Friday, January 24, 2020

The Political Year Starts Now

Panel of political experts examine the Colorado political landscape a month before the presidential primary (March 3) and senatorial caucus (March 7).

Will impeachment hurt Cory Gardner? Will Super Tuesday decide the winner or are Democrats going to a contested convention? Is Colorado a swing state, light or dark blue? Hundreds of initiatives have been filed. What will make the ballot?

Floyd Ciruli, Moderator
Director, Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, Josef Korbel School at University of Denver

Sheila MacDonald, Democratic consultant, state and local campaigns
Dick Wadhams, consultant, former Republican chair
Joey Bunch, senior writer, deputy editor, Colorado Politics

Sheila MacDonald, Dick Wadhams and Joey Bunch

Check out the CWC website for more information here

Colorado Water Congress State Convention
January 30, 2020
9:15 am
Westin Westminster

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Senate Impeachment Proceedings

If you look closely at a rare picture of the Senate impeachment proceedings, you can see Chief Justice John Roberts, Mitch McConnell, Dianne Feinstein and a group of Democrats – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bennet – who would rather be in Iowa (or in New Hampshire).

Another couple of 12- to 16-hour sessions of this conversation and even the Democrats will be ready to vote.

Senate TV via AP

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The 2020 Political Landscape

Colorado Water Congress State Convention
January 30, 2020
9:15 am
Westin Westminster

Panel of top political commentators examine the Colorado political landscape a month before the presidential primary (March 3) and senatorial caucus (March 7).

Will impeachment affect Colorado politics? Will the Democratic presidential and senatorial nominees be strong competitors to Trump and Gardner, respectively? Is Colorado a swing state, light or dark blue? Hundreds of ballot issues have been filed. What will make the ballot?

Floyd Ciruli, Moderator
Director, Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, Josef Korbel School at University of Denver

Sheila MacDonald, Democratic consultant
Dick Wadhams, former Republican chair
Joey Bunch, Colorado Politics

Check out the CWC website for more information here

Japan, the US and China in the Indo-Pacific

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Center for China-US Cooperation and the Office of Global Engagement Presents:

Minister Noriyuki Shikata
The strategic challenge for the United States and Japan in Asia is to engage a rising China, while maintaining a favorable balance of power for the United States, Japan and its allies. A robust U.S.-Japan alliance is critical to the effort and necessitates sustained dialogue on how the alliance can shape the regional order. Achieving that objective will require the United States and Japan to articulate the strategy to maintain the balance in the Asia Pacific and understand the strategic benefit that Japan brings to the strategy. Join the discussion.

Noriyuki Shikata
Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Beijing
Currently at Harvard
With Director Floyd Ciruli and Professor Suisheng Zhao

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
11:45 am to 1:30 pm
University of Denver
SIE Complex (The Forum), 1st Floor, Room 1020

Event in cooperation with the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver

SPACE IS LIMITED - Please register early

Free and open to the public. Lunch Provided.

RSVP here

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dow Fires Past 29000, Yet Trump Struggles

The Dow is up more than 10000 points, or 56 percent since November 8, 2016 Election Day. It surged through the 29000 level to close January 15 at 29030 after a record 22 percent increase in 2019. And, the Dow’s 2019 gain lagged the broader S&P index with a 29 percent growth and the market leader, tech-heavy NASDAQ, up 35 percent.

Yet, Donald Trump struggles for re-election. Although his economic performance rating is a high 54 percent approval, his overall job approval seldom gets above 44 percent, an “iffy” position for re-election. The 10-point plus difference is the swing that makes the election unpredictable. Many of the swing voters are moderate Democrats and independents who find Trump’s personal style, tone and ethics a problem.

Also, the expansion has slowed (GDP 1.7) and is uneven. Manufacturing and business investments are underperforming. And, of course, Democrats argue that the economy and Trump’s policies are unfair to a majority of the public and are highly skewed to the rich. Today, the intense polarization undermines the credit politicians get for the economy. Finally, after a long expansion, voters often shift attention from the economy onto other issues, most of which primarily help Trump with his base, not swing voters.

Friday, January 17, 2020

New Polls in New Hampshire No Help for Bennet

Two recent polls in New Hampshire failed to report any support for Senator Michael Bennet. His average in RealClearPolitics is 0.5 for polls conducted in January, with three finding zero support and one – the January 3-7 Monmouth poll – giving him 2 points.

The leaders are Bernie Sanders (22%), Joe Biden (21%), Elizabeth Warren (16%) and Pete Buttigieg (14%). Bennet is tenth on the New Hampshire list with his 0.5 percent. He’s been campaigning in New Hampshire for months as his long-shot fallback strategy when it became clear he had no measurable support in Iowa.

The good news for Bennet is that he must now head to Washington for the impeachment trial and put the campaign on hold.

Read The Buzz: Why is Michael Bennet in New Hampshire?

Sen. Michael Bennet speaks at a house party hosted by
supporters in New Hampshire, Jan. 12, 2020 | C-Span

Thursday, January 16, 2020

DU Event with Minister Noriyuki Shikata

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, The Center for China-US Cooperation & The Office of Global Engagement Presents:

Japan, the US and China in the Indo-Pacific

Noriyuki Shikata
Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Beijing
With Director Floyd Ciruli and Professor Suisheng Zhao

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
11:45 am to 1:30 pm
University of Denver
SIE Complex (The Forum), 1st Floor, Room 1020

Noriyuki Shikata was the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in China. His other prior positions include: Deputy Director General, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau; Director, Economic Treaties Division, International Legal Affairs Bureau; and Director, Second North America Division, North America Bureau. Mr. Shikata has also been a Visiting Professor at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Law/Public Policy and Harvard University. He holds a B.A. in Law from Kyoto University and Master of Public Policy (MPP) from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Event in cooperation with the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver

SPACE IS LIMITED - Please register early
Free and open to the public. Lunch Provided.

RSVP at here

Americans Concerned About Climate Change, But Worried About Cost of Green New Deal

Although Americans are worried about climate change, it varies by region and is a somewhat lower concern than air and water pollution. In a recent Gallup poll using the term “global warming,” 67 percent of the public in the West claim to be worried a great deal or fair amount about global warming, whereas 72 percent of people in the Northeast share the worry, and a somewhat less 62 percent in the Midwest and 61 percent in the South.

When asked in a series with other environmental problems, global warming ranks fourth after air pollution (80%); drinking water pollution (84%); and river, lake and reservoir pollution (85%).

Much of the variation surrounding global warming is explained by political differences. The issue has become politicized, with Democrats showing more concern and Republicans less.

Solutions proposed to the global warming are especially controversial. The Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of July and August 2019 found that only 20 percent of the public had heard about one of the most discussed remedies – the Green New Deal. The more people heard about it, the less they liked it. Overall, 20 percent support it, 20 percent opposed it and 60 percent didn’t know enough to have an opinion. But, among the 20 percent of the public who said they had heard at least a “good amount” about it, nearly 60 percent opposed it.

The most attractive benefit offered by advocates is its socialist-like promise that the Green New Deal “guarantees jobs with good wages for all U.S. workers.” More than three-quarters of the public (78%) liked that statement. But only 30 percent like the Green New Deal when told it will “increase federal spending by trillions of dollars.” The Green New Deal is highly controversial and vulnerable to criticism of its cost.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Pompeo Surprised Europe is Not Backing Iran Hardline

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the chief architect of President Trump’s confrontation with Iran and primary advocate of the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, claimed surprise and dismay when France, Germany and Britain didn’t immediately support the killing of Soleimani. Europe also disappointed him when they didn’t welcome the request to terminate the Iran Nuclear agreement as the U.S. has.

He was possibly the only person surprised since the allies have been opposed to the cancellation of the agreement since Trump announced it in 2018. In fact, they have tried to save the agreement and assist Iran in the face of U.S. sanctions. They were immediately calling for restraint after the targeting of Soleimani.

A 2019 Pew international poll of 32 countries, including American allies, showed only 29 percent of the public around the world have confidence in President Trump, and a higher, but still low, 54 percent have a favorable view of the U.S. Specifically, Germany (13%) and France (20%) have almost no confidence in Trump and the favorable opinion of the U.S. is below 50 percent. Great Britain and Canada are only slightly higher.

Trump Losing Respect With the Brass

In spite of a record defense budget ($740 billion), President Trump is losing respect from the Pentagon leaders that he directly commands. One can see the discomfort in military commanders standing behind him in his recent Soleimani press conference. The stress reflects his activities against advice, such as his impulsive withdrawal from Syria, which cost him a Secretary of Defense; clemency for accused military war criminals, which lost a Navy Secretary; his threats to seize Syrian oil and bomb Iranian cultural sites; and a myriad of explanations of the Soleimani “imminent threat.”

President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the White House on the
ballistic missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases housing
U.S. troops, as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and Vice President Mike Pence,
and others look on, Jan. 8, 2020 | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Can Colorado Republicans Win a Statewide Election in 2020? If Not, When?

The surge of young unaffiliated voters and Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s national leader has raised the question: Will Republicans continue as a viable party and alternative to Democrats? It should be first pointed out that neither the Democrats nor Republicans are in a strong position in Colorado. During the last decade, while Republicans lost 6 percentage points in registration, Democrats gained zero. The big advance was among unaffiliated voters who mostly disdain the two parties.

In a long featured article, Spencer Campbell in 5280 (November) asks how Republicans plan to retake Colorado in 2020. His opining sentence summed up the challenge.

“A younger electorate—and a backlash against Donald Trump’s presidency—pushed our purple state firmly into the blue in 2018. With one year to go until the 2020 election, here’s how the GOP plans to resurrect Colorado’s moribund Republican Party.”

Analyses came from Republican pollster David Flaherty; party vice chair Kristi Burton Brown; Michael Fields, director of Colorado Raising Action; and ever quoted, Dick Wadhams, former chairman.

My contribution came in a couple of areas. I suggested Trump was a heavy burden today.

“Donald Trump,” says Floyd Ciruli, a Denver pollster and political analyst. “He wasn’t particularly popular here in 2016. He was even less popular in 2018.” Even though the president didn’t top the ticket in the 2018 midterms, his brand of politics sent previously uninspired sectors—independents and young people—to the polls. “To be honest,” Flaherty says, “we think the challenges are nearly insurmountable for the Republican Party at this time.”

Flaherty and I disagreed on Proposition CC. I thought it was a winner for Republicans, and indeed, they helped push it to defeat.

According to Magellan Strategies, 54 percent of likely voters plan to vote yes on Prop CC. Still, Floyd Ciruli, an independent Denver pollster and political analyst, views the referendum as a blunder by Democrats because it provides Republicans an opportunity to rally around issues (low taxes and small government) that brought the party success in the 1990s.

Finally, I argued that one of Gardner’s strengths, which helped him win 2014, was his ability to bring home the projects and help for Colorado as a member of the Senate majority.

Gardner plans to circumvent the Trump balance beam by selling himself as Colorado’s pork-barrel legislator. “He’s trying very hard to establish one of the basic predicates of why a lot of influential people went for him in 2014,” says Floyd Ciruli, a Denver pollster and political analyst. That premise was that it made sense to have a Colorado representative in the ruling party. Now, after almost five years there, Gardner says, “I get to talk about what we’ve accomplished for the state as a whole.”

Monday, January 13, 2020

Gardner and Impeachment. Will it Matter?

Nicholas Riccardi with the AP (Jan. 8, 2010) describes the difficulty Cory Gardner faces navigating impeachment. Gardner’s position has been to align with the President and argue that the House process was partisan and unfair.

Sen. Cory Gardner | Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
I point out: “There’s a lot of factors that are going to make things very difficult for Cory. Impeachment just puts another issue out there.” Democrats, of course, want to get Gardner on the record in comments and votes, which they can use in negative advertising. For example:
  • Gardner has attempted to avoid any discussion of Trump’s underlying Ukraine behavior; i.e., soliciting foreign help to damage an opponent and use American funds for pressure. The media is watching for any sign of wavering.
  • Nancy Pelosi’s argument that the Senate process should fully present the case, including witnesses that were obstructed from testifying, will not win with Mitch McConnell. But, it creates a narrative for the Senate votes, which will be used in the November campaigns claiming that a cover-up and show trial were perpetrated. McConnell’s position and statements undermine the appearance of an impartial verdict.
How important the issue is for Gardner, or even Trump, is unclear. The onslaught of news just since New Year’s has made impeachment fade from view, but the trial should put it back in the news and create new challenges for Republicans.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Why is Michael Bennet in New Hampshire?

Sen. Michael Bennet speaks at a house party hosted
by supporters in New Hampshire, Jan. 12, 2020 | C-Span
Michael Bennet’s quest to become the 2020 Democratic nominee for president is rapidly coming to an end. From the May start after cancer surgery, to the debates missed after July, and the end of his colleague and friend John Hickenlooper’s campaign, Michael Bennet has been mostly ignored and unreported. His current polling average is 0.2, at the very bottom of the RealClearPolitics list.

Why is he still in this race? Why did he get into it? Those are the questions I hear frequently at presentations regarding Colorado’s upcoming Super Tuesday primary. These are my views knowing his career and recent campaign:
  • The U.S. Senate in 2019 has become an unfriendly place for ambitious Democrats who would like to accomplish some policy objectives. Mitch McConnell runs it like a Republican plantation with little room for dissent or creativity. Democrats are mostly overshadowed by their senior leadership and junior senators carry little weight. What better way to breakout than write a book and run for president in what appears a wide-open year.
  • Although Bennet is hardly charismatic, he is widely respected by fellow senators, Washington policy operatives and press corp. He knows the policy process and does great interviews.
  • With more than 20 candidates lining up for the Democratic nomination, it indeed appeared wide open. Hindsight suggests space was much more limited for party activists’ attention than the size of the the stages in the long series of debates. Bennet was always near the edge of the stage and never approached the center.
  • Bennet’s theory of breaking out – that is Joe Biden would fade and he would be a viable alternative – failed in that Biden did not fade – he’s still the frontrunner – and there are now more viable alternatives supported by activists, namely Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.
Shortly, Bennet’s failure in Iowa and New Hampshire will be distracted by what is likely to be a brief Senate show trial on impeachment. Will this nine-month adventure lead to an appointed position or a future run? Maybe, but for now, it’s over.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize Unlikely

Donald Trump’s quest for a Nobel Peace Prize was always more a product of his self-regard and endless competition with Barack Obama than a realistic possibility. But, when Trump threatened the destruction of Iran’s cultural sites if Iran attacked the U.S. after he ordered the assassination of their top general, Qassem Soleimani, he became more likely to be compared to terrorist-like ISIS and its destruction of Palmyra and the Taliban destruction of stone Buddha statues than a Nobel laureate.

Damaged Monumental Arch at the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria
after it was retaken from ISIS by government forces | Omar Sanadik/Reuters 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Party is Over. Unaffiliated Voters Dominate.

As the election of the century approaches, more than two-fifths of Colorado voters chose no party affiliation. And, for a variety of factors, that number is expected to grow.

Unaffiliated voters have been voting on the left in the last couple of elections, but Democrats will have to be careful. These new non-party participants – and they participate at historical rates – don’t like parties or the party establishments and can be quickly attracted by new candidates, issues and looks, much like new Hollywood seasons where the content and the way it’s delivered can doom or reward a show, a studio and a network.

The Colorado two-party system is at risk. Republicans are fighting for their relevance, even their basic competitiveness in counties they dominated as recently as a decade ago. But, Democrats haven’t gained loyal fans, and bad choices in nominees could upend all the rosy 2020 and beyond prognostications.

As the data below shows, Democrats, as a percentage of registration, has been stable for the last 15 years while the voter rolls have surged by a million voters. Republicans, who were in the lead in 2004 by nearly 200,000 voters (Bill Owens was governor and G.W. Bush reelected as president), are now a distinct minority and in danger of losing their top officeholder, Cory Gardner.

And, the number and influences of unaffiliated voters will increase, not diminish.
  • Unaffiliated voters are now able to vote in primaries, and voted in large numbers in the 2018 gubernatorial primary, their first opportunity. They are increasing as a percentage of the electorate and were a significant bloc of voters in the 2019 off-year election.
  • Voters are being registered automatically as unaffiliated at motor vehicle offices and then asked later by mail if they want to join a party.
  • More than half of new local voters and out-of-state transferees, especially the young, have registered unaffiliated. Colorado’s growth adds unaffiliated voters.
Read Colorado Politics: GOP the loser in voter registration – “unaffiliated” the big winner

Does Census Help Republicans or Democrats in 2020?

Lou Jacobson, one of the country’s premier political analysts, described the impact of the 2020 U.S. Census on the states, which could win seats (8) and those that could lose seats. As expected, the impact will depend on circumstances in 2020 because many of the seats that could shift are in battleground states, such as Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Jacobson has been a senior write for Roll Call, the National Journal, Governing and the Almanac of American Politics. He’s now featured in three of the most influential political reports in the country – Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and US News & World Report.

In Colorado, which will gain a seat, he wrote that an independent commission will decide the new district’s boundaries.

“The new seat will likely be centered in the Denver metro area but could affect the lines in far-flung areas of the state, says Floyd Ciruli, an independent pollster in the state.

My prediction was the split will end up Democrats 5 seats and Republicans maintaining their advantage in three non-metro Denver seats.

Friday, January 3, 2020

California Sends a Congressional District to Colorado

California may lose its first congressional seat in its history as a state, as Colorado gains another after a population surge of 700,000 since the 2010 census (current estimate – 5,758,236, up from 5,029,319 in 2010). The following House seat shift is an early projection based on 2019 census estimates by the Brookings Institute and Election Data Services. It shows winners and losers:

Eight to ten seats are moving from old eastern and mid-western states to the west and south, continuing long-term trends on U.S. population shifting. California believes its loss is on the cusp and is spending millions to publicize the Census this April to find enough people to hold on, but the slowdown in foreign immigration, slow family formation of Millennials, and the decade-long flow of ex-pats to Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Texas has brought California’s net growth to a halt.

Georgetown Law Gets a Bigger Home

After nearly 50 years on a small part of an extended block near the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court, Georgetown Law finally acquired an entire block to build-out one of the nation’s largest and most respected law schools.

Congratulations to the faculty and staff for their diligent effort, especially Dean Bill Treanor. Alumni donors have helped create the superblock over the last half century that includes classrooms, workspace, auditoriums, libraries, a sports and fitness center, dorms, and now room for a large and respected group of clinics, centers and institutes.

The lead gift to acquire the remaining south section of the block came from a longtime donor, Scott Ginsburg (L’78), who previously funded the sports and fitness center.

As a former chair of the law alumni association – congratulations. What a great start to 2020, Georgetown Law’s 150th anniversary.

Georgetown Law bought the former federal Bureau
of Prisons headquarters building at 500 First St. NW

Congratulations to Colorado’s Social Media Advocates

Colorado Peak Politics has a new crisp look and Colorado Pols announced it’s been online 15 years starting in 2004, the last time a Republican carried Colorado’s electoral vote.

Both sites have a lot of attitude and cover stories that are often ill-reported elsewhere. Colorado’s better for it.