Friday, August 23, 2019

Gallup Polls Forewarn Political Crises in Argentina and Italy


Pollsters were surprised that an expected close primary election became a 16-point rout of incumbent President Mauricio Macri’s government in a national vote August 16. A stalled economy and a revitalized Peronist Party with a more mild-mannered nominee, Alberto Fernández, put Macri on the defense.

A Gallup poll published August 17 showed 62 percent of Argentinians said the economy where they lived was getting worse. The negative view of the economy started shortly after Macri was elected and various austerity measures were enacted. An anticipated economic recovery failed to appear.

Presidential hopeful, Alberto Fernández (right), and former president, current
 senator and vice-presidential hopeful, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at
campaign rally in Rosario, Santa Fe, Aug. 7, 2019 | Frente de Todos/AFP


Confidence in the Italian government is at 21 percent among citizens according to Gallup (Aug. 20, 2019). It is down 10 percent in the last 5 years, from 31 percent in 2014. On Tuesday, the government fell as the center-right party withdrew its support and the prime minister resigned, possibly leading to a new election. Matteo Salvini, an anti-immigration, Eurosceptic nationalist, is gambling on winning a majority for his League party and govern without his current coalition partner, the Five Star Movement.

Giuseppe Conte (C) with ministers Matteo Salvini (L) and Luigi Di Maio
during his resignation speech, Aug. 20, 2019 | RTÉ Newsroom

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Sanders and Warren Control Half the Colorado Democratic Electorate

Colorado’s Democrats have been on the left of the party’s national center for years and generally are not fond of the establishment’s primary candidates when given a choice. In 2016, they overwhelmingly went for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in spite of her near universal endorsements from the party’s elected leadership. Hillary Clinton was also beaten by the more left outsider, Barack Obama, in the 2008 nominating contest.

In a new Democratic primary poll, Sanders leads it with 25 percent over Joe Biden with 25 percent, followed closely by Elizabeth Warren at 20 percent. Sanders and Warren have 45 percent of the Colorado field as of August. Sanders’ support in Colorado, as nationally, is mostly made up of the old guard of 2016 supporters, whereas Warren is attracting more women, higher social economic status voters, and people curious about her plans and momentum. (Emerson College robo poll with panel for cell phones, N1000, 8/16-19/19.)

Michael Bennet scored one point in the poll.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Michael Bennet: A Decision is Near

Michael Bennet faces the same deadline as John Hickenlooper. On August 28, the DNC debate rules close the door on the September 12 debate at 2 percent in four reputable national polls. John bailed out on August 15. The Fox News poll of August 13 had both Hickenlooper and Bennet at zero percent. That is, none of the more than 1,000 respondents offered support after their names were read in a list of more than 20. Unfortunately for Bennet, the latest CNN poll of 1,001 completed on August 18 has him at zero percent, down from one percent in May. Bennet will not be alone in having to make a decision soon. At least a half a dozen additional candidates will be shut out by the rules.

The polling bottom candidates likely to be out soon:
  • Congressman Tim Ryan
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Senator Michael Bennet
  • Congressman John Delaney
  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee

Warren Surges, Bernie Falters

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the campaign
 trail in Iowa, Feb. 2019
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Elizabeth Warren is now second in Iowa, newly ahead of Bernie Sanders and second in the RealClearPolitics national average.

Sanders, who remains ahead in fundraising and number of donors, has his hardcore 2016 supporters, but Warren has the momentum. Sanders, realizing his campaign had stagnated after the first debate, rebooted to a bigger commitment to Medicare for All and a more forceful presence in the second debate. Unfortunately for him, the debates may limit the field, but a good performance has only rarely moved many Democratic voters. And, of course, Warren was also judged to have performed well in both debates.

Notice the other changes in the Iowa line-up. Tom Steyer now makes the top 7 list at 2 percent. He also in on the list in New Hampshire. Not only is Warren ahead of Sanders in Iowa, but Kamala Harris is tied, and Amy Klobuchar replaces Beto O’Rourke from his national sixth position.

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally
in Council Bluffs, Iowa, March 7, 2019
Photo: Nati Harnik/AP
One of Sanders’ strengths is his consistency of message, even if it is three years older and about a century out-of-date. But, it is being overshadowed by Warren’s plan a week for America’s ills. And
Sanders’ Medicare for All, which has never been very popular with the general public, is increasingly seen as flawed due to the party moderates attacking it as inimical to private insurance, massively expensive and politically impractical. Sanders, of course, was hoping to be the main foil to the Democratic establishment’s centrist, Joe Biden. And now, he’s being forced to share the platform with Warren and face a stage full of critics.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Job Growth: First Six Months in Colorado

Although Boulder, the heartland of the new Colorado Democrats, has the top job growth the first six months of 2019 (a little surprising since they often eschew growth and jobs), it is shared with Republican Colorado with Grand Junction, Greeley and Colorado Springs joining it in the top four.

Will Hickenlooper Run for Senate? Rudin’s Weekly Podcast

Ken Rudin
Ken Rudin’s weekly podcast featured John Hickenlooper on the day he quit his unsuccessful presidential race and started speculation on a U.S. Senate run against Cory Gardner. Rudin, for years, was a regular on NPR’s All Things Considered with his feature show, “Political Junkie.”

After a long conversation on Hickenlooper’s failed presidential campaign and the 2020 political environment in Colorado, Rudin asked me three questions?
  • Will Hickenlooper run for senate?
  • If there is a primary, will he win it?
  • Will he win the general election?
  1. I answered the last question first. Odds are very high Hickenlooper would win senate race. But, as of today, the year looks so positive for Democrats, several of the top declared candidates could likely win.
  2. The field can’t be cleared. There will be a primary. The national and Colorado Democratic political establishment has limited influence in Colorado. The top candidates have raised more money for their senate campaigns than Hickenlooper for his presidential campaign. Hickenlooper has never been in a Colorado primary contest, and the activists in the party have many objections to Hickenlooper’s Colorado record and presidential politics.
  3. The pressure on Hickenlooper to run is growing, even as he has said it may not be a good fit for him. He will not be able to wait for months to decide. The people in the field are building fundraising bases and grassroots organizers.
Listen to my speculations here

Ken Rudin's "Political Junkie" website
Rudin goes in-depth on issues. This week, besides Hickenlooper, he featured a Democratic pollster on whether after years of inactivity on gun control has the politics changed (Yes!)? Also, he examined why Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential ambitions have stalled. Is it at least partially due to Democratic activists and funders unhappy with her role in Al Franken’s resignation from the Senate (Yes!)?

Listen to the full interview here

Monday, August 19, 2019

Airport Needs New Leadership?

In 1993, Wellington Webb, in danger of a re-election defeat, sent his top manager to get the long delayed airport and its failed automated baggage system back on track. The manager had two special assets: political skill and her close relationship to City Hall power.

Is it time Michael Hancock takes charge and the airport bureaucrats follow directions? The Denver Post documents there has been a massive and expensive mismanagement and a significant failure to communicate the problems in a timely fashion.

John Hickenlooper, Kim Day and Mayor Michael Hancock at an event at DIA.

Friday, August 16, 2019

News From the Campaign – Medicare for All in Trouble and Guns in Duck and Cover

Medicare for All

New polling shows voters with reservations about Medicare for All’s cost and impact on private insurance. Bernie Sanders’s and Elizabeth Warren’s proposal is under assault by Joe Biden, John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet and all the party’s moderates. They are warning that if the goal is to win the election and not just ideological fights, Medicare for All is a general election liability. Numerous polls agree.

And, although a majority of Democratic voters still like it, even larger majorities support the Affordable Care Act with improvements. Especially popular is the public option, which Biden and other moderates support.

Guns After El Paso and Dayton

After the El Paso and Dayton shootings, polls are detecting a shift in opinion on guns that may not be as temporary as after previous mass shootings. The desire for gun legislation appears broader and deeper than after the tragedies at Sandy Hook or Parkland. How long lasting is yet to be determined, but more than 90 percent of the public support gun background registration and more than two-thirds support Red Flag laws. President Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled movement on the issues, at least partially to protect Republicans in swing states and districts.

In 2018, former Congressman Michael Coffman was on the defensive in his suburban Denver district due to his high level of NRA contributions. He got little help from Trump or Congress. Currently, Cory Gardner is 4th on the national contribution list.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Can Polis and Becker Revive the Republican Party? They’re Trying.

The controversial TABOR override the Democratic legislature put on the ballot has already helped revive the Republican Party around an issue that always unites them – opposing taxes and the growth of government.

At the moment, Democrats have abandoned Proposition CC. In desperation, they tried to maneuver a special session that would have made the TABOR change more palatable. But not unexpectedly, the high-profile re-write effort alerted people to the Democratic strategy and provided endless talking points for the Republican opposition. The TABOR override is on the ballot, and Democrats and their allies must make an effort to pass it in the face of unified Republican opposition. Governor Polis, House Speak KC Becker and the Democratic legislative leadership will be dealing with the issue and its impact on their 2020 plans.

But possibly an even greater Democratic misstep was their lightning speed passage of the National Popular Vote legislation. With little discussion or debate, the law could take Colorado out of the Electoral College and link it to the popular vote for president.

The bill, one of the first taken up by Democrats, passed the legislature in February and was signed by Governor Polis with no media coverage in March. But nearly as fast, a group of grassroots activists launched a petition campaign, which just turned in more than 225, 000 signatures for a repeal referendum. The speed and number of signers demonstrates considerable passion and a well-organized opposition.

The vote will be in November 2020 with the presidential election. It will be a distraction for the Democrats from their strategy of a landslide against Donald Trump and for the statewide Democratic ticket. It will be a useful organizing issue for Republicans.

House Speaker KC Becker speaks at a press conference while Gov. Jared
Polis listens in the background, April 2019 | Photo: Scott Franz

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Placement and Polls Structure the Debate

As expected, the July Democratic debates mostly reinforced the positions of the polling leaders. The placement of the top tier candidates between the two nights set the dynamics for the show. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren dominated the first debate and the topics became the promotion and defense of their left position, especially on health care. The most interesting dynamic was a group of moderates challenging the frontrunners speaking and grabbing some attention.

The “1” percent challengers – Steve Bullock, Amy Klobuchar and John Delaney – all got more than ten minutes. Although John Hickenlooper got a couple of good exchanges, he didn’t engage much.

Joe Biden was the dominant participant the second night, with race the main topic, especially for Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. The three of them got the most time, and Biden and Harris spent a major portion of it defending themselves and their records.

Michael Bennet was the only moderate besides Biden, and he challenged the left’s attack on race as focusing on ancient history and not the problems of today. He also criticized Harris and her health care proposal as a dishonest presentation of the cost.

A couple of rounds of national polls are now out, and there was little repositioning detectable due to debate performance.

The debate criteria will shortly limit the field, but the events are having modest impact.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Does Hickenlooper’s Presidential Campaign End August 28? Interview With April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz at KOA

August 28 is the last day for Democratic presidential candidates to qualify for the September 12 (and 13 if needed) Democratic debate. John Hickenlooper is not even close to qualifying with having made 2 percent, the threshold in only one national poll, and receiving no measurable support in several others conducted post the July debates. He’s now at the bottom of the list of 21 candidates reported by RealClearPolitics with a 0.0 average. In fact, in the latest list, he’s been dropped as Tom Steyer was added. There is also a donor threshold of 130,000, which he’s far from meeting.

Hickenlooper’s campaign for president is effectively over.

National media and pundits have written him off. Nearly all stories about him now include a reference to observers’ beliefs he might have a better chance to run for the Colorado senate seat held by Cory Gardner. A new poll says he starts with a huge advantage in name identification. Although, a new round of stories now includes commentary that the Colorado senate option may not be easy.

When does Hickenlooper get out of the race? He could wait around until later in September because the October debate will use the same criteria, but why? He’ll miss the September debate and is unlikely to be missed. He could ride the Winnebago around Iowa until the February 3 caucus, but it would be a waste of time and gas. It’s over. He gave it a good run, but it simply didn’t take. Even he seems to realize it with his statement reported in the Colorado Springs Gazette and The Hill: “He would be a ‘fool’ to continue his longshot bid if he doesn’t see change in polls.”

Listen to KOA interview here

John Hickenlooper and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand flip
pork chops at the 2019 Iowa State Fair | Photo: Gary He

Friday, August 9, 2019

Visit Nixon Library

Richard Nixon would be unhappy. His home, Orange County, now has more registered Democrats (547,450) than Republicans (547,369), with “no preference” in a rapidly growing third place (440,711). As the consummate politician, it is interesting to speculate what he would recommend for Republicans. The county has been a Republican stronghold since its founding, with its recent high point in 1984 when Ronald Reagan won it with 84 percent.

It’s a relevant debate because the Nixon Presidential Library is now led by Hugh Hewitt, who spends considerable time in Washington defending President Trump’s policies. Is Nixon a Trump man?

The causes for the California Republican decline are many, but few observers believe 2020 and Trump’s re-election effort will help the party recover. Most see relief only after Trump moves on and the polarization declines.

Hugh Hewitt at the Presidential Library in Yorba Linda,
March 25, 2019 | Mindy Schauer/ Orange County Register/SCNG

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Arapahoe County Gets Polling Data on New Jail

In a recently completed poll for Arapahoe County fixing the crowded jail was supported by 63 percent of likely November voters. The Ciruli Associates poll was conducted at the end of July, with 401 likely November Arapahoe County voters (±4.9 percentage points).

Proposals for a new jail, courthouse and DA’s office were being reviewed by a committee of county residents assembled by the county commissioners.

Voters were only modestly supportive of new taxes to build the $464 million jail with a new detention center. About one-half said they would vote for a property or sales tax increase. Only 28 percent were supportive of a property tax increase for a more extensive $1 billion complex of a new jail, courthouse and DA’s office.

Freda Miklin reported the story in the August 7 Villager. Read here

Floyd Ciruli and South Denver Economic Development Partnership
Senior VP Lynn Myers talked about the aging Arapahoe County
criminal justice facilities | Photo: Freda Miklin

Hickenlooper Gets a Meme, But is it Goodbye? – KOA

John Hickenlooper speaks at first of two Democratic presidential
primary debates in Detroit, July 30, 2019 | Paul Sancya/AP
John Hickenlooper got one of the lines of the night in an animated exchange with Bernie Sanders when he said Sanders’s “Medicine for All” was radical and would “FedEx the election to Trump.” Sanders threw his arms up in frustration over the word “radical” and Hickenlooper mocked him in an arm wave that made social media. Hickenlooper was one of five moderate Democrats that took on the left’s frontrunners: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

In a discussion with KOA’s April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz after the debate, I highlighted some comments on a debate full of controversy and possibly the last debate participation for several candidates.
  1. The debate highlighted the divide between the party’s left wing represented by Sanders and Warren (representing about 30% of the party) and a moderate wing that finally spoke up and had a message.
  2. Although, as usual, the frontrunners dominated the time. Five moderates, all struggling for a spot in the September debates, made their mark. Hickenlooper, with a meme, was joined by a little recognized John Delaney, new participant Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana Amy Klobuchar and Tim Ryan, all hunting for their breakout moment.
  3. The challengers to liberal orthodoxy had a number of good lines that will now be repeated as the debates extend to the fall.
    • Steve Bullock – Wish-list economics, here and now, not pie-in-the-sky
    • John Delaney – Democrats now have their own repeal and replace – your health care insurance will become illegal (no doubt Donald Trump will say “and making illegal immigrants legal).
    • Amy Klobuchar – It’s not winning the argument, but the election.
  4. The Sanders/Warren counter-strategy was well-thought-out because they have been dealing with the criticism for months, if not years.
    • Our opponents lack ambition and courage (Warren)
    • Why run if you don’t want to overturn the system (Warren)
    • Talking about what they won’t do, won’t fight for (Warren)
    • I win in the polls (Sanders)
    • We’re all extremist to Trump (Buttigieg)
    • None of the lines will stop the arguments, and the least persuasive, but most frequently used by the left is “stop using Republican talking points.” If the criticism is valid, fact based, who cares if it came from the RNC, DNC, ACLU or NAACP.
  5. Hickenlooper performed well, but his moment was crowded out by the two frontrunners – Sanders and Warren – getting most of the time and by four fellow “one” percenters fighting for their space.
Shortly before the debate, a group of leading Democratic senators were quoted as encouraging Hickenlooper to shift to the Colorado U.S. Senate race. It was both a prudent encouragement for their priority to win the senate, but also a realistic assessment of Hickenlooper’s very slim chance of getting into the first tier of candidates.

The next round of polls and fundraising will tell the story, but clearly Hickenlooper loves being on stage. His final line of the night was: “What a night, I love it.” It may be his final debate line period.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

All Moderates Want to Replace Biden

If Joe Biden fades, all the moderates from the first night’s debate and Michael Bennet from the second night want to become the face of the moderate wing of the party. Unfortunately for them, Biden’s support in the Black community, mostly based on association with Barack Obama, is unlikely to transfer. They will quickly find that building a majority primary constituency is very difficult. Nonetheless, the second round of Democratic debates revived the party moderates to take on Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

Michael Bennet, in the second debate, had the benefit of being the only moderate outside the night’s main target – Joe Biden. He took on Kamala Harris on the left’s main policy program and its major vulnerability – Medicare for All. He aggressively questioned its tax implications, more or less called her deceptive, and said it made private insurance illegal. She was not happy.

Bennet’s best moment was his high volume criticism of current education policy effectively pointing out it was ridiculous to argue 1970s busing when schools were still segregated and inadequate.

Bennet had a good night, but it’s unlikely to move the polls as long as Biden remains the frontrunner – he holds the moderate space. He appeared to emerge from the night of attacks intact. The challenge for the six-person moderate wing is just to survive into the September debate.

From left: Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand and Julian Castro
at the July 31, 2019 debate | Scott Olson/Getty Images

As Presidential Race Crashes, Hickenlooper Hints Senate Race

After a more than six-month presidential campaign fails to rise above “1” percent in the national or primary state polls, John Hickenlooper turns to consider the Colorado Senate race he had long disavowed as not the right job for him.

He would be joining a crowded Democratic senate field of more than ten candidates, the top five of whom have raised collectively twice as much as his failed presidential campaign. Although an unreleased poll claims Hickenlooper would be the name identification frontrunner, some observers believe he would face considerable resistance from a party that appears to have moved beyond the Hickenlooper era.

See strange story of Hickenlooper’s shift in The Hill here

John Hickenlooper | UPI photo