Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Presidential Race Closed Twice and Now Widening

It will take about 46 percent of the total electorate to win the race for the White House, assuming third-party candidates win about 8 percent of the vote, leaving 92 percent to divide up. Currently, Hillary Clinton is holding about 49 percent and Donald Trump 42 percent.

On two occasions since the California primary made Clinton the presumptive nominee (Trump was considered the nominee when Ted Cruz dropped out after the Indiana primary), Trump was one or two points ahead or behind Clinton. The first time was at the conclusion of the two conventions on July 29 and the second was before the first debate.

Unfortunately for Trump, the Democrats had a good convention (they appeared unified, Republicans did not) and he attacked the Khan family, both of which put Clinton into the lead.

But by Labor Day, after weeks of negative press on e-mails and the Clinton Foundation, the race tightened, then the “basket of deplorables” and the 9-11 fainting incident led to an even worse September for Clinton. Also, Trump shook up his campaign and tried to stay on message. By the first debate, the race closed to a couple of points. But Trump failed to answer questions about temperament and what appears to be his final slide began.

Friday, October 7, offered a powerful blow to his image when the Entertainment Tonight tape of “locker room talk” broke. Trump’s slippage continued through the second debate on Sunday, October 9. On the eve of the final debate, he is in a deep hole.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trump Needs Game Changer in Final Debate

As Donald Trump approaches Wednesday’s final debate, every projection shows him losing by at least the Romney vs. Obama margin of 4 points in 2012 (5 points in Colorado).

Although Trump’s scorched earth strategy may depress some Democratic turnout, it is hardly drawing more centrist voters to him. In fact, a growing group of business and political leaders and editorial boards that would normally support the Republican nominee are condemning a politics that delegitimizes the democratic process and constitutional principles, such as a peaceful transition of power.

The polling aggregators use some different techniques and mixtures of polls, but mostly the corpus of national polling results is similar – Clinton is ahead by 6 to 8 points.

The forecasters add historical and economic data to help strengthen their projections, but this close to an election polls tend to dominate the algorithms. As the election nears (about 3 weeks), forecasts are converging on a Clinton victory by 80 percent or higher level of certainty.

But this is October and we are still dealing with Russia and its assault on our democracy. So no prediction appears safe. After November 8, of course, we will deal with the next problem, that is the transfer of power.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Partisan Differences on Most Ballot Issues

In the late September metro area poll on Colorado’s seven ballot issues, partisan differences range from 55 points between “yes” and “no” on minimum wage, 38 points on single-payer, down to 10 points on the primary election and 15 points on the presidential election.

Democrats are highly in favor of minimum wage, medical aid in dying and the new cigarette tax. Republicans like Raise the Bar, but not much more. Fifty percent support the presidential election proposition. They strongly oppose the single-payer proposal and the minimum wage. Raise the Bar proposition is fragile and it faces a wave of editorial opposition. Unaffiliated voters are more supportive than members of either party for the presidential election proposition and adding them to primary elections (not surprising).

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Denver Posts Endorses SCFD

The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) is a legacy project for the Denver Post and its former counterpart, the Rocky Mountain News. They both endorsed it in the original authorization election in 1988. And, they both followed its progress and evolution and endorsed it in two additional successful renewal elections (1994 and 2004).

Today, the Denver Post again endorsed with the headline: “Yes on 4B: SCFD tax provides art and science for all.” The editorial pointed out:
Voters in seven Denver-area counties have the unique opportunity on Nov. 8 to protect what has already been fostered for 28 years through the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.
The district has been approved by voters on three occasions, providing substantial majorities each time. The Denver Post editorial ended with:
…this one is so well administered, so modest in amount and so responsive to change that it is a clear benefit to all seven counties and we hope voters say “yes.”
The SCFD renewal will be Ballot Issue 4B, located near the end of the long 2016 Colorado ballot. It will read:



Please vote to renew the SCFD and keep Colorado’s acclaimed program of culture for all in place for another 12 years.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Colombian-FARC Agreement

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize, but lost a national referendum vote on his peace plan.

The disjointed headlines praising the prize but lamenting the loss highlight the difference between aspiration and reality. The desire to bring the 52-year conflict to an end is widespread. But the war left much pain that has not been forgotten.

Possibly the biggest loser was not President Santos or his worldwide supporters, such as the Obama administration, the EU or the Pope, but the Castro brothers. They, along with the late Hugo Chavez, had been major backers of the FARC. Chavez is gone and his successor appears only hanging on due to a military that will at some point decide its interest is without President Maduro.

The Castros, however, are attempting a very difficult transition that preserves the safety and privilege of their family and continuation of their party and system in the face of its basic failure to provide a decent quality of life. Most dangerous for Castros’ future is that Cuba is now in a slow integration with the commercialized and capitalist North.

The Colombian – FARC agreement, which gave up Cuban- and Venezuelan-like socialist goals (never accepted by the public and lost on the battlefield) for broad-based amnesty and the nucleus of a legitimate left-wing party, was negotiated over four years in Cuba and the final agreement signed in Cartagena. Raul Castro put himself front and center clapping at the ceremony.

The voters of Colombia didn’t accept it, at least partially because of the poor image of the Castros and their Cuban fiefdom. The Castros should be nervous that a day may arrive for an up or down vote on continuing their legacy.

President Juan Manuel Santos, front left, and Rodrigo Londono,
the top rebel commander, at a signing ceremony on Oct. 3 in
Cartagena, Colombia. Raul Castro clapping to the right.
Credit: Fernando Vergara/AP

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Coffman Makes National News Again

Rep. Mike Coffman
Photo: AP
Congressman Mike Coffman was in the national news last weekend for a second time since August in his call for Donald Trump to withdraw from the presidential ticket, which won’t happen.

In early August, Coffman was recognized as one of the most vulnerable Republicans who planned to “stand up to Trump.” Coffman has never endorsed Trump or said he would vote for him.

Coffman is in one of the most competitive congressional races in the country and his opponent’s primary issue is Coffman’s closeness to Trump. RealClearPolitics has projected a potential 15-seat pick-up for the Democrats. Coffman’s 6th Congressional is in the list of 15 most vulnerable.

Speculation is now growing that Trump’s latest crisis could create the Barry Goldwater debacle when 36 House seats were lost in 1964, or the 1974 to 1976 scenario when the Richard Nixon resignation led to a 46-seat Republican congressional loss, first in the 1974 congressional election and then when Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Politico: Republican releases ad promising to “stand up” to Trump
Denver Post: Profile: Longtime legislator Morgan Carroll argues for change in suburban congressional district

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Factors That Make the 2016 Election Hard to Call

Although the entire array of forecasters followed regularly and reported in the New York Times Upshotelection website predicts a Hillary Clinton victory by upwards of 70 percent probability, this remains a volatile election with a variety of factors that produce a lot of caveats in predictions and nervous laughter in pundit conversations.

Some of the factors are normal in an open seat presidential election, but others are particular to this year.