Thursday, June 25, 2015

Western Conservative Summit Attracts Seven of the New NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll’s Candidates

Congratulations to John Andrews and the Western Conservative Summit for attracting nearly half of the Republican presidential field – the largest field in memory. Each year, the event has grown and become more important in the conservative firmament of major ideological conferences. Now, it is a presidential-level event in a year with a wide open race.

Colorado may be a battleground state in the general election, but the state is often ignored in the nomination battle. The state’s caucuses are typically a non-event, with low turnout, esoteric rules and held the same day as many other nominating events.

But in 2015, Colorado will host a CNBC debate on economics in October, which will bring at least ten candidates who have survived the first two debates and are in the top tier of the polls. And now in early summer, Colorado has a Republican presidential forum with half the field. The presidential debate raised DU’s profile. The host institutions – the Centennial Institute and Colorado Christian University – have raised theirs.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, June 2015
Western Conservative Summit info
The Gazette: Western Conservative Summit bringing GOP presidential hopefuls to Colorado

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bernie Sanders Draws Crowd to DU

With a full throat attack on billionaires and Wall Street, Bernie Sanders brought his longshot/no-shot presidential campaign to Colorado.

Although Colorado’s Democratic activists tend toward the far left and preferred Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008, the 5,000 activists who showed up at DU to listen and cheer Sanders will likely not carry the state caucus or be part of the winners in Philadelphia in July 2016.

But clearly the party is divided as severely as the Republicans between ideological wings who want hot rhetoric and controversial solutions, which for the Democrats tend to be expensive and require much more government.

A couple of recent surveys summarize the Democrats’ dilemma with Sanders.
See: Denver Post: Bernie Sanders delivers condemnation of business, billionaires in Denver

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fracking Ban Politics Runs Out of Gas

The activists hoping the fracking bans were the next issue that could attract the money, media and voters for a new anti-growth political movement in Colorado have run out of gas.

In a June 12th cover story, Valerie Richardson in The Colorado Statesman ran down the reasons the anti-fracking movement has lost the headlines and likely momentum for a 2016 ballot initiative.

Some of the reasons I cited in the article are:

Denver political analyst Floyd Ciruli points out that it’s still quite early in the 2016 election cycle, but he agreed that the anti-fracking movement has lost momentum.

“I approached this year with the thought that activists would continue to promote (a statewide initiative), but indeed, the public anxiety and interest in it has receded,” Ciruli said.

He cited a number of reasons, including the governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force, whose recommendations are being implemented, as well as the industry’s ongoing advertising and education effort, led by Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development.

“The industry has been relentless in their continuing to advertise,” Ciruli said. “There are still lots of TV ads and other media proclaiming the benefits of fracking and the lack of a negative environmental impact, and I think that probably has a tendency to undermine the issue getting some traction.”

Then there’s the decline in global oil prices. The U.S. industry has cut back on drilling operations as Saudi Arabia refuses to curtail production, which has cause the price-per-barrel to plummet.

“Even if it doesn’t affect current production, it changes the atmosphere,” Ciruli said. “It’s no longer an ever-expanding industry — it’s now one with at least some level of contraction. Even in these small towns, there’s been some impact on the economy. It just sort of reminds everyone that for all the inconvenience, there is an economic upside.”

“[T]he 2016 election is a lot like 2014 in terms of the Democratic Party leadership,” Ciruli said. “There still is tremendous reluctance to have anything approaching a fracking ban on the ballot, simply because it divides the party so much, which is one reason the governor worked so hard to find a compromise.”

“The actual passion about the issue has dissipated,” Ciruli said. “While there may be more liberal-leaning voters in the electorate, they may be more interested in other issues.”

Read her entire article here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ambassador Mamet Welcomes Crossley Center to Argentina

U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, Noah Mamet, welcomed Floyd and KK Ciruli to the beautiful ambassador residence, the Bosch Palace.

Ciruli, representing the Crossley Center, was in Argentina to join polling colleagues from around the world for a WAPOR conference.  The World Association of Public Opinion Research meets yearly for presentations, panels and papers on major topics in public opinion.

Ciruli presented a paper on the historical, political and public opinion context concerning the U.S. change in policy toward Cuba. Ambassador Mamet pointed out the positive effect the policy changes have had for Latin American diplomats.

The Crossley Center is a part of the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. Ciruli also participated in a panel with international public opinion experts in “Polls, Media and Elections,” organized by Kathy Frankovic, former polling director/CBS News.

Ambassador Mamet is a California resident and a UCLA graduate.

(L to R) Ambassador Mamet, KK Ciruli and
 Floyd Ciruli at Bosch Palace

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Revolt Hits Mexico

In Mexico’s recent state and local elections independent and protest candidates won a governorship and numerous municipal races. The three old-line parties are beginning to lose their pull on votes after 27 years of free (i.e., post-PRI dominated) elections.

In the state of Nuevo León, with its rich business capital Monterrey, Jamie Rodríguez became the first governor independent of the three dominate parties. Independents won the mayorship in Cuernavaca and Guadalajara. Also, although he didn’t win office Lopez Obrador, the wild leftist former mayor of Mexico City, is back with a party winning congressional seats in the city.

Nearly 40 percent of Mexican votes went to third parties, some merely gathering around a single charismatic candidate, such as Morena created by Lopez Obrador.

Mexico has well-established polling professionals. Final polls from major polling outlets were accurate, except for some polls overestimating the PRD’s vote, no doubt due to its accelerated late losses to Morena and other parties.

Although the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) lost seats in this election, President Peña Nieto holds a congressional majority, joining parties on the left, such as the Green, and some other small parties.

President Salinas was the last president elected under the old corrupt system that made presidential elections a one-party event for more than 70 years.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Liberals and Conservatives on Social and Economic Issues

The Millennials are Coming

The headlines from a spate of new polls tell the story of American public opinion moving to the left on social issues. As millions of Millennials become 18 years old and older (old enough to be questioned in most national polls and, of course, to vote), they are a major influence in shifting public opinion (see: 2015: More Millennials than Baby Boomers).

When asked how they view themselves on “social issues” during the last decade, the U.S. public has shifted in the liberal direction, with liberal and conservative views now tied at 31 percent each. A shift of 13 points to the left. Republicans haven’t changed much during the decade. Liberal Republican views only make up 11 percent of the party’s identity on social issues (up 3 points in 10 years). It is Democrats that have shifted dramatically to the left (53% of party labels itself “liberal,” up 15 points), reflecting both changed views and Millennials, who are more liberal, joining the ranks of Democrats.

Although conservative views on economic issues have declined from highs in the upper 40s during the early Obama years (2009 – 48%; 2011 – 47%), down to 39 percent today, conservative views are still two-to-one over liberal economic views of 19 percent.

Republican views on economic issues during the Obama era swung to the conservative direction by 14 points from 2008 (61%) to 2009 (75%). They have since settled in at 64 percent compared to only 7 percent of Republicans with liberal views.

A third of the Democratic Party now claim to be liberal on economic issues, much more than the electorate, and moderate and conservative Democratic views have fallen off.

The second poll showing a surge of support for same-sex marriage confirms the country’s shift to the left on at least some social issues. Sixty percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage and 37 percent oppose.

Republicans and Democrats are dramatically different on their support for same-sex marriage.

Although in the last five years support has increased among all three parties, there is still a 39 percent difference between Democrats and Republicans, larger than in 2010 (28%).

Gallup: On social ideology, the left catches up to the right, May 22, 2015
Gallup: Record-high 60% of Americans support same-sex marriage, May 19, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Colorado is Unchurched

Although Colorado tends to be in the middle of many national rankings, Gallup’s latest ranking of religious attendance shows Colorado is in the lowest 20 percent, ranked eighth with a variety of New England and a few Western Pacific states. Only 25 percent of the adult population claims to attend religious services weekly and 55 percent stating they never or seldom attend. The national medium attendance was 32 percent weekly, 21 percent nearly weekly or monthly and 45 percent seldom or never.

The top ten religious attending states are all part of the South and Utah. These are states where weekly attendance exceeds declared combined “seldom” or “non-attendance”: Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Oklahoma.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Turkey Election – Autocrat Loses Ground

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
In a warning to aspiring autocrats, people can say no more.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after more than a decade of election victories for his conservative Islamic Party (AKP), lost his parliamentary majority in a weekend election (June 7, 2015). Massive turnout (86%) said no to his personal ambition to fuse his mostly ceremonial position as president with the powers of the prime minister.

Also, for the first time in history, a Kurdish liberal party won a position in parliament.

Polls have a ten day pre-election blackout in Turkey, but they correctly predicted the President’s party would receive votes in the low 40 percent range and the new leftwing – Kurdish party would win at least 10 percent to gain entry into parliament.

Along with consolidating his power using repression against competitors, critics and the media, and unfair campaign activities, he regularly calls his opponents traitors and misfits. But more important than Erdogan’s increasingly aggressive and boorish temperament was his challenge to Turkish civic values concerning democracy. His use of a presidency, which is mostly seen as a ceremonial position, to dominate the government and the campaign finally produced a backlash.

There were a myriad of issues joining the President’s political ambition and behavior, including the economy, dealing with Syria, Kurdish separatists and women’s and workers’ rights. But the results were a sharp rebuke to “‘the increasing Putinization’ of Turkey’s political system.” (WSJ, 6-9-15)

See New York Times: Erdogan’s Governing Party in Turkey Loses Parliamentary Majority

Monday, June 15, 2015

U.S. Senate – Washington Post Ranks Colorado 7th

Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post rates Colorado a weak pickup for the Republicans anxious to hold its new senate majority. The decision of Mike Coffman to not run was a blow to Republican chances to beat incumbent Michael Bennet and the Washington Post cites the “surprisingly thin” GOP bench.

Friday, June 12, 2015

DIA Deal – Regionalism Lives

The announcement of a deal among Adams County, Denver and Aurora concerning the future economic development around the Denver International Airport is great news for regionalism, which appeared on the defense the last few years.
As the Denver suburbs began to grow dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s, rivalries and hostility tended to characterize the relationship with Denver, reaching a peak in the Poundstone Amendment (1974), which stopped Denver’s annexations.

Leaders in the metro area, especially around the airport (the region’s largest economic generator), started working together during the Pena administration in the mid-1980s, and cooperation grew through the Hickenlooper years. The perception of regional collaboration since 2001 has fallen off, mostly due to the economic downturn, which made everyone look to their own interest. Denver may have launched the latest round of estrangement with aggressive plans for airport development that contradicted long-established expectations and agreements with Adams County and Aurora. But, independent activities related to the Denver Stock Show moving and the building of the Gaylord Resort in Aurora heightened tensions between the two cities’ political and business establishments. The latest airport agreement reverses that trend and reestablishes collaboration as the more productive alternative.

Regionalism has a strong foundation in the metro area. The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District was the first regional effort to show success with a 75 percent voter approval in all metro counties in 1988, followed by the successful baseball and football stadium votes, and most recently RTD’s FasTracks (2004).

A significant amount of the region’s economic success is directly tied to it high level of cooperation. In fact, the seven-county region’s national reputation for being a dynamic place to live and work is based on its broadly perceived willingness to create and maintain valued assets, such as air, sports, rail and cultural infrastructure regionally.

See Denver Post: DIA growth deal: Denver would pay neighbors $10 million, split tax proceeds

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Remembering Merv

One of the greatest generations of pollsters, starting shortly after World War II when he was only 26 years old, Mervin Field has passed away at 94 years old. He was one of a handful of returning veterans who began state polls in Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, and in California (first called the California Poll).

Mervin Field and Floyd Ciruli,
2010 PAPOR conference
Merv Field last participated at the Pacific Chapter of the American Association of Research in 2010 on a panel on the 2010 election in California and Nevada. He was a young 89 and described the mostly de minimis impact in California of the 2010 Republican wave that swept the country. We talked afterward, and he truly loved his profession and the ebb and flow of California politics.

The Field Poll, run by his longtime colleague Mark DiCamillo, is still the state’s most respected and reliable election poll followed by the entire political establishment and all the media. Merv took the profession seriously and made a lifelong contribution. Thank you.

PAPOR Trail Newsletter, Spring issue, May 2011
Mervin Field obituary

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The West in Play; Colorado, Nevada and Arizona in Center of Field

Among the thirteen western states, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona will get the most presidential attention. Hawaii and California, who cares? Utah and Wyoming, who cares? There are about eight states with no contest.

There are also some interesting senate races in the West.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Clinton Global Initiative in Denver – Denver Post

Bill and Hillary Clinton
Photo: Getty Images
John Frank and Mark Matthews deconstruct the Clinton Global Initiative in the Sunday Denver Post. They quoted my May 26 post in The Buzz: New Tools in Quest for White House: Clinton Foundation and the Center for American Progress. My post described the benefit the Clintons, and especially a candidate for president, receives from an international foundation and Davos-like events. The Denver Post article describes the downside, which has become much more intense since Hillary Clinton began her presidential quest.

Denver Post: 

Floyd Ciruli, a Denver-based political analyst, considers the foundation one of Clinton’s “essential tools in what has become a global influence network and billion-dollar quest for the White House.”

The recent suggestions of conflicts of interest and transparency complicate the equation. Nevertheless, Ciruli sees the conference itself as “an international schmooze-fest ... (that) has been a huge asset for the Clintons and their ambitions.”

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fall of Ramadi – Obama’s Tet Offensive

The strategic implications of the fall of Ramadi remain unclear in terms of the threat to Baghdad or control of Anbar Province, but its immediate affect has been to shred the Obama Administration’s strategy against ISIS.
  • The Iraqi Army is not ready for the aggressive combat for which ISIS is capable. Once again, the Iraqi soldiers left American equipment on the battlefield. This is not a question of courage, for there were many casualties, but rather of superior strategy. Determined ISIS fighters overwhelmed the Iraqi forces. Equipment, training, leadership and the army’s elusive morale were factors in the Iraqi collapse.
  • U.S. air power may have caused some disruption of ISIS’s operations, but it has not stopped its advance, and in Ramadi, appeared to have limited benefit.
  • The newly constituted government in Baghdad suffered a major defeat in its effort to convince in-country, regional and international stakeholders and observers of its progress on building a national reconciliation government and an army capable of stopping and reversing ISIS.
  • As is its instinct, the Obama administration initially denied the significance of the Ramadi rout, but media and political reaction were so overwhelming, especially when combined with ISIS taking control of Palmyra in Syria, that it quickly reversed direction and declared the need for reassessment of its strategy. 
Of course, the competence of the administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East, Central Europe and the Far East just as the 2016 presidential contest is underway adds compounded scrutiny, and has proven a difficult moment to lose an entire city and possibly province to a terrorist state.

Three months after the Tet Offensive dimmed the light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam, President Johnson announced a bombing pause and the end of his presidential ambitions. With nearly 500,000 men in the field and little political support, Johnson had no options. Given this administration’s self-imposed restraints and short time remaining in office, it’s not clear what options it may have.

For this administration, Iraq was not a war of choice. Obama was drug into it last September after the sweeping victories of ISIS and its notorious cruelty toward prisoners and captured citizens (including Americans). Public opinion and American foreign policy leadership, even within his own party, demanded action. The President offered bold rhetoric of degrading and destroying ISIS, attached to limited commitments of training, equipment and bombing, but reiterated his “no boots on the ground” or American casualties stance.

America clearly has an inadequate strategy, but what the administration can offer as an alternative in its final eighteen months is not clear.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Preview of the Debate

On May 19, 2015, the Crossley Center sponsored the first in its series of programs tracking the 2016 presidential election and its potential impact on American foreign policy. The Crossley Center joined with the Korbel School to present a review of the status of the presidential election and candidates, the foreign policy positions of the leading candidates, and general direction of public opinion on the major foreign policy issues in the Middle East, Cuba, Central Europe and the Far East.

Professor Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, joined Former Ambassador Christopher Hill, Dean of the Korbel School, in a panel discussion moderated by Brandon Rittiman, 9News award-winning political reporter.

The PowerPoint used in the presentation can be found here.

The issues reviewed highlight a series of public opinion tensions that are shaping today’s foreign policy debate, including:
  • Foreign policy is growing in importance to the public in the 2016 election, but a majority is still more concerned with the economy and general failures of government. However, events, media coverage and elite conversations continue to keep foreign policy in the public’s awareness.
  • The general view is that America has grown weaker and less respected, and that President Obama is “not tough enough.” But the majority still want the U.S. to mostly focus on domestic problems and not deal with other countries’ problems. Republicans are more concerned with foreign policy than Democrats, and are much more likely to view Obama as weak.
  • Americans believe ISIS is a threat and support current policy, but also believe the policy is not working. They are still reluctant to put “boots on the ground” and very leery of casualties in Iraq.
  • Also, they see Iran’s nuclear ambitions as a threat and prefer negotiations over conflict. But they don’t like the regime or its behavior towards its neighbors. And, they don’t trust Iran to live up to any agreement.
  • Russian behavior is viewed as a threat, but Americans are hesitant to escalate conflict. They want the EU and Germany to handle it. However, the EU and Germany are even less likely to take on Russia.
  • The world perceives China as a leading global power. The U.S. sees it as a serious competitor and is worried about possible conflict. Americans like Japan, but are ambivalent about encouraging its military build-up.
Although public opinion provides many mixed signals, Republican candidates are moving to a more interventionist and militaristic posture. Democratic candidates, for the most part, avoid the issues and blame President G.W. Bush as often as possible. Examining a scatter plot, which estimates the positions of the candidates based on their statements regarding foreign policy, the next president is likely to be more inclined to intervene and more likely to use force than President Obama, but, of course, governing is different than campaigning.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Candidates Will Be Winnowed Soon

A series of campaign events will narrow the Republican presidential field, although this could be the year of the longshot.

Finance Reports: Even though one billionaire can change the game, money in the bank for field workers in primary states and ads is the currency of staying in the game.

Debates:  With the debates using polls for the picking the top ten, the Perrys, Kasichs, Grahams, etc. are going to become invisible.

2015 and 2016 Debate Schedule

August 6 – Fox, Cleveland, Ohio
September 16 – CNN, Reagan Library
October – CNBC, Denver
November – Fox Business, Wisconsin
December – CNN, Nevada
January – Fox, Iowa
February – ABC, New Hampshire (no Stephanopoulos)
February – CBS, South Carolina
February 26 – NBC, Telemundo, National Review, Texas
March – (2 more)

Primaries: Candidates will try to pick and choose primaries and caucuses, but momentum from coverage and bragging rights builds quickly.  The new SEC event could be the final entry point or the dropout event for a host of candidates.

A few other big dates: March 15, Florida and April 8, Wisconsin.

Each presidential nominating contest has unique aspects.  In 2016, the unpredictable influence of billionaires, the gatekeeping of debates, the speed of social media and the accelerated schedule, especially the inclusion of southern primaries, will set some boundaries, but the strategies and performances of the candidates will still have significant impact and can launch an underdog or sink a frontrunner within hours.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Republican Presidential Field

The Republican presidential field is growing on almost a daily basis. As of the first week of June, there are nine announced candidates, with at least seven more prospective candidates claiming pending announcements or directing exploratory committees.

Other candidates likely are: Rick Perry, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich and Scott Walker. A total of 16 serious, if not electable, candidates (8 governors or former governors and 5 current or former senators).

The winnowing process will begin in earnest in August as the debates use polling to select their participants and the debate platforms offer an opportunity for frontrunners to confirm their positions or underdogs to gain an audience.

Post British Election Analysis

Korbel School students and Crossley Center scholars, Gina Jannone and Chelsea Bartholomew, have completed their analysis of the May 7 British election. The election result was of interest for its effect on British politics, policy and polling. Their blog post follows:

British Election Ends in Surprising Twist

Against all forecasts to the contrary, May 7th's British general election ended in decisive victory for
David Cameron's ruling Conservative Party. Pre-election polling had predicted an extremely tight contest between the Conservatives and their main opponent, the Labour Party.  Estimates put the Conservatives' projected number of seats at 278, just ahead of Labour's 267.  As both numbers fall short of the 326 seats needed for a majority, the possibility of another coalition government and the further destabilization of the UK's traditional two-party system seemed likely. On election night, however, the Conservatives swept the polls with 331 seats, giving them a firm hand on the reins of power. Labour, by contrast, ended up with 232 seats, losing many of its traditional seats in Scotland to the Scottish National Party (SNP). However, it was the Liberal Democrats, partners in the 2010-2015 coalition government, who were perhaps the biggest losers of the night, winning only 8 seats - down from 57 in 2010.  The leaders of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the populist right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP) all stepped down in the hours following the election.

The Conservative victory will have a number of important ramifications. The most significant of these is a referendum on whether or not Britain will remain in the European Union, which Cameron has pledged to hold by 2017. Much of the British business community - and, indeed, the majority of the general public - opposes a total exit, and many commentators believe Cameron may simply use the looming referendum as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the rest of the EU in order to change the impact of its rules on issues such as immigration and voting rights for the UK.

On the domestic front, five more years of Conservative rule will mean more austerity. The Conservatives plan to eliminate the deficit by 2018, largely by means of budget cuts. They plan to slash welfare benefits for the working poor by 12 billion pounds over the next three years, and also to make cuts on local council spending, transport, and defense. The National Health Service (NHS) will be further privatized, and many of its smaller hospitals may lose specialized services that they currently offer. Workers' rights may also come under fire, with the Conservatives having pledged to reduce business regulations as part of their effort to spur economic growth (an effort that will also include tax cuts).

SNP's landslide win in Scotland could spell trouble for the future of the United Kingdom as a unified entity. Although Scottish voters rejected independence in the country's 2014 referendum, post-election polling suggests that pro-independence sentiments may be on the rise again, with 47 percent of Scots now saying they would vote to break from the United Kingdom, up from the 44 percent who voted in favor of doing so in the referendum. If SNP wins the 2016 Scottish parliamentary elections, it could well seek to hold a new referendum - and with the only majority pro-Union group being composed of voters over 60, pure demographics, if nothing else, could make unionist victory harder this time around.

Source: The Independent

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Clinton Faux Cabinet Room

A recent visit to the Bill Clinton Presidential Library brought back the ‘90s and previewed what we can expect in the next Clinton administration. The library’s design is basically an eight-year chronology of hyperactivity.

The cabinet room was open and reminded me of the frequently pictured Clinton cabinet members – Madeleine Albright, Robert Rubin, Janet Reno, Robert Reich (shortest member in every picture) and Donna Shalala. Denver’s own Federico Peña made a few appearances.

Coffman Out; Bennet’s Good Fortune

Congressman Mike Coffman’s decision to seek re-election to his 6th Congressional seat is bad news for Democrats wanting to pick up a House seat, but very good news for Senator Michael Bennet.

Coffman was the only identified Republican in the state as of today that could attract the $50 million needed for a challenge to Bennet. The national party and Washington interests were also likely to try to clear the field for Coffman. Speculation will start quickly, but Republicans are now left with a primary more than a year away peopled by lesser known politicians.