Friday, February 23, 2018

March for Our Lives; Will Florida Make a Difference?

Will the mass shooting in Florida change the politics of gun control? It may, but the track record is very mixed. After the elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, no gun legislation passed the U.S. Senate. Colorado, however, passed gun control laws in 2013, and became a test case of the proposition: Can gun control start at the local level and go national? The answer turned out to be no.

Democrats, having taken over both houses of the Colorado legislature and controlling the governorship, rapidly passed a background check and limit on magazines in the 2013 legislative session. But, gun supporters, aided by the National Rifle Association, struck back by instigating two recall special elections against senior Democratic state senators, and they won. The recalls had a chilling effect on gun control legislation, not only in Colorado, but throughout the country.

National and local polling shows the public is mostly favorably disposed toward a number of specific gun control measures, even while they support the Second Amendment. A recent Colorado poll by CU shows a majority of the public favors increased gun control by 59 percent to 37 percent, but that there are significant partisan differences.

National surveys that ask if the public supports or opposes stricter gun laws often record a divided response, with a modest majority favoring stricter laws (CNN, stricter laws 52%, Oct. 15, 2017; Gallup 60%, Oct. 11, 2017; Quinnipiac 59%, Dec. 18, 2017). However, when specific laws are proposed, support can reach more than 9 out of 10 people, for example, 95 percent support background checks for all gun buyers (Quinnipiac, Dec. 18-20, 2017.

Democrats and Republicans Split on Sympathy for Israel

Although Israel still receives considerable sympathy from Americans in its dispute with Palestinians (46% for Israel, 16% for Palestine), there is now a significant partisan gap in sympathy, with a 52-point difference between Republicans’ (79%) sympathy for Israel compared to Democrats’ (27%).

The gap began in earnest toward the end of President George W. Bush’s second term. Republicans had been consistently more supportive of Israel than Democrats since the start of the Pew Research measurement in the late 1970s. But, sympathy jumped from the 50 percent level to the 70s after 2006, especially among conservative Republicans. Support for Israel among Democrats, on the other hand, while somewhat lower, remained steady until the 2014 period, then it dropped 15 points to the current 27 percent.

The two shifts in sympathy are an example of domestic politics significantly affecting the public’s foreign policy viewpoint. Evangelical Republicans became increasingly committed to Israel’s security as the site of the biblical story during the Bush presidency. Israeli politics became much more conservative under Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli government hostility toward the Obama administration intensified based on settlement policies and the Iran agreement. Republican political leaders welcomed Netanyahu to speak to Congress on his opposition to the Iran government without the Obama administration’s involvement in May 2015.

The Trump administration has pledged its close support for Israel’s position in negotiations with Palestinians and announced it’s moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a controversial position avoided by previous American presidents.

The new alignments are creating stress among American Jews who support Israel, but are domestic liberals and Democrats. Israel may find a much more conflicted and less supportive U.S. government when the Democrats regain control in D.C.

American Jews (7 million, depending on definition, voted 70 percent for Hillary Clinton.

See Pew Report: Republicans and Democrats grow even further apart in views of Israel, Palestinians

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cultural Tax Error Corrected

It required a failed special session and involved much partisan wrangling, but a correction to a legislative error concerning collecting retail marijuana taxes passed easily in the first six weeks of the 2018 legislative session. Sponsors Republican Senator Bob Gardner and Democratic Representative KC Becker helped design and pass the legislation. Lt. Governor Donna Lynn signed the bill. Thank you Donna.

Considerable effort was expended by the lobby teams representing the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), RTD and the independent group, Citizens for Arts to Zoo that supports the SCFD. Fortunately, by staying engaged in the legislative correction, culture support retrieved an estimated $9 million for the SCFD and its programs during the life of the 2016 extension.

Additional good news came this week with the report of the 2017 sales tax revenue. The year’s final sales tax revenue shows $59.8 collected for distribution, a 5.7 percent increase over 2016. Over the next 12 years, upward of $1 billion (at a 3.7% increase) will be collected and distributed for the benefit of the citizens and visitors of the SCFD region. What a gift for our cultural quality of life.

Read:
Bill to resolve pot tax error heads to Hickenlooper’s desk
Fix to marijuana taxes for special districts headed to Colorado governor

Unaffiliated Voters May Be Deciders in June 26 Primary

Due to Proposition 108, passed in the November 2016 general election, unaffiliated voters will receive the mail-back primary ballot for both parties and can select a primary they are most interested in and mail it back. (They can only vote in for one party primary to be counted.)

Colorado Politics Ernest Luning describes the potential impact 1.1 million unaffiliated voters could have on the crowded June 26 primaries for both parties. Given the crowded ballots for both parties for governor, a candidate could win with 30 to 35 percent of the vote, meaning a few thousand unaffiliated voters could be decisive.

I pointed out many unaffiliated voters have partisan feelings and considerable passion that can be activated by a particular candidate or campaign.

“The unaffiliated voter is not necessarily a moderate — in many cases it’s more liberal or more conservative than even the typical partisan,” Ciruli says. And while they might not belong to a party, there’s little doubt where their sympathies lie. “There won’t be a whole lot of people choosing between the two.”

In other states that hold open primaries, he noted, unaffiliated voters often amp things up rather than moderate the outcome.

“When they have been involved, it’s been sending a message or voting for a celebrity type of politician — a Bernie Sanders, a Donald Trump fit that category and attracted them,” Ciruli said.

After former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo’s departure from the GOP gubernatorial primary last week, Ciruli added, Colorado’s primary might not have that kind of choice on either ballot.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Colorado Politics: Tancredo Hits the Paywall – and Shakes Up Both Parties

Both parties have too many candidates for governor. The March 6 caucuses should begin the winnowing process. Also, a number of candidates who have more money than followers in the grassroots party are taking the petition route, which are due to be turned in by March 20. 

Colorado Politics is intensifying its coverage of the 2018 election. In an article published on Ash Wednesday (St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14), I review Tom Tancredo’s withdrawal and how it affects both parties.

Tancredo hits the paywall – and shakes up both parties
Once again, the Republican establishment said “no” and Tom Tancredo surrendered to the reality of having no source of funding for his third campaign for governor. Tancredo’s decision to run always lacked believability beyond a primary challenge. It appeared mostly as a revenge tour for being denied the gubernatorial nomination in 2014.

But, his withdrawal not only shakes up the Republican race, it also rearranges the Democratic line-up. Jared Polis, the frontrunner, is seen by many Democrats as a vulnerable statewide candidate. The initial plausibility of his statewide election was mostly a product of Tancredo’s dramatic misalignment with the Colorado electorate of 2018. Read more…

DU Panel Looks at Who Has the Money in Governor’s Race

The January financial filings made clear to Tom Tancredo – he’s out. The latest campaign filings provide a wealth of information as to who should be able to get to the June 26 primaries and who else may drop out.

On February 22, a DU panel of experts will debate the frontrunners and their chances. Money counts in politics, and Republican Dick Wadhams and Democrat Steve Welchert will analyze the race with Tom Tancredo out, a still full field of candidates and $13 million already raised. They will be joined by lobbyists Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf and former Denver Post editorial editor, Vincent Carroll.

The panel will be moderated by Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. The panel begins at 4:00 pm, Thursday, February 22. The panelists:
  • Dick Wadhams – Republican political campaign manager and senior staff with elected officials from Senator Bill Armstrong to Governor Bill Owens, including a stint as State Republican Chair
  • Steve Welchert – Democratic consultant for candidates, such as Mayor Federico Peña and Congressman Ed Perlmutter. He has worked on numerous ballot issue campaigns.
  • Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf – Leading lobbyists with the firm Colorado Legislative Services
  • Vincent Carroll – Former political editorial director of the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post
Colorado Politics in 2018: Transition in the Age of Polarization
4-6 pm, Thursday, February 22, 2018
Reception: 6-7 pm
Korbel School at DU
Ground Floor, Room Sie 1150*
Ben Cherrington Hall (old building)
2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO
*please note room change

RSVP to: Jane Bucher-McCoy at jane.bucher-mccoy@du.edu or 303.871.2882

Panel is cosponsored by Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research and Institute for Public Policy Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Is Colorado Now a Blue State? DU Panel Describes the Possibilities and Results.

Colorado is in a major political transition with an open seat for governor and the State Senate held by the opposing party by only one seat.

A Democratic governor with both houses of the legislature under Democratic control could revive the 2013 lurch to the left. On the other hand, a Republican governor with even one house of the legislature could move the state to the right.

Lobbyists and political observes, Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf, will describe the key legislative races, this year’s legislative action, and what a new governor and legislature portends for 2019. They will be joined with Republican analyst Dick Wadhams and Democrat Steve Welchert. Providing the media overview will be Vincent Carroll, former editorial editor of the Denver Post.
  • Dick Wadhams – Republican political campaign manager and senior staff with elected officials from Senator Bill Armstrong to Governor Bill Owens, including a stint as State Republican Chair
  • Steve Welchert – Democratic consultant for candidates, such as Mayor Federico Peña and Congressman Ed Perlmutter. He has worked on numerous ballot issue campaigns.
  • Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf – Leading lobbyists with the firm Colorado Legislative Services
  • Vincent Carroll – Former political editorial director of the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post
Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center, will moderate the panel.

Colorado Politics in 2018: Transition in the Age of Polarization
4-6 pm, Thursday, February 22, 2018
Reception: 6-7 pm
Korbel School at DU
Sié Complex,  Room 1150
2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO

RSVP to: Jane Bucher-McCoy at jane.bucher-mccoy@du.edu or 303.871.2882

Panel is cosponsored by Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research and Institute for Public Policy Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.

The Failing New York Times

The New York Times continues to be America’s highest quality newspaper. And, the more Donald Trump attacks it, the better it appears to do in terms of readers. The Times is also doing massive amounts of advertising, especially for its digital products. The key for a newspaper’s survival today is turning analogue content into digital revenue.

Political news coverage of the Trump administration’s and Washington’s daily dramas have produced a boon for many publications from the right, left and center. The Times reported 99,000 new digital subscribers in the fourth quarter, for a total of 2.2 million digital news subscribers, up 613,000 from a year earlier.

A part of the surge to media, both legacy and digital, is the public’s view the news media is essential to a democratic society. Eighty percent of the public believes the news media is very important or critical to making sure citizens are informed, keeping leaders accountable and providing a platform for democratic communications.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tancredo is Out; Shakes Up Both Parties. DU Holds Forum With Political Experts to Discuss the Race.

With former Congressman Tom Tancredo out of the Colorado governor’s race, both parties begin to focus more on winning and less on sending a message. Who are the frontrunners today? Has Colorado moved so far left that the Democrats could sweep the governorship and both houses of the legislature? Or, is Colorado still independent enough to pick and choose between candidates of both parties?

Ask the experts.

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research is hosting a panel of top Colorado political experts on the status of the governor’s race and the legislature. The panel, called “Colorado Politics in 2018: Transition in the Age of Polarization, includes:
  • Dick Wadhams – Republican political campaign manager and senior staff with elected officials from Senator Bill Armstrong to Governor Bill Owens, including a stint as State Republican Chair
  • Steve Welchert – Democratic consultant for candidates, such as Mayor Federico Peña and Congressman Ed Perlmutter. He has worked on numerous ballot issue campaigns.
  • Melanie Layton and Zoey DeWolf – Leading lobbyists with the firm Colorado Legislative Services
  • Vincent Carroll – Former political editorial director of the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post
Colorado Politics in 2018: Transition in the Age of Polarization
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Thursday, February 22, 2018
Reception: 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Korbel School at DU
Sié Complex, Room 1150
2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO

RSVP to: Jane Bucher-McCoy at jane.bucher-mccoy@du.edu or 303.871.2882

Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center, will moderate the panel. It is cosponsored in conjunction with the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Friday, February 9, 2018

They’re In, They’re Out. The Revolving Door for Governor.

Both parties think they can win the Colorado open governor seat. Expensive primaries ($25 million possible) are underway. A crowd of ambitious top state politicians have considered the race. Some have said no, some yes, and some yes and no. It’s been a revolving door.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Volatility Up, Dow Down

After an incredible run, the Dow began a correction that reached 10 percent during intraday trading since the volatility ramped up on Monday, January 29, the day before the State of the Union. The 666 fall-off on last Friday (Feb. 2) shifted the investor attitude to watchful anxiety. The 1175 drop on Monday (Feb. 5) reflected panic. It was the largest point downturn in Dow history and a significant percentage drop of 4 percent. Dow at lower levels produces greater percentage declines. The 508 point drop in October 1987 was 23 percent of the market.

Clearly volatility is up, with 500-point swings becoming common. In fact, Tuesday, February 6, the trading range was 1167 points, the second largest in history. It’s also clear the synchronized worldwide growth trend can quickly become the synchronized worldwide sell-off, with indexes in Asia and Europe showing point drops equal to or greater than the Dow (Tuesday, Feb. 6 Europe down 2.4, Nikkei 4.7).

The President has finally figured out it’s best to talk about the fundamentals and end the endless stock touting. The new debate centers around the possible inflationary effect of the Republicans’ fiscal policy of a massive debt-financed tax cut nine years into an expansion.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Gloomy Former Governors Meet at DAC Forum

Last Friday, former governor and presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis, visited Colorado for a Denver Forum session. In attendance was his old friend and colleague, Dick Lamm.

The two governors have a long history. Both were first elected in 1974 and served 12 years in their respective states, Massachusetts and Colorado. Dukakis lost the Democratic primary after his first term, but came back in 1983 for eight more years.

Dukakis was the Democratic nominee in 1988, losing to George H.W. Bush, and Lamm tried to wrestle the Reform Party nomination from Ross Perot in 1996 and lost. As Lamm points out, the Reform Party was a wholly owned Perot franchise.

Lamm was on a potential list to be in the Dukakis cabinet and Dukakis was a jacket endorsement of Lamm’s 2013 book, “Brave New World of Healthcare Revisited.” They both went into teaching – Dukakis in Northeastern and UCLA (he likes the winters) and Lamm at DU (he just retired).

Both are notoriously gloomy about national debt and the ability of the political leadership or even the American system to act responsibly. Dukakis tore after the Republican tax reform as fiscally irresponsible at his DAC talk, and Lamm is famous for railing on the failures of the health care system.

Here are the differences: 
Dukakis is far more the Democratic Party reformer and Lamm the dreamer of a third-party or independent candidacy. Dukakis revels in his Greek ethnic identity and believes we should welcome more immigrants. Lamm is the old zero population growth adherent and thinks we should keep the borders tight and immigrants assimilated.

Both now in their 80s (Dukakis at 84 and Lamm 82) – gloomy or not – are still in the public policy game.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Davos and Worldwide Opinion of U.S.

State of the Union speeches are important events in presidential careers. It was even a greater opportunity and threat for this president. Donald Trump’s joint session speech in February 2017 was one of the highpoints in the chaos of the first month. But as Trump begins his second year, his approval number remains low and a sense of foreboding has crept into Republican calculations that, regardless of policy successes like tax reform, his style will be a drag on the party in November.

To maximize the value of a State of the Union speeches, presidents and their staff design both before and after public relations strategies to shore up some weaknesses, highlight strengths and present new initiatives. Davos was an opportunity, for example, because it commanded the attention of people who value the worldwide economic surge, but have reservations of Trump’s policies and personality.

Davos Repositioning
Trump’s public relations effort began as he walked out the door of the White House to jet to Switzerland. It offered a well-timed forum to claim he wanted to testify under oath with the Mueller investigation (major conditions) and had a plan for DACA immigrants (major attachments). While in Davos, the repositioning continued as he said international treaties, like TPP and climate change, were agreements the U.S. was still amendable to join under the right conditions. Further, he said nice things to Theresa May to repair his ham-handed damage to the British relationship and possibly wheedle an invitation to the royal wedding. And, of course, he gave a toned down speech written more by Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster than Steve Miller or remnants of the Steve Bannon crowd.

Decline in U.S. Approval, America First and President Trump
Davos was a success, which Trump will use to counter the broad international criticism he has engendered in his first year. It would be difficult to drive down worldwide public opinion more effectively than Trump did. The latest worldwide Gallup Poll shows an 18 percentage point drop in the credibility of the U.S. worldwide, from 48 percent in 2016 to 30 percent now (a reader pointed out it's a 37.5% drop). America’s credibility is 4 points lower than in President Bush’s last year (2008). The U.S. joins Russia in low approval.

Friday, February 2, 2018

If You Live by the Dow, You Die by the Dow

President Trump, anxious to find a credible metric that records his success and which he can translate into political influence and personal popularity, has chosen the rapid 14-month run-up in the stock market.

Unfortunately, the Dow dropped 540 points in two days (177 and 362) last Monday and Tuesday (State of the Union day). While this appears to be a short-term blip and a possible buying opportunity, it reminds traders and investors that a pricey market, negative signals from the Fed (rising interest rates) or some geopolitical event could lead to more volatility and decline.

Trump hasn’t as yet been able to improve his own approval rating from the glow of the economy and the Dow. It may be possible, but, as of now, Trump’s approval rating appears more dependent on his tone and language and less influenced by regulations cancelled and tax cuts passed.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Ciruli Dashboard: One Year Into First Term

President Trump is consistent. He may shift topics and tone for special occasions, such as Davos and State of the Union, but mostly his style and rhetoric is set and it is reflected in the near unwavering 40 percent approval rating he has had for his first term. He continues to hold 75 percent of self-identified Republicans, but he has failed to expand his base, and as the November 2018 midterm elections loom, losing the House of Representatives becomes more of a possibility.

Trump and the Republican leadership are hoping the roiling economy and tax cut benefits will shift opinion in their direction. And there is some evidence it may, even as Trump’s personal demeanor undermines the good mood. Trump’s approval rating for his economic performance is up 5 points since the new year, even as his overall approval has varied around 40 percent and his foreign policy approval lingers at 36 percent (data from RealClearPolitics.com).

Hickenlooper Water Legacy: Durango Herald and Colorado Politics

Governor Hickenlooper answered questions for a half-hour at the Colorado Water Congress annual convention in his likely last presentation before the group. In a dialogue with me, he focused considerable attention on the need for new money for projects.

A key point was that if the water community doesn’t claim the right to the state’s severance tax, it will be lost to others.

Hickenlooper has a water legacy from appointing Prowers County farmer and rancher, John Stulp, as his water counselor and members of his senior staff to completing the state’s first water plan in November 2015.

Covering the question and answer session was Marianne Goodland for Colorado Politics and the Durango Herald:

Gov. Hickenlooper touts severance taxes to pay for state water plan
Gov. John Hickenlooper, on another stop on his farewell tour, talked to the water community Thursday that largely backed the development of the Colorado water plan in 2015 and what the future holds for Colorado water.

Hickenlooper was initially expected to talk about his water legacy during the Colorado Water Congress luncheon in southeastern Denver, but instead, he addressed how he regards water and how the state ought to pay for the water plan’s estimated $20 billion price tag.

Before the start of Hickenlooper’s remarks, the Water Congress took the pulse of those in attendance about what the next governor should do with the water plan. Seventy-three percent said “use it,” 8 percent said the next governor should ignore it and 19 percent said the state should embark on a different path with regard to its water future.

Pollster Floyd Ciruli said the results show the new governor has to make sure the water plan and its issues remain a top priority, along with rural broadband, transportation and public education funding. Read more…

Governor John Hickenlooper | AP