Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Did Bloomberg and Gates Toss Two Million into the Amendment 66 Campaign?

After two weeks of mail-back voting and only seven days until the election, America’s two most hyperactive billionaires poured two more million dollars into the now $10 million campaign of Amendment 66 proponents against the mostly non-existent ($10,000 or so) campaign of opponents. Why?

Well, without $10 million, the Governor and Amendment 66 supporters decided it’s losing. But for more saturation media, and most importantly a final week of browbeating infrequent but liberal voters into returning ballots, the proposal would lose.

Can $2 million more buy it? Tuesday night will be interesting.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gun Laws Divide Americans

Nearly half the public (49%) in a new Gallup poll support stricter “laws covering the sale of firearms,” more than a third say leave the laws as is and 13 percent believe laws should be less strict.

Public support for stricter laws has declined since the Newtown tragedy last December, down from 58 percent who then said make laws stricter.

Although there is almost no support for less strict laws, there is also little support for more severe laws, such as banning handguns. Three-quarters (74%) of the public oppose a handgun ban and only a quarter (25%) support it.

Does the decline in support for more strict gun laws help the Colorado recall advance or does the decay represent a lowering of interest and passion, which hurts their efforts?

See Gallup:  U.S. remains divided over passing stricter gun laws

Monday, October 28, 2013

Obama Still in Trouble

Presidents seldom win political points when Americans believe the country is in trouble and Washington politics is an embarrassment. In the post shutdown environment, euphoric Capitol Democratic leaders have been celebrating their good fortune of defeating Senator Ted Cruz and House Republicans after the Obamacare showdown.

But, the President’s approval, which had been in the doldrums since its high between his re-election (52%) and inauguration (50%), has taken another hit in the latest budget crisis. Obama’s average approval is at 44.5 percent for the July to October quarter as measured by Gallup.

It has declined steadily since the beginning of 2013. The average from January to April 2013 slipped to 48 percent, a period which included gun control, immigration reform and the sequester.

In the last three months, along with the long and mostly fruitless discussions around the budget and the Affordable Care Act, the President dealt with Syria, which arrived at a preferred result, but haphazardly in public opinion terms. During the budget confrontation, his October approval rating dropped as low as 41 percent. The last time his approval was that low was at the weak start of his re-election campaign in November 2011.

Obama’s approval is near President George W. Bush’s in October 2005 (43.9%) when Bush was dealing with Hurricane Katrina. Recall the 2006 midterm was a disaster for Republicans.

Although Democrats clearly got a boost from the October budget and shutdown, the President may be of no help to their partisan aspirations in 2014 and have limited clout to move any of his agenda in the remainder of 2013.

And, of course, that is not considering Obamacare, which appears to be an ongoing political burden for the President and his party.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hickenlooper Looking for a Bigger Win

As Governor John Hickenlooper approaches his re-election, he would like to exceed the weak 51 percent win of 2010. The narrow margin was a surprise in some ways and expected in others.

Although he faced a very weak field between Dan Maes, the discredited Republican nominee who barely received double digits (11%), and former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who ran as an independent (36%), 2010 was a Republican wave year and nearly swept away everything in front of it.

Hickenlooper’s polling was never that high, no doubt reflecting his lack of statewide exposure (no previous election, no primary), the continued close division of Colorado politics and the good Republican year.

Unfortunately for Hickenlooper as he begins his re-election, several factors have kept him on the defensive. In his own party, his support of natural gas production and fracking makes him the recipient of much public berating from anti-hydrocarbon activists. His handling of the Nathan Dunlap reprieve was broadly panned and the Democratic legislative session was judged by many as too aggressive with insufficient gubernatorial restraint (no vetoes). Gun rights activists have targeted him and Republicans, in general, have gotten more engaged in defeating him.

In recent history, Colorado governors have been re-elected by solid percentages, often above 60 percent.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Obamacare Implementation Major Problem

But for partisan shading, the majority of the public believe the implementation of is not just a computer “glitch” as President Obama likes to refer to it, but a “harbinger of bigger problems for the Affordable Care Act.” (Washington Post, 10-21-13)

Washington Post poll reports voters see the website as part of broader problem for ACA implementation:
  • Republicans more than 8 in 10
  • Independents – 55%
  • Democrats – 60% isolated incident
Nearly half oppose the law and 46 percent support it, but only 33 percent don’t support the law and want to repeal it.

Shutdown Puts Washington Dysfunction at Top of Public’s Agenda

Since the 2008 financial meltdown, the economy and jobs have been the “most important problems facing America today.” But, in the first week of October, Washington’s poor performance has made dysfunctional government the most important problem facing the country.

The last time a failure of government leadership dramatically appeared on the public’s radar was during the last shutdown in 1996. But, then only 17 percent of the public cited it and the deficit and budget rated higher.

Beyond the high percentage of voters who identified leadership as the problem was the rapid movement from less than 20 percent to a third of the public in less than a month. Movement shows interest and intensity. And, it signals a problem for incumbent, especially D.C., politicians.

See Gallup: Dysfunctional gov’t surpasses economy as top U.S. problem

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coffman Most Hurt by Shutdown

Congressman Mike Coffman is in the second most vulnerable seat in the county and has been hurt by the shutdown.

The generic ballot test, which tends to measure the advantage or disadvantage local congressional candidates can expect from their party identity, gave Democrats a two-point advantage most of the year. Historically, that suggested no real affect due to Republicans’ slight advantage in non-presidential year election turnouts.

That number jumped to six points favoring the Democrats in the last two weeks. The speed of the shift suggests much voter interest and aggravation with Washington. The bulk of the blame landed on the Republicans, which will likely, if it is sustained, harm candidates, like Coffman, in closely contested seats.

9News: Shutdown deal reflects Colorado delegation politics
The Cook Political Report: October House overview: GOP risk factors

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unions and Reformers Battle Over School Boards

Although the teachers’ unions are spending millions in partnership with school reformers in support of the billion-dollar per year revenue increase, they are battling reformers for control of local school boards.

It is at the school district level where reform is implemented and revenue is distributed in salaries and benefits. And, it’s at the local level where unions tend to dominate.

But, the November election will feature high-profile school board races in Denver and Douglas counties, where the union is on the defensive. The two counties are the center of the statewide effort to support school choice and teacher accountability.

Organized Labor All in for Amendment 66

Colorado and national teachers’ unions have contributed to Amendment 66 a combined $4 million, which represents half the funds raised by the mega-financed proposal.

Labor obviously believes the billions in new revenue, which will largely go to unionized teachers, is worth having to endure any reforms they oppose.

Of course, they have made clear they will oppose the reforms in court, future legislatures and at the school district level. In fact, the Denver Teachers’ Union is currently financing anti-reform school board candidates.

Will organized labor’s spending of millions on TV and for paid canvasing GOTV be enough to overcome the obvious lack of voter enthusiasm for the tax increase or does it just reinforce the public’s skepticisms that the reform elements in the proposal are illusionary?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pelosi Wants Obamacare Fixed

The Democrats are on a roll post the shutdown and want to translate it into taking back the House.
This, of course, is what Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lives for. But, the strategy is endangered by the poor performance of the Affordable Care Act rollout. Hence, Pelosi shouted out on Friday that the “computer must be fixed.” It’s a problem.
  • Obamacare has been a long-term controversy for Democrats, and the failed rollout reinforces its poor image.
  • It is mostly Pelosi and her House majority in 2009 and 2010 that crafted, passed and, in recent years, protected it.
  • The problem plagued rollout aligns with Republicans’ argument the law is a disaster. They will use it extensively in the 2014 election.
  • Pelosi has a chance, if not yet seen as likely, to pick up the 17 seats needed to give Democrats back the House. Their chances greatly improved the last two weeks, but months of Obamacare bad press could replace the negative news of the shutdown.
Ms. Sebelius may not be pushed out, but she is definitely not seeing her home much.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Third Party?

Organizing a third party is extremely difficult, but support for it has never been higher. Gallup reports that opinion has moved from an already high 55 percent of the public that believed a third party is necessary in 2012 to 60 percent in today’s gridlock and shutdown.

A third party can be organized à la Ross Perot and Ralph Nader, but requires:
  • A nationwide effort to become legally qualified at the state level
  • More than a billion dollars, the most recent expenditure level of a presidential campaign
  • A charismatic personality to capture public attention
Expect to see America’s surfeit of billionaires begin to think about being in the White House as the occupant, not just a regular guest.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Republican Field

The Republican field for governor now appears in place with the announcement of Mike Kopp.

Kopp, one of the most respected young Republicans in legislative leadership in recent years, will have a challenge breaking out of the crowded field. He will rapidly need to accumulate money and organization to take on previous gubernatorial candidate and former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Also in the race is State Senator Greg Brophy from Eastern Colorado.

Comments on the candidates: Tancredo, Gessler, Brophy and Kopp:

The Republican race is wide open. Governor Hickenlooper is vulnerable, but ready for the contest. Republicans will need a very solid candidate.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Not Another Recall

Recalls are now in the repertoire of issue activists as a method to punish legislators in swing districts who vote “wrong” on high-profile controversial legislation (Huffington Post).

The third recall effort since the end of the 2013 legislative session targets Westminster Democrat Evie Hudak. Her narrow 2012 re-election highlights her vulnerability to gun rights activists. If this recall is successful, the Democrats would lose their majority and Republicans would “get control in the middle of the session” (KFGO).

Republican Party leaders have already distanced themselves from the effort, knowing that the public and opinion leaders are firmly against the endless elections and use of the recall for political and policy objectives. They believe another four- or five- month recall effort will be a distraction to their effort to develop candidates and issues for the 2014 election (9 KUSA).

However, the activists are unlikely to be deterred. They are anti-establishment and not interested in the views of either political party. The successful recalls in Colorado Springs and Pueblo were mostly locally driven and inspired. The results sent a message.

As the Huffington Post reported:
“Conservatives are learning how to use social media. Both Pueblo and El Paso counties’ gun-rights activists initiated and organized online. Also, while recalls are expensive and difficult to mount, expect more in this highly polarized environment and Internet age,” said pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli in an editorial published on The Denver Post before Hudak’s second recall effort was announced.
But in Senate District 19, recallers have a major challenge in getting nearly 20,000 valid signatures, about twice what was necessary in the September recall elections.

Denver Post: New recall effort targets state Sen. Evie Hudak
Huffington Post: Sen. Evie Hudak recall: Effort re-energized after successful recall of Morse, Giron over gun control laws
KFGO: Third Colorado lawmaker faces possible recall for gun control votes
9News: Recall effort resurrected against Senator Evie Hudak
Denver Post: Caldwell: Would Evie Hudak recall really be so bad for Colorado Dems?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Public Opinion is on the Move

Panic hit the Republican Party in Washington last Friday with the Wall Street Journal and NBC News publication of a poll showing that the shutdown not only was a failed strategy, but that public opinion was on the move.

Americans have disapproved Washington and its major governing institutions for several years, but in the last two weeks, disapproval shifted to pure disgust, and the Republicans were the main recipients of it.

As Professor James Stimson (University of North Carolina) wrote in his public opinion classic of 2004, The Tides of Consent: “It is the movement [of public opinion] that matters.”
His analysis of the 1995 shutdown is worth rereading because it describes many of the similar elements to the current crisis, except that most of the indicators are worse today. Republicans are receiving the bulk of the blame and people believe the problem is more serious (73% today compared to 57% in 1995).
The movement away from the Republican Party has been massive the last four weeks. Negative feelings shot up from 43 percent in September to 53 percent today, while President Obama’s numbers improved slightly – all very similar to 1995. Recall that Speaker Newt Gingrich and his Republicans declined in approval and President Clinton recovered from his poor numbers post the 1994 midterm disaster.  Even if early, bad omens for 2014.
The Metrics – WSJ/NBC Poll
The shutdown:
  • Serious problem – 73%
  • Hurts the economy – 65%
  • Wrong direction for country – 78%
  • Blame Republicans – 53%
  • Negative feeling toward Republicans – 53%
  • Replace very member of Congress – 60%

The Senate House is Burning

In 52 BCE, the Roman Senate House was burned by the urban mob after a riot. Rome’s politics was in gridlock and the mob ruled.

Cicero described it to his friend Atticus: “You should hurry back to Rome and see what remains of the good old Republic. You can see the bribes handed out…right in the open. … You can sniff out dictatorship in the air and enjoy the suspension of public business and the total anarchy.”

Respect for Washington government has collapsed in the gridlock and the shutdown crisis. The public is looking for alternatives:
  • Vote incumbents out (60% WSJ/NBC poll, Oct. 11, 2013)
  • Vote Republicans out (6% advantage Democrats , generic ballot test, Real Clear Politics, Oct. 15, 2013)
  • Support third party (60% Gallup, Oct. 11, 2013)
Confidence in and support for Congress and the federal government has been at historic low levels for years. But, public opinion is now on the move and change is in the air.

In 49 BCE, just 3 years after the burning of the Senate House, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, “the die was cast” and the Roman Republic was in its last days.

Monday, October 14, 2013

As Expected, Democrats Stay Left

The ascension of Majority Leader Morgan Carroll to Senate President, replacing recalled Senator John Morse, gave the Democrat caucus an even more liberal cast. The new Majority Leader, Rollie Heath, who refers to himself as a businessperson, is mostly associated with one-billion plus dollars of tax increases as the author of Amendment 103 in 2010 and Amendment 66 this year.

In a Valerie Richardson article in the Colorado Observer (10-9-13):
“They’re two of the most liberal members of the legislature, which is not surprising, because I think the Democratic caucus is a very liberal caucus,” said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli. “Clearly you’re going to get more of the same if the leadership is any indication.”
“To do both Carroll and Heath—to not put in a Mary Hodge type to help moderate the caucus—is very deliberate and a choice that says they’re going to be on the path that they were on in the last session,” said Ciruli.
Analysts say the caucus vote also comes as an ill omen for Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who took a beating in the polls after signing off on much of the 2013 legislature’s aggressive agenda on energy, gun control and education.
“This says bad news for the governor in my view,” said Ciruli. “This sends a signal that, ‘We intend on being what we were.’ It means he needs to be more aggressive in defending his position.”
Also see:
Denver Post: Colorado Senate Democrats tap Morgan Carroll as next president
Denver Post: Carroll: Colorado Senate Democrats look to the left

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Coffman’s Pirouette

Mike Coffman managed to adroitly shift from being part of the problem in the shutdown and Washington gridlock to part of the solution.

He announced on Tuesday a change in position from being against to being in favor of a budget without Republican-demanded conditions related to Obamacare and other issues – a Clean CR in Washington speak.

Coffman published a well-crafted column in Wednesday’s Denver Post explaining his position and the need for compromise in a divided government with shared powers and received a pat from the Post’s editorial board Thursday morning for seeing the light.

Well played Mike.

See Denver Post:
Coffman: End shutdown and negotiate
Follow Coffman’s lead, GOP

Shutdown and 2014

The shutdown strategy of the Republicans has failed. They have failed to convince the public the pain of a shutdown is worth the benefit of stopping Obamacare. The media coverage has been relentlessly bad with stories of hardship and inconveniences and President Obama and Democrats have effectively politicized it.

Most importantly, Tea Party House members are watching fellow swing district members give up the fight. There are now more than 20 Republican members ready to join Democrats to end the shutdown.

But, the conventional opinion that the Washington shutdown will hurt Republicans in their 2014 effort to hold the House and win more Senate seats in swing states may be wrong. Poll shows in the short-term they are losing, but there are several factors that mitigate the longer-term effect:
  • Although Republicans are less favored than Democrats, people dislike Washington in general much more. The entire government is being blamed.
  • Although the shutdown is opposed as a political tactic, Americans are very ambivalent about government. They tend to believe it is too big and is full of fraud, waste and abuse. If given a choice, they prefer it smaller.
  • Obamacare, while not as disliked as a shutdown, has not been popular with a plurality, and in some polls, a majority of the public. Being willing to change it is seen as positive and the President’s position of not even talking about it is seen as nearly as unreasonable as House Republican members.
  • When asked who is most at fault, the President looks to be winning the immediate political exchange. But, similar to the debt ceiling crisis of the summer of 2011, Obama may be blamed for not solving the problem regardless of who is seen as the cause. And, in fact, his overall approval is now below 40 percent in some polls – a new low.
Although other and new factors and events will help shape the 2014 environment, Republicans have likely learned a lesson about having an end game strategy.

New York Times: G.O.P. elders see liabilities in shutdown
The Buzz: Sequester wars
Gallup: Republican Party favorability sinks to record low
Gallup: Americans see current shutdown as more serious than in ‘95
Pew: Anger at government most pronounced among conservative Republicans
Pew: Partisans dug in on budget, health care impasse
Real Clear Politics: Poll: GOP gets more blame for shutdown, Obama job approval falls to 37%

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vincent Carroll Sees “Tough Sell” for Billion-Dollar School Tax Increase

Denver Post editorial page editor, Vincent Carroll, weighed the political factors helping and hurting the K-12 school tax increase and saw it facing a very difficult, but not impossible, burden.

Proponents have an attractive list of benefits from the tax revenue and a massive amount of money to sell it. They also have a strong network of education advocates working to turn out supporters. Finally, they will get a ballot to every registered voter, giving them a better chance to increase turnout.

A few of the negative factors are:
  • The turnout in 2011? A little over 1 million. “It’s going to be an old election,” pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli told me, referring to the average age of voters. Amendment 66 proponents “need deep liberals” to turn out, he added, including the young and minorities.
  • “If the election were held today, this would lose.”
  • Even so, as Ciruli explains, “There is a presumption against a state tax hike and you have to overcome that presumption.”
  • And that means overcoming the ballot language itself, which poses the following stark question: “SHALL STATE TAXES BE INCREASED BY $950,100,000 ANNUALLY ... .”
But as Carroll concludes: “Still, Amendment 66 fans need hardly despair. It wasn’t so very long ago, after all, that a blue-tinged Colorado seemed conceivable as well.”

See Denver Post: One tough sell for a tax hike

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Colorado Schools Get a Billion

One argument that proponents of Amendment 66 must overcome is that many of their potential supporters just approved a billion dollars in local tax increases to pay for operation and construction of public schools.

In 2012, after several years of fiscal drought, Colorado taxpayers in many local jurisdictions, including Denver, Jefferson, Cherry Creek and Pueblo, authorized what was reported as one billion dollars in tax increases.

Will they do it again one year later for a state fund using a distribution formula largely without detail?

See The Buzz: Colorado schools ask voters for a billion

Monday, October 7, 2013

Denver Post Endorsement of Amendment 66 Weak

As expected, the Denver Post endorsed Amendment 66, the billion-dollar tax increase for schools.  The Post’s editorial board has been consistent supporters of education reform since the current movement started in earnest in the 1990s.

From curriculum standards and charter schools to education testing and performance pay, a series of Colorado governors, beginning with Romer and Owens and now Hickenlooper, have kept Colorado on the forefront of K-12 education reform, albeit producing modest levels of improvements in student achievement.

The Post has also been a consistent supporter of more money for schools, from local bonds and mill levy overrides ($1 million passed in 2012) to major statewide initiatives, such as Roy Romer’s 1992 one-cent increase (defeated) and Amendment 23 in 2000 (passed).

But, the editorial board also described the fundamental flaw in the current system of public education, and that is the primary group that is responsible for public school education and the major recipient of the billions of new funding from this proposal – the teachers union – is energetically opposed to even the modest reforms incorporated into Amendment 66. They have made it clear they will fight reform in court and, of course, in future legislative sessions and in local school board races (as they are currently in Denver Public Schools).

The Post’s acid response is that the union’s position is “treacherous” and “disgusting.”  The Post also believes the tax increase is too high and the funding is primarily required as incentive to undermine “entrenched interests.”

A temperate endorsement of a very significant tax increase.

See Denver Post editorial: Colorado’s schools need Amendment 66

Friday, October 4, 2013

KOA, 9 KUSA: Colorado Politics

In interviews with KOA’s Steffan Tubbs and 9 KUSA’s Mark Koebrich, Colorado’s hyperactive political environment was deconstructed in light of the federal shutdown and the 2014 election.
  1. The early blame for the shutdown goes to the Republicans. They were headed to what appeared to be good 2014 results. The President’s approval rating was in the mid-40 percent range and their holding the House was likely, along with picking up a couple U.S. Senate seats. Now both are at risk. Because American public opinion is not the same as opinion in individual congressional districts, there is little incentive, as yet, to compromise.
  2. In Colorado, Mike Coffman’s swing district is most in jeopardy from bad news from Washington. Democrats are already using the shutdown to good effect in governor races this fall.
  3. Mike Kopp has entered the crowded governor’s field. Tom Tancredo has a strong base, but a low ceiling of support and much baggage. Scott Gessler has his own baggage, but as a statewide officeholder with a less extreme profile probably has a bit of an edge. Greg Brophy is liked, but has little money and a small base. Kopp could be the strongest candidate against Governor Hickenlooper, but the field is crowded and breaking out won’t be easy. 
  4. Hickenlooper saw a bit of recovery with his strong performance during the floods. Since Katrina, politicians have recognized even more than before that extreme weather events can make or break a career. Witness Governor Christie’s ascendance after Hurricane Sandy. Colorado politicians have always appreciated the political power of weather since the Big Thompson flood helped Governor Dick Lamm’s survival in 1976 and the great snow storm of 1982 accelerated the end of the long career of Mayor Bill McNichols. Hickenlooper has had a major run of tragedy with fires, shootings and now floods.
  5. The Democratic Senate leadership contest may have a bigger impact on Hickenlooper’s election fortunes than anything he does. A race is possible between Majority Leader Morgan Carroll, representing the aggressive left wing of the party that dominated the 2013 session, and Mary Hodge, who maintains strong business and rural Colorado ties, to become the Senate president. Carroll has the advantage, but the likelihood of more liberal legislation will mean Hickenlooper has to get vocal with veto threats or risk losing the center of the electorate next year.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Amendment 66 Has Hit a Glitch

Coloradans are less than two weeks from beginning to vote on the billion-dollar tax increase for education. The multi-million dollar advertising campaign is just beginning, layered on top of an extensive grassroots phone calling and mailing campaign.

But, a glitch was reported by the Denver Post on Thursday as two credible moderate political leaders, Norma Anderson (R) and Bob Hagedorn (D), filed a legal protest concerning the Amendment 66 ballot signature effort.

Although the legal challenge won’t stop the vote, and is unlikely to reverse the judgment of the voters, assuming it passed, the suit does produce some bad press and highlights that opposition to the amendment is not just dominated by extreme anti-labor or anti-spending activists.

Anderson and Hagedorn are long-time credible members of the largely moderate wings of their respective parties. They are respected by metro business and local government interests who have largely stood on the sidelines of early positioning on Amendment 66.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Colorado, an Obamacare State

Colorado began early under the Ritter administration and shortly after passage to fully embrace the Affordable Care Act. The Hickenlooper administration followed suit by rapidly expanding Medicaid coverage and organizing health care exchanges.

Democratic-controlled states are implementing the law and Republican states are resisting it. Colorado has become a show state for enthusiastic implementation, along with states such as California and Minnesota.

The public divisions are as stark as the states’ different directions. The latest CNN poll shows 57 percent of the public oppose the law, with significant differences between the parties. Colorado citizens, according to a USA Today poll, oppose Obamacare by 52 percent.

 According to USA Today, more than $20 million of tax dollars has been spent informing and promoting the Colorado program. Also, it is being promoted by the state’s progressive think tanks, foundations, and much of the public and private health care industries.

With that level of effort, if Colorado’s program fails to have a smooth implementation, there is likely to be political repercussions in 2014.

See USA Today: Colorado: Microcosm of confusion on health law

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hillary Challenged From Her Left?

Could the overwhelming frontrunner for the Democratic nomination be challenged from her left? Democratic crowds are chanting for Elizabeth Warren, senator from Harvard, to run.

She’s from Democrats’ favorite workplace, a university, and most supportive
profession, tenured professor. But, most importantly for the 2016 election, she has credibility on the Democrats’ issue de jour, income inequality.

Warren, at 64, is not young, but she is new on the stage, and as a bankruptcy law professor, advocate for consumer rights and an author of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, she has a built in base in the party’s large anti-bank and anti-Wall Street wing.

But possibly Warren’s greatest strength is the contrast with Hillary Clinton, who now represents the apex of the Democratic establishment and is weathered from 35 years in the public eye, starting as the first lady of Arkansas. Clinton, due to the 2008 campaign and her husband’s two terms, represents the party’s center-left, especially on economic issues.

New and anti-establishment is what a lot of Democrats are looking for, even though the public may be drifting back to the middle and even right side of the political spectrum after two terms of Barack Obama. Ironically, Democratic dissatisfaction for Obama comes largely from his left. He’s not liberal enough, not aggressive or bold enough for many in the grassroots.

This nomination contest may be similar to the dynamics in the 2006 to 2008 period when Obama appeared on Hillary’s left and stole the nomination. In 2008, it was mostly Baby Boomers’ distrust of Clinton and their desire to give the purer liberalism of their youth a try with Obama. Today, it’s largely the X Generation, millions of whom have moved into the electorate.

For Democrats in 2016, the most critical characteristic is being a woman. A white man is not likely to see a Democratic nomination for a long time. The party’s base is now with minorities. While women are in fact the majority, the feminist view is one of minority status and being aggrieved.

In other words, a woman is up for the Democratic nomination, and Warren has some interesting assets if she wanted to go.