Friday, February 15, 2019

Dr. Harold Mendelsohn, RIP

Harold Mendelsohn,
May 26, 1967
Dr. Mendelsohn, a professor and researcher at the University of Denver for many decades, passed away at 95. He was an eminent sociologist and expert on polls and the media. His 1970s book with Irving Crespi, “Polls, Television and the New Politics,” is a classic still used today in classes. He led the professional association of pollsters, AAPOR, in the 1970s and held numerous administrative positions on the DU campus. Harold was a respected and sought after teacher.

Read obituary here
Read AAPOR memoriam here
See his Wikipedia biography here

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Denver Metro Area Economy Still Running Hot

The latest sales tax data from the Colorado State Department of Revenue shows 2018 produced a 5.38 percent jump in revenue in the seven-county Denver metro area over 2017.

One percent in regional sales tax would produce $630 million for RTD and a share of it for the region’s cities and counties. It will produce $63 million to be shared by the approximate 250 organizations of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Colorado Politics: Pro-Weed, Anti-TABOR, Colorado’s Major Trends Now are Political Power

Photo: Colorado Politics
In a February 11 column in Colorado Politics, Colorado’s major trends, including pro marijuana commercialization and hostility to hydrocarbons and the TABOR amendment, now have allies in power that will empower them. Expect major changes.

The political earthquake that rearranged the political plates in November is just beginning to have impact on Colorado’s policy and politics. The shake up brought new leaders, new constituencies and new social movements to power. Political changes are accelerating in Colorado, and the policy shifts now visible reflect powerful, longer-term trends that portend disruption of the status quo. Many of the trends are perennial ones; some have been visible for decades, but not ascendant; others are recent. The 2018 election brought them into the forefront. 

In a speech to the annual state convention of the Colorado Water Congress (CWC), I outlined what I consider the top trends driving Colorado politics in 2019.

Polls Post SOTU and the Democratic Field

Since October 2018, as the market began to decline, the midterm election rendered a judgment on President Trump’s first two years, and as more and more officials in the administration quit or were pushed out, the President’s approval ratings have followed, hitting their lows in late January at the conclusion of the shutdown. Negative spreads of up to 10 points, which were common, were replaced by low double-digits, jumping to 20 points in a few polls.

President Trump giving his State of the Union address, with Vice President
Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in background, Feb. 5, 2019 | CNN photo

Trump is hoping his State of the Union speech is a reset for public perception and a potential start-up of his re-election. One can see why he was anxious to accept Speaker Pelosi’s invitation, whenever it came. It’s hard to beat the well of the House for gravitas and audience.

At least two post SOTU polls show Trump’s approval up and the negative spread diminished.


The Democratic field, as of March 1, shows name identification is still dominating early Democratic voters’ choices. The range of merging the latest national polls of 12 candidates runs from Joe Biden at 33 percent, to 1 percent for Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand. Near the top are Bernie Sanders; Kamala Harris, with her high-profile announcement; Beto O’Rourke, the charismatic outsider; and Elizabeth Warren, who has been running since 2016 and just announced.

Early hypothetical polls show nearly every Democratic candidate beats President Trump by 5 or more points. Trump’s support tends to equal his approval rating in the low 40 percent range and Democrats are in the mid to upper 40s. Even Rasmussen, Trump’s favorite pollster, puts Democrats in the early lead. Of course, it should be remembered that Hillary Clinton tended to lead in the polls from June to November 2016, but it was deceptive as to what would happen November 6.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Crossley Center Presents Japan’s Top Political Pundit: U.S.-Japan Alliance in Age of Trump. Will it Survive?

A lecture and panel on Japanese-American foreign policy in the Trump era will be conducted on March 14 at the Maglione Hall at DU’s Korbel School. The event is jointly sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Korbel School, the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver and the Office of Global Engagement at DU.

Our guest, Professors Toshihiro Nakayama, is one of Japan’s most prominent political pundits, frequently appearing on national television and regular articles in national newspapers. Known to colleagues as Toshi, he is currently a fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C.

Thursday, March 14, 2019
Program: 5-7 pm, followed by a reception
Maglione Hall
University of Denver Campus
Anna and John J. Sie International Relations Complex
2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO

This event is FREE and open to the public
Food provided

Prof. Toshihiro Nakayama
TOSHIHIRO NAKAYAMA is a Professor of American Politics and Foreign Policy at the Faculty of Policy Management at Keio University. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. He was a Special Correspondent for the Washington Post at the Far Eastern Bureau (1993-94), Special Assistant at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations in New York (1996-98), and Senior Research Fellow at The Japan Institute of International Affairs (2004-06). He was also a CNAPS Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution (2005-06). He received his M.A. (1993) and Ph.D. (2001) from Aoyama Gakuin University. He has written two books and numerous articles on American politics, foreign policy and international relations. He appears regularly on Japanese media. He writes a monthly column for Japan News.

Also part of the presentation and panel will be Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center; Ambassador Christopher Hill of DU’s Office of Global Engagement; and the Consul-General of Japan in Denver, Midori Takeuchi.

Denver Post: Construction Cranes Everywhere. Mayor’s Race as Referendum on Growth.

In a February 10 Sunday Prospective page commentary in the Denver Post the Mile High City’s exploding growth is the major topic framing the third term re-election effort of Mayor Michael Hancock and his challengers.
Cranes tower over new Riverview building under construction,
 March 3, 2017 | RJ Sangosti/DP

After a decade of slow growth through the dot.com bust and the Great Recession, Denver’s population growth since 2012 has exploded. In the last seven years, the city has grown by 100,000 residents and it’s noticeable on congested roads, in crowded restaurants, in gentrifying neighborhoods, and in cranes working overtime in the city’s development hotspots.

The upcoming Denver mayoral election on May 7, 2019, has become dramatized by tensions caused by urban growth. If Michael Hancock’s challengers force a runoff (a dozen candidates at last count), it will be largely because of the political disruption of Denver’s surging population boom.

See The Buzz: Growth and No Growth – Top Issues in Colorado

Monday, February 11, 2019

Race for U.S. Senate Starts – KOA 850

Both Democrats, anxious to win back the Colorado U.S. Senate seat they lost in 2014, and Cory Gardner, the Republican winner, are moving into full re-election mode. In an interview with April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz, the lead question was who’s the top Democratic candidate?

Hickenlooper, as of today, appears to be the Democrats’ strongest contender, but he’s commitment to a presidential race and hasn’t expressed any interest in the U.S. Senate contest. A key factor will be what Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recommends. Democrats believe the seat is their most likely pick up and they will spend considerable time testing the alternatives.

Democratic Primary

Democrats already have candidates in the field, including two with statewide track records. Andrew Romanoff, former State House Speaker, is back for a third time to win a congressional position. He lost a bitter interparty fight with Michael Bennet in 2010. Bennet is now in his second term. In 2014, Romanoff lost decisively a race for Congress against Mike Coffman.

Mike Johnston ran an aggressive primary campaign for governor in 2018 and raised prodigious amounts of money from out-of-state interests, especially those interested in public school reform. But, he came in third, and it’s not clear major elements of the party are any warmer toward him today.

Senator Gardner

Gardner is, of course, aware that he’s in one of the most vulnerable seats in the country and that he will be running with Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. Trump got 43 percent in 2016, and polls at 40 percent approval or lower regularly in Colorado. Hence, Gardner must balance getting along with Trump and his hard core supporters, with shows of independence and bipartisanship needed to win moderate and especially independent-style Colorado voters.

Gardner is busy building his record of loyalty to Trump with an endorsement for a second term, while showing independence by joining five Republicans who voted for the Democratic proposal to reopen the government. Gardner, who has rapidly become part of the Republican senate leadership, still works closely with Bennet on Colorado-specific projects, such as public lands and marijuana.

Gardner’s best argument may be what put him over the top in 2014 running against Mark Udall. Colorado is most benefitted from having two effective senators, one in each party, especially the party controlling the Senate, a condition likely to continue in 2020.