Friday, June 16, 2017

Does Congressional Shooting Cause a Pause in the Hostile Rhetoric? 9KUSA, TaRhonda Thomas

Majority Whip Steve Scalise | WGNO
In a June 14 9KUSA noon interview with TaRhonda Thomas, the political impact of the shooting of Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others was discussed.

Congress was quickly reacting with a pause in the partisan rancor and reflection on the danger current political rhetoric has on unstable individuals.

A few observations:
  • Congressional baseball is one of the few activities congresspersons interact socially between the parties. Hopeful, shooting won’t negatively affect it. Congress would be benefited with more bi-partisan social events.
  • The attack will likely add calls for more security as members move about D.C. At home, Congress depends on local law enforcement, but only if there is an identifiable threat. One hates to see anymore separation of the political class from their constituents and voters.
  • There has been an unusually tense period in American politics with the close and disputed election and polarizing impact of President Trump. Although a brief respite from the partisan wars would be welcome, it is unlikely to last long. The country and Congress are too divided with too much at stake to see a long-term change in strategies, tone and heated rhetoric.
  • In 2011, when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot, there was a moment of calm, but quickly the partisan battle started again. Almost immediately, finger-pointing began as to who was most responsible. Gun control versus gun rights groups were quickest to engage in blame-placing. 
  • Social media today, along with 24-hour cable news, ramps up the effort to use the shooting for partisan advantage. No doubt today presidential supporters and detractors; i.e., the alt-right and the resistance, will take to social media. Blame is assigned to the “left” as the shooter supported Bernie Sanders, and quickly Kathy Griffin’s bloody mask and New York Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar were construed as causes of violence.
In a follow-up interview for the 4:00 pm news with Jessica Oh, I commented on the public’s broader concern: “I think there’s a general feeling right now that we have so raised the rhetoric that it may be triggering some things that wouldn’t happen ordinarily.”

Polis in the Race. Is He the New Frontrunner? – Denver Post

Congressman Jared Polis is running for governor. Mark Matthews of the Denver Post broke the story on Sunday, June 11, 2017. I pointed out:
“The game is on, and Mr. Polis will heighten it even more. He definitely changes the complexion of the race.”
Polis is the second congressman in the race. Congressman Ed Perlmutter, who announced several weeks ago, was considered the early frontrunner, but Polis will immediately challenge Perlmutter for frontrunner status. Polis will be seen as the most liberal candidate in the race and he will spend whatever it takes to win. He spent $6 million to win his congressional seat in 2008. Earlier, he had spent $1 million on state board of education seat.

Rep. Jared Polis | AP photo
Polis is an anti-establishment politician with few political allies – Democrat or Republican. He has been the anti-party candidate in most of his career. He championed a ballot initiative (Amendment 41, 2006) to promote government ethics that was considered by many observers as extreme. And, he became the champion and financier of anti-fracking forces, ending up in confrontation with the Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper and much of the Colorado Democratic Party establishment.

But although he may antagonize the party establishment, he was one of the four outside party donors, along with national gay activist Tim Gill, heiress Pat Stryker and computer software millionaire Rutt Bridges, who bankrolled the Democratic Party into becoming competitive in Colorado politics beginning in 2004. He helped create a new Democratic Party. The success is considered a model for Democrats around the country.

With the new primary rules where independents can vote (Proposition 108 passed in 2016), Polis is likely to target them, along with his Boulder and Larimer district constituents, environmental groups and anti-establishment liberals throughout the state. The primary is June 26 in 2018.

The main challenge he will face is being seen as too far left and likely to lose a general election. Democratic Party leaders, especially Governor Hickenlooper, and party pragmatists are anxious to hold the seat. Also, Polis’s years of anti-establishment activism has left pockets of antagonists who will be happy to oppose his career move.

Polis, no doubt, has polling that shows he and his brand of politics can win, but his congressional election experience is weak. He lost Larimer and Jefferson counties in 2014 against a little known, underfunded opponent. There will be a lot of sceptics of Polis’s electability.

Bottom line: Strong primary candidate in crowded field with new rules for turnout. But, no general election record and controversial statewide image.

The Buzz: Colorado governor’s primary could spend $25 million
The Buzz: Governor’s race could be most competitive in two decades

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Race for Colorado Governor Has Just Gotten More Crowded – KOA

Two congressmen decided to get out of Washington. Former lone frontrunner, Ed Perlmutter, must now share that position with Jared Polis. An interview with KOA anchors April Zesbaugh and Steffan Tubbs described the new race for governor.

The race will be unique:
  1. Although Democrats have a slight advantage, the governor’s race should be competitive.
  2. Both parties will have hard-fought primaries. This is a new experience for Democrats.
  3. $20 million could be spent in the primary by both parties. Jared Polis will spend whatever it takes to win. Several Republicans can raise more than $1 million for the race.
  4. The new rules on participation in party primaries could introduce new strategies to motivate independent voters. The primary is June 26, 2018, one year out.
  5. Social and digital media is becoming more important in campaigns. Which candidates can master it will create a new advantage.
Also in the race is former State Senator Mike Johnston (raised $625,000 already), former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Denver businessman Noel Ginsburg.

Republicans, who have had many winning campaigns for state attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state, believe 2018 is a year they can win the governorship. They have at least four candidates who should be able to raise significant contributions. George Brauchler, DA and prosecutor of the Aurora theatre shooter; Walter Stapleton, State Treasurer; Victor Mitchell, businessman; and Doug Robinson, nephew of Mitt Romney.

Polis – He Changes the Race – 9KUSA Interview with Brandon Rittiman

In entering the crowded field, Jared Polis, five-term congressmen from Boulder, changes the race for governor. The race had already started with announcements from four other candidates, including 7th District Congressman Ed Perlmutter. But Polis will speed up campaign activity even more. He will make it:
Rep. Jared Polis | AP Photo
  • More competitive
  • More visible
  • More expensive
Polis is:
  • High-profile
  • Seen as a liberal, environmental activist
  • But also independent with some libertarian views
  • Has an anti-establishment track record
  • Social, digital media expert
  • And, most important, rich
If he needs to spend millions he will. Whatever it takes has been his approach.
  • $1 million for seat on state education board (2000)
  • Millions for gang of four effort to jump-start Colorado Democratic Party (2003-07)
  • Bankrolled Amendment 41, so-called ethics in government amendment (2006)
  • $7 million ($6 million from him) for Democratic primary for Congress (2008)
  • $1 million plus for anti-fracking ballot initiative (2014)
The Democratic primary will now move to the left, get more active and require more fundraising. Polis’ major challenge will be to convince pragmatic Democrats that he can win a general election.

Read: Jared Polis enters race for governor

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Another British Surprise Election

Conservative British Prime Ministers should stop calling elections. The Brexit referendum cost Prime Minister Cameron his position and this latest snap parliamentary election has ended Theresa May’s political clout, although she may remain in office for now.

Once again, the British polls missed the full late surge of Labour, although they captured the race closing. In my blog of June 7, British Election Draws Closer, I cited what most British pundits now agree were the major causes of the upset:
  • May’s poor campaign performance, Corbyn’s new style and anti-austerity proposals
  • Conservative election platform problems, Conservatives lost control of the narrative
  • A still divided electorate and anti-establishment attitudes
Post-election polling data and results refine those general observations with the following:
  • The youth vote, which failed to show up in the Brexit vote, came out in strength for Labour. They were mostly anti-Brexit and Labour offered a soft Brexit position (keep as many ties as possible, less harsh on immigration). May offered a hard exit from the EU. They also liked Labour’s anti-austerity positions. 
  • The Brexit fight may be over in terms of leaving the EU, but the disagreements on how to do it are just beginning.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Boundaries of Recreational Marijuana

A panel of polling experts convened at the national conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and reviewed the shifts in public opinion and successes and failures of marijuana legalization. National and California pollsters were represented. I provided a description of Colorado’s five-year experiment with recreational marijuana legalization and some of the emerging boundaries of public acceptance.

Presentation description:
Colorado is one of the oldest marijuana adopting states. But, acceptance of recreational marijuana is neither uniform nor universal. More than half the cities and counties do not allow retail sales and most of the public does not want expansion of sales.

Each year for a decade, pro-marijuana legalization advocates rallied on April 20 in downtown Denver for a public smoke-in. But as the mayor of Denver and the Denver Post recently said, the party may be over. Their main point is that the drug is legal and a protest rally is irrelevant and counter-productive. The gathering itself, besides requiring strong police presence and park cleanup, reminds a lot of Coloradans what they don’t like about the legalization. Public smoking shows contempt for the law and dramatizes the constant effort to advance more usage. And, of course, the backdrop is that the new Trump administration is hostile to legalization and considering how to step up enforcement. The following editorial appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette, June 11, 2017, and reflects the AAPOR presentation.

Colorado Springs Gazette

Limitations of state’s legalized marijuana
By Guest Columnist
Sunday, June 11, 2017
By Floyd Ciruli

Colorado is often cited as the bellwether of America becoming a marijuana nation. With our legalization of medical marijuana in 2000, and of recreational marijuana in 2012, we helped open the floodgates to what has become a national movement. Continue

Monday, June 12, 2017

Market Rally Continues as Trump Slumps

A market rally that began November 9th and has broken through a couple of 1,000-point barriers is still on a roll at 21271, up 8 percent this year. President Trump has received, and takes whenever he can, much credit for the market’s movement.
President Donald Trump | New York Times

But as the market rises, Trump’s approval rating falls. His latest average rating in RealClearPolitics is 39 percent approval, with a number of polls out of the field on Tuesday, June 6th that have him between 34 to 40 percent. And although it’s too early to judge if former FBI Director Comey’s testimony will drive the polls down, the number of ongoing investigations by Congress and the Special Counsel will likely continue the controversy.

Major challenge to the president is the gridlock that is affecting his legislative agenda, at least partially caused by the political space being taken by the collusion and obstruction investigations.

Market and Trump Disengage
It was initially assumed the stock market rally would accrue to the President’s benefit. And indeed there was general euphoria related to hope for improvements in the economy and jobs that appeared to be helping Trump. It reflected optimism, perhaps unrealistic, that health care and tax reform were doable in 2017. Possibly, even an infrastructure program had a chance.

The market rally is now far more broad-based. The technology run-up is being accompanied by stock gains across the board. But, Trump support has narrowed. He still holds support from most rank and file Republicans, his fellow Republicans on the Hill and much of the business class. But, that produces only the 35 to 40 percent of support reported. He won’t be impeached, but there are many very nervous Republican incumbent congresspersons.