Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Will Colorado Voters See the Ben Stapleton – KKK Issue in the Gubernatorial Election?

Benjamin Stapleton | Photo: Denver Public Library,
Western History Collection. Photo by Harry Rhoads
Reporters John Aguilar and Ben Botkin in a long Denver Post article, “Family history in spotlight,” offered a balanced analysis of the problems politicians face with controversial relatives and family histories. Walker Stapleton’s great grandfather was a high-profile, five-term mayor of Denver in the 1920s to the 1940s (1923-31 and 1935-47).

During Benjamin Stapleton’s first term, the Klan was a power in Colorado and Denver. It was a populist, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-Black movement after WWI. Stapleton, a Democrat, joined and cooperated with them. But, he shook them off as their brief period of power waned. Free of their influence, he built the controversial Municipal Airport (later called Stapleton). In his second three-terms after 1935, Stapleton oversaw the creation of the Denver Civic Center, Red Rocks Amphitheater and mountain parks, the Valley Highway (I-25) and much of Denver Water’s infrastructure.

Pundits quoted in the article thought that candidate Stapleton will weather any attacks on his ancestor as irrelevant and unfair.

I suggested whatever the fairness of the attack, Stapleton should be ready and needs a response given the negative nature of current campaigns and the concentrated power of social media.

Pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli said Stapleton need not shine a light on the issue unsolicited but should have a response ready to go if the topic comes up.

“He needs to be ready to deal with this,” Ciruli said. “He needs a stock answer if it comes up again.”

Stapleton, when asked for his reaction to those who might use the legacy of his great-grandfather against him, gave the Post a short statement.

“All reasonable people understand my great-grandfather died in 1950, about 25 years before I was even born,” Stapleton said. “I am focusing on the future.”

In the end, Ciruli said, everyone on both sides of the race should remain alert to an incendiary and unpredictable issue like Klan affiliation popping up during what is expected to be the most expensive and hard-fought contest for governor ever in the state.

“Social media is just out of control today,” he said. “Both sides should be ready for it.”

No public polling of the issue has surfaced, but no doubt the campaigns have numbers. In a question of removing confederate statues (some have suggested Stapleton’s name be removed from various locations in Denver), Democrats favor it, but a majority of the public doesn’t, with most Republicans in opposition.

Friday, August 10, 2018

WSJ of Two Minds – Tuesday’s Special Election

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, Aug. 4, 2018,
 in Lewis Center, Ohio | John Minchillo/Associated Press
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page of August 9 was of two minds in its analyses of the Tuesday Ohio special election.

Karl Rove, a regular columnist, offered the Republican establishment’s take and declared good news. Troy Balderson won after rumors of a likely defeat circulated and Republicans poured resources and pressed President Trump into the fight. Rove isn’t Pollyannish. He doesn’t see a “great red wave,” but he thinks in spite of the likely losses, Republicans “have a fighting chance to keep their majority.”

The WSJ’s house editorial, “The ‘Red Wave’ Illusion,” takes a harder line on Republican prospects based on the Ohio and overall Tuesday results. It believes President Trump is more the problem than the solution. “Voters dislike Mr. Trump’s abrasive style and polarizing governance.”

They cite Republican pollster, Ed Goeas, analyses: Trump has solidly behind him about 75 percent of voters who approve of him (about 31% to 34%) and another 10-11 percent willing to tolerate him. But, that sums to 44-45 percent approval and it can’t win a general election. Another 10 percent like some of what he does, but object to the chaos and rancor (see The Buzz: “In 2018, America’s Two Parties Have a lot of Stress” and “Trump Loses a Fifth of Republicans in Handling Helsinki”). Tuesday provided more evidence of Trump as much of a liability in a general election as an asset.

Both columns cite the metrics of Charles Cook and Larry Sabato that place more than 50 Republican House seats in harm’s way. These are Republican districts that have lower Republican partisan leanings than Mr. Balderson’s Ohio seat.
  • Ohio 12th Democrats ran 6.1 points better than the districts’ partisan lean (Cook’s calculation)
  • In special House election since November 2018, Democrats have bested the partisan lean by 5.1 points (Rove)
  • Cook and Sabato rate approximately 50 at-risk House members in seats with equal or less Republican lean (Rove)
  • WSJ states 68 Republican held seats are less Republican than Ohio’s 12th, with lots of suburbs, which Democrats won two-to-one in Ohio,

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Overturning Roe v. Wade is Non-starter for Public

Judge Brett Kavanaugh | Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Abortion is a key issue in the looming Supreme Court replacement vote, and Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade by 71 percent in the latest NBC News/WSJ poll. Although it may not keep Judge Kavanaugh from 51 Republican votes and confirmation, it sends a warning to Republican congressional and senate candidates who will be campaigning in swing districts and states. Abortion is a very polarizing issue.

Kavanaugh’s own pre-confirmation favorability is weak. About a third (32%) of voters support Kavanaugh’s nomination and 26 percent oppose it, a net positive of 6 points. Similar, but lower than Neil Gorsuch’s net 12 points in 2017. Abortion is one of the issues that will help shape opinion about the new judge.

It could also produce a crisis of public opinion for the reputation of the Supreme Court, which has managed to hang onto some modicum of credibility in these polarized days. Currently, the assumption is that fidelity to “precedent” or “stare decisis” will be sufficient to buffer a judge who believes Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. And, the informed public tends to believe even a pro-life majority will continue to decide abortion cases around the margins of more allowances for restrictions or less tolerance for state support. But, a powerful hostile reaction lurks if a direct assault is made and abortion loses its constitutional protection.

Support includes: 88 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Chuck Warren – Denver Loses a Great Drummer

Denver just lost a first citizen. Chuck Warren, one of Denver’s most energetic and faithful civic leaders, was a founder and thirty-plus year veteran of The Park People and a board member, active, and emeritus of the Denver Zoo for at least that long.

As the chair of the Zoological Foundation in the mid-1980s, Chuck was a catalyst in the creation of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), the metro area’s nationally acclaimed funding for large and small cultural organizations in the seven counties – now distributing more than $60 million a year. Chuck was also instrumental in getting Northern Shores and Tropical Discovery built at the Zoo.

In working on the SCFD, he was a mixture of political pragmatism and high hopes for public support. He knew the Zoo was probably the most popular organization asking for funding and worked to keep it front and center. A polar bear is the SCFD mascot, a reflection of the popularity of the animals at Northern Shores. The SCFD name was designed to highlight the scientific nature of the organization’s leading beneficiaries – the Zoo, Nature and Science Museum and Botanic Gardens

Chuck was also an entertainer. For 60 years, he contributed to one of Denver’s silliest traditions, Twelfth Night, a type of Saturday Night Live in a very, very off-Broadway setting, at the University Club. He was the drummer, wrote lyrics and acted in the annual holiday event.

Of the many civic leaders who have contributed to Denver’s extraordinary quality of life, Chuck Warren was the most consistently nice. He never stopped drumming for Denver.

See obituary here

Denver Post – Hickenlooper Looks for Presidential Run Support

Governor John Hickenlooper has been shifting his political attention to Washington D.C. since 2016 when he competed to become Hillary Clinton’s vice president. As he closes out the last six months of his 13-year Colorado political career, the 2020 presidential election is his focus. Can he find some support among current and former fellow governors, the D.C. and New York media establishment, some of the belt way PACs and money handlers? The Democratic Party may have a need for an outlier with a strong economic track record, but is there any room in the candidate and issue space that appears dominated by the left-leaning resistance?

In a Denver Post column, I review his political strengths and weaknesses as he pursues his national ambition.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Hickenlooper Maintains Approval as He Begins Presidential Walkabout – KOA Interview

Gov. John Hickenlooper | Alex Wong/Getty Images
A new Morning Consult poll shows Governor John Hickenlooper maintains an approval rating that puts him in the top ten among fellow governors. His net approval is a positive 23 points; President Trump’s is a negative 13. Given he’s at the end of his term and governing in the age of polarization that produces more gridlock than accomplishments, Hickenlooper has done reasonably well.

In a KOA interview with Ed Greene and Marty Lenz (7-31-18), I pointed out that he begins his presidential due diligence with at least a sense of satisfaction that since 2003, at the beginning of his mayoral term, he’s finished 15 years of elected office in good order.

Although the presidential field is wide open, it is crowded with both D.C. liberal icons, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, newcomers, like Kamala Harris, and, of course, the establishment-types, like Joe Biden. Hickenlooper is low on most lists. Finding supporters, wealthy funders and interest groups interested in his pragmatic message and quirky demeanor will be a formidable task. As of today, the odds look long, but it’s early and things can change quickly. Think of 2016.

In 2018, America’s Two Parties Have a Lot of Stress

About three-quarters of American adults say they identify with one of the two main parties, but only a third say they are “strong” Democrats or Republicans. Two-thirds are either moderate or just lean toward their respective parties. Will America’s two parties survive intact the next two years? The establishments of both parties are in frequent conflict with the myriad of interest groups the parties represent.

As pointed out in a previous blog, “Trump Loses a Fifth of Republicans in Handling Helsinki,” President Trump’s Republican support is conditional. Nearly 20 percent of Republicans did not approve of his handling of the Helsinki conference. Also as the blog post described, almost two-thirds of the 82 percent of Republicans who say they approve the president offer “somewhat” or “lean” toward approval (50% strong, 32% somewhat, 3% lean toward approval).

Republican Party coalitions include the Tea Party, evangelicals, MAGA Trumpers and Never Trumpers, ethno nationalists, economic populist, national security hawks, non-interventionist, free trade and establishment Republicans. Many groups overlap, but each group could take a walk if their issue is not well-represented, and some interests are in direct conflict – isolationist vs. internationalists and economic populists vs. free traders. Currently, the most alienated groups are free trade, internationalists and the establishment (often local, state and national officeholders).

Democratic Party stress is currently between the establishment and the hyper-progressive wing, which in 2016 was encapsulated by the Hillary Clinton- Bernie Sanders duel. The argument continues as the party begins to line up its presidential contenders and sort through messages and strategies for the 2018 midterm elections.

Should it endorse single-payer health care, reverse the tax cuts and abolish ICE? Should it focus on winning back the industrial and Midwest or move on to the new South and Southwest?

Although Democrats have the advantage in 2018 due to the midterm sag in presidential party support, some advantage in the number of adherents and the passion opposing President Trump engenders both parties are struggling with unifying for the election. The rule currently being followed is to find some sort of outrage and target it. It will make for an ugly election.