Friday, December 30, 2011

Colorado’s Ten Biggest Stories in 2011

The 2011 political and news stories that had impact – a lot of irony and considerable strangeness.

1.      Hancock Denver’s new mayor.  Aurora changes guard.
2.      Democrats lose 2010 election; win 2011 redistricting.
3.      Voters say no to Proposition 103.  Court in Lobato says yes to billions in new school funding.
4.      Removing Denver’s Zuccotti Park lights up state capital grounds.
5.      After twenty years of fighting taxes, not paying them gets Bruce locked up.
6.      Time to rename the Sullivan Detention Center.
7.      Weld County became fracking Saudi Arabia.
8.      Medical marijuana is okay, but local distributors are out.
9.      Stock Show rustlers headed off at pass.
10.  For a moment, Tebow took us to heaven.

Democrats Fight to Challenge in 6th CD

Democrats have a fight to represent the newly designed sixth congressional district.  An ill-known two-term state legislator, Joe Miklosi, is being challenged by physician (chiropractor), Perry Haney.

Neither candidate has any name identification among Democrats in the district and both candidates will need exceptional campaigns to beat Mike Coffman, a skilled Republican campaigner, during an era that has been notably short of them (2010 was an exception in the last half decade).

Kurtis Lee just covered the primary in the Denver Post (

Miklosi will hug the party and Haney will spend money.

“‘Initially, Miklosi struggled with being the legitimate candidate, and he’s survived that as there’s no substantial Democrats running against him in the primary,’ said political analyst Floyd Ciruli.  ‘So now he doesn’t dare give any legitimacy to Haney, who is truly an outsider.’

By contrast, Ciruli said Haney, in positioning himself as the outsider, is banking that all incumbents — even two-term state legislators — will fall hard in defeat next year.

‘Money will be a tremendous factor, as it always is,’ Ciruli said.  ‘And if Haney wants to spend his, he can get that visibility on radio and TV and no doubt be competitive in a primary.’”

The decision will be in the newly established primary of June 26, 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Dates for Colorado 2012 Politics

The Colorado primary election for state and federal (not presidential delegates) candidates has been moved to June 26 in 2012 from its date of the 2nd Tuesday in August, which held for more than two decades.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Obama Losing Colorado Unaffiliated Voters

President Barack Obama has a 39 percent approval rating in Colorado.  He loses the self-described independent voter – 41 percent approval to 46 percent disapproval.

Obama receives near universal Republican disapproval (93%), but holds the approval of three-quarters of Democrats (75%).  Fifteen percent of Democrats don’t approve of his job performance.

The Ciruli Associates poll was conducted with 500 registered voters who voted in the 2008 presidential election or are newly registered.  The poll was sponsored by the Buzz, Floyd Ciruli’s blog site.  It was conducted December 1 to 6, 2011, and has a margin of error plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is Mark Udall Safe for 2014 Re-election?

The Public Policy Polling (PPP) robo poll published December 8 claims U.S. Senator Mark Udall “would win handily” over a couple of Republicans they tested him against.  But, a closer examination indicates Udall is highly vulnerable and could be headed for a very tough re-election, especially against Republican Congressman Mike Coffman. Even though 57 percent of voters couldn’t rate Coffman’s job approval in a head-to-head, he held Udall to below 50 percent (48% Udall to 34% Coffman), and Udall’s own job approval was only 41 percent, with more than one-quarter of the population having no opinion (28%) and nearly one-third (31%) disapproving of his performance.

Democrats have also given Coffman a reason to run for the Senate. His newly re-districted 6th congressional seat is highly competitive and Coffman will be motivated to step up.

Public Policy Polling: Almost Three Years out Udall in Good Shape for CO-Sen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Obama and Gingrich Have High Negatives

In a new Ciruli Associates poll publicized in Floyd Ciruli’s blog site, The Buzz, Newt Gingrich has an unfavorable rating nearly equal to President Obama among all Colorado voters.

Mitt Romney is only 4 percentage points behind the President’s favorability, but Gingrich is 11 points back in favorability and most importantly he has a 45 percent negative rating (Obama has a high 49 percent).

Examining recent polls, reinforces the likelihood that the 2012 election will force an electorate to pick between two alternatives large pluralities of voters are unhappy with. This is a formula for a very volatile and grumpy electorate looking for some relief – expect more surprises.

The Ciruli Associates poll was conducted with 500 registered voters who voted in the 2008 presidential election or are newly registered. The poll was sponsored by The Buzz, Floyd Ciruli’s blog site. It was conducted December 1 to 6, 2011, and has a margin of error plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hickenlooper – The Nonpartisan Governor

Governor John Hickenlooper has a nonpartisan image, and it is reflected in voters’ evaluation of his job performance.  In a new Ciruli Associates poll, 59 percent of Colorado voters approve of Hickenlooper’s job at the end of his first year.

Hickenlooper’s performance is approved by 79 percent of Democrats,
62 percent of independents and a surprising 44 percent of Republicans, nearly two-to-one over his Republican disapproval (27%).

Hickenlooper’s Job Approval and Partisanship
The Ciruli Associates poll was conducted with 500 registered voters who voted in the 2008 presidential election or are newly registered.  The poll was sponsored by The Buzz, Floyd Ciruli’s blog site.  It was conducted December 1 to 6, 2011, and has a margin of error plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Aurora in the New York Times

Aurora made the New York Times last week in a story that highlighted its new economic ambition and good luck capturing a congressional seat.
Reporter Kirk Johnson interviewed newly elected Mayor Steve Hogan and recorded some great quotations on the city’s struggle for an identity. 

“Aurora is a place to stop for gas on your way to somewhere else.”

“Someday we’re going to be bigger than Denver. We have the land, we have the water, we have the opportunities.”

The new congressional district will get considerable coverage in the 2012 election due to its reconfiguration as a swing district. And, Arapahoe County will likely be a battleground as President Obama attempts to carry the state.

“Arapahoe County, stretching east from here out onto the prairie, was, like most Denver suburbs, long safely Republican. But the county supported President Obama in 2008 and then went for a Democrat again in 2010 in the governor’s race, in embracing Denver’s mayor — now governor — John W. Hickenlooper. Whether two elections make for pattern or aberration is the new calculus.

‘To the extent we have visitors back East wanting to know what’s going on in Colorado politics, I will be sending them to Aurora and Arapahoe,’ said Floyd Ciruli, a political analyst and pollster.

Mr. Ciruli said he thought the new Sixth Congressional District centered on Aurora would probably be competitive for a Democrat, but that in contrast to Colorado’s largest city, Denver (strongly Democratic) and second-largest, Colorado Springs, (strongly Republican), Aurora in third place is quirky and unpredictable.”

See NY Times article:  Trying to shine in the shadow of a neighbor

Friday, December 16, 2011

Romney Ahead With Colorado Republicans and All Voters

In a new Ciruli Associates poll publicized in Floyd Ciruli’s blog site, The Buzz, Mitt Romney has the highest favorability among Colorado Republicans, with Newt Gingrich in a close second.  Ron Paul had barely one-third of Republicans stating a favorable impression.

The Ciruli Associates poll was conducted with 500 registered voters who voted in the 2008 presidential election or are newly registered.  The poll was sponsored by The Buzz, Floyd Ciruli’s blog site.  It was conducted December 1 to 6, 2011, and has a margin of error plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Obama Approval 39%

President Barack Obama’s job performance approval in Colorado is 39 percent, well below the level for re-election.  Nationally, Obama’s approval has been below 50 percent throughout 2011, and is now 45 percent in both the Gallup weekly average and in Real Clear Politics’ average (December 13).  In the just released Ciruli Associates poll, 53 percent of voters disapprove of Obama, or a 14 point negative spread between his positive and negative.

The Ciruli Associates poll was conducted with 500 registered voters who voted in the 2008 presidential election or are newly registered.  The poll was sponsored by The Buzz, Floyd Ciruli’s blog site.  It was conducted December 1 to 6, 2011, and has a margin of error plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

In a just released Public Policy Polling robo poll, Obama received 45 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval, with a 5 percent negative spread.

Examining areas of the state, Obama’s poor rating was mostly uniform across the state, except for the Western Slope of Colorado where his approval rating was at freezing level – 32 percent.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hickenlooper Remains Popular

After nearly a year in office, Governor John Hickenlooper’s job performance is above 50 percent.  A recent Ciruli Associates poll gives him 59 percent approval, which is above a poll just completed by Public Policy Polling (PPP), a North Carolina Democratic-oriented robo poll.

The Ciruli Associates poll was conducted with 500 registered voters who voted in the 2008 presidential election or are newly registered.  The poll was sponsored by The Buzz, Floyd Ciruli’s blog site.  It was conducted December 1 to 6, 2011, and has a margin of error plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Hickenlooper’s approval rating is higher than Governor Jerry Brown of California, who has a 47 percent approval and a surprisingly high 17 percent who claim no opinion.  California polling expert Mark DiCamillo points out that while Brown’s approval is low for a first-term California governor, these are difficult times for politicians.

PPP claims Hickenlooper’s 53 percent with a very low negative rating is very good for governors in today’s political environment.  Only seven governors had higher ratings, including Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Brian Schweitzer of Montana.

See articles:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Merkel vs. Bernanke

Sixty-six years after the total destruction of the German Reich, it is Germany and its chancellor that are directing the future of the European experiment.  And that means Angela Merkel and her center-right government has more influence over the next few months of the American economy’s recovery than Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke.  And, by extension, that means Ms. Merkel may decide the fate of President Obama’s re-election.  For if the American recovery stalls, or voters come to believe the economic future is shaky due to European turmoil, Obama will continue to struggle with voter distrust of his economic leadership.

Watching the European effort to stave off the financial crisis has many potent messages for Americans.  Fiscal irresponsibility is the greatest threat to a nation’s and people’s sovereignty.  Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland are about to lose their sovereign control over their budgets, their debt and their taxes to Brussels.

Fiscal irresponsibility or the inability to go into the financial marketplace and conduct business because a judgment has been made that our ability or willingness to repay is poor is the greatest threat to American sovereignty, or the sovereignty of a state, such as California or even Colorado. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

“When Things Fall Apart, the Center Can’t Hold”

A paraphrase of a line from W.B. Yeats 1920 poem of the chaos of the post war period.  From the Mid-East to Europe to America, it is clear the old forms are failing and its unclear what is new is coming into being.

A new Internet-based political movement, Americans Elect (, is building a national footprint to have a presidential candidate on the ballot in nearly every state.

The candidate will be nominated online, and will need to either have a national reputation or be able to self-finance a campaign.

Although no third-party candidate has been even close to winning the presidency, third-party candidates regularly can make a difference in the outcome of a race.  Ralph Nader’s votes in Florida in 2000 gave the state to G.W. Bush instead of Al Gore.  Ross Perot clearly affected many states in 1992, including shifting Colorado to Bill Clinton instead of the first President Bush. 

If Ron Paul or Donald Trump was nominated, the Republican nominee could be hurt, and Mike Bloomberg could shift Oregon or Washington to the Republicans.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gingrich Takes Over Lead as Cain’s Campaign Collapses

On December 3, Herman Cain’s campaign finally collapsed from the weight of multiple controversies and missteps.

The campaign had been on life support since late October when charges of harassment were aired.  The end came quickly after an Atlanta woman said she and Cain had a 13-year affair.

The latest rising force in the Republican nomination fight is former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.  He is inheriting the shifting Cain supporters and winning new adherents from his debate performance.

Although he is surging ahead of Mitt Romney, both nationally and in Iowa polls, he does not run as well Romney against President Obama.

“9News Political Analyst Floyd Ciruli says Gingrich will likely reap the most benefits.

‘The main dynamic that’s going to change here is that it could help the anti-Mitt Romney vote,’ said Ciruli.

Ciruli adds that another beneficiary might be President Barack Obama.

‘Probably what Obama is watching most closely is will Mitt Romney win this race:  The more candidates in this race, the better it was for Mitt Romney,’ said Ciruli.  ‘I think Obama fears Romney the most.’”
See 9News:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Congressional Districts’ Elections Will Be 2012 Action

The shake-up of Colorado’s state legislative and congressional district boundaries by commissioners and judges have created the main political action in 2012 election. 

From a 4 to 7 Republican split, Judge Hyatt created a possible Democratic 5 to 7 configuration.  Given the lack of major statewide races, who wins the newly redistricted 3rd CD and 6th CD will be the news.

See articles:

Monday, December 5, 2011

PAPOR Conference

The annual conference of the Pacific Chapter of the American Association of Public Opinion will be held this week in San Francisco.  The pollsters from western states regularly come together to present their analyses and predictions for the next election.

History of Western States Roundtable

         PAPOR initiates concept of western states as area of study
         Shortly after California gubernatorial recall, roundtable begins
         Mountain West becomes Democratic battleground in 2004
         Alaska, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming anchor the most conservative states.  California, Oregon and Washington are regularly on the left.
         Colorado begins a trend to battleground status, joined by Arizona, Montana, Nevada and New Mexico

Major Themes of 2012

         Will the West save Obama’s presidency?
         Will the Tea Party movement rule over Western Republican nominations?  Will they harm Republicans in general elections?
         Does Occupy Wall Street help or hurt the Democratic Party candidates?
         Is there political space for a presidential third party?
         When will the Hispanic vote catch up with Hispanic demographics?
         Will the 2012 election affect California’s political gridlock and economic woes?
         Is gay rights the only Western social issue with impact?  Marijuana?  Illegal immigration?
         Has social media evolved sufficiently to be a major factor in western states’ elections?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Health Care Still Losing in Court of Public Opinion

Although the U.S. Supreme Court may rule the new health care act is constitutional, it is losing in the court of public opinion.  The 2010 health care act, named by congressional Democrats as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, after a year of promotion, has still not managed to win a majority of the public’s support.  Gallup reports only 42 percent of Americans would keep the act and 47 percent would repeal it.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll confirms Gallup.  In it, 48 percent of Americans said the Supreme Court should overturn the new health care law and only 40 percent said uphold it.

The act is opposed in spite of the fact that 57 percent of Americans believe the health care system has major problems, only 33 percent believe health care coverage is “excellent” or “good,” and 50 percent believe the government has responsibility for providing health care (Gallup, Nov. 16, 2011).

See Gallup polls:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sixth CD Now in Play

Congressman Mike Coffman now has the most competitive congressional district in the state due to Judge Hyatt adopting the Democratic redistricting map.

Two-term Representative Joe Miklosi, who looked like a place filler and long shot in the original congressional district based mostly in very Republican Douglas County, is now a contender.  The new district will still lean more Republican than Democrat due to its independent voters being more conservative than liberal (33% Democrat, 34% Republican, 32% unaffiliated).  And, Coffman is a very effective campaigner.  But, if Miklosi can ward off a primary from a stronger Democrat (more experience, more name identification, more supporters, more money, etc.), he will pass his first test.

“‘His (Miklosi) most vulnerable moment is right now as the party is really thinking they can win this seat and questioning if this is their strongest candidate,’ said Floyd Ciruli, a local political analyst.  ‘Coffman is a strong candidate and has won a number of statewide elections in the past.’”
See Denver Post article:  Democrat Miklosi could benefit from new congressional map as he looks to unseat Coffman

Monday, November 28, 2011

Republicans Take on Congressional Redistricting

Not only did Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt provide an incentive for Colorado Republicans to fight his redistricting plan in court by adopting a plan that makes two seats more friendly to Democrats – the 3rd and 6th CDs – but by endorsing the Democrat’s plan and their rationale of competition with no changes, he provided Republicans an argument for their grassroots and the court of public opinion.

“‘They [Republicans] think that at least two congressional seats, the suburban seat that Congressman Coffman’s in, and the West Slope seat which they [Republicans] just won – the 3rd congressional – have now been moved to some extent toward the democratic side of things, so they don’t see much to be lost, and a lot potentially to be gained [by challenging the ruling],’ Floyd Ciruli, 9News, Political Analyst, says.”
See my blog: Democrats Big Winners in Congressional Redistricting

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Obama Will Have to Choose Ohio or Colorado for Final Target

It is well-established that Colorado, with its 9 electoral votes, is a likely final target for President Obama to assemble his 270 votes.  The western strategy includes Nevada (6) and New Mexico (5).  A recent argument has been made that a more productive strategy would be to target the large states in the mid-west and Atlantic Coast (Florida – 29, Ohio – 18, North Carolina – 15 and Virginia – 13).

William Galston, a researcher with Brookings, argues that Ohio voters are more like the country in general; hence, messages that move presidential approval and re-elect numbers nationally will move Ohio.  By implication, Galston believes that a western strategy depends too much on young voters, minorities and the higher educated.

Although Colorado is demographically different than the country, it tends to be where the swing voters are and, hence, if a campaign and candidate can move the Colorado vote, it can affect the least committed and most fought over voters in every jurisdiction.

Obama and his team won’t adopt a final strategy for many months, so Colorado will be seeing a lot of him in the meantime.

See The New Yorker:  The Eight-State Election

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Berlusconi Out of Power

After 17 years of dominance of Italian politics, Silvio Berlusconi resigned the prime ministry Nov. 12, 2011 to the relief of his colleagues and the cheers of the Roman crowd.  Although the immediate cause was the crisis affecting the entire Euro zone and its impact on bonds of countries with high public or private debt, in fact, Berlusconi’s hold on Italian politics collapsed months earlier. 

·         Framing Berlusconi’s final year and the biggest blow against him, his wife filed for divorce in 2009, a story which lingered in the news throughout 2010.  The divorce removed any cover for his scandalous behavior.
·         After years of support, the ongoing sex scandals and divorce finally moved the Catholic Church to condemn his boorish behavior in January 2011.  It was followed by a declaration that ended Church support from him in September.
·         In May, his coalition lost local elections, including his home city and center of his coalition power – Milan.  Also, lost was Naples.
·         In June, he proceeded with a poorly timed referendum, which was crushed in a national vote.  At the very moment the public was breaking away from nuclear power, he promoted a referendum endorsing it.  And, in a direct threat to his power, voters rejected his effort to pass an immunity law protecting him from the efforts of local prosecutors to find criminal wrongdoing in his personal life and mix of politics and business.
·         The long running sex scandal trial continued after the election defeats, reminding the public of Berlusconi’s undisciplined lifestyle and his government’s distraction from the pending economic crises.
·         Capturing this year of embarrassments and defeats, his job disapproval rating rose from 47 percent in 2010 to 61 percent before his resignation.

Berlusconi’s hold on power mixed a promise of modernization and prosperity with conservative policies to oppose communism (Italian version) and leftist in general.  But, a negative GDP, one of the highest debt to GDP ratios in Europe, a record high (near 7%) borrowing rate, and a razor slim majority dramatized his failure to create a new Italy.  When the final crisis came at the Cannes EU Summit, he both misread its seriousness and his weakened position.

The real tragedy is that a generation of young Italians has come of age during his era and faces the same poorly functioning economy and lack of opportunity that their parents had to deal with.

See articles:
The Economists:  Put asunder

Friday, November 18, 2011

Romney Leads, But is Not a Lock

More than one-half of the Republican Party active voters are consistently resisting their frontrunner, Mitt Romney.  As of mid-November, Newt Gingrich seems to be mounting a strong challenge.  But, at various points in the last two months, Herman Cain and Rick Perry have taken the lead.

The first nomination event is now less than two months on January 3 in Iowa.  Romney leads, and has the money and the campaign discipline to stay the course.  But, the electorate is volatile, and if he loses key primaries after New Hampshire, which he appears to have sewed up, his momentum could collapse.

Three months of polls confirm Mitt Romney has only about one-quarter of the party with him; the rest of active Republican voters prefer a perceived more conservative candidate or are undecided.  (Note a consistent 8% to 10% support libertarian Ron Paul).  Romney’s hold is on the moderate and more pragmatic wing of the party, leaving the much larger conservative wing ready to attach itself to more conservative candidates.

·         There is no consistent frontrunner at this point.
·         A second or third-tier candidate could still surge before voting begins in January.
·         The early events may not decide it, but likely two contestants will emerge.  At the moment, Romney appears in it, but second-place is unclear.
·         Frontrunners in October don’t necessarily win the nomination.  It has been especially true in the Democratic contests, but the Republicans look more like Democrats this year.
-         2007:  McCain (16%) was behind Giuliani (32%)
-         2007:  Obama (26%) was behind Clinton (47%)
·         Perry’s October Gallup slide was steep and appears difficult to reverse.  Voters didn’t just leave him because of his poor debate performance, but also because they really didn’t like his instate tuition position.
·         Cain’s poll numbers are falling under the media onslaught related to the harassment scandals.  Also, he lacks money and organization for the state-by-state delegate battles.
·         After a disastrous start, Gingrich lingered at below 5 percent through September, but as Perry and Cain have fallen back, his debate performance has grabbed the attention of conservatives and he’s on the move.  Gingrich is a difficult and undisciplined personality, so this may be a short-term boomlet.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Anti-Tax Voters Dominate Colorado’s 2011 Election

“This election is overwhelmingly being framed by this economy,” said Political Analyst Floyd Ciruli, “Killing field for new taxes,” Denver Post 11-2-11

·        The economy became a more significant and negative issue over the summer as warnings of a double-dip recession rang more and more loudly.  Polls across the country showed drops in voter optimism and consumer confidence.
-         Country moving in right direction: May 2011 – 36% vs. October 2011 – 17% (NBC News/WSJ)
-         Personal economic situation: better – 16% vs. worse – 36% (NBC News/WSJ Oct 2011)

·        The reputation of government, especially in Washington D.C., declined after the debt ceiling crisis.
-        Approve of the job of Congress: May – 22% vs. August – 13% (NBC News/WSJ)
-        Approve of the job of Obama: May – 52% vs. October – 44% (NBC News/WSJ)
-        Ratings on how federal government works: dissatisfied – 49%, angry – 30% (79% total)

·        The odd-year mail-back voters were older and more conservative.  Turnout for Proposition 103, the statewide tax-hike for education, was about 40% of a presidential election turnout.

·        The statewide ballot initiative (103) was poorly designed, poorly promoted and bereft of any significant support.  The opponents made effective use of stating that tax increases will hurt the economy.  Its two-to-one loss defined the election as an opportunity to say “no” to a tax increase.

·        Proposition 103’s poor performance wasn’t a surprise.  The political establishment expected it, but the size of the loss was significant, especially for the impact it had on the rest of the ballot.

“Other than the usual liberal groups and teachers unions, who came to this rather reluctantly, [Mr. Heath] doesn’t have much support,” Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said.  “The challenge he faces is that not only is the public really anxious about their own income limits and discretionary spending, but this is also an era of anti-government feeling.  It’s just not a good time.”  Washington Times, 9-7-11
·        Proposition 103 helped earn the 2011 election the label as one of Colorado’s worst in recent memory for local tax initiatives.

More than three-quarters of all local school bonds and mil levy proposals were defeated, including in Brighton (Adams), Loveland (Thompson), Douglas County (2 proposals), Eagle County, Mesa (51) and Pueblo County (2).

The Colorado Municipal League reports that nearly half of municipal tax measures have passed since the TABOR Amendment in 1992.  This year, eight cities or towns attempted tax increases, but only one passed.  Transit lost in Avon, library improvements lost in CaƱon City and medical care equipment lost in Oak Creek.  Only a street repair proposal in Fort Lupton passed.

Five cities attempted to approve a debt question.  Normally, nearly 70 percent of debt measures pass.  This year only two out of the five (40%) were approved.

As the Denver Post states, Colorado’s Election Day results were a “killing field for tax measures.”

·        Both the State of Colorado and the City and County of Denver have structural deficits, and both will likely have to make additional budget cuts in 2012.  They are among many government jurisdictions that may propose ballot initiatives related to taxes and debt.

The Regional Transportation District wants additional sales tax revenue for its transit build-out and many school districts desire additional revenue for operations and capital.  They have delayed going to the electorate due to the weak economy.  All will undergo much evaluation of possible 2012 ballot initiatives over the next few months.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Democrats Big Winners in Congressional Redistricting

Competitiveness has become a new criterion for state court judges in congressional redistricting, and Democrats won big arguing for it before Judge Robert Hyatt.  The seven new districts now give Democrats a chance of picking up two additional seats during the expected 2012 competitive presidential race in Colorado.

Sal Pace, the very liberal, labor-oriented Pueblo Democrat, picked up just enough new liberal Democrats to tilt the competitive 3rd CD away from freshman incumbent Scott Tipton.

Mike Coffman, the Republican incumbent in the Denver suburb’s 6th CD, now has a much more competitive district centered in Aurora.

Other big winners in redistricting were the City of Aurora, which will now dominate the new 6th CD, and Latino voters who pick up influence in the 3rd CD and the newly redesigned 6th CD by adding north Aurora.

A loser is Democratic Senate President Brandon Shaffer who wanted to challenge freshman Cory Gardner in the 4th CD.  Shaffer was a longer shot than Pace due to Gardner’s political skills, but in the new 4th CD with Douglas County, he has no chance.

Denver Democratic Attorney Mark Grueskin has become one of the nation’s premiere election lawyers.  He wrote the Democratic brief that Judge Hyatt added a few pages of introduction and then adopted.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Aurora is on a Roll

Ed Tauer’s retirement as mayor of Aurora after 8 years has focused attention on the City of Aurora’s last decade of development. It has been spectacular, with significant population increase (up 17%, or 47,000, since the 2000 census), development of Fitzsimons as the new site of the University of Colorado Hospital, and the most recent talk of moving the National Western Stock Show to join the super hotel complex of Gaylord Entertainment.

As Tauer points out, the biggest change is less visible. It reflects a shift from a bedroom community to one with significant high-end jobs, for example, at the new medical complex, and more expensive housing stock.

The city also has its financial troubles with falling revenue, large influx of poor residents and trouble with the school system’s performance.

But, it’s no denying Aurora has become a serious city, and will now dominate its own congressional district – possibly a future job for Mayor Tauer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

OWS – Asset or Threat to Democrats in 2012?

President Obama has said Occupy Wall Street (OWS) “expresses the frustrations that the American people feel.” Republicans hope that constitutes an endorsement. It’s not clear it does because, like most Democrats outside the far left, he is being cautious with the phenomenon. It is unclear the long-term affect of the group activities around the country will be a hit or a drag on politicians associated with it, and specifically, whether it will be a benefit to the Democratic Party.

Polling data shows that opinion concerning OWS is still forming and is likely to be volatile, reflecting its ongoing activities and relationship with local municipal authorities.

• Early support for the OWS is similar in some ways to early support for the Tea Party Movement. Many people identify with the group’s professed ideals and concerns, but are mostly undecided if they support it.

 66% of the public believes the distribution of money and wealth in the country “should be more evenly distributed”; 43% agree with views of OWS (New York Times, Oct. 24, 2011)

 On Oct. 13, a Wall Street Journal poll showed 37% support, 18% opposition and 45% no opinion or not sure. New York Times of Oct. 24: favorable – 25%, not favorable – 20% and undecided, have heard enough about – 53%

 39% say they support OWS; 35% oppose (32% support Tea Party) (Pew, Oct. 24, 2011)

• One challenge for the OWS is that by two-to-one most Americans believe that the federal government in Washington (64%) is more to blame for our economic problems than financial institutions on Wall Street (30%) (Gallup, Oct. 2011).

 Even Democrats tend to blame the federal government (49%) more than Wall Street (46%)

• The economy (38%) and jobs (19%) are the top problems facing the country. Income disparity is not on the public radar, and will require a major reframing of the problem (CBS News/New York Times, Sept. 2011).

• Some of the solutions offered by OWS involve more government. Adding to employment in Washington D.C. will not reduce income inequality. An analysis of the top 5 percent of U.S. earners shows that their median income nationally is $300,000, and in Manhattan $757,000. But Washington D.C. is 52 percent higher than the national average at $473,000 – federal government jobs and the industries, consultants and lobbying that service it pay well.

• In an effort to determine what OWS would like to achieve, an analysis of pollster Doug Schoen’s data shows that a majority (53%) were liberal wanting to influence the Democratic Party, mobilize progressives, have a single-payer system and get out of Afghanistan now.

 8% were radical (redistribute wealth/end capitalism) (AAPOR online discussion).

 27% want to change the process and end two-party system, implement direct democracy.

 5% – a few offered conservative nostrums, such as ending the progressive income tax.

Democrats benefit from the OWS if the enthusiasm and message of economic justice can motivate the base without turning off moderates the way some of the extreme elements of the Tea Party Movement hurt Republicans in the mid-term senate races in 2010.

While Republicans are working hard to describe the OWS crowd as extremists with Democratic ties, they must be cautious about their image as defenders of the rich and appearing indifferent to the plight of the poor.

See articles:
Pew – Public divided over Occupy Wall Street movement
Gallup – Americans blame gov’t more than Wall Street for economy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Obama Wins on Foreign Policy

President Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year is popular with the public.  In fact, Obama receives his best approval ratings on foreign policy issues.  Of course, his problem is that foreign policy is not considered an important issue in this election.

·         Three-quarters (75%) of Americans support Obama’s withdrawal announcement.  Only a fair majority of Republicans oppose of the withdrawal (50%).

·         Obama’s overall approval rating is in the mid-40 percent range.  The public’s approval of his handling of the economy is only 37 percent in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll (August 2011), but his handling of foreign policy garnered a 50 percent rating (NBC/WSJ) and a 62 percent approval of his handling a threat of terrorism (Washington Post/ABC News, Sept. 2011).

·         Foreign policy is considered an important problem facing the country by less than 1 percent of the public (CBS News/New York Times, Sept. 2011).

Although withdrawal is clearly a popular short-term policy, “who lost Iraq” may become a longer term foreign policy debate.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Colorado and FOX NEWS

What happens in Colorado affects the national political conversation. Fox News regularly covers Colorado politics. Bret Baier uses our anti-tax election to launch a panel discussion of the impact on President Obama’s election prospects.

“FLOYD CIRULI, COLORADO POLLSTER: Well, I think this is a problem for the president. As you know, Colorado is a battleground state. He really needs these nine electoral votes if he’s gonna get to 270. Almost all of the campaign experts and the pundits say that Colorado is in that mix. And this election was all about how terrible this economy is. That’s what drove these anti-tax votes.
BAIER: There is an election on Tuesday in Colorado, a ballot issue called Proposition 103. It was about increasing taxes for education in the state of Colorado, and it failed. Voting no, 63.5 percent as you can see here, 36 percent said yes.
And then you go to the Wall Street Journal and they were wrapping this up today, saying ‘Colorado’s anti-tax move was equally clear at the local level.’ The Denver Post reports that ‘Aurora voters rejected a $114 million tax increase for recreation centers. Douglas County voters said “no” to school tax increases, and Canyon City voters rejected a tax for library improvements.’ The paper called the overall results ‘a killing field of tax measures.’
You look at the swing states, you heard that analyst say Colorado is important, and it is for both side, and there are seven key swing states most analysts are looking at, right there Colorado with nine electoral votes. We’re back with the panel. Steve, what about this?”
See Fox News: Is CO vote a national indicator on taxes?