Friday, September 20, 2013

Guns, God and Gays vs. Guns, Gays and Government

Both Colorado political parties are dominated by their most ideologically intense members, producing the dramatic legislative swings from the Republican House in 2012 to the Democratic House in 2013. Member beliefs, their aggressive floor and committee procedures, and starkly different outcomes highlight that Colorado’s legislature is intensely partisan and ideologically polarized. It has become more like Washington.

The polarization is reflected in the public. Voters claiming to be strong Democrats and strong Republicans identify most firmly with liberal and conservative political philosophies, respectively. Two-thirds (65%) of strong Democrats claim to be liberals and most strong Republicans (86%) align with a conservative self-description.

The Democrats’ problem, which was highlighted by the Pueblo recall, is that upwards of a third of registered Democrats are not aligned with their intensely liberal legislative leadership.

Democrats effectively used the slogan in the early 2000s that Republicans were only interested in guns, God and gays while the economy languished and problems piled up. Today, are Democrats vulnerable to a similar charge; that is, are they mostly focused on guns, gays and more government?
The September 11 recall was the most recent demonstration of the nationalization of Colorado politics. Along with growing polarization and the aggressive tactics of using the recall to take rapid action against an opponent, millions of dollars of campaign contributions flowed in mostly from out-of-state with professional TV and radio commercials and presidential-like GOTV campaign techniques.

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