Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hickenlooper and Duran – Colorado Democratic Headliners

John Hickenlooper
Governor John Hickenlooper and House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran have speaking positions at the Philadelphia Convention and as such are being recognized as Colorado’s top Democrats.

Hickenlooper’s clearly ready to move on. Reports out of D.C. make clear he lobbied for consideration as VP and more realistically to be recognized as a national player in what could be a new Democratic administration. He has a prime speaking slot on Thursday night.

Crisanta Duran
Duran is on the way up in Colorado if Democrats hold the State House (very likely). She will become the Speaker, a powerful role with significant visibility. She could jump into a statewide primary in three years or run for Denver Congresswoman DeGette’s seat should DeGette decide a couple of decades of service is enough.

Speaking in Philadelphia should contribute to both Hickenlooper’s and Duran’s next career moves.

Hillary Clinton’s old friend and long-time DNC member, Wellington Webb, also got a little early facetime Monday. Webb backed Clinton in 2008 against President Obama based on his relationship with the Clintons since the 1980s and throughout President Bill Clinton’s presidency.

See DNC speaker’s list here

Monday, July 25, 2016

Tipton vs. Schwartz

Gail Schwartz and Scott Tipton
Scott Tipton wasn’t supposed to have a tough race in 2016. He won a couple of strong re-elections in 2012 (Obama year) and 2014 and he has money in the bank ($980,000). But, here he is in an expected battle with a well-funded and nationally supported Democrat former State Senator, Gail Schwartz. What happened?

Gail Schwartz is a highly motivated Western Slope politician, who often receives encouragement to run for office from Democratic-leaning supporters, and she has long indicated a personal interest in another job. But, it was Donald Trump and the possibility of a Republican disaster that caught the eye of the Washington D.C. Democratic power structure and ramped up the pressure and financial incentives to encourage her to run.

But as good as Schwartz is in a campaign, she will need a wave-type of year to defeat Tipton.

As I said to Mark Matthews (Denver Post, 7-14-16):
Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado political analyst, said Schwartz’s strong fundraising quarter sends a signal to Democratic donors that “this is a race to put money into.”
But he added that the GOP edge in the district, coupled with Tipton’s incumbency, means that to win she still would likely need a wave year for Democrats.
“It’s the kind of seat that could be won in a year where there is a 30 to 40 seat sweep,” Ciruli said.
Hillary Clinton is ahead in Colorado. But, her numbers are only in the mid-40 percent range (See Ciruli’s forecast here) and the national generic congressional ballot test numbers only give Democrats a 2 percent advantage. But, it’s early, and Clinton is ahead of Trump by 8 points at the start of the conventions.

Bennet Leads Clinton in Colorado by 7 Points

The rule has been that so goes the presidential race, so goes down ballot, and for the Democrats, although Hillary Clinton is ahead of Donald Trump by 8 points in Colorado, she is only attracting 44 percent of the electorate (see July 19, NBC/WSJ Claims Clinton Up 8 Points in Colorado). Her advantage is mostly a reflection of how poorly Trump is doing (36%). But Michael Bennet is currently 7 points above Hillary Clinton. He is averaging 51 percent against his Republican rival, Darryl Glenn (see July 19, Darryl Glenn Wins Convention Spot, But Losing in Race Against Michael Bennet). Both Trump and Glenn are only capturing a third of the electorate. For all the talk about down ballot Republicans trying to disengage from Trump, Bennet has disengaged from Clinton. Many factors explain the differences in those numbers, but one observation stands out, not only may Clinton’s weak election percentage not hurt Bennet, it is conceivable he could help her.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Colorado is No Longer a Battleground State

In 2016, Colorado will not be a battleground state. Nominee Donald Trump has shifted his attention to the Midwest, the Rust Belt and Northeast (early targets: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin) appealing to working and middle class White voters.

Colorado moved out of battleground status for several reasons.
  • Due to the last two presidential races, Colorado became a presumed “lean Democratic” state. The latest polls confirm the presumption with Hillary Clinton up 8 points and Senator Michael Bennet ahead 18 (see NBC/WSJ Claims Clinton Up 8 Points in Colorado and Darryl Glenn Wins Convention Spot, But Losing in Race With Michael Bennet ).
  • Colorado is not a blue collar, depressed manufacturing state. Its growing Hispanic and Millennial population makes it a much more diverse and likely to vote Democratic.
  • The Colorado Republican Party is not Trump friendly. Ted Cruz dominated the Republican base in the state (he won the nomination ballot, got his Senate candidates nominated with a third of vote). At the just completed Republican Convention, it was the Colorado delegation that was the most obstreperous.
The implications of this shift are not good for Colorado Republicans, local TV stations and people who would like to see Donald Trump between now and the election.

Is Darryl Glenn Headed for Historic Loss?

There have only been four U.S. Senate re-elections in Colorado since 1980, and in two of them incumbents crushed their opponents (near 30-point margins). Republican Bill Armstrong beat Nancy Dick by 29 points in the 1984 Reagan landslide and Ben Nighthorse Campbell crushed Democrat Dottie Lamm by 27 points in his 1998 re-election.

Darryl Glenn
Photo: 9News
Early polls showing Republican nominee Darryl Glenn losing to one-term incumbent Michael Bennet by an average of 15 points and Bennet’s advantage of cash on hand of $6 million to Glenn’s less than $100,000 suggests a rout. Add to that, Donald Trump, who is running 8 points behind Hillary Clinton in Colorado, is unlikely to help. Glenn appears alone and in deep trouble.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Law and Order – Difficult Issue for Clinton

Even before Dallas and Baton Rouge, the police were the second highest rated institution in the U.S. by the annual Gallup’s “confidence in institution” survey, behind the military and ahead of the church or organized religion. A massive surge in sympathy can be expected. But public opinion about police is racially polarized and, hence, a problem for Hillary Clinton.

Gallup Poll reports:

  • Black confidence in police was 30% in 2015 when all adults registered 53% confidence.
  • Concern about crime and violence up to record levels among all groups (Whites 46%, non-Whites 68%; overall 53% up from 39% in 2014).
The Black Lives Matter movement has inserted itself strongly into the Democratic Party during the primary process. Clinton desperately needs African American turnout to carry a number of swing states and has joined in the general heightened rhetoric of racial injustice, especially within the criminal justice system, including the police. But, she also faces an electorate concerned about law and disorder.

Bill Clinton faced some of the same pressures during his 1992 election and first years in office, but was able to extricate himself both rhetorically with the Sister Soulja Moment and strong support for the death penalty during the campaign, and substantially with criminal justice sentencing increases and funding for police in his first term.

However, the 2016 Democratic platform repudiates most of his initiatives and advocates abolishing the death penalty, criticizes so-called “mass incarceration” and specifically references the Black Lives Matter movement in its language.

Donald Trump, recognizing the advantage, has become the law and order candidate. In fact, his entire candidacy has been propelled by law and order, first focused on the southern border, then in November 2015 aimed at Muslim immigrants, and now at support for the police. He owns this issue and it’s a winner for him within the Republican Party.

But it’s not clear law and order will move the broader electorate. So far, polls indicate Clinton is preferred on race issues. America is clearly more liberal on various criminal justice issues today (death penalty for example) and more non-White than 1968 when law and order was so much part of the presidential campaign. And in terms of 1968, the disruption today, while serious, seems less widespread. But the direction of the current trend of high-profile incidents of violence is ominous for Democrats.

See Washington Times: Democrat-funded protests backfire as officer killings boost support for police

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Clinton’s National Polling Lead Tightens as Republicans Pick Their Nominee

Hillary Clinton’s polling lead that had begun after her California victory has narrowed in several polls under the weight of the e-mail scandal and a good pre-Republican Convention week for Donald Trump. Polls tightened post FBI Director Comey’s criticism of Clinton’s e-mail practices as “extremely caress” and Trump’s weeklong road trips and interviews with perspective VP candidates that generated a steady stream of mostly positive stories.

Other actions that may have affected pre-convention opinion was the Dallas police ambush of July 7 and activities of the Black Lives Matter movement. The period also contained Justice Ginsberg’s widely criticized outburst against Trump and her apology.

Polling averages show Clinton’s advantage ranges from up to 7 percentage points, to within the margin of error, to the New York Times reporting the race as tied.

The Huffington Post’s current average for Clinton is 2.8 percentage points and 2.7 for RealClearPolitics.

In spite of all of Clinton’s troubles and Trump’s good week, she continues to hold a modest advantage as Republicans pick their nominee.

See The Buzz: Pre-Convention Polls Show Clinton Ahead

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ciruli Predicts Pence on 9News

Asked last Tuesday on 9News Morning Show, the week before the Republican Convention, on whom Donald Trump would select before the weekend as his vice president, I picked Governor Mike Pence.

The choice appeared to be primarily between Pence, Governor Chris Christie and former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

My criteria was as follows:
  • Trump and the convention’s primary task is to unify the party with a strong offering to fiscal and social conservatives and a vice presidential nominee the D.C. establishment at least knows as reliable. Pence was the only candidate that met the criteria. He’s a Tea Party stalwart, evangelical 12-term House member and current governor. He is someone Senator Cory Gardner, who hasn’t got on the Trump bandwagon, could endorse. In fact, Speaker Tim Ryan considers him a friend.
  • The second criterion was contrast. As Gingrich said, picking him would be adding another pirate to the ticket. So would Christie. Trump handles the unpredictability and unconventionalism well enough. Who needs two firebrands?
All vice presidents have some risks, as Sarah Palin demonstrated, and one unknown on Pence is the selection’s impact of Trump’s image as the outsider. The Pence choice is clearly a D.C.-type calculation. I suspect the impact with Trump supporters is negligible.

Democrats wasted no time going on the attack with an email from Hillary Clinton’s Chairman, John Podesta, as to how extreme Mike Pence is:
“Pence is the most extreme pick in a generation and was one of the earliest advocates for the Tea Party. He was the first of GOP leadership to join Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus.”
Democrats probably think he was a good choice too.

Mike Pence, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich

Darryl Glenn Wins Convention Spot, But Losing in Race With Michael Bennet

In the latest Colorado statewide polling, Darryl Glenn is losing to incumbent Senator Michael Bennet by an average of 15 percentage points.

In the NBC/WSJ/Marist poll (July 5-10), Bennet has a 53 percent to 38 percent lead over Glenn (15 points), the same as in the recent Fox News poll (July 9-12).

Glenn was given a Monday night speaking slot at the Republican National Convention. He is being treated the same as most party senate candidates; that is, offered speaking slots to help with visibility. The speech may be seen by only a few Colorado voters, but it does give him an opportunity for some high-profile networking.

The convention is a huge moving encounter of donors, Super PAC executives and political consultants who can direct millions of dollars toward a candidate. In fact, it was a Washington D.C. conservative Super PAC that pumped hundreds of thousands into Glenn’s campaign at the end and helped him win the five-person primary race. And, he needs new money. Along with the polls, Glenn is behind more than 10-to-1 in fundraising with Bennet, who has $6 million cash on hand for the campaign.

NBC/WSJ Claims Clinton Up 8 Points in Colorado

Another Colorado poll has weighed in, confirming Hillary Clinton’s statewide lead in a head-to-head with Donald Trump. Joining four recent Colorado polls, she has an eight point lead, giving her frontrunner status. The NBC/WSJ/Marist poll was conducted with 779 voters post the Comey e-mail decision on July 5, 2016.

When Gary Johnson, libertarian, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are offered in a question, 13 percent of voters select Johnson and 4 percent Stein, reducing both main party candidates, but maintaining the spread (8 points 2-party split/6 points with 4 candidates).

The Buzz’s Colorado forecast has Clinton up by 8 percent. Colorado’s 9 electorates at the start of the two national conventions appear to lean Democratic.

A couple of factors appear to be helping Clinton in Colorado in spite of national polls showing the race neck-to-neck.
  • Clinton’s campaign has been organized for months. She has TV up. The Hispanic community is busy registering to vote.
  • The Republican Party is still divided post primary, with anti-Trump forces in control. Trump himself has been antagonistic to the local party and, in fact, used it as a foil in his primary campaign.
Of course, Colorado could be slipping to the left as many national pundits suggest based on shifting demographics and voting behavior during the last decade. But whatever the source of the current polling spread, it is the states and their polls that are far more important than the national polls in deciding who wins the presidency.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Convention Bounce – They Want Unity

The most important series of polls will begin on August 1. They will measure the Republican and Democratic parties’ respective convention bounces and mark the official start of the 2016 campaign.

Possibly the most important goal of both parties from their conventions is unity. Can Donald Trump show himself as a party healer and leader while still maintaining his unpredictability and political incorrectness? Does Bernie Sanders’s endorsement and gives on the platform help Hillary Clinton attract the activist left and Sanders’s Millennials?
The Colorado Convention Center

Both candidates face a challenge in reaching the typical 90 percent support received from respective partisans near the end of campaigning. In a recent NBC Colorado poll, Trump had 79 percent support from fellow Republicans. Clinton’s numbers in a host of polls are in the low-to mid-eighties.

The current advantage Clinton has in polling (4% in RealClearPolitics average) is largely a product of her intraparty support, which is stronger than his. Results vary by polls, but generally Clinton is 5 points or more stronger among Democrats than Trump is among Republicans. For example, in the latest Fox Colorado poll, 81 percent of Democrats were voting for Clinton, but only 75 percent of Republicans support Trump.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Early Colorado Polls – Clinton Up

National and state polls are coming in a flurry. After no public polling in Colorado since November, which showed Donald Trump ahead by 11 points of Hillary Clinton (Nov. 15 Quinnipiac), four new polls have appeared in the last two weeks, and two were published Wednesday.

Clinton is ahead in all of them, and substantially in the most recent polls from Fox and Monmouth.

While Clinton is surging in Colorado, her national polls have tightened and she and Trump are neck-to-neck in a number of battleground states. His lack of organization and advertising in Colorado means that making up ground here will be mostly dependent on his progress nationally.

Several organizations are now starting to publish forecasts of polling averages using difference approaches, and Clinton is ahead in them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hancock on Target; Affordable Housing Top Concern of Denver Voters

Mayor Hancock
Mayor Michael Hancock was correct to focus on affordable housing in his latest State of the City address. In a recent Ciruli Associates poll, Denver voters said affordable housing was their top concern when asked: “What do you believe is the most important issue for the Mayor and the Denver City Council to deal with?”

Tied for second as “an important issue” for local government was homelessness and too much growth, with traffic congestion in third.

The Mayor was correct to emphasize programs related to homelessness and avoid touting the city growth encouraging projects. The public likes a good economy, but is amazed by the development and congestion.

See my blogs:
Denver and Chicago – Many differences in direction of city and crime issues
Denver metro counties are moving in right direction voters say
Denver growth on a tear
Population up, economy down

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Colorado Loses Two Exceptional Leaders

Bill Armstrong

Much has been written of Bill Armstrong’s contributions to the Colorado Republican Party and to the Colorado Christian University. But he was also a major influence in Washington D.C. during the late 1970s and the Reagan Era.
Bill Armstrong

In 1972, he was elected to Congress from the new Colorado Springs-centered congressional district (5th) and represented it until he defeated Democratic Senator Floyd Haskell in 1978. I worked for U.S. Congressman Frank Evans, his Democratic neighbor to the south (Pueblo and the 3rd district), after graduating from the Georgetown Law School. Armstrong worked closely with Evans on Colorado-based issues, such as funding and authorizing water projects.

But while Armstrong worked in the historic fashion of representing a small state that both benefits from, but also is intruded upon by the U.S. government, his most high-profile leadership was on a balanced budget, entitlement reform and the spiraling federal deficit. Indexing federal tax rates was his most prominent legislative accomplishment. Often, it was Armstrong who took on presidents Carter and Reagan and the D.C. establishment as a deficit hawk.

He preceded and shaped the Reagan Revolution and was one of the political leaders who brought a deep sense of religious values to the party. Armstrong also mentored most of the top Republican leadership in the state for nearly 50 years.

I had the privilege of joining with his former top staffer, Dick Wadhams, and Hank Brown and others in a tribute video recently shown at the Western Conservative Summit. Times change, and not always for the better. Some aspects of Armstrong’s legacy are less visible today. There is little discussion of deficits in the current presidential or congressional races, and his willingness to work with the other party is out of fashion. But Armstrong was his own man with a vision and determination.

Howard Gelt
Howard Gelt

Former Democratic Party chairman, top fundraiser and Colorado economic development advocate Howard Gelt passed away this weekend.

Howard had a positive outlook and a generous spirit. He was dedicated to using the political system to make things better. A major passion was transportation and transit, and much of RTD’s success in recent years was shepherd by Howard. My sympathies to his family, especially Susan, Ben and Anna.

Denver Post: Gelt made state “a better place” Howard Gelt: An unsung force
Denver Post: Western Conservative Summit pays tribute to Bill Armstrong
Colorado Christian University: In Memoriam: Bill Armstrong
Sign the Bill Armstrong CCU online message book here

Monday, July 11, 2016

California Finally Counts its Primary Votes

After a full month of counting provisional and late ballots, California finally finished their June 7 primary vote count. Hillary Clinton won by nearly 8 percent (7.7%), or more than 360,000 votes.

Sanders’s supporters held out that the late count would reverse the result and let them eke out a victory.

The result was well below election night’s early counts, but above the final polls, which claimed the race was within a few points (see blog: Late Polls Miss California’s Primary Results).

Friday, July 8, 2016

Record-Level Unfavorability Ratings Helping Third-Party Candidates

Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s record-high unfavorability ratings are helping third-party candidates: former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. In polls that offer them as an alternatives, they are receiving an average 10 percent of the vote. Trump tends to lose about 4 points to the third-party candidates and Clinton 5 points.

Pre-Convention Polls Show Clinton Ahead

July 5 will be a critical day in the 2016 presidential election with the FBI Director Comey’s decision of no criminal charges for Hillary Clinton. Up to that point, she has held a modest, but consistent lead over Donald Trump since mid-June and the California primary week.

Given the slow start of the Trump campaign (organization and fundraising) and the continued divisions among establishment leaders and core conservatives with the Trump forces, the bigger question might be why Clinton is not an average 10 points ahead?

The answer is her high unfavorability, which will be enhanced by the FBI’s scathing criticism of her behavior, even if no charges.

Trump also benefits from the American version of the Brexit effect. There is a powerful and substantial bloc of voters that want change and inexorably oppose the Washington establishment of which Clinton is the leading representative of.

See The Buzz: Regret Election – Annoyed

Regret Election – Annoyed

The “regret election” is still with us (see blog of March 22). A “regret election” has voters choosing between not who they like the most, but who they have the least regret voting for. A comparison of the polling averages for Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s favorability ratings at mid-March with early July shows little movement from their high negative-to-positive ratios. Although they both have much higher negative than positive ratings, Clinton’s advantage is that she is viewed somewhat less unfavorably than Donald Trump.

She currently has a negative 15 percentage point difference between positive-to-negative and he has a negative 24 percent difference.

The latest USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds 61 percent of voters “alarmed” by the election. In the poll, Clinton’s unfavorable rating is 53 percent and Trump is 60 percent – an “alarming” choice for voters. It is, no doubt, helping to promote higher support for third-party candidates. Clinton is four points ahead of Trump, with 11 points going to third-party candidates, Gary Johnson (8% Libertarian) and Jill Stein (3% Green).

Also, polls from Gallup the last week confirm:
When asked what word or phrase comes to mine when thinking about Clinton or Trump, why they are poorly thought of by many is explained. For Clinton, although some people like her experience and competence, many more question her honesty and use terms, such as: “don’t trust her,” “dishonest,” “unethical,” “criminal” and “corrupt.” In terms of Trump, his positives, such as “strong leader,” “businessman” and “will turn things around” are more than weighed down by references to his being an “idiot,” “joke,” “an embarrassment,” his temperament “reckless,” “dangerous,” and “scary,” and his views “racist,” “bigoted,” “a hater” and “anti-women.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Denver has 7th Most Household Relocation in Country

A new study of net immigration shows Denver, Colorado, the 7th top growth county in the country. Basically, people are moving to Texas and a handful of counties with major cities in the West: the Texan cities Austin, Houston and Dallas, then Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle and finally Cape Coral, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

California produces the losers – Los Angeles and Orange County, but New York City dominates. Also, people are relocating out of Chicago and Miami.

July 2016
Also see blog: Denver Growth on a Tear

Denver Metro Counties are Moving in Right Direction Voters Say

Voters in the seven counties believe their respective county is going in the right direction. An overwhelming 62 percent of metro voters believe “things are generally going in the right direction” in their county. That is in sharp contrast to only 25 percent of voters nationally who believe their county is on the right track.

Also see blog: Denver Growth on a Tear

Friday, July 1, 2016

Glenn Wins Primary, But Can he Scale Up to the General Election?

Darryl Glenn, a little known El Paso County Commissioner, just won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Colorado, with about 130,000 votes in a five-person field in a low turnout primary (38% of 350,000 votes). Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin endorsements joined a late contribution from a conservative Washington D.C. Super PAC to help him reach $500,000 in contributions.

Darryl Glenn & Michael Bennet
But by Labor Day, Glenn will need to scale up his volunteer grassroots campaign to attract millions in campaign contributions and communicate with more than three million voters.

In an interview with Dan Frosch for the Wall Street Journal:
Floyd Ciruli, a longtime independent pollster in Colorado, said the race against Mr. Bennet could well be a close one.
“To the extent that a huge proportion of this re-election is going to be a reflection of the anti-establishment tone of the presidential race, there are early indications that the race will be competitive in Colorado,” he said.
Still, Mr. Ciruli said, Mr. Bennet was well-positioned to defend his seat, noting that Mr. Glenn would have to tack to the center and scale up a bare-bones campaign that had so far focused only on a narrow portion of Colorado’s electorate.

Western Conservative Summit Test for Trump

The 4,000 strong Western Conservative Summit is a test for Donald Trump’s ability to appeal to conservative activists and rank and file before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland starting on July 18.
Donald Trump and Sarah Palin

Valerie Richardson in the Washington Times (6-30-16) writes:
“This is clearly a test case for Trump, a sort of warm-up for Cleveland,” said Denver-based political analyst Floyd Ciruli. “If he can’t walk out of the Western Conservative Summit, in my view, with a good welcome and a reasonable degree of unity, then I think it bodes very, very poorly for about three weeks from now.”
She points out:
  • Trump backers, Sarah Palin and Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, will be joined by Trump opponents, Senator Ben Sasse and blogger Erick Erickson.
  • Colorado was an overwhelming Ted Cruz state with no delegates for Trump in a caucus process, which he criticized unmercifully.
  • But, if there is a unifying theme, it’s dislike for Hillary Clinton. A recent poll claims Colorado is in play with her ahead by only one point.

Glenn Wins Low Turnout Primary; Thirty-Eight Percent Enough in Fractured Field

Darryl Glenn wins the Republican primary on basis of his spectacular State Convention win, powerful endorsements in the last couple weeks of the campaign:

Ted Cruz – Texas Senator
Ben Sasse – Nebraska Senator
Mike Lee – Utah Senator
Sarah Palin – former VP
Erick Erickson – blogger
Mark Levin – radio host
James Dobson – Focus on the Family founder
Freedom Works – Tea Party group

And, an infusion of late contributions led by the Senate Conservative Fund, Washington D.C. conservative (non-Trump) Super PAC.

As I said to Alexis Levinson in the National Review:
The run of endorsements has allowed Glenn to carve out a niche as the conservative in the race. Publicly, he has taken stances reminiscent of Cruz: He promised he would not work across the aisle with Democrats, and said he would vote against Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader. He described himself as an “unapologetic Christian constitutional conservative” in his convention speech. “That is still a very powerful candidate in a low-turnout Republican primary,” says Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli.
See Colorado Secretary of State 2016 primary ballot return bulletin here