Friday, November 17, 2017

The National Dashboard – Trump and Republicans in Trouble

The November 8 election results, when combined with exit polling, confirm that the President’s tone and language have become a liability that Democrats are exploiting. Trump’s presence so dominates current politics, Republicans can’t separate from him, and if they try, anger his base. Twelve months is a long time, but the Virginia governor’s race, in particular, highlighted that the historic metrics used to predict elections have not been suspended in the Trump era.

Trump is treating his approval rating like a reality show rating. Thirty percent of the cable TV market is high, but in a two-party political environment, it’s doom, which is what happened on Tuesday night.

One year ago, Trump won the presidency with 46 percent of the vote. He began his administration with 44 percent approval on January 20, 2017. Today, he is regularly in the mid-thirty percent range. Trump’s strategy of playing his base everyday has contracted his support. And even some of those voters are losing interest. He either changes strategy or takes the party into minority status 12 months from now.

The Dashboard we maintain to track the major indicators are all flashing red warnings for the President and Republicans.

Presidential Approval. His approval rating is at a record-low at 38 percent. Approval is the most potent metric, especial when the president is high profile with specific vulnerables – Trump by definition.

Congress. Congressional approval is also at historic lows – 14 percent, and when combined with a generic ballot indicator of metrics, 7 percent. The sense in 2018, as of today, looks like s worse election.

DOW. The President likes to cite the record-level DOW. It is his best number, but stock indexes can become volatile. The public is also capable of ignoring it when they see behavior or results (or a lack of) they don’t like.

House. The Democrats need 24 seats to take the House and put Nancy Pelosi in charge, including of investigations.

Senate. Democrats need three seats and have to hold ten that are vulnerable. It was not thought likely they could do both, but if Steve Bannon really wants to damage the party by attacks against incumbents, anything is possible.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Great Dictator

President Trump is impressed with his friend President Xi’s recent coronation as paramount leader of China.

Indeed, Xi has exceeded all the leaders of Communist China except Mao. He is today the most powerful authoritarian ruler in the world, both because of his consolidation of power in China and because of the country’s dynamic economy. But Xi’s standing is even greater due to his vision, which he is implementing through a newly empowered and invigorated Communist Party.

As Xi made plain in his 3.5 hour speech to the Party Congress, he intends on the nation to be a great modern “socialist” state in the center of world affairs and dominate in its own near territory (i.e., the waters, islands and neighbors in the Far East).

Trump’s goals of dealing with the North Korean threat and trade imbalances are worthwhile tactics, but his nationalism and isolationism makes it near impossible for America to lead on alliances and multi-lateral trade that is necessary to counter China and establish America’s strategy in the Far East.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Growth is Becoming an Issue for 2018 Politics

Not since the battle over growth controls early in this century has the topic of growth and how to discipline it been more on Coloradan’s minds. A growth control initiative was placed on the ballot in 2000 that initially polled with majority support. It was defeated by a massive campaign by the business and political establishments. The topic shifted to the state legislature until the dot-com bust of 2001 cooled the economy and Colorado’s high influx of new residents.

But the state has been on a growth tear for the last decade, with a population surge that is affecting traffic, roads and quality of life. The latest population projections show a state with more than 8 million people, up from 5 million by 2050. A significant amount of that growth is on the Front Range, from El Paso County and Colorado Springs north to the Wyoming border. Colorado Springs will become the state’s largest city and opens lands in Adams, Larimer and Weld will fill in.

Numerous Front Range local governments are trying to deal with the issue. Using zoning to slow down development are frequent and volatile topics in many metro cities, including Denver, Littleton and Lakewood. Denver’s billion dollar bond initiative and Colorado Springs water fee increase reflect the stress on urban taxpayers to maintain quality of life and public safety. The anti-fracking movement is a symptom of the rapid Northern Front Range suburban and small town growth colliding with the oil and gas extraction industry.

Addressing a near doubling of Colorado’s population during the next 30 years will be a topic in 2018 and well beyond. The issue will be highly visible in the governor’s race and especially in the Democratic Party primary.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Colorado Politics – The Year of the Independent

Colorado’s million plus unaffiliated voters can become a major factor in the June party primaries for the first time in history. Candidates in both parties have motivation to take advantage of the new law that gets every unaffiliated a primary ballot.

The just completed elections, especially in Virginia, rewarded the candidates who ran a campaign against the strident tone and political gridlock of Washington D.C. Colorado’s independent voters have anti-establishment elements and in general believe both parties are bankrupt. Beside the primaries, they may become the force for independent-type candidates in next November’s general election. The following column was published in the state’s leading political website, Colorado Politics:

The year of the independent

America’s two major political parties are under assault. The 2016 election was a shock for both party’s establishments, and they haven’t recovered. The divisions highlighted in the 2016 primaries are now becoming exacerbated by insurgent groups wanting to take complete control.

As the parties spend time and resources on their internal wars, this may be the year for independent voters and candidates to make a difference. Colorado’s gubernatorial race will be a good test case. The largest partisan bloc in the state is independents and it’s growing. But historically, participation by independents has been low. As unaffiliated voters, they’ve been mostly thought of as an add-on after the parties’ respective partisan bases have been motivated. But several factors suggest 2018 could be different. Read more…


Monday, November 13, 2017

Colorado’s Off-Year Election

Slightly more than a third of the electorate took the time to return their ballots, with half the votes coming in the last weekend and Election Day (3.2 million mailed, 1.2 million returned 11-9-17, 38%). Most of the major decisions were old battles or proposals that voters have seen before.

Denver. Denver voters continue to support investing in the city’s infrastructure. They approved a billion dollars in bonds for transportation, public safety and anchor institutions, such as libraries, hospitals and cultural facilities. The passage helps secure Mayor Michael Hancock’s political control over the city and his run-up for a third term. Growth, density and traffic are residents’ major complaints, and Hancock hopes the bond initiative’s transportation funding will address the issue sufficiently. Liberal voters did defy considerable civic opposition and approved the Green Roof initiative with a narrow win. A four-to-one Democratic over Republican ballot return was too much ideology over pragmatism.

Schools. Organized labor’s biannual effort to control school districts had more success in 2018. The pro-labor, anti-choice slate swept the Douglas County School District, retained their incumbents in Jefferson County and picked up two seats on Denver’s seven-person board. Tuesday night may signal the rise of the Colorado teachers union with their national affiliates targeting the state Democratic primary next June and the general election. The union would like a friendly governor and state legislature.

Fracking. The anti-fracking forces continue to win local battles, but lose to the courts and state regulators. The hydrocarbon industry has spent plentifully to fight what they consider misinformation from the anti-fracking advocates. Their audience is voters and especially opinion leaders. But Broomfield voters passed an anti-fracking measure in spite of the industry spending more than $300,000 against it. Expect the issue to morph into the 2018 Democratic primary for governor and Northern Colorado legislative and local elected officials.

Winners and Losers

Colorado’s election results portent much for the 2018 midterms and especially the governor’s race:
  • Voters signaling yes on infrastructure
  • Teachers union wins (Does is help Kennedy? Problem for Polis, Johnston?)
  • Brakes on school choice, performance pay, testing
  • Anti-fracking activists win (Bother Polis?)
  • Oil and gas on defensive, but in the battle
  • End of Hickenlooper era (school unions, anti-frackers?)
  • Democrats recharged from national and local wins (Could they win governor and both houses?)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Coffman Shakes Up the Governor’s Race – KOA, Taylor Summers

Three years ago, Cynthia Coffman won more votes statewide than any other candidate, including Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Cory Gardner. Coffman’s entrance into the fragmented Republican gubernatorial primary highlights that there is no one candidate who has a clear path to the nomination and who would be a credible candidate for the general election.

Early frontrunner Tom Tancredo has a substantial base, but a low ceiling. His entrance into the race damages District Attorney George Brauchler, who hoped to be a conservative frontrunner (Brauchler may drop out and run for attorney general). State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has some name identity and considerable access to money. But it’s hard to believe a Bush family member can win a Republican primary in 2018. While President Trump may not be an asset in a general election, his impact on the party in primaries remains potent. Coffman and Stapleton will directly compete.

By early next year, if Coffman is ready for the race, both in terms of her personal presence and a well-formed campaign, especially with potential financing, she could quickly become the person to beat.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Feb. 24, 2017 |
Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Natalie Meyer – An Exceptional Secretary of State

Wayne Williams just honored Natalie Meyer an exceptional Secretary of State. She always maintained a professional and fair-minded approach, serving throughout the Reagan years while Democrats Dick Lamm and Roy Romer were governors.

Her test for professionalism was having to deal with Douglas Bruce as he began his multi-year effort to pass the TABOR Amendment (finally made it in 1992). Bruce was a template for the abrasive protagonist, but Meyer maintained her decorum.

Congratulations on the NASS Medallion Award.

Three Colorado secretaries of state: Wayne Williams (C)
and Donetta Davidson (R) honor Natalie Meyer (L)
with NASS Medallion Award, Nov. 6, 2017 | Colorado SOS
Read SOS news release here

Monday, November 6, 2017

November 7 Election: Low Turnout, Usual Patterns

Out of 3.4 million Colorado voters, as of Friday before the November 7 off-year election, only one in five Coloradans, or 612,000, have returned ballots. But the usual patterns are holding.
  • More women are voting than men – 321,000 (52%) to 288,000 (48%) {data rounded to nearest thousand)
  • Republicans are out polling Democrats and both are beating the lagging unaffiliated voters, even though that’s the opposite pattern of current registration percentages. (There are 10,000 more Democrats registered than Republicans.) 
  • As expected, voters 40 years old and younger – mostly Millennials, are the smallest voting bloc (14%) and older voters (61 and above) are the largest group (55%).
  • Denver, with the most registered voters in the state (403,000), lags behind (54,000 votes cast) a host of smaller, but better performing counties, including Douglas (55,000), El Paso (84,000) and Jefferson (68,000).

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tom Tancredo Runs for Governor – KOA Interview

Tom Tancredo announced a run for governor to “shake up the race.” As we blogged on October 13, Tom Tancredo will start as the Republican frontrunner. He’s mainly running because about a fifth of the Republican Party is extremely anti-immigration, illegal or otherwise, and he is the most anti-immigrant candidate. Also, Tom is well-known since his third race for governor. In the 2010 governor’s race, his first effort, he stated that the Republican nominee was a sure loser. He was right. The stakes are higher this year with an open seat, and several Republican candidates appearing to have the qualifications for governor and capable of winning a general election.

Tom Tancredo, Sept. 21, 2017 | Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics
Tom may have a floor of about 20 percent, reflecting the party’s far right, but he also has a ceiling among Republicans for whom his losing record will be a bar, as is his history of comments that will make powerful negative ads.

Although primaries are sometimes destructive of a party’s chances in the general election, the Republican who can fight for the party’s base and unite a sufficient number of the pragmatists could be a stronger candidate in the fall. Tancredo claims he lost the 2014 primary for governor due to late expenditures by opponents. A lack of funding may well be a problem this year. Tancredo is trying to use some of Steve Bannon’s celebrity status to increase his credibility and raise some funds.

A recent poll shows, not surprising, Tancredo starts with 22 percent of the Republican vote. Although the poll’s credibility is unknown and the initial positions are mostly name identity, it has been a boon to Democrats ready to use it for fundraising. Tancredo is good to unite the left.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Trump had a Better Week, But Approval is Still Low

Last week (pre indictment) was good for President Trump and House and Senate Republicans. They moved a budget, helping put in place the possibility of tax reform before the end of the year. Trump managed to not confuse or disrupt the presentation of the opioid initiative. The Russian investigation appeared to be stalling and the Democrats have become embroiled in their own Russian-related controversy. And, of course, the market keeps going up. Although Trump’s Republican critics (Flake, Corker) got a stage, they had no followers and are leaving the party to Trump.

But, in the midst of all the good news, Fox News came out with a poll that placed Trump’s approval rating at 38 percent, an all-time low for their poll. Although he still maintains Republican support (83%), they are only 35 percent of the electorate. Democrats’ 47 percent of voters only offered Trump 7 percent support. And, 30 percent of unaffiliated supported Trump.

 The Fox News results are near the RealClearPolitics average of 39.4 percent.

Although the 83 percent approval among Republicans is high, it represents decline from Republican support in most polls earlier in the year. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out this week also has the President’s approval at 38 percent and Republicans at 81 percent.

But the most stunning number from the Fox News poll is the generic ballot test, which claims Republicans are now 15 points behind Democrats – 35 percent to 50 percent. Although the number is likely a bit of an outlier, the RealClearPolitics generic test has Democrats ahead by 10 points, reflecting a slow, but steady increase for Democrats this year.