Thursday, September 20, 2018

Power of Women in the Midterms

Women running for office was a key topic when more than 70 members of the League of Women Voters assembled on September 11. Why hasn’t there been a woman governor in Colorado? Why didn’t Cary Kennedy win? Will women running for Congress win their races in the midterm elections?

Colorado is considered a progressive state on women rights. It passed women’s suffrage in 1893 and general economic rights before that, but it has not had a woman as governor. Lt. Governor Gail Schoettler got close in her run in 1998 against Bill Owens (8,000 votes). Women governors are common in other western states. Arizona has had four; Kansas, Oregon and Washington had two each; and one each in Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

Presentation to League of Women Voters
Cary Kennedy mounted a strong primary, but Jared Polis had higher name identification and a money advantage that was difficult to overcome. After she scared him at the state convention, he poured millions into the race in May and June. In addition, she and Mike Johnston, who also ran an effective, well-funded campaign, split an anti-Polis and more moderate vote. Expect to see her again.

Nationally, polls show women are favoring the Democrats in the generic congressional ballot by nearly two-to-one. Today, there are 84 women in the House in both parties and 23 in the U.S. Senate. There are likely to be more in the House in 2019 as 232 women are now running – 180 Democrats and 52 Republicans. The current prediction is that Democrats are likely to win the House and women will be a major force. Women are now 20 percent of the House. Someday, they will be a majority.

See Politico: ‘Something has actually changed’: Women, minorities, first-time candidates drive Democratic House hopes

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Trump Takes on NATO and U.S. Allies

President Donald Trump is not a friend of America’s historic alliances, which he sees as mostly benefiting the allies and restraining his America First strategies on trade and diplomacy.

Trump took the NATO alliance and its members to task at a now infamous July diplomatic swing from a rancorous Brussels NATO meeting, to an embarrassing dust-up with Prime Minister Theresa May in England, to the poorly received summit with Russian President Putin in Helsinki.

After the NATO summit, Senator John McCain expressed his straightforward disapproval of Trump’s behavior with a tweet.

And, American public opinion is generally in agreement with the late senator. It is highly favorable toward NATO, with upwards of 80 percent saying that the alliance should be maintained (Gallup 2018) (Pew: 62% favorable view, 2018).

The acrimony with American allies has been building from previous meetings, especially the G7 meeting in Quebec on June 10-11. A photo was released by the German Embassy of the discussion with annoyed-appearing Prime Ministers Angela Merkel and Shinzo Abe and President Emmanuel Macron facing an obstinate-looking Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with President Donald Trump
 during the Group of 7 summit meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada,
June 9, 2018 | Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government via New York Times

New York Times Poll: Crow Up 11 Points

If a newly released New York Times poll is accurate, the blue wave could be a tsunami. In the 6th District, the poll has Democratic challenger, Jason Crow, up 11 points over incumbent Republican Mike Coffman, 51 percent to 40 percent.

The Times and Siena College are conducting small sample telephone polls in identified competitive House seats. Its first iteration, conducted the last 10 days, has the Democrats taking the House, gaining about 30 seats or a close election for control.

The Times asks: “Can the battle-tested incumbent survive again?”

Republican Coffman has survived difficult elections, winning his district when it went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2012 and for Hillary Clinton by 34,000 in 2016 (he won by 31,000 votes). So if he is indeed behind by 11 points, the District voters are ignoring his incumbent advantage and voting in a very partisan fashion. This may well be the Trump effect where the President’s low approval rating and aggressive approach to controversial issues is simply impossible for a Republican incumbent to separate from. Trump has a 39 percent approval rating in the District.

The Times lists several polls that have shown Crow ahead by smaller amounts.

Crow’s campaign will be well-funding, and expect both sides to get very negative. A large percentage of voters claim to not be able to rate Crow, even though they indicate they will vote for him as of now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Autocrats Cook While Tanks Rumble

Western democracy, and America in particular, are being challenged by two powerful autocrats who argue that liberal democracy is a passé governing concept and that Americans don’t have the confidence, credibility or resources to maintain the order that it guided since World War II.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping make
pancakes during a visit to the Far East Street exhibition on the sidelines of the
Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 11, 2018 | Reuters
Vladimir Putin invited Xi Jinping to a Russian pancake cooking class in Siberia while Chinese troops joined Russians in a large five-day military exercise that U.S. Defense officials described as: “…moving beyond symbolic displays of force to coordinate weapons systems and command structures. Washington says the two countries have developed capabilities that could test U.S. military dominance in times of crisis.”

Russian General Valery Gerasimov (second from left) briefs
diplomats on military exercises, Sept. 11, 2018 | The Recorder

See Wall Street Journal: China joins Russian drills as ties deepen

Colorado Politics Could be Shaken to its Core this November – Denver Post Sunday Perspective Section

The Denver Post featured my guest commentary as the lead in its Sunday Perspective section. The cover graphic is a voter standing astride a separating fault line with the caption, “Hold on: Political rumblings afoot. Colorado’s political landscape is about to undergo another seismic shift from the 2018 election.”

By Floyd Ciruli
Guest Commentary

Colorado’s political landscape is about to undergo another seismic shift.

A surge in new social movements, evolving voter attitudes, rising new leaders and changing demographics, taken together, are creating significant fault lines. Like the earth’s surface, the political plates are about to slip and create a new configuration. The tension has been building for several years, but is now accelerated following the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.

Jeff Neumann, The Denver Post; photo by Thinkstock by Getty Images

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Impeachment – Difficult Issue for Democrats

Leon Panetta, one of the elder statesmen of the Democratic Party, warns the party leadership that it should avoid impeachment and said Democrats should “allow Robert Mueller to complete his work.” He believes that the investigation has the best chance to provide the facts related to collusion and obstruction in the Trump campaign and presidency.

Public opinion agrees with Panetta that Democrats are on much safe ground defending the Mueller probe and delaying talk of impeachment. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows 63 percent of the public support “Mueller’s investigation of Trump and his associates” (52% “strongly support the probe” and overall support includes 32% of Republicans). And, more than half (53%) believe Trump has tried to obstruct Mueller’s investigation.

President Trump’s, and his legal team and political allies, long campaign to discredit Robert Mueller, the investigation and even Attorney General Jeff Sessions has had very limited success.
  • 62% support Sessions in dispute to allow investigation to proceed
  • 64% oppose Trump firing Sessions (47% of Republicans oppose firing Sessions)
  • 66% oppose Trump pardoning Manafort (only 36% of Republicans support it)
In contrast, the public is highly divided on beginning impeachment proceedings (49% begin, 46% don’t begin). Bill Clinton’s impeachment, which hurt Republicans in the midterms, only had 33 percent support at the end of 1998 after the Kenneth Starr report was presented for much of the year.

Monday, September 10, 2018

KOA – Post-Labor Day Interview

KOA’s April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz opened the campaign season on Tuesday, September 4 with a post-Labor Day interview. April pointed out that the election is 63 days away, and in Colorado, mail-back ballots will drop in seven weeks, or about 50 days. The race will now begin with an onslaught of advertisements, debates, endorsements and the first public polls with likely voters, harder to identify during turbulent times.

Nationally, the Colorado governor’s race is getting the most attention, along with the 6th Congressional District race where Republican incumbent Mike Coffman must deal with any blue wave from Washington.
Rep. Jared Polis and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton

Many national observers believe the Colorado gubernatorial race could be competitive, but appears to lean toward Democrat Jared Polis over Republican Walker Stapleton. For example, the latest spending figures show Polis with $12 million in the race, mostly his own money, and Stapleton with just $2 million (latest report shows now a $21 million total). Also, Democrats now have a slight registration advantage after a disadvantage a decade ago, and they attracted more than 100,000 voters in the June primary more than the Republicans, and half of them were newly empowered unaffiliated voters.

The voters’ choice between Stapleton and Polis will be partially made on personality, experience and character, but in terms of issues, the differences could be more dramatic – health care, it’s single-payer or not; oil and gas, it’s more setbacks or not; and tax increases, it’s schools and roads or not. After eight years of moderate leadership from John Hickenlooper, often with a divided legislature, Colorado could take a much more liberal direction. One question being asked nationally concerns how liberal the Colorado electorate has become.

Mike Coffman is in another battle for his congressional seat, but he has an exceptional track record of winning his district even as Democrats carry it in presidential elections. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the district by 34,000 votes and Coffman received 31,000. In general, the latest national polls show the President’s approval rating and the generic ballot question tilting more toward the Democrats since the Paul Manafort conviction and the Michael Cohen guilty plea (approval is now 12 points negative – 42% vs. 54%, and the generic ballot test at 8 points favoring Democrats). Coffman will have possibly the toughest test in his long career.