Friday, November 15, 2019

Record Off-Year Turnout

The 2019 off-year turnout of 1.57 million voters beat the last high of 1.4 million in 2013. Voter participation in off-year elections is driven by contested ballot issues, high expenditures for advertising and GOTV efforts. In 2013, Amendment 66, the $1 billion income tax increase for education, spent $11 million, mostly by the proponents. It lost by 2-to-1. In 2015, there were non-controversial issues (marijuana tax) on the ballot and no statewide issues. This year, Proposition CC lost by 7 percent and total expenditure will be at the $7 to $8 million level.

A record number of unaffiliated voters turned out. The early voters joined Republicans in voting “no” on Proposition CC, but the late Election Day unaffiliated vote went with the Democrats and closed an Election Night reported gap of 10 percent down to 7 percent on Friday after the election.

When all the voters were counted, the reported partisanship was Democrat 32 percent of the vote, unaffiliated 32 percent and Republican on top with 38 percent. On the Friday before the election, 700,000 votes were recorded, and Republicans were 34 percent of the vote. Many Democratic and unaffiliated voters came in late. The unaffiliated tend to be younger and more liberal-leaning.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Democratic Governors Can’t Save Proposition CC

The Democratic Party establishment, joined by various education and transportation interest groups, was not able to deliver a victory to the TABOR override, Proposition CC. It was endorsed by four former Democratic governors, led by the current governor, Jared Polis (Dick Lamm looking especially gloomy). Proposition CC lost 46 percent to 54 percent.

Democrats, however, were responsible for Proposition DD, the sports gaming legislation and tax for water, passing by 51 percent.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Late Votes Move Results to Left

In the late night counting on Tuesday, November 5, Proposition CC was 10 points down, Proposition DD less than 1 point up, and Mike Coffman 5 points and about 2,000 votes ahead of Omar Montgomery and the rest of the field.

But, as of Friday at 5:00 pm, Coffman was just 281 votes ahead out of 74,000 cast. Proposition CC still lost, but by just 7 points and Proposition DD won by 3, with a total vote well over 1.5 million.

Two factors appear to be increasingly true in Colorado elections – much of the vote is cast in the last two days by people dropping off ballots and Democratic and liberal forces are mostly benefiting by their late turnout efforts, and the demographics of the late voters being younger, more unaffiliated and Democratic. Although for Proposition CC to lose by even 7 points, a majority of unaffiliated voters must have joined Republicans to vote “no,” but the late unaffiliated vote swayed liberal. They voted late in last spring’s Denver mayor’s election and shifted the final vote in favor of psilocybin in a narrow victory.

On Friday, two days after the election, with counting still being conducted, Denver added 25,000 and hit 162,000 voters, whereas Jefferson votes were in at 192,000 (only adding 1,000) and El Paso 179,000 (no change).

Monday, November 11, 2019

Proposition CC Fails – A Decade of Failed Tax and Revenue Attempts

The stunning defeat of Proposition CC should send a clear message to the proponents of ballot issues attempting to increase state revenue – What part of “no” don’t you understand?

In a column in the Sunday Denver Post (11-10-19), I describe the recent history of tax and revenue initiatives and the factors related to the latest loss. The following reviews some of the ideas expressed.

The 2019 Proposition CC, a TABOR override, would have added unspecified amounts to the state coffers, but some estimates said as much as $650 million the next two years. It was the fifth attempt by mostly the same group of advocates – the education establishment and its support groups, a group of donor philanthropists, and business associations that want new tax resources for roads. They have all failed, some of them dramatically, such as the 2013 $1 billion income tax increase that lost two-to-one after proponents spent $10 million in a mostly one-sided campaign.

Just last year, two initiatives were defeated to raise taxes for more education funding and for education and roads.

Coloradans are generous at the local level with their tax dollars, but after a decade of repeated failures with income, sales and now TABOR, a presumption of opposition now exists against state revenue increase measures, tax or TABOR overrides. Proponents of the next effort should face a higher level of skepticism from prospective donors and endorsees that the effort will be different than the last five. They have lost in high turnout (2018) and low turnout (2013) elections, years when partisan races are not on the ballot, and years when Democrats swept the partisan elections.

As I said in the Denver Post, before proponents mount up for another run, “They should consider an argument they may hear frequently next year: What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?”

Difference Between Local and State TABOR Elections

Proponents of Proposition CC and anti-TABOR advocates frequently point to the fact that most Colorado counties (51 out of 64) and cities (230 out of 274) had de-Bruced. But, their effort to de-Bruce the state lost by about 7 points, as did a de-Brucing effort for Jefferson County (lost by 9%). As I stated in my Denver Post column (11-10-19) and most city managers will point out:

The public has a very high level of distrust of state government – either that it needs more money, or that the money will be spent as described. Yes, local TABOR overrides have been abundant, but voters’ knowledge of the needs of their own school districts and cities is greater, and their proximity allows them to watch the spending more closely – factors missing from state requests.

November 7

Will a foreign policy crisis help or hurt Donald Trump? How about in Iran, North Korea, Venezuela? Will President Trump be indicted by the House? Impeached by the Senate? Who wins the Colorado primaries, presidential (March 3), U.S. Senate (June 30)? Where are the battleground presidential states? The most contested Senate seats? What happened to Proposition CC?

These were a few of the questions addressed at the November 7 Korbel School event with Dean Fritz Mayer, Ambassador Chris Hill and Director Floyd Ciruli, sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research and the Office of Global Engagement. Joining for a welcoming was Chancellor Jeremy Haefner.

The session, titled “Countdown to 2020 – One Year Out,” drew an audience of 170, who triggered discussion of many of the topics. Politics in 2020 will be intense, and the Korbel School with the Crossley Center plan on more events to provide and exchange information and viewpoints.

This session was the third in a regular series featuring Ciruli and Hill that was started on Wednesday after the 2016 November election, one on each annual anniversary since. Expect another in November 2020.

Dean Fritz Mayer, Amb. Chris Hill and Floyd Ciruli

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

KOA – Final Predictions on Proposition CC and DD

Monday morning, pre-November 5 Election Day, April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz conducted an interview on voter turnout and the final prognostications on the high-profile Propositions CC and DD.

Proposition CC, the Permanent TABOR Override

It is assumed Proposition CC is close, with a slight advantage for the proponents if they can get out their vote.
  • They have a more than 2-to-1 advantage in expenditure ($5 million to $2 million).
  • It has a very favorable ballot language, which voters will see as they mark their mail-back ballots: “without raising taxes,” “with a balanced budget” and “for schools and roads.”
Opponents do have funds and have been campaigning for weeks.
  • They also have a mostly united Republican Party, with former Governor Bill Owens and former Senator Hank Brown leading it.
  • Most importantly, in off-year elections there is low turnout, which favors Republicans. As of last Friday, 700,000 had voted, probably about half the likely turnout, and Republicans were up over Democrats by 62,000 votes.
However, Democrats tend to vote late. Monday and Election Day has produced half the vote in some recent Denver elections.

Who will get out their vote – pro or anti CC?

Proposition DD, Sports Betting for Water

Proposition DD appears in a good position to win. It has received most of the endorsements from newspaper editorial pages, and agriculture and business, including much of the environmental community. They raised $2 million for advertising and the opponents filed no disclosure – so zero raised.

There is some opposition from people who oppose more gambling and some people argue the money won’t be spent on what they favor or what they approve: dams vs. conservation, East vs. West Slope.

But, mostly DD appears to have momentum to win.

Turnout in recent off-year elections has ranged from 1.1 to 1.4 million voters. There was record turnout, including unaffiliated voters, in 2018, but, of course, Trump is not on this ballot.