Monday, April 13, 2015

LA Times: The West is “Back in Play”

Mark Barabak
Photo: LA Times
Mark Barabak, a top national reporter with the Los Angeles Times, wrote Sunday on the front page that, although Barack Obama was able to bring much of the West into the Democratic fold in his two elections, most of the states in the interior Rocky Mountains are now in play for the 2016 presidential election. He quotes a host of Colorado political players and observers:

Mike Stratton, Colorado native, longtime Democratic strategists:
“It [Obamacare] glommed onto a lot of fears people have in the West about federal intrusion,” said Mike Stratton, a native Coloradan and longtime Democratic strategist. “From there it became part of a larger narrative, about big government and the IRS and Obama supposedly coming to take away your guns.”

Paul Harstad, Colorado-based Democratic pollster, worked for Obama’s presidential campaign:
“It is the hysteria and distortions of the right-wing media and Koch brothers apparatus and Republican officeholders that have polarized and alienated some. This is the same crowd that blindly denies climate change, appeals to bias against minorities and gays, doubts Obama’s citizenship and legitimacy and often won't even affirm evolution.”

Dick Wadhams, former Colorado Republican Party chairman agreed:
“To win, he said, Republicans will have to nominate someone with greater appeal, especially among women and minorities, than John McCain or Mitt Romney, the party’s last two nominees.

‘We can win with the right kind of candidates,’ said Wadhams, who has fought within his party to expand the outreach to Latinos and other minorities and tone down some of the harsher rhetoric surrounding issues like immigration. ‘A candidate who represents the future, who can articulate a Republican agenda in a way that attracts voters and doesn’t repel them.’”

Governor Hickenlooper:
“Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who survived a tough 2014 reelection fight even as Republicans knocked off the state’s senior U.S. senator, Mark Udall, said the winner here will be the candidate who can best ‘navigate toward the middle,’ regardless of party.

‘We’re one-third Republican, one-third Democratic and one-third independent,’ he noted in an interview. ‘There’s a lot of negotiation that has to go on.’

That, Hickenlooper said, is how things work in the West.”

I was quoted saying:
“But even some defenders lay a portion of the blame on Obama and his policies, especially the enactment of sweeping healthcare legislation, which they said did more than anything to undermine his image as a less activist, more moderate style of Democrat – especially after the law’s botched rollout. Floyd Ciruli, a nonpartisan Denver pollster who has charted decades of Colorado public opinion, said Obama’s support collapsed during the fight over healthcare and, though he carried the state in his 2012 reelection campaign, never recovered.”

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