahead of Election Day, the Blue Wall of North-Midwest states that so spectacularly failed in the 2016 contest appear back in place. But because so many of the battleground states have modest amounts of polling and the spreads are near or in the margin of error, a closer Electoral College result is still possible.