Friday, August 7, 2020

DU Pioneer Legacy Society Hosts Conversation on 2020 Election

On July 29, DU’s Advancement staff sponsored an annual event for its premier contributors. This year, they brought together Professor Seth Masket with me and Anne Trujillo as moderator in a political conversation about the 2020 election. A few questions addressed:
  • Will there be a big November turnout?
  • Can the polls be trusted?
  • Who’s likely to win the Colorado U.S. Senate race?
  • How has Donald Trump changed American politics? 
To hear the conversation, click on the link below and move the bar on the video to about 29:10 minutes in to start watching the conversation.



Ballot Issues Pile Up. Some Cultural, Some Big Money Changes.

Among the seven ballot propositions already approved, three are major advances in the cultural wars (wolves, abortion and citizenship), one is a straight- up partisan advantage effort (popular vote), and two raise more tax revenue (cigarette tax and Gallagher Amendment).

Three of the four waiting approval change the tax structure. Two are reductions and one (medical leave) is an increase. Casinos will most likely be left to self-regulate with one.

Ballot Issues With a Comment

Citizen Initiatives Approved
  • Repeal national popular vote law. A lot of grass root support for repeal, but Democratic tide? Partisan Advantage
  • More gray wolves. Urban vs. rural. Polls say popular, but is it a bad year to hassle ranchers? Cultural War
  • Late term abortion prohibition. Get-out-the-vote item for pro and con activists. Polls say popular. Cultural War
  • Only U.S. citizens can vote. Cultural War
State Legislature Referred
  • Repeal Gallagher Amendment. Major tax shift for businesses and smaller local government districts. Increase Tax Revenue
  • Raise cigarette and vaping products taxes. More Sin Taxes
  • Rules on charitable gaming.
Pending Review of Signatures
  • Lower state income tax of 4.63% to 4.55%. Major Tax Reduction
  • Vote on “fees” that raise big revenue. Major Tax Limitation
  • State-run medical leave. Major Business Tax Increase
  • Casino cities (and their industries) able to set betting limits. Gaming in three cities becomes wide open.

Senate Race Tightens

Cory Gardner needed a poll to show that, despite Donald Trump’s chaotic reelection campaign, he still has a chance in Colorado. It would have been disastrous to go into Labor Day down double-digits to John Hickenlooper. Final money from the national Republican Party, big PACs and dark money sources will get very competitive given the risk to the control of the Senate.

The poll was conducted by Morning Consult with 616 likely Colorado voters from July 17-26, 2020. They also polled in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina. Although the poll provides a lift for the Gardner campaign, it still highlights the challenge of running in tandem with Donald Trump.

The President is 13 points behind Joe Biden in Colorado. He is approximately 6 points lower than his national RealClearPolitics position as of August 3, 2020 (42% Trump to 49% Biden). It suggests that, even if he closes the race nationally, he will still be significantly behind in Colorado. Biden is at 52 percent, or 4 points ahead of Hillary Clinton in 2016 in Colorado (48%), and Trump is 4 points behind his result (43%).

In this poll, Gardner is 3 points (42%) above Trump (39%) and 6 points behind Hickenlooper (48%). Gardner and Hickenlooper were neck-and-neck in their respective senate and governor victories in 2014 (48% and 49%, respectively).

Both Hickenlooper and Gardner have their base voters’ support (87% Democrat and Republican support for each). Hickenlooper’s principle advantage at this point is among self-declared independent voters who claim to support him 48 percent to 35 percent for Gardner, a 13-point advantage. The ranks of independent-type voters have always been large in Colorado, but in a recent surge, they have gained many new residents and younger voters who have been mostly voting Democratic in partisan races since 2018.

The Hickenlooper and Gardner contest compared to the other four states’ polls is near the middle. Democrats are strongest in Arizona, with popular former astronaut Mark Kelly beating incumbent Republican Martha McSally by 16 points. Biden is up 7 points. Republicans do best in Georgia where Trump is only down one point and Republican incumbent David Perdue is up 3 points. In North Carolina, the presidential race is tied at 47 percent each, but Democrat Cal Cunningham is defeating incumbent Thom Tillis by 9 points. Michigan, which Trump barely carried in 2016 to push him over the top in electoral votes, is now a bust. He’s down 10 points to Biden and the Democratic candidate incumbent Senator Gary Peters is up 14.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Trump is a Problem for Gardner, But Also a Great Benefactor

Donald Trump is losing Colorado today in the presidential race and may drag Cory Gardner down with him. But, it is also a great boon having a friend in the White House worried about Gardner’s re-election.

Much of Gardner’s campaign message will tout what he accomplished for Colorado, including passing the Great American Outdoors Act, moving BLM, securing the Space Force, etc. Gardner is also very adept at working with the Senate leadership. Very impressive record for a freshman, but is it enough?

President Donald Trump signs the H.R. 1957, “The Great American
Outdoors Act,” at the White House, Aug. 4, 2020 | Alex Brandon/AP

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Trump Searches for Silent Majority With New Ads – Unfortunately, It’s Not 1972

The Trump campaign released a couple of new advertisements in target states that have early voting. It’s part of the shift in strategy by the new campaign manager, Bill Stepien. The messaging is basically aimed at the base Trump Republican voters. The message is that Joe Biden is captive of far-left Bernie Sanders, AOC wing of the party. It shouts out: taxes, immigrants and crime.

The Silent Majority strategy is an attempt to replay the Richard Nixon 1972 campaign of running against “acid, amnesty and abortion.” The difference between the Nixon and Trump campaigns is that Nixon managed to quiet most voter concern over the COVID-19 issue of that era – the Vietnam War. Through Vietnamization, Peace with Honor and massive troop reduction from 536,000 in LBJ’s last year to 24,000 in 1972, he could then focus his campaign on social issues and label Democrats “captured by the far-left wing of the party.”

It’s the Pandemic, Stupid
Unfortunately for Stepien, Trump’s still losing by 60 percent to 30 percent the main issue on people’s minds – COVID-19. The Trump campaign is just reinforcing its narrow base, which may get it to 42 percent, but will have a struggle to even get the 46 percent of 2016, much less Hillary Clinton’s 48 percent.

Biden is Not McGovern
The second problem with Stepien, et al’s approach is that George McGovern and the 1972 Democratic Party was clearly controlled by the party’s insurgent wing. McGovern defeated establishment figures, like Ed Muskie and Hubert Humphrey, and the chaotic convention didn’t welcome big city mayors, like Richard Daley, Democratic governors or major labor unions. Biden defeated the liberal wing on Super Tuesday and they surrendered shortly thereafter. The basic Republican message is not a good fit. It’s not 1972.

Watch “Silent Majority” ad here

See Washington Times article:
Trump team’s blitz on Biden shifts to early battlegrounds

The South and West are Rushing Forward in COVID-19 Fatalities

From well back in the queue, California is now in third-place among the states in COVID-19 fatalities, jumping ahead of Massachusetts in the last week. New York and New Jersey are still the frontrunners in number of deaths, but also in managing the virus. Texas is on a tear, and in the last week, overtook Florida in reported deaths. Texas and Florida are now sixth and seventh, respectively, as the states in the Northeast and Midwest have lowered their rates of new infections and deaths.

This is clearly a difficult disease to manage and it’s putting tremendous strain on the health care system, the economy and social relationships in general. But, political leadership from Washington, down to counties and mayors, are reeling from the tension between the virus and the economy. Although there are majorities for safe, careful reopening and return to schools, there is also a strong and vocal minority resisting masks and social distancing and for a rapid return to pre-pandemic conditions.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Democrats Need Four Seats to Win the Senate – Three are in the West

Democrats need a net of four new seats to win control of the Senate and remove Mitch McConnell as majority leader – a top party goal. They assume they are going to lose the Alabama Senate seat won in 2018 in a very strange special election. They are targeting vulnerable incumbents in Maine and North Carolina. But, three possible wins exist in the Mountain West in Arizona, Colorado and Montana.

  • In Arizona, Mark Kelly is 7 points ahead of incumbent Republican Martha McSally. President Trump is losing to Joe Biden by 4 points. Trump truly needs the state and is visiting it incessantly. He carried it by 3 points in 2016. 
  • Trump is far behind in Colorado. The state received an Ivanka Trump visit, but is not targeted. He’s behind by 13 points. The senate race is closer, but Democrat John Hickenlooper is still 6 points up over Cory Gardner. Trump lost the state by 5 points in 2016. 
  • Montana is new to the list of Democratic senate targets. It is a longer-shot since Trump is ahead by 6 points and won it by 20 points. However, Democrat Governor Steve Bullock is now ahead of incumbent Steve Daines (44% R to 46% D).
If elected, the three new senators would make their state delegations all Democrat, joining with New Mexico (a very likely Democratic win replacing retiring Democrat Tom Udall) and Nevada.