Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Boehner Accelerates Retirement, But Had a Good Run

John Boehner
Speaker of the House John Boehner decided to speed up his retirement in the face of growing chaos in the House Republican caucus, but he will still have served longer than Nancy Pelosi (18th longest serving) and Newt Gingrich (19th longest serving) and be the 12th longest serving speaker out of fifty-two. Boehner nearly made it five years (1,756 days as of the end of October and his retirement) compared to Pelosi, 1,457 days or just under four years.

The longest serving speakers were in the post WWII era as Democrats maintained a near monopoly on control of the House.

1. Sam Rayburn, D, more than 17 years
2. Tip O’Neill, D, nearly 10 years
3. John McCormack, D, nearly 9 years
4. Dennis Hastert, R, nearly 8 years
7. Carl Albert, D, nearly 6 years
9. Tom Foley, D, more than 5 and a half years

In the current anti-Washington political environment, Boehner may keep the record, even if the Republicans hold the House majority for a decade or more.

Boehner is only the latest casualty of the Tea Party disruption that was first visible in the 2010 U.S. Senate primary when long-term Utah Senator Bob Bennett was beaten, Indiana’s Senator Richard Lugar was defeated in 2012 and the primary lose in 2014 of U.S. Representative Eric Cantor. It was Cantor’s loss that kept Boehner on the job for another term.

And, of course, frontrunner Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina highlight the current lack of affection for the Republican establishment in the presidential race.

The longstanding disapproval of Washington, which was featured in The Buzz on September 1 (Why an Outsider May be President), was confirmed by the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which reported 72 percent of Republican primary voters were dissatisfied with John Boehner’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ability to accomplish GOP goals.  Thirty-six percent said they wanted them removed from power. Talk show listeners, Tea Party supporters and Trump supports were the most in favor of immediate removal.

It is unlikely this internal war is going away very soon. The next speaker will face the same challenges of how to reconcile the view that winning the presidency and holding the senate requires showing the ability to govern versus the view that standing on principles regardless of the consequences; i.e., shutdowns, is the way to govern and win elections.

NBC News: Poll: 72% of GOP voters dissatisfied with Boehner, McConnell
New York Times: Boehner’s exit, the role of red states and the outlook for 2016
FiveThirtyEight: John Boehner had a good run

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Colorado Senate Race Serves as Iran Test Case

A shadowy group opposed to the Iranian agreement and Senator Michael Bennet’s decision to
Photo: Lauren Washington/Oberlin College
support it has launched an over-the-top television advertisement using the fear of nuclear conflagration as its visual theme. The TV buy is miniscule. The group mainly wants to start an online and free media buzz about the topic, Bennet and their motivations. They are likely to accomplish their goal.

There are a number of possible factors motivating the funders of this activity:
  • Keep Colorado’s senate race in the news. Republicans need Colorado to be vulnerable and potentially a pick-up if they are to hold the U.S. Senate.
  • Encourage a high-quality senate candidate into the race. George Brauchler is the top target, but there are other possibilities.
  • See if the issue can rough up Bennet’s re-election numbers and approval rating.
  • Use as a test case for possible application in other states with vulnerable Democrats.
The ad is a low tech knock-off of the 1964 “Daisy” ad that Lyndon B. Johnson used against Barry Goldwater to reinforce with nuclear drama the Democrats’ effort to paint Goldwater as trigger-happy in the midst of the Cold War and post the Cuban Missile Crises era. Ironically, it was Johnson who got the country into the Vietnam War.

The Iran nuclear agreement is likely to be one of the major issues in 2016 because foreign policy has a Republican advantage and they intend on highlighting it. The issue was a close call for Bennet (he decided late) and remains controversial with at least half the public. Although it’s not clear it will be salient in twelve months from now, it will be on the list.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Debates Matter: Fiorina Wins, Trump Stumbles

The new polls – CNN/ORC (telephone) and NBC (online SurveyMonkey) – show most Republican viewers (23 million in total) agree with the pundits: Carly Fiorina won the debate and Donald Trump was mostly on the defense. The timing and format of this debate was designed to be a problem for the high-profile frontrunner. The question format wanted to encourage critical crosstalk between the field and Trump. And indeed, he received most of the barbs.

It was also destined to be less short answers and more long policy positions. Trump is generally good at the quick retort and glib critical observations. But he’s thin on policy and credible evidence to support his often bold and sometimes bizarre statements offered as fact.

Outsiders still dominate the party’s preference, but the order is changing, with Fiorina jumping from eighth to second since the debate. She is now in second in the CNN poll and judged the overwhelming winner of the debate in both polls.

Photo: Right Speak

In a nomination race thus far dominated by polls and debates, performance counts. Fiorina and Marco Rubio had the best CNN performance and have been rewarded in the early polls.

Donald Trump remains the frontrunner, former frontrunner Jeb Bush treads water at 9 percent, and former top candidate Scott Walker, after two weak performances and collapsing polls, is gone.

CNN: Poll: Fiorina rockets to No. 2 behind Trump in GOP
NBC News: Carly Fiorina won GOP debate, but Trump still leads: NBC online survey
9News: Republican field targets Donald Trump at second debate

Friday, September 18, 2015

Chuck Hagel – Nice Guy, Wrong Fit

Chuck Hagel was this year’s Korbel School Dinner speaker and winner of the DU Global Security Award.

With Dean Chris Hill asking the questions (very few in that Hagel has a filibuster answer style), Hagel showed his Nebraska common sense and cautious approach toward foreign and defense policy
Chuck Hagel (top) and
 Dean Chris Hill (bottom)
. The Vietnam War was his touchstone and, although as a Midwestern Republican senator he backed the Iraq War in 2003, he quickly soured of it. Hagel became one of the Bush administration’s most vocal critics, opposing the surge and often citing his independent line: “I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president.”

His political evolution led him to become President Obama’s defense secretary in 2013 in about the worst possible moment for the administration and especially for a secretary that shared Obama’s emphasis on withdrawal and restraint. After his 2012 re-election, Obama slid into a rapid political decline, running through the November 2013 collapse of the Obamacare website and his approval rating (dropped to 40%), culminating in Democrats losing the Senate in November 2014.

Hagel had a historically difficult confirmation with a filibuster and polarized vote. But, the real challenge began his first day on the job. The sequester hugely reduced the military budget and he had to make the cuts.

Events in Hagel’s Tenure
  • Sequester, March 2013 – One option he reported: reduce carrier group from 11 to 8.
  • Tour of Asia, May 2013 – Said: Decline of U.S. military power “good thing.” Allies must step up. Dealing with doubt of allies.
  • Syria red line, August 2013 – Said: Ready to launch strike. President abruptly calls it off.
  • Russia Crimea, February 2014 – Assured by Russian Defense Minister Russian Army would not invade.
  • ISIL/ISIS, September 2014 – Supported start of bombing again.
  • Announcement – Would be resigning November 2014.
He faced the Syria red line, Russia in the Crimea and the rise of ISIS. Hagel was not the person to cajole Europe to support NATO nor was he interested in reintroducing war fighting capacity into Iraq. Even he knew he was the wrong fit for the moment.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Latest Polls Have Clinton in Second Place in Iowa and New Hampshire. So what?

Hillary Clinton’s awful summer is extending to an even worse fall. Each new post-Labor Day poll has more bad news. The Democrats don’t get around to a debate until October 13, and if Clinton remains on the defensive, the current polling trend is likely to continue. Bernie Sanders is now ahead in the latest polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire and closing the national gap.

Sanders is still behind Hillary Clinton by 21 points in the latest RealClearPolitics polling average and is not yet a threat to Clinton. But the trajectory of the current narrative, which is mostly of Clinton’s own creation, is undermining two fundamental assumptions supporting her candidacy. First, it was assumed she was ready for the race both tactically; i.e., an on-the-ground delegate gathering strategy, which appears good, but also emotionally that is able to connect with voters in an authentic fashion. It’s here she appears floundering with endless re-boots and scripted authentic moments.

The second assumption may be more problematic for Clinton. She was going to lead the party and its RealClearPolitics average is now down to a few points against Trump, Bush and Rubio. Ominously, Joe Biden now runs stronger against Trump and Bush.
battered congressional and gubernatorial wings to victory in 2016. While the e-mail controversy and her stumbling campaign have helped Sanders some, it has hugely damaged her competitive strength against top candidates in the Republican field. She’s now tied with Donald Trump and behind Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the latest head-to-head ballot tests. Her position in the

The Buzz: Democrats’ First Debate Generates Controversy
9News: 2015: The year of the anti-establishment candidate
9NEWS: Republican field targets Donald Trump at second debate

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

CNN Re-Ranks the Republican Field: Trump, Carson and Bush

Heading into the September 16 CNN debate, the big winner has been Donald Trump, who leads the Republican field nationally and in the three frontline states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The release on September 10 of the CNN official polling average computes from polls since the August 6 Fox News debate set the new mark for positions among the candidates and on the stage for the debate. Trump will hold the center position, with second place Ben Carson and Jeb Bush in third flanking him.

Other winners since the Fox News debate are Ben Carson, up 8 points and in second in Iowa and South Carolina; and Carly Fiorina, up 3 points and onto the main stage from the Cleveland undercard. She’s now fourth in Iowa and New Hampshire. She’s also ahead of Chris Christie, who would have been pushed off the stage, but was allowed to hang on in a CNN feel good moment.

Jeb Bush, who has sunk 3 points since early August and is now at 9.2 percent, could be overtaken by a rising Ted Cruz, who is up 2 points since August and at 7.4 percent.

Nationally, Rand Paul and John Kasich don’t make much of a splash, but Paul is moving down and Kasich is up slightly. Also, he’s in second in New Hampshire at 12 percent.

We will, no doubt, hear a lot of references to Ronald Reagan Wednesday night, but it will be good to remember the Republican debate is in a state – the nation’s largest – they haven’t won since Reagan handed off the White House to George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988. Although Democrats have been winning the California electoral vote by 60 percent in recent cycles and have won it every year since Bill Clinton’s 1992 election (six consecutive victories), Republicans won California in every presidential elections starting with Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 through 1988, except for the Barry Goldwater debacle in 1964, nine victories in total.

9News: 2015: The year of the anti-establishment candidate
CNN: Carly Fiorina will appear in top-tier CNN Reagan Library debate

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Jewish Lobbying and Colorado’s 2016 Election

President Truman, reflecting on the lobbying during the creation of State of Israel in 1948, stated: “The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionists leaders – activated by political motives and engaging in political threats – disturbed and annoyed me.”

No doubt, the Obama administration was annoyed by the heavy lobbying of various Jewish groups and individuals against his signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear agreement. But, the Israeli lobbying juggernaut, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his highly controversial March speech to Congress, suffered a significant defeat.

Needless to say, whoever becomes the Republican senate nominee in Colorado, Bennet’s Iran vote will be an issue. And while it will no doubt be in the queue of election issues, it is not clear it will be salient a year from now.

Valerie Richardson in the Colorado Statesman report quoted (9-4-15):
Denver political analyst Floyd Ciruli called the decision “a raging river that he had to cross, and I think he got across it.”
“Will he see this issue in the election? Yes. And is there some possibility that Iran will do something so egregious that a year from now — in other words, September, when we actually start to think about this — that this becomes a liability? Yes, that was part of that raging river,” Ciruli said.
“But in my opinion, the safer politics is what he did. To reduce the risk, go with what appears to be the sort of the world sentiment at the moment and certainly the Democrats’ position,” Ciruli said.
The question now becomes what’s next for the Jewish lobby, especially AIPAC, which has been seen as highly aligned with the Republican Party in this fight? After spending millions in Colorado on anti-nuclear deal advertisements, do they go on to oppose deal supporter Senator Michael Bennet’s re-election? Netanyahu and much of the Jewish lobby campaign were labeled as very partisan and Republican.

There are reasons to believe AIPAC and other groups will not be overtly in on an anti-Bennet campaign.
  • There are still many friends of Israel among Democrats in Congress and their leadership.
  • The Israeli interest failed in this fight, but there are many issues Israel wants Democratic support on. It was clear support for Israel’s military position was strengthened by many senators, especially Democrats, in this effort.
  • Individual Jewish, business and civic leaders are unlikely to pursue an anti-Bennet strategy solely on the basis of his Iran vote. They not only want his future support for Israel, but they have a host of other issues that are of importance, such as tax and trade policy.
The person who may suffer the most politically is not U.S. politicians, but the prime minister. This was a major blow to his reputation and legacy. At some point their gamble could cost Likud its majority.

The Independent: Israel lobby’s power waning after AIPAC failure to block Iran deal
The American Conservative: American Jews reject the Israel lobby, - and support the Iran deal

Denver Post: Bennet Backs Deal

Sen. Michael Bennet
Mark Matthews of the Denver Post followed Senator Michael Bennet’s late decision to back President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran for several weeks. The announcement took final shape on Friday, September 4, and included joining with Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin
to propose a legislative package to protect Israel. Cardin, a late decider like Bennet, came out against the agreement, only one of four Democratic senators.

My quote to Matthews pointed out that the legislative package and support for the agreement was both good policy in Bennet’s view, but also smart politics.
“As a good politician, (Bennet) is addressing both — what he thinks is the foreign policy component of this as well as the domestic politics,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Denver-based political analyst.
Sen. Ben Cardin
The administration won a substantial victory against a formidable opponent. When the agreement was presented to Congress in July, the agreed process for review already made it near impossible to stop. The Corker-Cardin legislation, which passed with Democratic support, was designed to allow a vote to disagree, which the president can veto. Hence, the threshold that allows the agreement to proceed is only 34 votes.

However, during much of July and August, it was unclear the President could muster 34 votes. He could only afford to lose eleven, and there were more than dozen undecided with two declared against (Schumer and Menendez).

A massive lobby effort, mostly led by Jewish-American interest, used television and other advertising in states with undecided senators. With Republican unanimous opposition, the dozen or so Democrats, including Bennet, were the target.

But ultimately, the President and his allies made the case that our allies were not going to re-negotiate the deal. They believed that was the best that could be achieved. And the alternative of no deal allowed Iran and its hard liners to proceed to nuclear weapons, likely with substantial sanction relief from the EU and others. Obama wins with 42 votes, including Bennet’s.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Washington Examiner: Colorado Hispanics Important for Republicans

David Drucker of the Washington Examiner reports in a data rich analysis about the importance of Hispanic votes in key swing states of Florida, Nevada and Colorado.

I point out the challenge for Republicans given the Donald Trump-like rhetoric that has dominated the early debates over immigration policy of the Obama administration. My view is, regardless of the attraction of Republican economic policies and potential attraction of individual candidates, over the top statements about Hispanic immigration will doom the party’s chances.
“It becomes a litmus test issue, if you’re so argumentative and visceral,” said Floyd Ciruli, a nonpartisan pollster in Denver.
Colorado Data

Hispanic registration is growing quickly, and now surpasses 10 percent of the electorate. Specifically in Colorado, Drucker points out that the Hispanic share of the vote has increased from 8 percent in 2014 to 13 percent in 2008 and 14 percent in 2012. Hispanics are projected to be 16 percent of the voting population in 2016.

President Obama won 75 percent of the vote in 2012 against Mitt Romney (won the state by 5 points) and 68 percent against John McCain in 2008 (won the state by 9 points). President Bush won the state twice, the second time with about 40 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Analyst Gary Langer’s latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the favorability of some top candidates (and VP Biden). Favorability for Donald Trump is deeply negative, balanced between negative and positive for Jeb Bush, and positive for Democrats Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

See New York Times: Republicans fear Donald Trump is hardening party’s tone on race

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Fox News Debate: The Inquisition

Each debate has the same basic elements – a moderator – questioners, candidates, questions and a time limit – but each is different and a few memorable. As the first question was launched at the top ten Republican candidates at the August 6 FOX News debate, you knew this one could be fun.
BAIER: Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand-raising questions. So we promise, this is the only one tonight: the only one. Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person.
Again, we’re looking for you to raise your hand now — raise your hand now if you won’t make that pledge tonight.
Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump to be clear, you’re standing on a Republican primary debate stage.
TRUMP: I fully understand.
The FOX News moderators, Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace wanted an informative Ashley Parker described in a New York Times piece the day before the debate, they chose to be very hard hitting.
debate and, of course, good television. As
But Fox News journalists, including the three moderators, are known for their hard-hitting questions, often putting Republicans on the spot and on the defensive. Each of the moderators can point to moments — whether in an interview with a Republican candidate or during a previous debate — when they earned plaudits for their tough questions and revealing answers.
And although the questions went after each of the candidates, perceived controversies and weaknesses, such as Carson’s inexperience; Bush’s relationship to his family and immigration views; Walker’s failure to deliver on jobs, promises, etc.; it was Trump, as the frontrunner and mostly unquestioned candidate at that point in the campaign, that faced the full brunt of the very aggressive question strategy the FOX News journalists took.

Obviously, the first question on party loyalty was a Trump question, but hits kept rolling with the misogynist question, bankruptcy, single-payer (flip-flop) and others.

Kelly and Misogyny
KELLY: Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women.
You’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”
Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Only Rosie O’Donnell.
KELLY: No, it wasn’t.
Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Thank you.
KELLY: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.
TRUMP: Yes, I’m sure it was.
KELLY: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
TRUMP: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct.
I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either. This country is in big trouble. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody.
And frankly, what I say, and oftentimes it’s fun, it’s kidding. We have a good time. What I say is what I say. And honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.
And it got better after that exchange.

WALLACE: Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals — rapists, drug dealers, across the border.
Governor Bush has called those remarks, quote, “extraordinarily ugly.”
I’d like you — you’re right next to him — tell us — talk to him directly and say how you respond to that and — and you have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share.
Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?
TRUMP: So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn’t even be talking about it.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I’ll give you 30 seconds — I’ll give you 30 seconds to answer my question, which was, what evidence do you have, specific evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border? Thirty seconds.
TRUMP: Border Patrol, I was at the border last week. Border Patrol, people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what’s happening. Because our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid.
BAIER: Gentlemen, the next series of questions deals with ObamaCare and the role of the federal government.
Mr. Trump, ObamaCare is one of the things you call a disaster.
TRUMP: A complete disaster, yes.
BAIER: Saying it needs to be repealed and replaced.
TRUMP: Correct.
BAIER: Now, 15 years ago, uncalled yourself a liberal on health care. You were for a single-payer system, a Canadian-style system.
Why were you for that then and why aren’t you for it now?
TRUMP: First of all, I’d like to just go back to one. In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq, because it was going to destabilize the Middle East. And I’m the only one on this stage that knew that and had the vision to say it. And that’s exactly what happened.
BAIER: But on ObamaCare…
TRUMP: And the Middle East became totally destabilized. So I just want to say.
As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.
What I’d like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state. I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees. And if I’m negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have like one bidder. Nobody can bid.
You know why?
Because the insurance companies are making a fortune because they have control of the politicians, of course, with the exception of the politicians on this stage.
But they have total control of the politicians. They’re making a fortune.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, you talk a lot about how you are the person on this stage to grow the economy. I want to ask you about your business record. Trump corporations — Trump corporations, casinos and hotels, have declared bankruptcy four times over the last quarter-century.
In 2011, you told Forbes Magazine this: “I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage.” But at the same time, financial experts involved in those bankruptcies say that lenders to your companies lost billions of dollars.
Question sir, with that record, why should we trust you to run the nation’s business?
TRUMP: Because I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera.
I have never gone bankrupt, by the way. I have never.
Bankruptcy Follow-up
WALLACE: Well sir, let’s just talk about the latest example…
… which is Trump Entertainment Resorts, which went bankrupt in 2009. In that case alone, lenders to your company lost over $1 billion and more than 1,100 people were laid off.
TRUMP: Well, I…
WALLACE: Is that the way that you’d run the country?
TRUMP: Let me just tell you about the lenders. First of all, these lenders aren’t babies. These are total killers. These are not the nice, sweet little people that you think, OK?
You know, I mean you’re living in a world of the make-believe, Chris, you want to know the truth.
And I had the good sense to leave Atlantic City, which by the way, Caesars just went bankrupt. Every company, Chris can tell you, every company virtually in Atlantic City went bankrupt.
Every company.
And let me just tell you. I had the good sense, and I’ve gotten a lot of credit in the financial pages, seven years ago I left Atlantic City before it totally cratered, and I made a lot of money in Atlantic City, and I’m very proud of it. I want to tell you that. Very, very proud of it.
TRUMP: And by the way, this country right now owes $19 trillion. And they need somebody like me to straighten out that mess.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, in 1999, you said you were, quote, “very pro- choice.” Even supporting partial-birth abortion. You favored an assault weapons ban as well. In 2004, you said in most cases you identified as a Democrat. Even in this campaign, your critics say you often sound more like a Democrat than a Republican, calling several of your opponents on the stage things like clowns and puppets. When did you actually become a Republican?
TRUMP: I don’t think they like me very much. I’ll tell you what. I’ve evolved on many issues over the years. And you know who else has? Is Ronald Reagan evolved on many issues.
And I am pro-life. And if you look at the question, I was in business. They asked me a question as to pro-life or choice. And I said if you let it run, that I hate the concept of abortion. I hate the concept of abortion. And then since then, I’ve very much evolved.
And what happened is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances.
And I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.
And Then the End
BAIER: Mr. Trump, closing statement, sir.
TRUMP: Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t win anymore.
We don’t beat China in trade. We don’t beat Japan, with their millions and millions of cars coming into this country, in trade. We can’t beat Mexico, at the border or in trade.
We can’t do anything right. Our military has to be strengthened. Our vets have to be taken care of. We have to end Obamacare, and we have to make our country great again, and I will do that.
Thank you.
BAIER: Gentlemen, thank you.
KELLY: It’s over!
BAIER: That’s it.
The debate was a success with record viewership (24 million), and a major increase in public awareness of candidates’ backgrounds and their performance abilities, if providing a more modest amount of information on policy. But, it was also highly controversial and probably helped Trump the most.

What approach will Jake Tapper take as he moderates the September 16 debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley?

Transcript: Read the Full Text of the Primetime Republican Debate

Friday, September 4, 2015

Movement and Winnowing Before the CNN Republican Debate

The end of August polls show consistent winnowing and some surging among the candidates invited to the September 16 Republican debate. Former first lady, Nancy Reagan, has invited sixteen candidates to the two-stage debate format. The top candidates will be picked from polls compiled by September 10. Governor Gilmore has been dropped due to having less than one percent in the polls.

Carly Fiorina will be in the primetime debate since CNN changed its decision rule on which polls to consider and will allow eleven participants, most likely keeping Chris Christie on the stage.

Along with Fiorina, who went from 1.3 percent in the July Fox News decision rule to 5 percent at the end of August in the RealClearPolitics.com average, Ben Carson is the other post Fox News debate major winner, doubling his July 5.8 percent to 13 percent now. Carson is in second place, behind Trump across the country and in Iowa and South Carolina.

Other winners since the Fox News debate were Marco Rubio (5.4% to 6.0%), Ted Cruz (5.4% to 7.0%) and John Kasich, who went from 3.2 percent to 4.0 percent nationally and is now second in New Hampshire.

Fading and Treading
Jeb Bush falls into the barely treading water category. He is mostly just surviving, waiting for others to drop out and give him an open lane. The former frontrunner has been pushed out of position by Donald Trump and his own just average performances and lack of a message (12.0% and 9.0%).

Fading, but hoping for a late surge, is Scott Walker, who has faded partially due to his underwhelming Fox News performance (10.2% to 6.0%).Also in this category are Mike Huckabee (6.6% to 4.0%) and Rand Paul (4.8% to 3.0%).

Chris Christie is also stuck in a weak third position behind Trump and all the second-place candidates (3.4% to 3.0%).

The following candidates should not crowd the debate space and get out before the new year: Graham, Jindal, Pataki, Perry and Santorum.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bennet: For or Against Iran Agreement?

Assuming the Iran agreement is now secure with 34 Democrats necessary to bloc support a veto and possibly 41, which with the filibuster rule bloc even passing a rejection, the pressure is off Bennet to save the Democrats. Now, if he was so inclined, he could vote on the basis of pure dispassionate analysis or pure political calculation (or some of each). Vote against it and protect his right flank and support his Jewish hawk friends. Vote for it, no surprise to anyone and join the Democratic Party and President.

My commentary for Valerie Richardson last week in the Colorado Statesman was inclined to see a confirming vote:
Even so, “I would be a surprised if Michael Bennet comes out against the deal,” said political analyst Floyd Ciruli. “If you look down the list of people who are undecided, many of them are what I would call foreign-policy liberals, people who believe in the president’s position, that is, negotiations to avoid war,” said Ciruli. “I’m just going to be surprised if he breaks out of that,” Ciruli added. “Now obviously, he’s getting a lot of pressure.”
“I’m going to be very, very surprised if he’s going to support overturning a veto,” Ciruli said. “And one reason why — it won’t pass. In other words, this would be a completely futile vote. The Republicans won’t get enough Democrats to overturn a veto. They won’t get it in the House at all, and, as best I can tell, the votes are getting very slim in the Senate.”
Ciruli agreed. “It’s going to be a significant issue, primarily because Republicans are going to be talking about it,” he said, suggesting that Bennet could well lose support among Jewish Democrats if he backs the deal.
“But keep in mind, who are they going to give that money to?” Ciruli said. “There are a host of issues on which they deal with the President, the Democratic Party, and Michael Bennet, and this is one of them. But people can put that aside as they go down the road here, particularly if Bennet looks strong. They also would like to be on the side of the next U.S. senator.”
“I’ll be interested in how much longer Michael Bennet is going to wait,” Ciruli said. “It’s getting toward the end here. There’s nobody much left.”

Denver Voters Face Five Major Issues in November: Predictions

The November Denver city ballot will be weighted down with significant tax, spending, land use and social agenda issues.

The pre-Labor Day political environment appears calm with little traditional or social media buzz. However, at least two of the issues have attracted some early criticism, suggesting that they may attract the bulk of attention as voting begins in October.

The three major proposals appear to have anticipated the arguments against them and as yet have no opposition. The National Western Stock Show proposal will create a major economic development stimulant in the Brighton Boulevard RINO area, which is already booming from private investments, such as Taxi and Acorn. The Stock Show price tag, which includes improvements to the Downtown Convention Center, is more than a billion dollars, but extends taxes that the Denver voter doesn’t believe they pay or that at least the Denver visitor pays the bulk of.

National Western Stock Show Transformation: Prediction – Passes 

City and County of Denver
Election Issues
November 2015
  • Transformation of the Stock Show. Significant land use changes. Improvements to Convention Center. Permanent extension of hotel and car rental tax. $778 million in bonds plus $250 million bond from State of Colorado for CSU facilities at new National Western complex.
  • Adams and Denver counties’ airport agreement to allow additional commercial use and development. $200 million in future tax revenue split between the counties.
  • TABOR override for marijuana tax revenue.
  • Initiative to allow marijuana at social venues and outdoor smoking patios.
  • Denver proposed sales tax increase to raise $10 million a year for scholarships with $1 million for overhead and administration.
Ciruli Associates 2015
An airport agreement between Adams and Denver counties that reflects compromise to allow 1,500 acres of commercial development and direct hundreds of millions of new tax revenue to the counties. The agreement, reached after tough negotiations, appears to satisfy all the parties, but Adams County voters also get to vote on it and may be less supportive.

Airport Commercial Expansion: Prediction – Passes

Denver underestimated the tax revenue from marijuana sales when it approved the tax in 2013. City needs a TABOR override to keep the revenue for city services. No controversy.

Marijuana, TABOR Override: Prediction – Passes

The city is on less secure ground on its proposed sales tax increase for college tuition grants. The proposal has been around for years, but never quite gathered sufficient support to be taken seriously. Finally, Denver City Council approved it, with four members opposed and many others claiming they were only approving the proposal to place it on the ballot without an endorsement or with reservations.

The Denver Post provided a clear and early opposition mostly based on it not being a city function in a municipal climate that has a host of higher priorities. Opposing City Council members raised issues of accountability and control (tuition increases, money for out-of-state colleges, etc.).

College Tax Funds: Prediction – Loses 

Finally, creation of legal spaces to consume marijuana in public will test voter tolerance for more marijuana commercialization. Although Denver is supposedly the nation’s capital of Millennials, the November electorate will be smaller, older and more likely to have families or have been residents for decades, not a few years. Denver residents will be deciding their interest in enhancing the city’s reputation as a marijuana capital of America. A major campaign against it was being organized, and sensing a likely loss, proponents pulled it off the ballot and will attempt to pressure Denver City government to legalize pot bars by ordinance. Had it lost as predicted, the marijuana promotion industry would have suffered a major setback in what has been a mostly hospitable run of legislation and ballot victories.

Marijuana Patios: Prediction – Loses (pulled from ballot)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Democrats’ First Debate Generates Controversy

The Democrats’ late and limited debate schedule, which was challenged by Martin O’Malley and
Martin O'Malley
Bernie Sanders when it was announced, was slammed again by O’Malley at the recent Democratic National Committee summer meeting. He made national news as he took on the Democratic establishment, especially controversial National Committee Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on their home turf. He accused them of rigging the process for Hillary Clinton.

In what was going to be a love fest with the establishment favorite and still frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, the meeting turned into a tense confrontation between O’Malley, Schultz and party bosses.

The October 13 CNN debate will be held in Las Vegas, and the small Democratic field (compared to the Republicans) highlights that space won’t limit participants, only the CNN decision rule.

Democratic polls are starting to move in Iowa and New Hampshire to the benefit of Sanders. But, Clinton still commands the national electorate. The following chart will be updated as the CNN debate gets closer.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why an Outsider may be President

The formulas that are driving the public to look to an outsider for president are seven years of belief the U.S. is overwhelmingly on the wrong track and congressional performance is woefully inadequate.

Americans have rated the country on the wrong track since President Obama’s inaugural in 2009. The rating currently stands at 29 percent “right direction” to 63 percent “wrong track,” or a 34 percent negative spread.

Congressional approval is now a 60 percent negative, with 15 percent approving congressional job performance and 75 percent disapproval. Again, the last time congressional performance only slightly improved was in early 2009 and then it was only 15 points negative.