Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Colorado Votes: 965,000 Mail in Votes on Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Approximately half the expected mail-in vote arrived at county clerk offices on Tuesday, a week before Election Day, Nov. 6.
The substantial mail-in vote suggests a final turnout higher than the 2.4 million voters of four years ago.  More than 70 percent of the total vote will be completed by mail or early voting.  Also, the close partisan breakdown indicates President Obama will not win the state by the 200,000 vote-margin he received in 2008.  This election will be decided by one percent or less of the vote, or fewer than 27,000 votes.

New Colorado Polls Show Tie Race

The latest Colorado polls show the presidential race remains deadlocked.  Both campaigns are busying flushing out their committed voters and searching for the few thousand still undecided.

The campaigns are using direct mail, door-to-door contacts, robo and volunteer phone calling, and e-mail blasts to push and pull identified supporters to the polls.  The new get-out-the-vote systems are sophisticated efforts that integrate lists of returned ballots into the computerized databases of voters.

The Democratic ground game was designed, funded and field tested since 2004.  “The model ‘has been tuned up for this election,’ says Floyd Ciruli, pollster.” (Economist, Sept. 22, 2012)

As of Tuesday, October 30, more than 900,000 absentee ballots have been returned, about half of the expected mail-in vote.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Colorado Polls Shift After the Oct. 3rd Debate – Race Now Tied

In 43 polls conducted in Colorado and listed in, President Obama led or tied in all but four prior to the Oct. 3rd debate.  Since the debate, Mitt Romney has led in 6 out of the 13 Colorado polls published (there was one tie), or half the polls conducted.
The Colorado voter average is now tied between Obama and Romney on the Real Clear Politics website.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Colorado Votes: 626,000 Mail in Votes on Friday, October 26, 2012

Nearly one-third of the mail-in vote arrived at county clerk offices on Friday at the end of the first complete week of voting.

More than 70 percent of the total vote will be completed by mail or early voting.  The close partisan breakdown indicates that the vote will be very close between the parties, with the balance of power held by unaffiliated voters.

See 9 News:  How Colorado could play big on Election Night 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Western Senate Races Could Shift the Senate to Republicans

Although the West only has two toss-up presidential races as of October 24, it has five competitive U.S. Senate races that could, if they fell perfectly for Republicans, give them three of the four seats they need for control.  Of course, the races east of the High Plains would need to produce no net loss.

In the West, Republicans need to hold seats in Arizona and Nevada, and pick up seats in Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana – a three-seat net gain.  The senate races in California, Utah, Washington and Wyoming were never considered competitive.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Third and Final Debate – Romney Perseveres

President Obama stayed aggressive in the third debate on foreign policy and was seen as the winner.  But, Mitt Romney was disciplined, looked presidential, showed subject matter knowledge and avoided gaffs.

Republican pundits were disappointed Romney didn’t attack more on Libya and Iran, but his strategy was to look steady, calm and avoid any comparison to the G.W. Bush team of neo-conservatives.  That was a wise move because the President aggressively attempted to argue Romney was unsteady in his advice, had outdated viewpoints and was prone to advocate military action.

Romney offered his indictment of Obama policies without shouting or talking over Obama or the moderator, Bill Schieffer.  Probably he irritated the President the most by repeating the “apology tour” charge.  And, indeed, Obama reacted to it.  Romney’s best line was “attacking me is not an agenda.”

The economy took up about more than a quarter of the time and produced some of the most heated exchanges.  In fact, arguing over GM was the hot button of the debate, proving that Ohio is the most serious battleground in the campaign.

Romney recognized that foreign policy is a threshold a presidential candidate must cross, but not a driver in the 2012 election.  Also, Romney knew:
  1. The American people want Iran stopped, but not a war.
  2. They are done with Iraq and Afghanistan.
  3. They want to be tougher on China’s trade policy without a confrontation or trade war.
  4. They want a strong defense, but won’t pay more for it.
Hence, Romney, whose foreign policy proscriptions are by party and personal philosophy to the right of Obama’s, had to reposition to a more centrist position compared to the primary and general election campaign statements made during the last year.
Needless to say, Obama pointed to the inconsistencies, but the bottom line is that Romney separated himself from the rhetoric that dominated the Republican Party the last couple of years in his final bid to win undecided independent and moderate voters.

Battlegrounds Contract and Tighten for Obama

Barack Obama is still leading in many of the nine battleground states identified by his campaign early in 2012, but North Carolina now appears firmly in Mitt Romney’s camp and Obama’s lead in all the states has tightened by 2 or more points since the landmark October 3 debate.

Colorado is now dead even with more than 400,000 voters cast. Romney received a hero’s welcome in Colorado on Tuesday and visited Nevada and Iowa, both of which are still leaning toward Obama.

If Obama can hold Ohio, Romney needs a perfect sweep of other battlegrounds or to open areas that were thought in the Democratic camp.  In battleground states, Romney has stepped up activity in Wisconsin and New Hampshire.  Both Florida and Virginia are now trending toward Romney, with Florida’s polling average now favoring him.  Romney is adding Pennsylvania and Michigan for stepped up activities.

See AP article:  Once Obama country, Colorado now razor-close

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Colorado’s Congressional Incumbents Favored, But Challengers are at Least on List

In a newly published list of the sixty most competitive congressional House races in the country, Colorado’s 6th congressional district contest between incumbent Mike Coffman and Democrat challenger Joe Miklosi ranked 32nd.  Unfortunately, the analyst believes not more than 10 to 20 seats will flip between parties, failing to give Democrats back control.  However, it’s still an indication that Washington observers believe the 6th CD is in play.  The amount of money being spent on television ads confirms that outside interest groups believe the race is close.

The 3rd CD ranks 44th with incumbent Scott Tipton (R) battling Sal Pace (D).  The Perlmutter vs. Coors (7th CD) race did not make the list.

See Washington Post:  The Fix 60: The most important House races in the country

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Colorado – The Nation’s Closest Battleground

The Obama campaign is increasingly disappointed in the Colorado numbers.  The latest polls show Colorado is the closest toss-up state in the country.  The Real Clear Politics average for Colorado on October 23 shows Romney ahead by 0.2 percent.

A Sunday Rasmussen poll has Mitt Romney up by 4 percentage points (50% Romney to 46% Obama), but the latest PPP poll puts Barack Obama ahead by 3 points (47% Romney to 50% Obama).

Up to this point, both candidates have believed the state is winnable and are currently dedicating massive final resources, especially their time, to motivate their base and win the final undecided voters.  But, pressure is building on President Obama to put more resources into the Midwest.  Colorado has not responded to the campaigning efforts since the Oct. 3 Denver debate debacle.

As of Tuesday, October 23, 171,000 absentee votes had been returned, with a reported slight Republican advantage (9,000 votes). More than 70 percent of Coloradans are expected to vote early.

See 9News:
Early voting begins in Colorado on Monday
Colorado’s 9 electoral votes crucial to both presidential campaigns

Final Voter Registration Reported: Democrats Close Gap in Late Registration, But Republicans Slightly Ahead

Democrats closed the August vote gap in active voter registration from 110,000 to 40,000 in final pre-election voter registration. Nearly a half a million (460,000) people registered or reactivated to vote in the last two months.

There are 3.644 million registered voters, both active and inactive, which is a new record and exceeds the 2008 total registration by 440,000.

In 2008, the year of Barack Obama’s nine percentage point win in Colorado, Republicans exceeded Democratic registration by 12,000 active voters.  In the big Republican year of 2010, they had a 113,000-vote advantage in Colorado.  The Republicans’ current 40,000-vote advantage in active voters highlights the likely closeness of the race.

The Buzz: Republicans still ahead in voter registration
The Buzz: Democrats winners in late registration, but Republicans still ahead

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Second Debate – Spin Two

President Obama won the second debate.  Given his dilatory performance in the first debate, there was almost no place to go but up.  And, improve he did.  He was more animated, connected well with the questioners, and much more aggressive.  He never missed a chance to attack Romney’s positions.

Obama immediately attacked, hitting GM early, and in each question, pivoted to “Governor Romney” believes, said or did, making some references hostile to Romney.  He used Joe Biden lines, like “That’s just not true.”  He asked “is that fair?” and said the “math doesn’t add up.”  No more Mr. Nice or Quiet Guy.

But, Mitt Romney didn’t lie down, and there were times the temperature got a little uncomfortable for all, but Romney kept his focus on the failed economy and repeatedly offered his plans for the future.

Debates are broken down into four major activities:

First, the expectations game, with both sides trying to raise the bar on the opponent and lower their own.  Obama’s expectations were slightly higher (Pew:  Obama – 41% will do better; Romney 37%).

Second, the event.

Third, immediately after the debate, the spin room fills with handlers and commentators.  Voters’ instant opinions enter the spin and the first judging is made.  Obama won, but close.

Finally, Spin Two, where the pundits keep the process going up to the next event.  This is the part of the debate process that can most affect public opinion.  Tuesday morning was the start of Spin Two, and both sides are fully engaged.

Romney went into the debate with momentum.  Numerous polls show the race closing, and some have Romney ahead.  But, the debates are now one-for-one, and Obama is back in the game.

The battle will be to the end, and it will center in the battleground states, including Colorado.

See:  The Buzz: Biden brings relief and new energy to the Democrats

Slowdown to Recession or Just Slow?

The drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent relieved the White House that October’s figures would reinforce the lack of progress in the recovery.

Other good news is a slight uptick in housing prices and sales and, of course, the booming stock market of 13610 (DOW), up 11 percent this year and approaching the 2007 all-time high of 14164.

But, there are numerous signs of a slowdown next year, even a recession.
  • Europe, our top trading partner, is in a recession.  It is producing a drag on American business earnings and private sector jobs.  China’s slowdown, while still mild, will exasperate the trade fall off.
  • There will be continuing public sector cuts, especially as expected 2013 federal cuts are implemented.
  • The fiscal cliff and uncertainty in changes in fiscal policy, including both possible massive spending cuts and increases in taxes, hurt both public and private investment decisions (U.S. growth next year only 2.2% GDP).
A deeper slowdown next year is a dangerous circumstance if the public associates it with fiscal mismanagement in Washington.  Then a real voter revolt might be in order in 2014.

Denver Post:  IMF offers bleak assessment of stalled recovery
Wall Street Journal:  Global recession risk rises

Coloradans Closely Divided on Marijuana Legalization

Colorado voters are divided on marijuana legalization.  Three statewide voter polls conducted in October show legalization below or barely at 50 percent support.  The recent DU poll (10-6), which asked Colorado voters their views on Proposition 64, the marijuana legalization amendment, had half the voters offering support (50%). But the latest CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac (10-9) and the Denver Post (10-10) polls show the initiative with less than 50 percent support (CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac: 45% favor, 46% oppose; Denver Post: 48% favor, 43% oppose).

The final result will reflect the campaigns by the respective sides and may be affected by turnout for the presidential candidates.  Democrats and Republicans have dramatically different levels of support for legalization.  But, a narrow loss is possible.

Colorado is joined by Washington and Oregon, liberal Pacific Coast states, with easy ballot access and less expensive media markets in the national push by marijuana advocates for legalization.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gay Rights Surge in Colorado, Around the Country

In 1992, Colorado voted (barely) for a ballot initiative that stopped the state’s political jurisdictions from enacting anti-gay discrimination laws.  It was struck down by the Supreme Court a few years later. But, in 2006, Colorado voters adopted an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment and rejected a civil union law.

From that background of hostility to gay rights, a near majority of Colorado voters now join with voters around the country who support gay marriage – one of the most aggressive items on the gay agenda. While the Colorado legislature rejected civil unions in the last session, voters here and around the country have apparently moved on.

The shift in support for gay rights since the early 1990s has been rapid and dramatic.  The latest poll in Colorado conducted by DU shows 49 percent of voters support gay marriage.  New battleground polls by the Washington Post show a “bare majority of voters in Florida and Ohio and nearly half in Virginia support same-sex marriage.  Finally, a September CBS/New York Times poll reported 51 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage.

In this election cycle, four non-battleground states are considering gay marriage ballot initiatives:  Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.  Polls indicate they are ahead in all but Minnesota.

Gallup records a libertarian-type drift in the country’s opinion, with an increased level of support for gay rights, marijuana use and gun ownership (see recent blogs).  One metric of the shift is that for the first time a majority of Americans say the government should not favor “any particular set of values” in society.  For two decades, people have said traditional values should be promoted by the government (2004 – 56% traditional, 40% no particular values; now – 52% no particular values, 44% traditional).

Democrats Winners in Late Registration, But Republicans Still Ahead

Democrats reduced the August vote gap in voter registration from 110,000 to 70,000 as registration closed in early October.  More than 260,000 people registered or reactivated to vote.

There are 3.560 million registered voters, both active and inactive, which is a new record and exceeds the 2008 total registration by 330,000.

In 2008, the year of Barack Obama’s huge win in Colorado, Republicans exceeded Democratic registration by 12,000 active voters.  In the big Republican year of 2010, they had a 113,000-vote advantage in Colorado.  Their current 70,000-vote advantage in active voters leaves their base vote between the terrible 2008 election and the much more successful 2010.

Among total voters, the largest group today is unaffiliated voters, who exceed the two partisan camps.  They were also the largest bloc in 2008.  Unaffiliated voters tend to vote at a lower rate than partisans.

See:  The Buzz: Republicans still ahead in voter registration

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Coffman Grabs Denver Post Endorsement in Expected Tight Race

Mike Coffman received the Denver Post’s editorial endorsement (Oct. 14) in spite of the Post’s belief he’s too conservative for the newly redesigned district.  Basically, they like his willingness to break with the Republican budget position on cutting military spending.

Joe Miklosi, a local politician with no previous leadership profile in the Democratic Party, benefits from the newly designed district, which Barack Obama won in 2008 as did Senator Michael Bennet in his razor-tight 2010 re-election.

Miklosi is also receiving significant funding help from national Democrats in their quest to win a net increase of 25 seats and regain control of the House.  The DCCC is also developing and airing its own (highly standardized) advertising spots to help Miklosi.

Finally, he benefits from the powerful Obama ground game working to get out the vote in Aurora and Arapahoe County.

Ciruli interview in Denver Post:
“Political analyst Floyd Ciruli said three factors have helped Miklosi:  the new district lines, monetary support from Democrats in Washington eager to win the U.S. House and being a down-ticket candidate to a president who has a strong grassroots operation.   ‘Include these factors, and you have a strong candidate,’ Ciruli said.”
See Denver Post:  Joe Miklosi:  Vows to hold fast to his desire to ‘serve the people’

Michelle Votes Early – So Do Most Voters

The election morning photo op of the candidate and wife voting to encourage turnout is over.  Michelle and Barack Obama voted absentee in Illinois to encourage early voting, which they hope to win.

More than 70 percent of the national vote will be early. Precincts on Election Day see few voters.

By Friday of this week, a quarter of Colorado’s vote will be in the local clerk’s offices around the state.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Romney Stays in Lead in Colorado – Denver Post

The Denver Post released their latest poll (automated) that confirms a recent series of polls showing Mitt Romney breaking into the lead in Colorado (Oct. 10 blog).

Colorado is tracking the national trend that moved to Romney’s favor for the first time October 9, six days after the first debate. Although, the national trend as of Monday, October 15, now shows a tie race, possibly indicating the debate bounce has begun to smooth out.

The Denver Post poll showed 12 percent of voters say they switched candidates after the first debate:  34 percent went to Romney and 16 percent to Barack Obama.  Romney also gained twice as many undecided as Obama.

Ciruli interview in Denver Post:
“‘There is a relatively small number of individuals who are really undecided, and there’s more of these people who are weakly decided,’ said Floyd Ciruli, a Denver pollster.  ‘I think they tend to be more independent.  They tend to be more moderate.  They’re definitely not attached to a candidate. They are able to move.’”
The poll also saw a shift in college-educated voters to Romney after the debate:
“These are voters who are ‘looking for the final clue,’ Ciruli said, calling debates ‘literate and high-profile events.’
‘If you’re a less partisan person, not a deep Democrat or a Republican, you are disappointed in this president,’ he said.”

Biden Brings Relief and New Energy to the Democrats

Joe Biden did his job. Democrats were relieved to see him fight after the listless performance of the President.  They have been re-energized for the final three weeks and are anticipating what they hope will be a Barack Obama comeback debate on Tuesday night.

Democrats were also delighted to have Biden hit the Republicans with specific arguments over “47%,” Medicaid, taxes and abortion.  Biden did all Democrats could have hoped for.

Paul Ryan held his own in the face of the Biden onslaught and, in fact, won some points, especially on style.  Ryan’s calm demeanor was a sharp contrast to Biden, who became so animated that it appeared in debate prep his advisors may have let a little too much slack into the performance.  About 15 minutes into the debate, Biden’s grins, grimaces, groans and interruptions became a distraction.  But, he had a good close, and Democrats sprinted into the spin room, a sharp contrast from the funeral march after the Obama debate.

Now, we will wait for data and prepare for the presidential town hall debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

Some early post-debate data:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Denver TV Wins Big in Presidential Race; Obama Swamps Romney

Denver TV has received millions of dollars of TV advertising from the presidential campaigns and associated PACs.  The latest report states Denver is the number one city in the nation for political ads during September with 7,770 – Barrack Obama had 4,791 and Mitt Romney 2,979.

Beginning October 8, Romney finally exceeded for the first time this year Obama’s massive dominance in television advertising purchases. More good news for Denver stations.

9News:  Study: Denver had nation’s highest number of presidential ads after conventions
Denver Business Journal: Denver top market for political ads in September

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vice Presidential Debate – Helps or Hurts New Frontrunner?

Fresh from surging to the lead, Mitt Romney’s new momentum gets a test on Thursday in the vice presidential debate.

As posted a few days ago, a group of Belgium journalists stopped in for a briefing on the election and the debate.  The following is one journalist’s questions on the VP debate and my responses.

Q:  What are the main challenges of this vice-presidential debate?

  • Along with the personal challenge to be seen as competent and hopefully a winner, each side carries the campaign banner.
  • There will be more interest in this debate because of the attention generated from the first debate and its apparent impact on the race.
Q:  Is it also less about “substance” than “appearance”?

  • There is always a blend of substance and appearance.  But, as the first debate showed, tone, style and forcefulness count at least as much as having facts.
  • But, Romney’s having a plan, his five points was a benefit.  He looked prepared and ready to work for jobs.
Q:  Is it possible for Biden to overcome the results of the first debate, which was favorable to Romney?

  • There will be pressure on Biden to at least make a good, gaff-free show of it.  Vice president debates seldom become important enough to change a race.  Biden would like to stop the current news cycle narrative of Democrats in trouble.
  • Ryan will also be under pressure to hold onto the momentum and not let his views or plan become a liability.  Democrats have been attacking the plan for months.
  • Ryan, as the new person, has an opportunity to become a national figure, but also the possibility of becoming a distraction just when Romney is making progress.
Q:  Next presidential debate will be a “town hall” meeting.  What difference does it make?

  • The next presidential debate will make it more difficult for the candidates to argue with each other, such as during the long rebuttals in the first debate.
  • Romney can expect many social issue questions that tend to benefit the Democrats (i.e., abortion, immigration).
  • Candidates will need to be more conversational and focus on the citizen questioners.
See The Buzz:  Questions from Belgium journalist watching our presidential debate for first time

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Major Benefit of Romney Win – He Moves the Base

Gallup reports Mitt Romney’s win in his first debate with President Obama was at a record level.  Seventy-two percent of all voters who watched the debate believed he “did a better job.”

Even 49 percent of Democrats thought he won, along with 70 percent of the all-important independents.

But, most importantly, it’s a game changer for the respective bases of each party.
As the Los Angeles Times reported:
“‘It’s hard to tell if it is a game changer at the level of ... undecided voters.  It’s clearly a game changer for the bases of both parties,’ said Floyd Ciruli, a Denver pollster.”
I addressed two Republican-leaning business groups Thursday, and the change in their mood was palpable.
“‘They stood up and cheered when I said, “Well, was last night a good night for you?”  They are revived,’ Ciruli said.  Previously, ‘they were very dispirited in what they saw as a sort of lackluster and gaffe-prone September, and now they feel tremendous vigor.’”  (Oct. 5, 2012)
Democrats were equally affected, and while the initial emotions were disbelief and denial, the base snapped to attention to realize that there is still a contested election.
Again, as the Los Angeles Times reported:
“‘I also have received and seen a number of emails, traffic between Democrats saying, “Gosh, we can’t be taking this for granted, there’s a few more days left for voter registration,”’ Ciruli said.  ‘In other words, a bit of overconfidence has been diminished in the Democratic campaign.’”

Romney Now Leads in Colorado and the Country for First Time in Real Clear Politics Average

The best known political aggregator website,, maintains the most respected and frequently used polling averages.  It lists 34 polls conducted in Colorado since February on the presidential race horse question.  Mitt Romney has only been ahead six times, but three have been in the last week.

Because of that, Romney is now ahead in Colorado by a fraction (0.5) of a point over Barack Obama for the first time this year.  Obama has also lost his national lead six days after his weak debate performance in Denver.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Romney Stops Race From Being Called – National Journal

As Ron Brownstein wrote in the October 4 National Journal, the debate did two important things for challenger.

First, it arrested the rush to call the race over and start post-mortems:
“This is exactly what Romney needed to stop everybody from declaring this race, and they were on the verge of it,” noted Floyd Ciruli, an independent Colorado pollster.  (National Journal, 10-4-12)
Secondly, Brownstein said the debate shifted the discussion from Mitt Romney’s problems (which are serious and may make the debate more a bump in the road than a game changer) to President Obama’s vulnerability:
  • High unemployment
  • Slow growth
  • Barely 50% overall approval, which is a major improvement over last year; less than 50% approve his handling of the economy
  • Massive deficits

Brokaw and Ciruli on Colorado Undecided Voters

In the NBC Nightly News on October 3rd debate night, Brian Williams aired a Tom Brokaw produced piece from Colorado on undecided voters.

I opined on independent voters’ concerns and what they will look for in the debate.

NBC Nightly News:
“The state is desperate for something to be accomplished.  They are extremely worried about the economy.  Sixty percent are concerned about the direction of the country.”
The debate was mostly an aggressive exchange on the economy, but in terms of getting something done, both candidates made only brief statements about their experiences and successes reaching across the isle.

Monday, October 8, 2012

DU and Debates Won

Two strong winners from last Wednesday’s presidential debate were DU and the remaining debates.

Seventy million people watched the debate and millions more streamed it.
  • DU was mentioned repeatedly
  • Chancellor Coombe gave a prime time welcome
  • The media support in the spin room (media filing area) was excellent
  • The students, staff and faculty participated
“There is no doubt that people will leave this debate with a very, very enriched sense of who these two men are, both in terms of their ability to handle questions, handle each other and handle the substance of the material,” Ciruli said.  (9News, 10-2-12)
Although the debate format was controversial, it accomplished its purpose.  Expect large audiences for the next three debates.

VP debate, Oct. 11
Presidential town hall, Oct. 16
Foreign policy, Oct. 22

Also see Denver Business Journal: Audience for Denver debate topped 67 million

Friday, October 5, 2012

Questions From Belgium Journalist Watching Our Presidential Debate for First Time

I recently spoke to a group of eight Belgium journalists about the election.  One followed up with post-debate e-mail questions concerning the effect of the debate.

Q:  Your take?  Do you agree with most of the pundits/commentaries that President Obama lost the debate, and why?

A:  Mitt Romney won due to having lower expectations and exceeding them. People thought he would lose.
  • Debates are mostly about looks, tone and presence.  Romney was confident and in control of the stage.
  • He was forceful, but not too aggressive.
  • He addressed his negatives (mentioned the middle class repeatedly, defended his tax plan and challenged Obama on his).
  • Obama was not energized and missed many opportunities.
Q:  What will be the impact on the campaign(s)?  In your view, what should the Obama campaign do to re-bounce and get grip again? Could this “bad” performance have a silver lining; a.k.a., to fire up grassroots to GOTV and avoid complacency?

A:  The impact is not clear, but it stopped the views of commentators that the race is over.  It provided Romney room to go on the offensive.  But, it’s late and many people have decided and some are voting.  Also, Obama commentary and spin analysts are deconstructing the debate to help Obama make up some ground.

Obama will stay aggressive and busy until the next debate and be better prepared for it.  The Republican base will be the most fired up, but Obama partisans will feel more urgency.

Q:  Do you think Mitt Romney has washed away negative perceptions since “47 percent” incident with his stronger performance?  In your view, how do you see his campaign evolve?

A:  Obama missed an opportunity with the “47%,” but has it in his advertising.  He can use it in the town hall debate, but Romney has at least made the case he is concerned about the middle class.  The town hall debate will likely bring up social issues, which benefits Obama.

Romney now has a chance to use the next two debates to keep the race close.  His debate performance would make a good commercial.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Colorado Schools Ask Voters for a Billion

In spite of a slow recovery and a poor national image from labor strikes and weak performance, local Colorado school districts are feeling confident enough to ask for a billion dollars of new revenue.
Denver has the largest request for a $466 million capital program and a $49 million annual override.  It argues that growth and deteriorated facilities require the expansions and upgrades.  They cite a need to replace lost state funding as justifying the revenue increases.
Denver fights, and often wins, a regular battle to reform its program against the forces of the status quo.  A divided board vote on the package signaled that the difference of opinion over reform is likely to affect the bond and override election.
More than 20 districts have requests.  Pueblo County tried last year and was defeated.
Recent years has not been supportive of tax and school funding increases, but some districts feel local support will overcome macro issues of the weak economy or national public education’s poor image.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Romney Wants a Second Look – 9News

9News, Sunday morning – Commentary from Floyd Ciruli interview with Matt Flener

Presidential debates are important, but this debate has taken on much more significance because it is the:
  • First debate
  • Colorado is a toss-up state
  • The race is close
And, most importantly, political observers from both parties believe that Mitt Romney needs this debate to stop Barack Obama’s apparent momentum.  Romney must reframe the final conversation with voters and go on the offensive the last five weeks.

Romney’s task is urgent.  Early voting has already started in Iowa and Ohio.  He had a difficult September facing a Democratic convention bounce and attacks from the off-the-record fundraising “47 percent” comments.

Debates are mostly about tone, look and communicating personality, not presenting 5 or 10 point plans.  Romney will need to show his self-confidence, demonstrate policy competence and communicate compassion while aggressively reminding voters of the President’s failures and reasons to vote for him – not an easy blend in a debate.

But, October 3rd will be his biggest audience since the convention and a critical moment to change the dynamics of the race.

History suggests debates seldom help candidates, but they can hurt. And, Obama must avoid a misstatement or bad appearance that could change what looks like a building lead.  Obama will try to keep Romney off-balance, without looking defensive or hostile.

His goal is to reassure voters who believe he’s going to win and are leaning to him that he’s the right choice.

See 9News:
What the presidential debate means for Colorado
How the presidential debate could turn the tide

Obama’s Battleground Strategy Working, Part 2

The Obama campaign strategy of targeting states has worked.  As reported on this blog on September 20, Barack Obama is still winning 8 of the 9 toss-up identified states.  North Carolina is a tie.  On the 20th, he was losing in North Carolina.

Obama began visits and massive advertising early in Colorado, and he now leads Mitt Romney by an average of three points.  As of September 21, Obama had been in Colorado campaigning ten times this year – a record number for any president.

Obama’s advertising started shortly after Romney became the presumptive nominee and was strongly negative.  A couple of recent reports highlight the significant Obama media spending.  A CU student’s analysis of ads purchased from July 30 to November 6 rank Denver the third biggest purchase in the nation this year.  Obama booked $4.6 million and Romney $1.4 million.  NBC News reports since March 19, Colorado was one of the few states Obama’s expenditures exceeded Romney’s:  Obama $20 million, Romney $9 million; direct campaign spending total PAC and candidate spending:  Obama $28.5 million, Romney $26.5 million.

Blog on September 20:

Looking at the electoral map, if Obama takes all the states Democrats regularly win (and current polls show substantial leads), he will have 237 electoral votes toward the needed 270.  Romney will have 191 by that criterion.  If Obama takes the eight toss-up states he currently leads, he would pick up 95 out of the 110 electoral votes in the toss-up list.  Obama would win with 332 electoral votes – down from his 365 in 2008, but still a 33-vote cushion.

This is why when the story of the 2012 election is told, and if Obama wins, his strategy of putting the bulk of his campaign in the battleground states and starting the visits and air war early may be seen as the key to his victory.

Also see:
Washington Times:  Colorado tight despite 3-to-1 Obama spending edge
NBC News:  State-by-state ad spending (updated):  Team Obama leads in three states – OH, VA, CO
Denver Post:  Barack Obama easily tops past presidential visits to Colorado
USA Today:  One day’s worth of political ads

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nice Timing on Obama’s Approval Comeback

After hitting a low of 44 percent approval a year ago, Barack Obama has slowly recovered to 50 percent – the historic re-election threshold.

Obama began at 62 percent on February 1, 2009 immediately after his inauguration, but dropped steadily to 46 percent in the 2010 “shellacking” November elections.

The summer of 2011 was even worse for the administration.  The debt ceiling crisis made them look disorganized and Obama weak.

But, in the fall of 2011, the administration repositioned itself as the campaign took over and the themes of social justice and jobs came to shape the messages and actions of the administration.  In December 2011, it was Republicans in Congress who looked weak in the conflict over unemployment extension.

Observation:  Looking at Obama’s approval trend, it appears he’s done better as a candidate than a president.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Denver Debate: Romney’s Last Chance?

The Denver presidential debate may be Mitt Romney’s last chance to get his campaign on track.  He’s behind nationally by four points and losing most battleground states.  Colorado voters, in particular, will be watching the debate.

Normally, debates only reinforce already established voters’ dispositions, but Romney needs voters to give him a fresh look and a second chance to make his case.

There are a few instances where voters have used debate performances to make up their minds.  Probably the example Republicans like to cite is the 1980 Reagan vs. Carter debate.

Reagan used his well-remembered “there he goes again” line to highlight Carter’s repetition of straw man arguments and his scolding voice.  But, Reagan’s close has become a piece of American presidential lore.  “Are you better off today than four years ago?” framed the debate and the election for still deciding voters and started a landslide.  Reagan had been down in the polls going into the debate.