Friday, December 21, 2012

Colorado on the Move in 2013

It should be a good 2013 in Colorado.  Metro sales tax collections are up 8 percent this year, following a 7 percent increase in 2011.  The state’s top economists (both the executive and legislative branches) report state tax revenue is up more than $150 million above estimates of just three months ago due to income and housing prices recovering.  The overall state budget is at $8.1 billion, finally above the pre-recession peak of $7.7 billion in 2007.

And, contrary to some analysts who claim Colorado’s population growth has slowed, in fact, the U.S. Census reports Colorado’s growth during the recent 12 months made Colorado the 7th fastest growing in the nation, with the rest of the new oil patch in North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Texas.

Colorado workers, entrepreneurs and investors are on the move. Now, if the politicians just get us off the cliff, 2013 will be prosperous.

Happy New Year Friends!

Asian Americans in the Obama Coalition

Asian Americans gave Barack Obama overwhelming support on November 6.  Their joining the Obama coalition was newsworthy, but not a surprise.  Asian Americans voted for Obama in 2008 and have a variety of liberal-leaning opinions.

Although the percentage of the electorate didn’t increase from 2008, the Asian American community increased their support for Obama by 11 percentage points.  The 73 percent support exceeded the Latino community’s 71 percent support.

Bill Clinton only received 31 percent of the Asian American vote in 1992.  A variety of explanations are offered for the dramatic shift.
  1. Asian Americans often reside in deep blue states and pick up the political attitudes of the area.
  2. On a variety of measures, Asian Americans are liberal, supporting Obamacare and preferring more to less government.
  3. Asian Americans are not homogenous in their political orientation.  The exceptionally high level of support registered in 2012 could be an exit poll artifact even though they clearly lean Democratic.
  4. Many Asian Americans are highly educated and may assimilate the political attitudes of America’s educated elites.
  5. Democrats have offered appointments and been solicitous of the community the last two decades.
  6. Republican anti-immigrant rhetoric has alienated the community.
Asian Americans now join the 28 percent of the non-White U.S. electorate, which mostly supported Obama.  He received an 80 percent level of support on average (African American voters gave Obama 93% of their vote).  Non-White voters represented more than two-fifths of his coalition.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Both Parties Vulnerable in Cliff Negotiations

Americans believe going off the cliff will harm both the country and their personal finances. They also believe that there should be compromise to reach an agreement.

There are differences in party perspective, but, in general, a majority of partisans agree the fiscal cliff will have harmful effects and that it should be avoided through compromise.

Other polls show the Democrats have considerable advantage in the negotiations due to the public’s strong support for raising taxes on the rich (61% of Republicans support, NBC/WSJ poll, Dec. 2012) and the general support of the President’s position in the negotiations.

Republicans suffer both from some of their core members believing there is too much compromise and many others believing there’s not enough.

Democrats are not seen as willing as Republicans to reduce spending or entitlements, and most of the options are not popular.  Still, the public wants a solution and believes that compromise is the path to get it.

If there is failure to reach an agreement, which results in significant tax increases, spending cuts and possibly a recession, President Obama will be damaged as much as Congress – it will launch his second term with a major failure and frame the next two years as a bitter stalemate.

See ABC News:  Obama holds most cards in cliff talks, but with no mandate – and risks aplenty

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 – A Gay Election

Gay voters and the gay agenda were big winners in the 2012 election. President Obama endorsed gay marriage in May, which provided a significant boost. Gay marriage now has majority support among Americans. (Gallup reports 53% support it.  Pew says 49% support.) In a PPP April poll, 53 percent of Coloradans said they supported gay marriage.

But, its biggest victory came on Election Day when voters in three states approved gay marriage after more than a decade of approving bans. Maine, Maryland and Washington State said yes to gay marriage and Minnesota rejected a constitutional ban.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) voters said they were voting overwhelmingly for Obama (71% vs. 22% for Romney) as opposed to the non-LGBT community, which in an October 18 Gallup poll gave Romney a one-point advantage (47% Romney vs. 46% Obama). The LGBT community provided Obama support equal to the Latino (71%) and Asian American (73%) communities.  
Gallup reports 3.4 percent of voters say they are LGBT. They are most likely to be liberal than others and slightly more Democratic than independent.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

“I’ve Got ‘Bigger Fish to Fry’”

Possibly the biggest surprise of election night was the 10-point margin of support for legalization of recreational marijuana. Substantial portions of the establishment opposed it.  But, opposition was largely passionless, providing no real money or manpower. Many opponents appeared to believe legalization was inevitable, but preferred Colorado not be first.

Late polls consistently showed the amendment ahead, but at or below the 50 percent level, often an indication of trouble on Election Day. But, similar to Obama’s final surge, marijuana won by a 10-point margin.

Supporters had an 8-to-1 fundraising advantage and substantial swathes of the Obama coalition – young voters, minorities and liberals – supported it.

But, the win was beyond the usual liberal bastions of Boulder, Denver and the state’s ski areas. The initiative received more votes than the President statewide and carried the swing Front Range counties of Arapahoe, Jefferson and Larimer. But more impressively, it won narrow victories in Republican-dominated counties Obama lost of El Paso and Weld.
Governor John Hickenlooper expressed initial resistance to implementation (“Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish”), pointing out that there was still federal law against possession, even small amounts, of marijuana. But, he has since accepted the responsibility to sign the initiative and assemble a task force to consider rules and regulations. Washington State also passed and must deal with implementation.

U.S. public opinion appears to have moved toward support of legalization. A recent Washington Post poll shows it tied at 47 percent for and against, and Gallup has it 48 percent to legalize and 50 percent to leave it illegal (down from 62% leaving it illegal in 2000).

But more importantly for federal enforcement and the implementation of Colorado’s and Washington’s new laws is that a substantial percentage of Americans believe the federal government should leave the issue to the states and not enforce federal anti-marijuana laws (Gallup – 64% no enforcement; Washington Post – 59% leave to states).

Reflecting the voters’ decision in Colorado and Washington and the shifting public opinion, President Obama has declared enforcement of small amounts will not be a priority of the administration. “I’ve got ‘bigger fish to fry.’”

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hispanic Voters Exercise Power

The most important and long lasting influence of the 2012 election will be the arrival of the Hispanic vote.

The vote as a percentage of the U.S. electorate has increased from 8 percent in 2004 to 10 percent today.  Hispanics now make up 14 percent of Colorado’s electorate.  But equally important has been the massive shift from President Bush winning 44 percent of the U.S. Hispanic vote in 2004 to Barack Obama receiving 75 percent in Colorado in 2012 and 71 percent nationally.

Fourteen percent of the Colorado electorate in 2012 was approximately 365,000 Hispanic voters, with Obama winning 273,000 of them, or twice his statewide margin of victory of 130,000 votes.
The significant Hispanic participation also affected down ballot races in Colorado where a record number of 12 Hispanics joined the legislature.  
They are also major influences in a host of states that have more than a million Hispanic residents:  Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas.  Florida is already a battleground state, with Obama winning it this year by less than a percentage point.  It could be joined by Arizona and Texas longtime Republican strongholds.
Education is Hispanics most important issue, then work and health care.  Immigration only rates fourth, but unless a politician gets it right, it’s impossible for them to get a hearing from most Hispanic voters.  Obama effectively used education (Dream Act) and immigration initiatives to cement support.  Obama’s deportation initiative was very popular.  Seventy-one percent said it was “about right” vs. “too little” or “too much.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pelosi Stays, But Unlikely to be Speaker Again

Nancy Pelosi has decided to remain the U.S. House minority leader, but she is very unlikely to ever be the Speaker again.  Her last shot to regain the Speaker position was this year, but Democrats came up short, gaining only 8 seats, but needing 25 to regain the House.

Midterm elections, especially a president’s last midterm, are historically difficult for the president’s party.  Only Bill Clinton in the last century gained House seats (4) in his last midterm election in 1998 as Newt Gingrich led an impeachment effort.  Gingrich then resigned.

Pelosi’s reason for staying this year was not to win back the House, which was her rationale for staying around after the Democratic defeat in 2010.  Rather, her caucus felt she best represented their liberal views and diversity and would be a protection against backsliding by moderate Democrats, like her colleague and likely replacement Rep. Steny Hoyer.

One-Party Government Controlled by Democrats for Ten Years?

Colorado Democrats swept control of the Colorado House.  They had lost it by just one seat in the 2010 national Republican wave, but took it back with a 5-seat majority this year.  Democratic five-seat control of the State Senate was unchanged.

The last 8 years of Democratic legislative dominance, after nearly 40 years of Republican control of both houses, has been extraordinary. It reflects Democrats’ superior funding, candidate recruitment and campaign operations since 2004.

1.  Due to legislative redistricting after the 2010 census, Democrats not only won a majority, but they may have locked it in for the next decade.

2.  Republicans have yet to recognize one of their most fundamental problems – Democrats out-fundraise and outspend them in legislative races. Democratic candidate spending through regular PACs, 527s and now Super PACS are simply overwhelming Republicans.
3.  The controversy at the end of the 2012 legislative session on civil unions significantly contributed to the Republican November losses. It inspired greater Democratic effort on candidate recruitment and fundraising.
4.  President Obama’s campaign overlaid the local Democrats’ turnout effort, especially among minority voters. Democrats recruited minority and gay candidates in record numbers.
5.  One-party government has become the norm in the states. Colorado joins 40 states with one-party governments, which represents 90 percent of the country’s voters. The vertical partisanship reflects the strength of partisan voting today and a polarized electorate.
States may take on issues that have gridlocked Washington as governors look to establish themselves as problem solvers using their party dominance.   
But, the new control of both houses of the legislature may be a problem for Governor Hickenlooper, who has tried to maintain a moderate and bipartisan image with a focus on business and economic development.  With split partisan control, bills passed only with concurrence of both parties.
Now, bills that the Governor may not prefer related to business and environmental regulations and controversial social legislation could pass.  He and Democratic legislative leadership will have to be much more active in prioritizing legislation and holding the line on issues that he opposes, or at least believes are not in his or the party’s interest, in the 2014 election.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hickenlooper for President

Early speculation by the Washington Post on presidential candidates for 2016 has John Hickenlooper as one of two westerners on the early list.  The other is Brian Schweitzer, a fellow governor from Montana (term-limited, out of office in January).

Hickenlooper and Schweitzer are the only candidates mentioned outside the Boston-New York-DC corridor.  Hickenlooper is the only candidate from a swing presidential state.  But, could we see one more run by Jerry Brown?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Denver Press Club Hosts Post Election Lunch Discussion

The Denver Press Club will host a NEWSMAKERS lunch on Dec. 17 to discuss the results of the 2012 presidential election and Colorado’s role as a battleground state.

The impact of the election on current policy and politics, including the fiscal cliff, marijuana, gay rights and the Middle East conflict, are also topics.

A series of recent posts on The Buzz review the election:
Registration by noon Friday, Dec. 14, at, under Dec. 17.  The full link is

The cost is $14 for members of the Denver Press Club, Denver Woman’s Press Club, Colorado Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Press Women, Colorado Association of Black Journalists and PRSA Colorado chapter.  All others: $17.

Colorado Polling Tracks National Trend

Colorado acted like the quintessential toss-up state.  State and national polls were closely synchronized, with Romney consistently behind Obama until Oct. 9 when he held the lead for 20 days following the surge after the first debate.

1.  Final Colorado polls showed the President winning by 2 points. His margin was 5 points, a little over half the advantage of four years ago (9 points).

2.  After the Oct. 3rd debate, the next round of polls put Romney in the lead for the first time all year. Romney was judged having won the first debate by 72 percent of the public. It charged up the Republican base and stopped pundits and the more attentive public from giving up on his race.

In a total of 56 Colorado polls reported on the Real Clear Politics website, Romney only won 12, and 8 of those were after October 3. Romney’s apparent momentum faded on Oct. 29, reflecting attrition from average debate performances and the relentless activity of the Obama campaign.

3.  The President surged the last week, no doubt reflecting the positive media coverage of his performance during Hurricane Sandy and late deciders moving to him. Final weekend polls gave to him 3- to 6-point margins.

4.  A key question will be if the Democrats now believe the state is secure because they are winning the biggest races and are doing it with groups growing in the electorate.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Obama Wins Colorado, But Closer Than 2008

Barack Obama won Colorado by 5 percentage points, down from his 9-point margin in 2008.  His margin of 130,000 votes was 85,000 below his big win of 215,000 over Senator John McCain in 2008.  The smaller margin was still larger than Senator Bennet’s win in 2010, who hung on with 30,000 votes in the national Republican landslide.

1.  Obama targeted the right states.  Colorado was fifth closest among the top nine states he targeted. Joining Colorado in the top five were Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia. Obama won 8 out of 9, only losing North Carolina.  Mitt Romney mostly adopted Obama’s battleground states, but added Pennsylvania.  He lost it.  It ended up in sixth place. Rounding out the top ten after Pennsylvania were Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Wisconsin.

2.  Colorado turnout was slightly above four years ago, from 2.4 million to 2.6 million.  Eighty percent of voters voted early; hence, only about 500,000 voted on Election Day.

3.  As a battleground state, Colorado saw record-level visits from the candidates, started by Obama early in the 2012 election season. Heavy advertising began in May, as soon as Romney was designated the presumptive nominee.  It was mostly from Obama and negative related to Romney’s Bain Capital record.  Between the Republican primaries and the early Democratic advertising, Romney never recovered his reputation and lost every test of favorability or empathy with voters.

4.  Obama assumed the state would be close and was never confident it had been put away.  He visited the last week. Advertising continued through Election Day even though 80 percent of the vote was in.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nine to Twelve Battleground States – Election Day Projections: Obama 303 Electoral Votes

The map of Election Day displays the final state-level polls on Election Day in twelve toss-up states – nine original and three additions (Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota) selected by Romney as he realized his long odds in Ohio and other states essential to get to 270 electoral votes.

1.  The final Election Day projection was for an Obama victory, with 303 electoral votes.  He won 332.
  • The final polls showed Obama winning 10 of the 12 toss-up states.  He won 11.
  • North Carolina went for Romney by 3 points and the final polling average gave him a 3-point lead.  Florida’s polls, which had Romney mistakenly up by 2 points, went to Obama in a long count by 1 point.
  • Colorado’s final polls had Obama up 2 points and he won by 5 points.
2.  Romney’s campaign polling operation and a few Republican and Republican-leaning pundits insisted that the state-level polls were wrong.  Their in-house polls allegedly showed Romney leading in sufficient states to win the Electoral College, including Virginia, Ohio, Iowa and Colorado.
  • The Republican argument was that the public polls were using a 2008 turnout model, which reflect the “hope and change” sweep of Obama, but that this turnout would be more like 2004 when G.W. Bush retained office.  Namely, lower levels of Hispanic and youth vote showing up. They also argued they had final momentum and were winning the independent vote.
3.  Virginia was the first major battleground state to report results on Election Night, and it went for Obama by 3 points.  It has swung back and forth in the polls the last few weeks, but had Obama up 1 point on Election Day.
  • At that point, the long Election Night assumption was over because without Virginia, a state Romney’s people said he would win, he had no path to 270 electoral votes.
  • With the fall of Virginia, Romney’s in-house pollsters and pundit advocates were shown to be wrong.  The Obama core turnout was showing up, and there was no secret Romney surge.
  • Ohio was the final battleground between the public pollsters and the Republican pundits.  Karl Rove was so committed to the alternative view, he disrupted the Fox election night newscast arguing that the Ohio projection awarding the state to Obama was premature and likely wrong.  Obama won it by 3 points.
4.  Obama’s campaign developed its battleground strategy in 2011 and the 9 states he selected, plus Pennsylvania, were indeed the ten closest states.
  • The bulk of the President’s visits and advertising were aimed at the 9 targeted states.  The approach worked.  Even as Romney gained a lead in national polls, Obama never lost his lead in state-level polls and acquired a super majority of electoral votes.
5.  Democrats, since President Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 victories, have built a base of reliable Democratic voting states with a combined electoral vote of about 220, whereas the Republican base has contracted to about 190.  Hence, G.W. Bush’s electoral vote victory was a very modest 271 in 2000 and 286 in 2004.  Obama won 365 in 2008 and 336 this year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Final National Polls: And the Winner is Obama

The final national polling figure shows the head-to-head polling trend during the campaign.

1.  Obama was ahead by about 2 points consistently all year.
  • Romney damaged by primary.
2.  Obama remained ahead in May and June after bad job reports.
  • Economy was not going to be the sole issue that could have put Romney in the lead.
  • Romney came under massive advertising attacks Bain Capital. His favorability was low and stayed there.  He did not respond concerning his reputation. He believed the race was a referendum, not a choice.  His response was to attack Obama on the economy.
3.  Obama was ahead by 3 points on Oct. 1.
  • Democrats had much better convention in terms of bounce.
  • Romney had bad September, even as his advertising ramped up.
  • Romney’s “47%” and Benghazi quick response hurt.
  • Question was asked: What can change the dynamics of the race to make it competitive?  Only the Oct. 3rd debate appeared possible.  But debates are seldom game changers.
4.  Oct. 3rd debate changed the big picture and Romney moved ahead slightly for 21 days from Oct. 9 to Oct. 30 in the overall national polls.
  • 72% rated Romney the first debate winner, but it depended on Obama performing so poorly.
  • Polls tightened, but Romney never moved ahead in state battleground polls; hence, he continued to lose the electoral vote.
5.  Obama returned to lead last 7 days.  Romney saw momentum in crowds, but Obama won final debates, economy showed life and Sandy stopped Romney’s campaign.  It added points to Obama over the final weekend as he got to be presidential and look bipartisan.

6.  Obama was ahead in national polls on Election Day.  He won by 3 points as late votes counted in California added to his margin.
  • Final media polling average put Obama ahead by 2 points on Election Day.
  • Two final tracking polls had Romney ahead, reinforcing the final narrative that the race would be close and Election Night long; i.e., might need Colorado to decide it.
7.  So, preparation for election night analyses was that Obama appeared slightly ahead in the popular vote, but he continued to dominate the electoral vote in 7 of 9 battleground states.  Romney had shown final momentum, especially pre-Sandy, but it appeared to fade.  Romney’s people appeared strangely confident given the public polling data.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NEWSMAKERS Lunch at Denver Press Club

On Dec. 17, I will present the 2012 election results at the Denver Press Club’s NEWSMAKERS luncheon.

As more data and information about the election has emerged, some of the key questions are being illuminated.

Status Quo Election, But Positions Shift Left
Democrats Win Solid, But Not Uniform Victory
  • Was this race going to be close?
  • Was Election Night going to be long?
  • Did Romney have a chance?  Was he ever ahead?
  • How could Republicans go from 4 up to 2 down in Senate races?
  • Are Republican in-house pollsters, Karl Rove and Dick Morris on some other planet?
  • Does the Republican Party have a future or is California its fate?
The impact of the election on current Colorado and national topics will also be highlighted.  The fiscal cliff, Benghazi, gay rights, marijuana and fracking are all affected by the November results and how those results are interpreted.
Registration by noon Friday, Dec. 14, at, under Dec. 17. The full link is
The cost is $14 for members of the Denver Press Club, Denver Woman’s Press Club, Colorado Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Press Women, Colorado Association of Black Journalists and PRSA Colorado chapter.  All others: $17.