Friday, September 23, 2016

A Discussion of Democracy: In Principle and Practice

A panel on democracy will be convened on Thursday, September 29 at 6:00 at History Colorado (see flyer below).

Floyd Ciruli will be joined by two professors of political science, two professors of philosophy and the state’s deputy director of elections.

My theme will be:

The election this year highlights shift from the Cold War era consensus among western democracies to an intense struggle between nationalism and internationalism. The battle for the U.S. presidency is only the beginning in a larger competition.

Other members of the panel are:

Andre Archie is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Colorado State University, specializing in the History of Ancient Greek Philosophy and Ancient Greek Political Philosophy.

Caleb Cohoe is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Metropolitan State University of Denver whose research interests include Ancient Philosophy and the function of the intellectual and practical authority in society.

Robert Preuhs is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver whose research focuses on issues of representation and democracy through the lens of racial and ethnic politics, state and national political institutions, and public policy.

Elizabeth Sperber is an Assistant Professor of political science at the University of Denver specializes in comparative and international politics, with regional expertise in sub-Saharan Africa.

Hilary Rudy is deputy director of elections for the Colorado Secretary of State and, as a “certified elections/registration administrator” is among the top designated election officials in the country.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

“Basket of Deplorables.” Very Bad Politics.

The November 9 fundraiser with a liberal elite constituency (Barbara Streisand on the vocals) in downtown Manhattan where Hillary Clinton described many of Donald Trump’s supporters as “deplorables” provided an easily mocked forum that immediately produced a firestorm of criticism on social media, in Trump’s speeches and in a rapid response advertisement. The timing was equally bad after weeks of inaction and declining polls, followed by the November 11 faint.

Not only was Clinton wrong in her characterization of the majority of Trump supporters, but the woman who had historically represented the more moderate, less educated and older members of the Democratic Party in primaries against Barack Obama in 2008 and Bernie Sanders, this cycle just told many of them she thought many were “deplorable.”

Unfortunately for her, many of them are still conflicted on this race, even though they are registered Democrats. They are concentrated in the old industrial blue collar areas of Ohio and North Carolina where the race is starting to slip away from Clinton. They don’t consider themselves racist, but do feel the Democratic Party has increasingly become fixated on identity politics and their identity – white working and struggling middle class – is ignored by the party’s coastal and urban elites.

Clinton described about 40 percent of the electorate or Donald Trump voters as divided between those who are acceptable because their populist fervor is based on economics or class anxiety and half who are “deplorable” because they are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic – you name it.”

The Washington Post analyzed Trump supporters using two measures: economic and racial anxiety. Their finding was that 26 percent of Trump’s supporters are primarily concerned with race and believe “Whites are losing out in America” and 20 percent are primarily concerned about the economic struggles of lower class Americans. But that a quarter of Trump supporters are attracted for a myriad of other reasons than race and class and another quarter feature both issues as important.

This dichotomy does not capture the full range of Clinton’s description, but it demonstrates that beyond the foolishness of writing off huge swathes of the electorate, things are a lot more complex than what appears on the surface. A significant percentage of Trump’s support is made up of people who increasingly believe Clinton hasn’t given them a persuasive reason to support her and who she believes are “deplorable.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Clinton’s Lead Caves; Colorado Back in Play

The Democrats’ thin advantage in Colorado, mostly based on shifting demographics, has dissipated under Hillary Clinton’s collapsing national campaign. As described in The Buzz of September 2, Where is Clinton? Campaign Defensive as it Enters Labor Day Weekend, she lost control of the national narrative in late August, culminating in her illness on November 11.

In mid-August, Colorado was considered a safe Clinton state as she had a 10-point lead over Donald Trump. Clinton’s campaign believed it and moved advertising dollars to other states before Labor Day just as Donald Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson began airing ads.

Colorado still needs some reliable polls, but the latest reported has Trump up 4 points, or Clinton up 5. The current RealClearPolitics average is Clinton by 3.7 percent (42.7% to 39.0%). Huffington Post poll of polls has the spread at 5.8 (43.6% to 37.8%) and Nate Silver’s 538 places Clinton ahead by 3 points (45.2% to 42.1%).

Note the Emerson College poll is a robo poll with no cell phones included. The SurveyMonkey data is a non-probability sample that uses participants in SurveyMonkey polls and weights the data to construct a representative, but not random, sample of Colorado likely voters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Don't Expect a Landslide

Democrats who had been hoping for a landslide victory since Donald Trump’s nomination are now starting to panic. For about a month, they felt good about at least a five-seat pick-up in the Senate, and after a few drinks at their favorite Capitol Hill water holes, thought they were positioned with sufficient credible candidates to win the House if this was a wave election (need 30 seats – Carroll (6th) and Schwartz (3rd) in Colorado).

But, along with tightening polls, there are a host of forces suggesting that Democrats need to get realistic. Winning the Senate remains very much 50-50 and the House a pure long shot. In fact, at this point, they’d be overjoyed to just win the presidency.
  • The high negatives of each presidential candidate are producing defections and turnout problems.
  • The hyper-polarization means each base will likely keep the race competitive, but the defections and undecided will add to volatility.
  • Most forecasts include presidential popularity. Obama’s approval has improved, but at 51 percent, it is just barely an aid for Hillary Clinton.
  • An open seat removes most of the incumbents’ (Obama’s) advantages to their successors.
  • Vulnerable Republican Senate candidates are disengaging from Trump and running ahead of him. Thirty seats in the House are beyond even optimistic projections today.
  • Clinton has a superior campaign and is ahead in most of the battlegrounds, but she has lost the narrative for more than two weeks and is now within the margin of error nationally and in several key battleground states.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Monday, September 12, 2016

Race Tightens, But Clinton Still Leads in Battlegrounds

The battleground states keep expanding due to the shifting nature of the 2016 election. Donald Trump is closing the post-convention gap in New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. But Hillary Clinton has added Georgia and Arizona to the list of battlegrounds Democrats are spending time and money on.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Trump Makes a Big Buy in Colorado

Donald Trump has purchased a big TV buy in Colorado. Given a new poll that claims the race has closed to within five points, can we expect Hillary Clinton back in the state with TV or a visit?

Senate Democrats have, in fact, also left the state believing the senate race is over.

See The Buzz:
NBC/WSJ Claims Clinton Up 8 Points in Colorado
Early Colorado Polls – Clinton Up

Nationalism and Anti-Immigrant Policies on the March Across Europe

Angela Merkel just lost her home state in regional parliamentary election, a warm-up for next year’s general election. Her party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), came in third in the voting after the rapidly rising far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) Party. The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) led with 30 percent, but in general, parties of left also lost votes from the previous election.

One million refugees in 2015 have broken the center-right’s solidarity and very possibly ended Ms. Merkel’s ambition for a fourth term (in office since 2005). Her policies on the refugee crises was the salient topic reflected in her approval ratings, which is at a five-year low (45%).

Of course, Germany is hardly the only country seeing a surge of nationalism and anti-immigration politics. Great Britain has a new prime minister due to David Cameron’s loss of the Brexit vote and France’s Hollande is so weak in the polls that his re-election, or even running, is doubted. His nemesis, Marine Le Pen (The National Front), is one of the most nationalistic, anti-immigrant and anti-EU in Europe. And, although it’s not clear the French electoral system will let her get to the presidency in next year’s elections, the politicians running, especially Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, sound like her.