Thursday, September 20, 2018

Power of Women in the Midterms

Women running for office was a key topic when more than 70 members of the League of Women Voters assembled on September 11. Why hasn’t there been a woman governor in Colorado? Why didn’t Cary Kennedy win? Will women running for Congress win their races in the midterm elections?

Colorado is considered a progressive state on women rights. It passed women’s suffrage in 1893 and general economic rights before that, but it has not had a woman as governor. Lt. Governor Gail Schoettler got close in her run in 1998 against Bill Owens (8,000 votes). Women governors are common in other western states. Arizona has had four; Kansas, Oregon and Washington had two each; and one each in Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

Presentation to League of Women Voters
Cary Kennedy mounted a strong primary, but Jared Polis had higher name identification and a money advantage that was difficult to overcome. After she scared him at the state convention, he poured millions into the race in May and June. In addition, she and Mike Johnston, who also ran an effective, well-funded campaign, split an anti-Polis and more moderate vote. Expect to see her again.

Nationally, polls show women are favoring the Democrats in the generic congressional ballot by nearly two-to-one. Today, there are 84 women in the House in both parties and 23 in the U.S. Senate. There are likely to be more in the House in 2019 as 232 women are now running – 180 Democrats and 52 Republicans. The current prediction is that Democrats are likely to win the House and women will be a major force. Women are now 20 percent of the House. Someday, they will be a majority.

See Politico: ‘Something has actually changed’: Women, minorities, first-time candidates drive Democratic House hopes

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Trump Takes on NATO and U.S. Allies

President Donald Trump is not a friend of America’s historic alliances, which he sees as mostly benefiting the allies and restraining his America First strategies on trade and diplomacy.

Trump took the NATO alliance and its members to task at a now infamous July diplomatic swing from a rancorous Brussels NATO meeting, to an embarrassing dust-up with Prime Minister Theresa May in England, to the poorly received summit with Russian President Putin in Helsinki.

After the NATO summit, Senator John McCain expressed his straightforward disapproval of Trump’s behavior with a tweet.

And, American public opinion is generally in agreement with the late senator. It is highly favorable toward NATO, with upwards of 80 percent saying that the alliance should be maintained (Gallup 2018) (Pew: 62% favorable view, 2018).

The acrimony with American allies has been building from previous meetings, especially the G7 meeting in Quebec on June 10-11. A photo was released by the German Embassy of the discussion with annoyed-appearing Prime Ministers Angela Merkel and Shinzo Abe and President Emmanuel Macron facing an obstinate-looking Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with President Donald Trump
 during the Group of 7 summit meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada,
June 9, 2018 | Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government via New York Times

New York Times Poll: Crow Up 11 Points

If a newly released New York Times poll is accurate, the blue wave could be a tsunami. In the 6th District, the poll has Democratic challenger, Jason Crow, up 11 points over incumbent Republican Mike Coffman, 51 percent to 40 percent.


The Times and Siena College are conducting small sample telephone polls in identified competitive House seats. Its first iteration, conducted the last 10 days, has the Democrats taking the House, gaining about 30 seats or a close election for control.

The Times asks: “Can the battle-tested incumbent survive again?”

Republican Coffman has survived difficult elections, winning his district when it went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2012 and for Hillary Clinton by 34,000 in 2016 (he won by 31,000 votes). So if he is indeed behind by 11 points, the District voters are ignoring his incumbent advantage and voting in a very partisan fashion. This may well be the Trump effect where the President’s low approval rating and aggressive approach to controversial issues is simply impossible for a Republican incumbent to separate from. Trump has a 39 percent approval rating in the District.

The Times lists several polls that have shown Crow ahead by smaller amounts.

Crow’s campaign will be well-funding, and expect both sides to get very negative. A large percentage of voters claim to not be able to rate Crow, even though they indicate they will vote for him as of now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Autocrats Cook While Tanks Rumble

Western democracy, and America in particular, are being challenged by two powerful autocrats who argue that liberal democracy is a passé governing concept and that Americans don’t have the confidence, credibility or resources to maintain the order that it guided since World War II.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping make
pancakes during a visit to the Far East Street exhibition on the sidelines of the
Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 11, 2018 | Reuters
Vladimir Putin invited Xi Jinping to a Russian pancake cooking class in Siberia while Chinese troops joined Russians in a large five-day military exercise that U.S. Defense officials described as: “…moving beyond symbolic displays of force to coordinate weapons systems and command structures. Washington says the two countries have developed capabilities that could test U.S. military dominance in times of crisis.”

Russian General Valery Gerasimov (second from left) briefs
diplomats on military exercises, Sept. 11, 2018 | The Recorder

See Wall Street Journal: China joins Russian drills as ties deepen

Colorado Politics Could be Shaken to its Core this November – Denver Post Sunday Perspective Section

The Denver Post featured my guest commentary as the lead in its Sunday Perspective section. The cover graphic is a voter standing astride a separating fault line with the caption, “Hold on: Political rumblings afoot. Colorado’s political landscape is about to undergo another seismic shift from the 2018 election.”

By Floyd Ciruli
Guest Commentary

Colorado’s political landscape is about to undergo another seismic shift.

A surge in new social movements, evolving voter attitudes, rising new leaders and changing demographics, taken together, are creating significant fault lines. Like the earth’s surface, the political plates are about to slip and create a new configuration. The tension has been building for several years, but is now accelerated following the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.

Jeff Neumann, The Denver Post; photo by Thinkstock by Getty Images

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Impeachment – Difficult Issue for Democrats

Leon Panetta, one of the elder statesmen of the Democratic Party, warns the party leadership that it should avoid impeachment and said Democrats should “allow Robert Mueller to complete his work.” He believes that the investigation has the best chance to provide the facts related to collusion and obstruction in the Trump campaign and presidency.

Public opinion agrees with Panetta that Democrats are on much safe ground defending the Mueller probe and delaying talk of impeachment. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows 63 percent of the public support “Mueller’s investigation of Trump and his associates” (52% “strongly support the probe” and overall support includes 32% of Republicans). And, more than half (53%) believe Trump has tried to obstruct Mueller’s investigation.

President Trump’s, and his legal team and political allies, long campaign to discredit Robert Mueller, the investigation and even Attorney General Jeff Sessions has had very limited success.
  • 62% support Sessions in dispute to allow investigation to proceed
  • 64% oppose Trump firing Sessions (47% of Republicans oppose firing Sessions)
  • 66% oppose Trump pardoning Manafort (only 36% of Republicans support it)
In contrast, the public is highly divided on beginning impeachment proceedings (49% begin, 46% don’t begin). Bill Clinton’s impeachment, which hurt Republicans in the midterms, only had 33 percent support at the end of 1998 after the Kenneth Starr report was presented for much of the year.

Monday, September 10, 2018

KOA – Post-Labor Day Interview

KOA’s April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz opened the campaign season on Tuesday, September 4 with a post-Labor Day interview. April pointed out that the election is 63 days away, and in Colorado, mail-back ballots will drop in seven weeks, or about 50 days. The race will now begin with an onslaught of advertisements, debates, endorsements and the first public polls with likely voters, harder to identify during turbulent times.

Nationally, the Colorado governor’s race is getting the most attention, along with the 6th Congressional District race where Republican incumbent Mike Coffman must deal with any blue wave from Washington.
Rep. Jared Polis and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton

Many national observers believe the Colorado gubernatorial race could be competitive, but appears to lean toward Democrat Jared Polis over Republican Walker Stapleton. For example, the latest spending figures show Polis with $12 million in the race, mostly his own money, and Stapleton with just $2 million (latest report shows now a $21 million total). Also, Democrats now have a slight registration advantage after a disadvantage a decade ago, and they attracted more than 100,000 voters in the June primary more than the Republicans, and half of them were newly empowered unaffiliated voters.

The voters’ choice between Stapleton and Polis will be partially made on personality, experience and character, but in terms of issues, the differences could be more dramatic – health care, it’s single-payer or not; oil and gas, it’s more setbacks or not; and tax increases, it’s schools and roads or not. After eight years of moderate leadership from John Hickenlooper, often with a divided legislature, Colorado could take a much more liberal direction. One question being asked nationally concerns how liberal the Colorado electorate has become.

Mike Coffman is in another battle for his congressional seat, but he has an exceptional track record of winning his district even as Democrats carry it in presidential elections. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the district by 34,000 votes and Coffman received 31,000. In general, the latest national polls show the President’s approval rating and the generic ballot question tilting more toward the Democrats since the Paul Manafort conviction and the Michael Cohen guilty plea (approval is now 12 points negative – 42% vs. 54%, and the generic ballot test at 8 points favoring Democrats). Coffman will have possibly the toughest test in his long career.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Labor Day Blues

Democrats roll into the post-Labor Day political season with a head start according to the latest national polls. Although President Trump appears to hold onto his hardcore base, the edges have eroded under the onslaught of bad news from the Paul Manafort trial and the Michael Cohen plea agreement. The just published Investor’s Business Daily poll (IBD/TIPP) reports Trump’s approval rating is down 5 percent and is now at 36 percent. Disapproval is up 3 points to 56 percent. The poll reflects a 7-point falloff among Republicans (83% to 76%) and 4 points among independents (37% to 33%). The closely watched generic congressional metric shifted 11 points toward the Democrats. It was tied at 45 percent in July and is now 50 percent Democrat and 39 percent Republican.

In the Gary Langer conducted Washington Post/ABC News poll of August 26-29, 2018, Trump has a record-high disapproval of 60 percent, with 53 percent who offer strong disapproval. It was the first time his strong disapproval went over 50 percent. His approval was 36 percent. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans approve of Trump in the Langer/ABC poll and 35 percent of independents. This poll was in the field a week after the Manafort and Cohen news.

Finally, USA Today/Suffolk University poll taken after the Manafort and Cohen decisions saw a 3-point drop in approval to 40 percent, down from 43 percent in June. Fifty-six percent disapproved of his job performance, a 16-point negative spread.

Gallup’s August data (Aug. 20-26, pre-Manafort/Cohen) shows a continuing base of support at about two-fifths of the public (41%), with the strongest feelings tilted toward “strong disapproval” (40%).

Donald Trump’s job performance has dropped since the legal fireworks in late August. Hardly a time for Republicans to be losing ground with Trump’s already tattered reputation as the post-Labor Day campaigns for Congress begins in earnest.

Politico’s Ratings: Coffman, Toss-up; Governor’s Race, Leans Democrat

Politico released its inaugural post-Labor Day ratings of the nation’s congressional, senatorial and gubernatorial races. The rating gives Democrats the odds to win the House. Colorado’s 6th CD with incumbent Republican Mike Coffman facing Democrat Jason Crow is rated a “toss-up.” A recent statewide assessment from 538 (Nate Silver’s site) gave Crow an edge (64.57%).

The governor’s race between Jared Polis, Democrat, and Walker Stapleton, Republican, is rated “lean Democratic,” but winnable.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Lessons From President Richard M. Nixon’s Library

The Nixon Presidential Library has been reinstalled and the curation is first-rate.

The exhibit starts with the turbulence of 1968 and the election as a backdrop. It is reminiscent of this moment. Having lived through it as a 22 year old, it seemed more violent than today, but the attacks on the media and the White House Twitter feed make 2018 feel more pervasive and ominous.

The exhibit newly interpreted Watergate section with tapes and news reels are especially relevant for today. One of the most important catalysts for the Watergate unraveling was “Maximum” Judge John Sirica. When conspirators knew serious jail time faced them, they flipped like a pinball champion.

The House indictment of impeachment had three charges:
  • Obstruction (e.g., making false statements, withholding relevant materials, counseling witnesses to give false or misleading statements, interfering with investigations of DOJ, FBI and special prosecutor, payments for silence of witnesses)
  • Abuse of power (abuse of IRS, misuse of FBI, violated constitutional rights of citizens, impeded lawful inquiries into the DNC break in and cover-up)
  • Contempt of Congress (failed to obey lawful subpoenas of House of Representatives)
Sounds familiar.

All in all, a great museum.

Ciruli behind the Wilson Desk handling a few executive orders

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Oil and Gas May Frack the Democrats

There is a good possibility that the anti-hydrocarbon forces in Colorado will not succeed in banning fracking, but it could fracture the Democratic Party, helping Republicans in key races for governor, attorney general and the State Senate.

In 2014, the same anti-fracking groups with their ally and financer, Congressman Jared Polis, proposed a similar ban. It was only with the full power of the Democratic establishment, including the Governor and both U.S. Senators, Democrats at that point in time, did Polis blink and pull the initiative. But, it was clear most of the Democratic Party’s leadership was opposed to the idea of a ban and the broader party was hostile to its potential to hurt Democratic candidates in the November election.
Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Ken Salazar

History is repeating. The ban is on the ballot, and Governor Hickenlooper, former U.S. Senator Salazar and numerous Democratic legislators have already criticized it as “extreme” and “going too far.” Many of the same elements of the Democratic Party have a strained relationship with Polis, and this will only highlight the fracture.

Although Polis, now the Democratic nominee for governor, has dropped support, his previous history and liberal environmental image will make him a target of the pro-oil and gas forces. The industry and its allies throughout the economy believe the Polis appointments to various boards, such as the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the PUC, etc., will likely be hostile to hydrocarbons. Importantly, the anti-fracking initiative will draw significant additional money into the election. Polis, who can and not doubt will, put $15 million or more in the race from his personal wealth could be more than matched by the industry’s spending, which will likely help other Republicans running.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

State Constitutional Offices Have Been a Republican Redoubt

Within a shifting political environment, the Colorado Republican Party has held all three state constitutional offices since 2010 while losing the governorship.

They had a positive national political environment in 2010 and 2014, recruited some good candidates and ran credible campaigns. They have also been able to depend on a slice of the Colorado electorate that splits its ticket.

The 2018 Republican ticket has some strength with Secretary of State incumbent Wayne Williams and well-known DA George Brauchler, the attorney general candidate. Brian Watson, a businessman, running for Treasurer is less well-known.

In 2010 and 2014, they were benefited by the anti-President Obama wave elections. In 2010, John Boehner would remove Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and in 2014, Republicans gained control of the Senate with Mitch McConnell replacing Harry Reid. This will be a more difficult year for statewide Republicans. Not only has the state been shifting to the left over the last decade, but national politics has produced an energized Democratic base and a daily (mostly presidential) controversy from D.C., adding to the normal corrective referendum that hurts the presidential party.

CBS Pollster Says No Blue Wave

Anthony Salvanto, a top pollster who has been heading up CBS’s election polling unit for several years, has just written a book, “Where Did You Get That Number?” He reviews the mistakes made in 2016 and lessons learned. One lesson in his view is that panel tracking polls that call back the same voters during the course of the election are better than discrete random samples. Maybe, but for this election, he does have a targeting technique that is worth watching. His panel is made of voters in the 60 House districts that are most likely to be in play in November.
Anthony Salvanto | Twitter

From his latest poll, he believes Republicans could lose 20 or 22 seats, but that there is a very good chance they will hold the House. That conclusion is getting him very good coverage in the pro-Republican media, such as The New York Post and RealClearPolitics.com. But, one weakness in his panel methodology is that to the extent the election is driven by the usual voters, indeed Republicans may be able to hold on, but if new voters are involved, Republicans are in trouble. Panels are prone to miss changing voter turnout patterns. The two national panel polls in the 2016 election, which had Trump ahead, in fact, missed the popular vote result by a wide margin. The surprise of President Trump’s 2016 election win was a product of failed state-level polls as Salvanto points out, not a difference between panel and discrete random national surveys.

Although there is still a debate among pollsters and pundits on the likely results of the 2018 midterms, the weight of opinion, as of August 25, is Democrats by 23 seats or more.

Francis – Clean House

The Catholic Church, especially its hierarchy, desperately needs to clean house of priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals that have any credible charges of abuse of children or failure to manage it correctly.

Not dealing with it in a dramatic and speedy fashion will wreck the reputation of the Church and its priesthood, but equally important, will bring down the forces of politics and the law to intervene in the governance of the Church.

Only Pope Francis has the institutional authority and public support to take action. Before the latest scandal, the Pontiff’s marks for handling the sex abuse scandals, according to a March 2018 poll, had declined from 55 percent to 45 percent during the last year. They have, no doubt, dropped another 10 points the last month.

Pope Francis | Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA

Friday, August 24, 2018

California’s 49th CD

I will be investigating a battleground Republican congressional district over Labor Day (it’s on the beach). It is very likely to shift to the Democrats – California’s 49th CD Darrell Issa’s open seat. Seeing the likely outcome, Issa retired. FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver) rates it 74.91 percent likely Democratic win (Mike Levin is the Democratic nominee).

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California | Photo: OCDaily.net

Foothills Republicans Commentary: Will the House Change Control?

We already know there will be a new Speaker of the House in January 2019, but will it be a Democrat or Republican? More than a hundred Foothills Republicans considered the issue after a social hour and BBQ with comments by Dick Wadhams (member of the Club) and Floyd Ciruli.

Although Democrats have the advantage, it was believed Congresspersons Scott Tipton and Mike Coffman would be hard to defeat without a very blue wave.

Coffman may be the nation’s master politician in winning ticket-splitting voters. Hillary Clinton won the 6th CD by 34,000 votes in 2016 while winning the state by 5 percentage points. But Coffman was reelected by 31,000 votes. More than 30,000 people in the district voted for Clinton for president and Coffman for Congress.

Scott Tipton has become the 3rd CD’s most effective vote gatherer. While Donald Trump was winning by 44,000 votes, Tipton carried the state’s largest district with 53,000. The additional 9,000 votes were mostly from Pueblo, which was one of the state’s most dependable Democratic counties. No more, it recalled a Democratic State Senator in 2013 and gave Trump a 600-vote victory in 2016. That could not of happened without a host of Democratic and Hispanic voters supporting Trump and Tipton.

This will be a challenging election for Republican congresspersons. Midterms are usually a referendum on the presidential party, and Trump has not expanded his base. Coffman, in particular, will have to run a smart campaign. But the Foothills Republicans felt it will take a tsunami to swamp Coffman and Tipton.

Dick Wadhams, Brian Cassidy and Floyd Ciruli at the Foothills
Republicans Club, Aug. 20, 2018 | Photo: Brian Cassidy Facebook post 

Is Colorado’s Governor’s Race Competitive?

Republicans are at risk to lose some governorships in the 2018 midterm elections, which could affect the presidential reelection and have a negative impact on redistricting after the 2020 census. Republicans have 26 seats to defend with only 19 held by Democrats in the election.

States
Republicans are on the defensive in a number of states, including Florida, Ohio and Illinois. One open seat they would like to win is Colorado. Outside observers, like Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia on CNBC and Louis Jacobson of Governing Magazine, continue to rate Colorado as competitive.

They recognize the state has shifted slightly Democratic to the benefit of Jared Polis (see “Polis Begins Campaign in Strong Position”), but they are assuming that a nominee with as liberal a reputation as he has is going to be vulnerable to a reasonably competitive opponent and campaign.

Neither the Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton campaigns have really started, but each side’s supporters have launched initial attacks, with Republicans (the National Republican Governor’s Association) warning of “Californicating” Colorado and Democrats arguing Walker Stapleton is a pawn of Donald Trump and friend of Tom Tancredo.

Polis is an advocate of a single-payer health care system, an opponent of gas and oil fracking, and a high-profile advocate of gay rights and the legalization of recreational use of marijuana – a comfortable agenda for a Boulder congressman and likely a majority of Colorado Democrats. But historically, or even in recent history, putting it all together in one candidate would be a tough sell for the state.

However, at the end of August in the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats appear to have the advantage.

Read:
The Buzz: If it’s Stapleton vs. Polis, who wins?
CNBC: With 36 governorships up for grabs in midterm elections, Republicans have most to lose

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Why this Election Matters

Featuring noted Colorado pollster and political analyst, Floyd Ciruli

The 2018 election this November promises to be one of the most exciting elections in a decade.

Candidates for national and state offices are conducting multiple surveys, knocking on doors, lining up speaking engagements, buying TV ads and polishing their Twitter accounts in anticipation of an intense campaign to promote their political agendas. While all are typical campaign actions expected in any election, the intensity and drive to influence voters this year is highly unusual for a midterm election.

Join us for a sneak preview and discussion of this political landscape at our special WELCOME BACK TO LEAGUE party, featuring noted Colorado pollster and political analyst, Floyd Ciruli.

Topics will include:
  • What federal and state issues will be impacted by this election
  • The impact of who is elected to control the U.S. Congress and/or the Colorado Legislature
  • What the polls indicate
  • The role of Big and Dark money
  • His take on other important issues that may surface
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018
Time: 5:00 pm - 6:15 pm - Mingle and Meet Social Hour: 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm - Presentation and Audience Discussion
Location: Centennial Community Room, 7272 S. Eagle St., Centennial, Colorado 80112

For more information on the League of Women Voters of Colorado, click here

National Dashboard: Consensus Builds, Democrats Have Momentum for a Majority

After a dilatory spring when polls and signs were weak (see “Blue Wave or Just a Ripple”), Democrats have regained the momentum for retaking the House of Representatives. In fact, even Mike Coffman’s seat is now rated a toss-up with a Democratic lean by Nate Silver’s 538.

Some of the data:
  • Presidential approval remains in the low 40s and mired in negative territory. Strong disapproval is 10 to 15 points larger than strong approval in polls that ask the intensity feelings (Gallup, May 2018). Historically, low presidential approval tends, although not always, to accompany major losses for the presidential party.
  • Congressional ballot question is at 7 points in the RealClearPolitics average and substantially higher in some recent polls. CNN/SSRS poll of August 12 has an 11-point spread in favor of the Democrats. Reuters/Ipsos and Quinnipiac have it at 9 points. Nate Silver’s analysis states that at least 8 points will be needed to overcome anomalies in voter distribution in House seats for the Democrats to win.
  • Midterms, especially the first for a new president, tend to be restraining. Opponents are enthusiastic and supporters less impassioned than two years earlier. Ronald Reagan in 1992, Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010 lost an average of 47 seats among the three of them. George W. Bush was an exception due to 9/11 making the election a referendum on fighting terrorism and national unity.
         This also is an especially tough year on incumbents. The
         President is better at primaries than general elections and at
         dividing his party than defending it, so an establishment
         incumbent suffers from both being associated with a
         controversial president and possibly not having his full support.
  • Special elections have given Democrats only one victory. But, out of nine elections, they have benefited from a 10-point shift toward them even while losing. If that trend holds up in the midterms, they could win more than 60 competitive and near competitive seats.
  • A strong economy is a Republican advantage, but as the economy has improved, voters have shifted attention to other issues, such as health care, that benefit Democrats and immigration that stirs up the base of both parties. Unfortunately for Republicans, Trump often steps on good news with controversial tweets.
  • District by district analyses by Silver, Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato agree that the odds are favoring Democrats to gain at least 23 seats and possibly more. Silver puts the chance at 3 out of 4.
Many Republican supporters of the President (although few in the Republican establishment and officeholders) have taken to accept the analyses and argue losing the House will be good for the President’s re-election. He will win voter sympathy, like Bill Clinton in 1998, as the Democrats ramp up multiple investigations and impeachment.

But, the President doesn’t agree. He has committed to 40 campaign appearances this fall. He believes he can personally hold the Republican House. That’s a good call because, in fact, loss of the House will be a very negative judgement on his first two years, mostly end any legislative accomplishments, drain his political power and embolden the Republican establishment to start putting distance between him and their careers.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Health Care Top Issue, Especially for Women

Health care registers as the second most important issue in numerous surveys just after jobs and the economy, which the public is increasingly satisfied with. It is the top issue for women, and women are a challenge for Republicans in the 2018 midterms.

According to a recent CBS News poll (8-13-18), health care ranked first by both younger (18-35) and older women (over 35) when asked what issue will be very important in their vote for Congress. Also, 68 percent of women said the candidate must agree with them on the issue to get their vote. It should be noted that the economy becomes a less useful issue for Republicans as it improves. Health care then becomes a greater interest for voters, especially women.

Health care will be especially important in the Colorado gubernatorial race, with Jared Polis having supported the single-payer “Medicare for All” proposal of Bernie Sanders and Walker Stapleton a strong opponent.

Regardless of pro or con views on single-payer, what the candidates plan to do related to access and affordability of health care may be a deciding issue, especially for women.

Colorado to Get a New Congressional Seat. Where Will it Land?

Mark Harden in Colorado Politics reports that Colorado is one of the six states expected to pick up a House seat after the decennial census in 2020. It won’t affect the 2020 presidential electoral distribution, but the next Trump-like candidate will have fewer electoral votes in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to depend upon, but more in Texas, Florida and North Carolina.

Colorado’s Front Range has been in a rapid growth mode this decade and will likely get the most benefit of the new seat, but the configuration of all seven existing seats will change.

The fastest growing metro counties of Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas should see an increase in representation, but Denver, Larimer and El Paso have also been rapidly growing and can expect to be in the competition for a piece of the eighth seat.

In November, Colorado voters will decide upon a new, less partisan procedure to reapportion the state. But regardless of the system, the interests of incumbents, new aspirants, counties, cities and communities of interest will be in fierce competition.

Assuming Colorado’s growth continues at the current rate, another 140,000 residents can be expected between now and the 2020 census, raising the total population to 5.8 million. That would create eight House districts of about 730,000 persons in each. In 2020, the seven existing House districts would average 829,000 residents in each. According to 2016 census estimates, the 1st CD (DeGette) and the 6th CD (Coffman) had the largest populations and the 3rd CD (Tipton) the least, but all seven districts will need to shed upwards of 100,000 residents to create the new district.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Americans Believe Race Relations Have Worsened in Trump Era, But Divided Over Who’s Most Threatened

By 57 percent to 15 percent, Americans believe race relations are worse 18 months into the Trump administration than during the Obama presidency. Respondents rated relations under Barack Obama’s term 38 percent better to 37 percent worse.

The poll conducted in early August and reported by Larry Sabato for the University of Virginia Center for Politics also highlighted many of the divisions and anxieties about race and race relations that affect Americans. For example, super majorities adhere to American ideals that all races are equal (82% agree), all races should be treated equally (91% agree), and all races should be free to live where they choose (86%).

But, significant portions of the population support some of the “alt-right’s” often expressed positions. For example, America must protect its White European heritage (35% agree) and White people are currently under attack in their county (43% agree). Still, a strong majority support protecting multicultural heritages (82% agree). Also, a larger percentage of Americans believe racial minorities are under attack (57%) than believe Whites are under threat (43%).

Although extremists who trade in these race-based appeals don’t marshal much support (Neo-Nazis – 5% support, White Nationalists – 8%, Alt-right – 7%) – witness the recent Charlottesville anniversary activities in D.C. and Charlottesville – there is a group of Americans who are anxious about the status of Whites and can be politically mobilized.

Is Opposition to Trump Enough for the Latino Vote?

According to exit polls, Donald Trump received 26 percent of the Latino vote in the 2016 presidential election. For Democrats to achieve their goal of winning control of Congress, Latino turnout and support is essential. But some recent polls suggest their level of passion for the upcoming contests and their support for the Democratic ticket is lagging.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC July poll reported 39 percent approval for Trump. Possibly an anomaly, but triggering concern that the strong economy and lack of a great message, besides just anti-Trump, could shave points off Democrats’ share of the vote or turnout.

An August national survey by SurveyMonkey highlights the problem. Trump had his usual 44 percent support overall, but 29 percent of Latinos gave him a positive rating. Twenty-two percent of them rated immigration the most important issue, the highest percentage of any ethnic group, and surprisingly, 28 percent approved of his “handling the nation’s immigration policy.”

Along with satisfaction with the economy, analysts also cited that a percentage of the Latino community has a restrictionist view of immigration. Many are in the demographics of Trump’s base. They lack four-year college degrees, work in blue collar jobs and live in more rural areas. Trump also benefits from a comfort level among some Hispanic voters, especially men, with a strong leader, which is one of his main attributes frequently cited by admirers.

At least in Colorado, the latest PPP poll (July 2018) indicated weak Latino approval of President Trump (15% Latino vs. 50% White) and above average, but not spectacular support for Jared Polis, the Democratic nominee for governor (54% Latino vs. 46% overall). A quarter is undecided (26%), and compared to Democrats in the poll, support for Polis at this point is modest (80% Democratic support for Polis).

Read:
CNN Politics: Trump may not be enough to swing Latino turnout Democrats’ way

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.

Friday, July 27, 2018

“Diplotainment” in Helsinki – A Chorus of Boos

President Trump believes Helsinki was a great show: vintage Trump, celebrity actors, a world stage and nuclear holocaust at stake. But by the time he got Airforce One off the ground, the reviews came in and they weren’t good. They said he looked weak, he blamed his own country first, and he repeatedly praised the autocrat and sided with him against his own team.

Trump was surprised at the sweeping, speedy chorus of boos. “Diplotainment” had worked so well in Singapore. The script was to approach the event in a nonchalant fashion, hype the significance, then stage the handshake, the secret meeting, the press conference and rush to the airport to bask in the reviews. Unfortunately, after a few weeks, it became clear nothing significant will happen, without much arduous negotiation in a multitude of meetings, the end point and result undetermined.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader
Kim Jong-un at summit in Singapore, June 12, 2018 | Evan Vucci/AP
In Singapore, Kim Jong-un got his recognition as a world actor, he appeared reasonable, he gave up nothing discernable (the weak joint statement seemed to codify that), he improved his position with China and Russia, and he weakened the urgency of the sanctions regime.

The next Russian summit, which was just wisely cancelled, was launched in the same pattern – no preparation and no coordination within the U.S. government. The difference between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin is that Putin, wily tactician, is working every day to weaken and divide the democratic West. What the West needs is a negotiator who is worried less about reviews and more about the results.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold press conference
 after their one-on-one meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 | Photo RanttMedia

Read The Buzz: “Diplotainment” crashes in Korea

Market Stalls – Trump and Tariffs

The disruptive policies of President Trump’s trade wars have finally caused the administration to react. A $12 billion bailout of farmers, which is being criticized as an admission of failure and 18 months of rhetoric, but no deals helped produce the at least minimal promise of more negotiations with the EU and less talk of it being a foe.

The 2018 Dow and Trump have been remarkably resilient given the political disruption. Good earnings reports have helped hold the Dow, with some wide swing in a range from 24000 to the low 25000 off the bottom of the year on March 22 of 23957, but well below the all-time Dow high of 26616 on January 26.

Tariffs and trade wars haven’t caused panic, but are currently keeping a lid on investor confidence. But warning lights are flashing that inflation is looming, the expansion is nearing its end and a worldwide slowdown has begun. The U.S. Dow is up 1.4 points for the year, but the global Dow is down 1.6.

The U.S. economy appears strong and remains at full capacity, but D.C. politics is volatile. The developing trade wars with most U.S. trading partners has only produced anecdotal stories of lost business and jobs, but the first appearance of data will clarify its cost. The President said: “Trade wars are good and easy to win” (3-8-18). Jamie Dimon doesn’t agree. In a CNN interview, he pointed out that the President’s team said: “There would be no retaliation. They’ve already been wrong.” Dimon believes another round of tariffs could reverse “some of the benefits you’ve seen in the economy.” He also said the business community wants NAFTA done.

With tariffs getting labeled “job killers,” Trump revived his old argument that the Fed is the problem. During the 2016 campaign, he blamed Fed Chair Janet Yeller for low interest rates, which he claimed hurt savers (and helped Obama/Clinton have a strong economy), now he argues modest interest rate increases will cause bigger trade deficits and slow the economy (and hurt him in the midterm elections). There has been six quarter-point rate increases since Trump won in November 2016 from .75 percent to 2 percent now. Two percent is a low interest rate in the modern era. Although, the Fed rate was zero from 2008 to 2014, it averaged 3 percent the previous 8 years and from 1990 to 1999 averaged 5 percent.

Having an independent Fed has been judged better for the long-term economy since before the Nixon presidency. This Fed is approaching a more normal interest rate that will constrain inflation and leave some room for stimulus if a recession develops.

The Dow for now is holding, but Trump knows he’s in trouble as tariffs are producing more criticism than good news.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Trump Loses a Fifth of Republicans in Handling Helsinki

The latest CBS national poll shows only 32 percent of Americans approved of President Trump’s handling of the Helsinki summit. That is an exceptionally poor rating for a major foreign policy performance (Washington Post poll – 33%). An even bigger problem for Trump is that only 68 percent of Republicans approved his performance (66% in Washington Post poll). The history of Trump’s controversies suggests his approval rating won’t be affected, but the worldwide media coverage was significant and the broad judgement that his performance was weak may produce a longer-term effect.

Trump’s overall approval depends on about 85 percent of Republicans (87% in Washington Post poll), so Helsinki’s 68 percent is a loss of about 20 points of support, or about a fifth of self-identified Republican partisans. This drop-off highlights two facts. First, there are Republicans who can be persuaded to withdrawal approval of Trump’s behavior. Second, the Republican label is held by a variety of partisan groupings, including evangelicals, Tea Party, old-line establishment, forever Trump and never Trump to just name a few. For some, affection for Trump is primarily a policy preference (tax cuts, Supreme Court appointments) and an aversion to the alternative (Hillary Clinton most recently).

As the Helsinki approval table below (from Washington Post data) shows, Republicans only represent about a quarter of the electorate and Trump can ill-afford to lose any.

Other polls that show lower percentages of independents and more Republicans still require super majorities of Republicans approving Trump to maintain his anemic approval rating of 42 to 45 percent.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll graphically shows the Republicans’ vulnerability to Trump’s periodic missteps. Out of the 82 percent Republican support, they record 50 percent “strong” approval, but 32 percent “somewhat” approve (note: another 3% “lean toward” approval). Nearly two-fifths of the party is weakly attached to Trump. Those are the voters who could stay home or walk away from the party.

Political Fault Lines: Age, Gender, Race and Party

Colorado’s politics in 2018 are little different from the country. Voters are divided dramatically along great fault lines of gender, age, race and party.

A recent PPP poll of President Donald Trump’s Colorado approval rating highlights those gaps in public opinion. In the end of June poll, Trump had a 44 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval. As the table below shows, it is polarized along the fault lines of age, gender, race and party.

All of these gaps have been long documented in American politics, but each has become more pronounced, especially in the Trump era.

Party with a 68 percent difference is the most profound, with few partisans in the other party (Democrats) offering approval (12%). Republicans continue to approve of Trump at very high levels (80%). Although, an 18 percent disapproval among Republicans should be worrisome for the party.

The race/ethnic gap has been a fixture of U.S. politics since the 1960s, but the Hispanic/Latino community has only in more recent years become hyper-polarized. Trump, of course, has made ethnicity a repeated campaign issue from the day he announced to his most recent border policies. Only 15 percent of Hispanics/Latinos approve of Trump versus 50 percent of Whites. The sample did not have sufficient African Americans to make an observation, but national polls show their profound polarization.

Recent studies have cited gender polarization at all-time highs, and the 21 percent difference in Colorado is high. Only a third of women approve of Trump’s job performance, but more than half of men do (55%).

Finally, the age polarization between Millennials and seniors is dramatic. Trump draws support from older voters (50% approval), but has little from voters 29 years old and younger (only 31% approval), a 19 percent gap.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Benson Goes Out on Top

When asked, Bruce Benson thought he was probably the oldest college president working today. When he started his job ten years ago, he was among less than 5 percent of college presidents 70 years of age. Now, he’s among 11 percent. The job is tough, and colleges try to keep their successful presidents. Benson also represented the trend of non-academic college leaders skilled in state politics and fundraising.

Benson decided after 10 successful years to retire. CU has had an astonishing run under his decade of leadership. New buildings flood the four campuses. The Anschutz Center has become the tech center (bio) of north Aurora.

In a blog posted in January, I noted he had hit his second five-year mark and hadn’t slowed down. From 300,000 Twitter followers, to prodigious fundraising (a Benson specialty), he kept up the pace.

Benson’s CU activities have been just one of his life projects. As president of the Denver Zoological Foundation, he led the master plan build-out and his leadership of the Denver Public Schools Foundation was one of the key elements in initiating the District’s reforms and improvements. After his first 5 years, Benson was asked as he considered a second 5-year term as president: When would it be time to retire? With his usual uncompromising candor, he said:

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson (R) and
Financial Chief Todd Saliman at CU Systems Services  office,
Denver, Feb. 27, 2017 | Mark Leffingwell/Boulder Daily Camera
“…seven, maybe it’s four,” he said. “You get older, you start sliding – am I as coherent as I was 10 years ago? No. Do you forget names more easily? Yes. But if I start slipping, I’m going to be the first one to notice it, and I’ll say, ‘Hey, guys, I’ll give you a year – you’d better find somebody else.’”

Benson’s energy calls to mind another hardworking Coloradan. His old political rival Roy Romer. Romer was 70 when he took over Los Angeles Unified School District, a seemingly impossible job, which after six years, he also received wide acclaim. The two of them made 70 look like the new 50.

Benson mentioned his wife, Marcy, in his retirement letter. She has been his partner and handles a host of causes herself. Colorado and CU has been very fortunate to have the energy of the Bensons.

Good luck on your next project, Bruce.

Read The Buzz:
Bruce Benson for governor?
Bruce Benson hits ten-year mark at CU

Polis Begins Campaign in Strong Position

Although, as Julie Turkewitz reported in the New York Times shortly before the primary, the question is “just how far left this frontier state wants to go,” Jared Polis, the perceived “far left” Democratic nominee, begins his campaign in a good position. He is running in a state that has moved left the last decade, in a year Democratic enthusiasm is high and against a Republican nominee burdened with an unpopular president.

Jared Polis | AP photo
Polis’ campaign proposals are expensive and his 10 years in Congress will provide a wealth of information for opposition research. So, a tough, in the trenches campaign can be expected, but as reported in this blogsite, The Buzz, the voter registration, party enthusiasm and presidential approval favor the Democrats.
Polis has never had a competitive general election where his reputation, political record and platform are truly tested. In spite of the Democrats’ 2018 advantage, Colorado remains a state with persuadable voters. Can the Republicans mount a campaign that makes the governor’s race competitive?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Webb, Big Smile, Is Still Optimistic About the Human Condition

Wellington Webb, 77, described his life and philosophy in a long Colorado Politics profile by Ernest Luning.

Webb, a tall, thin kid from Northeast Denver, always played above expectations. In his two toughest elections against Norm Early for mayor (1991) and Mary DeGroot for re-election (1995), he came from behind and beat the odds. One of his best assets was a great smile with an even public temperament. Webb puts people at ease, even while he’s promoting his loyal Democratic agenda and progressive politics.
Wellington Webb

Denver has been gifted with a long run of progressive, but pragmatic mayors, who, starting with Federico Peña in 1983, have used Denver’s landlocked but considerable assets to overcome white flight, old infrastructure and weak economies that have damaged so many core cities.

Webb inherited a new airport that he finished and opened. He managed the planning of Lowry and Stapleton, and most importantly, he vigorously promoted the Central Platte redevelopment with residential, commercial, recreation and just relaxing open space. These are major legacy projects.

Webb’s 12-year term from the early 1990s to the early 2000s was among Denver’s most productive. I said in the article “that disputes surrounding Webb’s administration have faded over the years.”

“The reason Denver isn’t a Cleveland or St. Louis or Detroit — a city that absolutely struggles — is we had a series of mayors who exceeded expectations and moved the city along,” Ciruli said. “Webb definitely pushed this city along to where it is today — one of the fastest-growing, strongest economies in the country. I put him in that pantheon of really great mayors this city has had.”