Tuesday, December 20, 2016

PAPOR – The 2016 Election: What Happened and What’s Next?

PAPOR, the Pacific Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, organized a panel at its recent annual conference on the 2016 election and what’s next for public opinion polling.

As the chair of the panel, I took on the trend of populism in Western democracies and the specific impacts of it on the 2016 election.

Also joining the panel was Jill Darling, the lead researcher in the controversial experimental poll conducted by the LA Times and USC, which consistently said Donald Trump would win the overall vote, and Sarah Cho, representing SurveyMonkey, which published dozens of polls with NBC and on its own during the election based on their massive database and non-probability methodology. Their last survey had Hillary Clinton winning by 6 points.

Both of these talks focused on the why of the election results, but also on the usefulness of the data they collected.

Finally, David Kordus, a researcher with the state’s best-known research think tank, the Public Policy Institute of California, pointed out that although Clinton swept the state, there were still 4.5 million Trump voters and that data from their numerous statewide polls provide an in-depth database on the Trump phenomena in some places outside the rust belt.

Links to their presentations will be available on the PAPOR website. I will be publishing blogs and articles on the election and polling challenges and practices.

“Tell the Truth”

“Tell the Truth” was the chant at Donald Trump’s October rallies as spirited and sometimes hostile crowds shouted at the press pool. He often encouraged it with his own brand of attacks on the media – “they are terrible liars…” These statements usually corresponded to some current criticism of his politically incorrect statements or behavior, but were often just expressions of general resentment.

The aspect of the media in 2016 that was ubiquitous and profoundly influential (and ultimately misleading) was the polls. Trump, in fact, lived by the polls during the 2015 fall and winter run-up to the primaries as they made up for his glaring lack of policy knowledge and experience, his frequent falsehoods and highly charged politically incorrect statements.

Now that the president-elect has had six weeks to operate, the polls are back and they will continue to influence the perception of his presidency and tee-up his first tough political test – the 2018 midterm election, which can often be a political disaster for a new president as experienced by Ronald Reagan in 1982, Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010.
The level of presidential approval has been an important metric in predicting midterm losses, but Trump may be renorming the question. He won the election with a historically low favorability rating, and it will be surprising if in the currently divided climate and considering his conservative cabinet picks if there is the usual honeymoon.

President Obama started in the upper 60 percent range after Inauguration Day in 2009. It is hard to imagine Trump getting the same early boost.

Obama Begins Last Month With High Approval, But a Mixed Record and Endangered Legacy

RealClearPolitics records President Obama’s aggregated approval rating at 54 percent, a high for his second term. Pew Research records it a 58 percent and competitive with Bill Clinton’s final approval of 61 percent and Ronald Reagan’s 63 percent.

But Obama must contend with having led a party that lost the presidential race; hence, being unable to stop the alteration and cancellation of much of his legacy and a party at the nadir of its power in the modern era. Since 2009, Democrats have lost 64 House seats and their majority in 2010, 12 Senate seats and their majority in 2014, and are now down to 16 governors.

Because of the Democrats’ political losses, Obama’s domestic legacy after 2014 was built on executive and administrative authority, making it much more vulnerable to Trump’s wrecking crew. Obama’s foreign policy legacy is both subject to Trump’s alternative view, but also has been under assault by the reality of the rise of authoritarianism and expansionism in Russia, China and Iran and the collapse of the Western alliances’ trade and defense policies.

As Obama begins to focus on his Chicago library and think tank, his personal approval rating may be comforting, and is a reflection of the public’s general appreciation of his temperament and professional performance, but it is not much help in the challenges to come. America is about to move on and Obama is unlikely to be able to make much of a difference.

Trump Wins, But No Landslide

The Electoral College has voted with Donald Trump, giving him more than 270 votes needed to be sworn in January 20, 2017. He will likely receive 304 electors with only a couple of Texas members defecting. The Democratic Party and Clinton campaign strategy for recounts and attacks on the Electoral College look as poorly conceived and executed as the last days of the campaign. It might be time for some party leaders to start to think about 2018, not November 2016.

Some Trump partisans in the new post-truth environment have called the electoral vote a landslide. In fact, it is a very modest margin. A few recent presidents and the electoral total are:

Trump’s modest 304 electoral votes are hardly anything his campaign operatives should be touting a landslide. His mere 36-vote margin is miles from the Reagan, Clinton and Obama wins and more like the close wins by Kennedy in 1960 (303), Nixon in 1968 (301) and Carter in 1976 (297). Both of the George W. Bush races produced narrow electoral victories. The near dead even 2000 race he won with 271 electoral votes (Florida provided the winning margin) and he received 286 in 2004 (Ohio).

Trump’s victory is better than some, but hardly a landslide and, of course, he lost the popular vote by 2 points, or 2.9 million votes.

Read CNN: Electoral College set to make Trump’s win official

Monday, December 19, 2016

PAPOR: Marijuana and Public Opinion Change

The Pacific Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (PAPOR), the nation’s primary association of the polling and survey research industry, including universities, media, government and campaign organizations and professionals, held its annual conference on December 15 and 16.

In one of the programs, public opinion related to marijuana was deconstruction in light of 57 percent of Californians voting to legalize recreational marijuana after defeating a similar proposal in 2010 by 46 percent, a 10-point shift in 6 years.

Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California, took the lead on describing California Proposition 64.

I described recreational marijuana issues on the Colorado 2016 ballot, along with some new public opinion data, which points out legalization, which is popular, is different than expansion, which is increasingly controversial.

See PPIC blog: California’s marijuana majority

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Obama Legacy is Gone

There was likely more shock on Election Night at the White House than the newsroom of CNN and probably as much horror as in the Clinton Peninsula Hotel room.

Much of the Obama legacy will shortly be gone. He thought his unprecedented campaigning for Hillary Clinton would ensure its survival, but having the most votes wasn’t enough, having the most policy papers and solutions was irrelevant, and being the “party of the ascendant” was a mirage. A sufficient number of people wanted to just burn it down to give Donald Trump a 100,000-vote victory in the only three states that mattered in 2016: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

A quick review of the Cabinet picks and the policy agenda shows how dramatically Obama’s policy legacy joins his Democratic Party legacy. The party is at lows that predate the 1930s and the Roosevelt era. The party can hope to recover, but it is unlikely to save Obama’s agenda. Recall the administration’s shift to using federal agencies (power plant EPA standards, waters of the U.S. rule), foreign policy (China global warming agreement) and executive discretion (Keystone Pipeline, deportations) was implemented to circumvent a resistant Congress and to fulfill Obama’s unrealized second term agenda and create a legacy. That fragile legacy built on executive authority and defended by a weak party will soon be gone.

Downtown LA is Coming Alive

When I first entered Los Angeles in 1965, it was through downtown. What a depressing place – dingy, dirty and in decline. Today, every visit is a new adventure. High rise buildings with lots of Chinese money, first-class sports complex, extraordinary Catholic Cathedral, Grand Central Market, ethnic areas of revival, art districts, and world-class art venues: the Disney Concert Hall, the Contemporary, and newest and most impressive, The Broad.

The Broad is LA’s new contemporary art museum and most accessible. Not only is it free, but the art hits the highlight best-known post war artists, blended with the newest and provocative. The collection has Koons, Johns, Ruscha, Warhol, Baldessari, Lichtenstein, Basquiat and Cindy Sherman.

The Grand Avenue museum also has some amazing installations, such as Yayoi Kusama’s enclosed room of mirrors and lights, Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.

And, it has Richard Prince’s “I eat politics, I sleep politics, But I never drink politics.”

Richard Prince’s background:

Richard Prince emerged in the late 1970s among a group of artists using conceptual photographic strategies, including Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, and others. In Prince’s technique, he rephotographs advertisements or magazine images and presents them as art. For this reason, he is aligned with the theories and concerns of appropriation and specifically with the critical debate over artistic authorship.

Alongside the photographs of pre-existing images, Prince developed the Monochromatic Jokes series of paintings, an example of which is Eat, Sleep and Drink, 1989. Jokes can be seen as masks for something else, masking harsh critiques under cool, detached irony. The line is from a well-known New Yorker cartoon showing two men and a bartender discussing when not to discuss politics. A very good thought for today.

The 2018 Governor’s Race Starts

Candidates are lining up in both parties for the 2018 governor’s race in Colorado. Democrats haven’t had a competitive race for more than a decade. Bill Ritter ran unopposed in 2006 after both Ken Salazar (who opted for U.S. Senate) and John Hickenlooper (stayed Denver mayor) dropped out. In 2010, Hickenlooper was more or less appointed to the nomination after Ritter declined to run for a second term.

But already, in anticipation of 2018, at least a half dozen Democrats are floating their names, including State Senator Mike Johnson, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Congressperson Ed Perlmutter, and back from Washington D.C., Ken Salazar. Several legislators are also being mentioned.

Republicans have had tough primaries. In 2010, chaos ruled when the establishment frontrunner, Scott McInnis, was defeated in a primary by an unknown Tea Party advocate. Tom Tancredo, former congressman, jumped in the race and won more votes than the Republican nominee Dan Maes. Bob Beauprez was the nominee in 2006. Although he made it without a primary, a well-funded opponent who failed to make the ballot did him much damage. In 2014, he got through a five-person primary, but lost to Hickenlooper by 5 points.

Beauprez is not on the 2018 list, but early names mentioned are District Attorney George Brauchler, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, businessman Kent Thiry, and a variety of legislators and state party officers.

Although Democrats have had a good run in Colorado, holding the office since 1974 except for the eight Bill Owens years (1998-2006), the Barack Obama presidency has been hard on the Democratic Party. They are down to only 18 governors and will be anxious to hold onto Colorado.

Also read The Buzz: Can Democrats hold the Colorado governorship?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Year of the Outsider

In a Denver Post guest editorial last January, I asked:
“Are Western democracies facing an existential crisis? Around the globe, anger and frustration are fueling what may be another historic challenge to political and party establishments.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign trail, where political outsiders are riding a wave of voter discontent. These candidates, with little or no political experience, are often discounted as “unelectable.” But in this election cycle, voters seem more interested in an opportunity to vent than the traditional calculus of electability.”
The crises for the EU and the Western Alliance appear life-threatening and the struggle of survival is not going well for the advocates of the liberal Democratic ideal.

David Cameron is gone; Matteo Renzi just defeated; Francois Hollande dropped out; and Barack Obama’s term is up and legacy, including globalism, is slipping away. Only Angela Merkel is left to defend the alliance, and her hold has been weakened.

If 2016 was the year of the outsider, 2017 is the year of revolt. And populism is now the dominant theme.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Trump Surge Builds on Obama’s Recovery

After the boom market in 2007 when 1000 points was added to a 14000-point DOW in 49 days, it was four years before a similar 1000-point rise in May of 2013. The DOW went up 257 points on Wednesday after the election (Election Day the DOW was 18332). The DOW crossed 19000 on November 22. It took more than a year to get there, from 18000 registered back in December 2014. A very slow slog, at least partially related to oil prices, which now seem to be headed above $50 a barrel. Barack Obama can take some credit for the economy from 2009. The DOW today is 19191. If the rally continues, 20000 is definitely in sight by January.

The stock market was neither anticipating a Donald Trump win nor was encouraged by the possibility. The market declined after the first Comey email announcement on October 28(273 points in the following week) and rebounded nearly 400 points on the Monday prior to Election Day after the Sunday news that there was no legal issue to pursue.

Pundits and investors were both wrong in their prediction of the election result and wrong about the market reaction.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Can Democrats Hold the Colorado Governorship?

Hillary Clinton’s defeat has changed a host of political careers. John Hickenlooper was going to Washington. Now, it appears he will serve out his term and possibly be active in the first truly open and contested gubernatorial election in more than a decade. He could, of course, get a tempting offer to run something interesting in D.C., New York or elsewhere.

Both parties approach the 2016 prospects optimistically. In the 2014 off-year election, Republicans won all the statewide constitutional elections except governor. And their best vote getters, such as Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman, won in spite of the state’s slight shift to the left in recent years. In the 2016 presidential election, along with Coffman, Republicans won a contested statewide CU Regent race and held onto State Senate control while Clinton won the state by 136,000 votes.

Democrats’ optimism begins with history. They have controlled the governorship, with the exception of Bill Owens’s eight years, continuously since Dick Lamm’s first term beginning in 1974 (Lamm, Romer, Owens, Ritter, Hickenlooper).

Also, if the 2018 election holds true to form, it can be difficult for the presidential party. Ronald Reagan in 1982, Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010 all lost significant numbers of House seats. George W. Bush was an exception in 2002 due to 9-11, which strengthened the position of most incumbents. Does Donald Trump overreach? Does the economy not surge? Does a crisis of his making erupt overseas? Or conversely, is his first year seen as a success and opponents perceived as divided and ineffectual? The answers to these questions will largely shape Colorado’s race.

Presidential popularity is the key factor as presidents with approval ratings below 50 percent suffered major losses. Will Trump be popular in 2018 or will he and his era produce some new metrics to observe?

Read Politico: Democrats look to 2018 governors races for rebuild

Democratic Party’s Risk in Moving to Left

From the new head of the Democratic National Committee to the Democratic leadership in Congress, Democrats may shift to the left as they absorb the loss of the presidency and continued minority status in the House and Senate. Democratic Party state chairs are meeting in Denver today. They are, no doubt, thinking most closely about what will help in their 2017 and 2018 elections.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Senator Elizabeth Warren made it clear she intends on opposing the new Trump administration as representing Wall Street, K Street, banks and corporations. She is the primary champion of the pro regulation, anti-tax cut approach. Is moving to the left on regulation and taxes a good 2018 midterm or 2020 strategy?

It is too early to determine the level of support for the left-liberal position. Much will depend on Donald Trump’s success the first year, but history would suggest caution. Democrats have a host of Senate seats to hold in 2018, many in pro Trump or competitive states. Also, the effort to rebuild their gubernatorial ranks after the losses during the Obama years will require candidates who are less ideological and more common sense. Defaming Wall Street and corporations or promoting federal regulation may not be especially in favor during the next election cycle. Also, it seldom works in competitive states that require appealing to centrist voters.

The Democratic Party’s move to the left after 1968 produced few gains in House or Senate in the 1970 midterm and a historic presidential level loss in 1972 with George McGovern. He carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Warren’s Wall Street Journal interview was particularly hostile to business and pro-regulation. She sounds so “2016”:
Class Warfare
The clearest point that comes out of this election is that the American people do not want Wall Street to run their government. They do not want corporate executives to be the ones who are calling the shots in Washington.
Whether people were voting for Hillary Clinton or whether they were voting for Donald Trump, they weren’t voting for Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s deregulatory mix—let guys do whatever they want to do, let giant corporations do whatever they want to do.
Massachusetts politicians have a poor record of leading the Democratic Party to the White House – Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas and John Kerry. Ms. Warren’s resume of tenured Harvard law professor is not a currently popular job description.

Colorado Policy Priorities

Colorado voters, when asked to prioritize a series of public project and program improvements in Colorado, including considering that public funding may be required, put K-12 education at the top of their list. The University of Denver/Crossley Center pre-election survey offered five program areas and K-12 education led the list with 66 percent of voters rating it a top priority. In second place, ten points back was “improving the health care system (56% top priority).

Leading the second tier of improvements was the state’s water system, which had nearly half the voters (48%) rating it a top priority. Higher education was in fourth place with only 42 percent rating it a top priority. And the state’s transportation system, which generates considerable commentary and criticism from elected and appointed officials, came in last place with only 39 percent of voters ranking it a top priority.

Examining the geographic pattern of opinion shows that improving K-12 education is the priority of the metro area whereas it ties with health care on the Western Slope. Water is the issue of highest priority on the Eastern Plains.

The University of Denver/Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research survey was conducted by live interview telephone calls with 550 likely Colorado voters. The Crossley Center is a part of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. The survey was in field from October 29-31, 2016 by Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center. The sample was selected by random probability design from a list of registered voters from the Colorado Secretary of State and included 258 landlines and 286 cell phone respondents. The data was weighted based on likely voter statistics for age and ethnicity. Overall, the survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The margin of error for subgroups is larger.

"The Russian Bear is Getting Bolder"

The Washington Post joins national editorial pages and foreign policy experts to warn of the Russian bear.

Read the article: Beware: The Russian bear is getting bolder

See also my blog: "Sergeant, I hope you like vodka"

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"Sergeant, I Hope You Like Vodka"

After America’s military and foreign policy elite make the obligatory wave off of a new Cold War with Russia, or more specifically with Putinism, they will usually admit that Russian behavior since January 2014 when they lied about the seizure of Crimea constitutes a profound, relentless strategy of aggression against the West and especially the U.S.

But the most consequential act of Russian aggression was against American democracy starting in March 2016 and intensifying during the last month of the campaign with the well-timed released emails from WikiLeaks. Unless we just choose to ignore it, Russian intelligence directly intervened in the U.S. election and tilted the result toward Donald Trump. And given Mr. Trump’s professed friendship with Vladimir Putin, we should all get more familiar with Russian preferences, or as the Sergeant said in War Games, “I just hope they don’t make me eat none of them damn fish eggs.”

Admiral Michael Rogers, head of NSA, describing the WikiLeaks attack:
“There’s an ongoing investigation. I’m just not getting into the specifics. I still think there shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind. This was not something done casually. This was not something done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”
WarGames (1983)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Year of the Women Did Not Happen

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton hoped the historic nature of her candidacy would propel an extra high turnout of women who would vote for her at extra high margins. That strategy appeared to be well-conceived as the statements of Donald Trump, especially in the Access Hollywood tape, and accusations from numerous women of his past behavior generated massive coverage and criticism.

And, indeed, there was a historic gender gap between the preference of men and women voters (24 points). But, the gender difference was a wash as she won women by 12 points, but lost men by the same percentage. In fact, her 12-point advantage over Trump was not much better than Barack Obama’s in the 2012 election (11 points over Mitt Romney). Nor was turnout higher than 2012.

Also, she lost white women by 10 points according to the exit poll. The poll confirms the significant difference the level of education makes. White women with degrees favored Clinton by 7 points, but she lost non-college graduates to Trump by 28 points.

The real gender advantage was with Trump. He won white men by 32 points, white men with college degrees by 15 points and white male non-college graduates by 49 points.

In each category, Clinton did better in Colorado. She won women by 16 points and only lost men by 8 points, providing a net positive gender difference for her of 8 points. Also, she won white women by 6 points and only lost white men by 12 points. Although the trends were similar to the national data, across-the-board she did better in Colorado and he did worse.

Also read:
Newsweek: The presidential election was a referendum on gender and women lost
FiveThirtyEight: Clinton couldn’t win over white women

Ed Perlmutter: Drain the House Swamp

Rep. Ed Perlmutter
Ed Perlmutter, who seldom generates headlines, breaks ideological ranks or battles his party leadership, has just taken on the most powerful woman leader in the Democratic Party – Nancy Pelosi.

Although it is unlikely Perlmutter’s candidate for minority leader, Tim Ryan (46 years old, Ohio), will beat Pelosi, the entire House Democratic leadership team is near the end of its run (Pelosi ‘76, Steny Hoyer ‘77, and Jim Clyburn ’76).

Pelosi and her team have led House Democrats through four elections where they have failed to win a majority. Her current rationale for leading the fifth effort is that it will be like 2006 during George W. Bush’s second midterm election when Democrats won 30 seats and made her Speaker. Another scenario she doesn’t’ use is in 2010 when her leadership of the House with Barack Obama as a first term president led to a 63-seat Democratic loss and replaced her as Speaker with John Boehner.

It is possible Donald Trump could make a mess of his first two years, but it seems arguable. Ms. Pelosi will make much of a contribution to causing his problems or exploiting them for the Democrats. She has become a high-profile defender of the Democratic Party establishment and D.C. status quo.

Also read The Buzz: Pelosi Retires?

Unique Election: Clinton Wins Overall Vote, Loses Swing States

An extraordinary election. The female candidate gets more votes than her male opponent and more votes (63.6 million and still counting) than any candidate in history except Barack Obama, but loses the presidency. She lost a series of swing states in the rust belt by mostly small margins and the electoral vote 232 to 306 (when Michigan is declared, which she lost by about 11,000 votes).

Although counting is continuing, mostly in three of the West Coast states, which she will win by 60 percent or so, Hillary Clinton is now more than a million votes ahead (1.7 million on 11-21-16), more than any candidate in history among those who won the popular vote and lost the electoral vote. Al Gore was ahead by about 543,000 of George W. Bush in 2000.

About 7 million votes went to third-party candidates in this election, exceeding Ralph Nader’s total in 2000 (2.9 million).

Turnout in general was about equal to the Obama election of 2012, but below 2008. Part of Clinton’s problem was that turnout was lower in those competitive swing states she lost. Many Obama voters simply did not turn out.

See articles:
Washington Post: Why did Trump win? In part because voter turnout plunged.
FiveThirtyEight: Voter turnout fell, especially in states that Clinton won

Monday, November 21, 2016

Colorado Voters Want Strong Alliances and Solutions to the Immigration Problem

In a pre-election statewide survey, Colorado voters were asked their priorities in terms of foreign policy. “Strengthen our alliances with other countries” (60% top priority) and “address the immigration system” (60%) were tied for their top priority in the University of Denver/Crossley Center survey conducted in late October.

Clustered in a secondary position among the five issues tested were climate change (47%), a military build-up (45%) and “action” related to rivals, such as Russia, China and Iran (44%).

There were some dramatic differences among Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters that will be relevant given the president-elect’s preferences and administration team now being assembled.

For example, Trump supporters strongly want to build up the military (75%), but it was a non-priority item for Clinton supporters (17%). The reverse was true on climate change. Clinton supporters made it their top priority (81%), but it was a non-priority for Trump voters (12%).

Both camps want to strengthen the alliance system, but Trump supporters are interested in being more active with rivals, including Russia, than Clinton supporters. In both of these areas, Trump is somewhat out of step with his base.

The question on immigration was worded in a neutral fashion. It asked the priority preference for “addressing” the system. It was the top priority for Trump supporters (85%), but of less interest for Clinton supporters (44%), which was possibly a reflection of the difference in preferred solutions; i.e., “wall and deportation” vs. “path to citizenship.” Trump supporters expect and want something done whereas Clinton supporters rate it a lesser priority and are concerned as to what that solution will be.

The University of Denver/Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research survey was conducted by live interview telephone calls with 550 likely Colorado voters. The survey was in field from October 29-31, 2016 by Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center. The sample was selected by random probability design from a list of registered voters from the Colorado Secretary of State and included 258 landlines and 286 cell phone respondents. The data was weighted based on likely voter statistics for age and ethnicity. Overall, the survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The margin of error for subgroups is larger.

Turmoil is Not Good for Bond Initiatives

Jefferson County’s educational establishment was surprised and dismayed at the loss of its hefty school bond and revenue initiatives when numerous neighboring districts approved approximately $4 billion in new revenue in the November election.

They needn’t look much farther than the coup d’├ętat that removed three board members last fall and shifted the board control to the teachers union and their community allies.

Children will suffer from the school district’s failure to sell their proposal, but so will the teachers who would have benefited from the mill levy override, and maybe that’s what some taxpayers thought a just result.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Democrats' Challenge With White Working Class

One of the big stories of the 2016 election is the Democrats’ loss of the white working class in the rust belt that has voted for Democratic presidential candidates for two decades or more. Donald Trump won close races with the white working class support in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. He won bigger majorities in Ohio and Iowa.

Colorado is not a working class state, and Trump lost the state by a narrow margin. But, he did well with white voters without a four-year college education. Nationally, he carried 67 percent of non-college educated whites and won degree holding whites by 4 points. In Colorado, he carried non-degree holding whites by 58 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 34 percent. But, she carried college degree holders by 14 points. The national and Colorado differences help explain his Colorado loss.

Pueblo may be Colorado’s largest blue collar working class county, with both an Anglo and Hispanic population. As of November 17, Trump is neck-to-neck with Clinton.

As the Denver Post reported:
“This goes directly to the Democratic Party’s problem and Hillary Clinton’s problem,” said Floyd Ciruli, a prominent Colorado political consultant.  “They are losing the white working class and Pueblo is the cutting edge of it.” (John Frank, Denver Post 11-12-16)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pelosi Retires?

Nancy Pelosi
I have predicted Nancy Pelosi will retire from the House Democratic leadership for four election
cycles. I assumed she would not run for leader when Democrats lost a disastrous 63 seats in 2010 and she was removed as speaker. Wrong – she ran and won as minority leader.

She then led the House Democrats through three more elections, each time losing seats or winning far too few to put Democrats in control and her back in the speakership.

With 193 seats, Democrats are now back to their 2010 level, and at 239 seats, Republicans only lost six seats this year, they remain near historic high levels of seats (Republicans held 246 in 1946, 247 in 1928 and just had 247 in 2014).

Although she is clearly a great counter of votes in her caucus, she is a loser with the general electorate. But, she just doesn’t know when to quit and let a new generation take over.

Nancy, it’s time to retire.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Colorado Voters Say Yes to Five Ballot Initiatives, No to Two; DU/Crossley Center Poll Captured Voter Sentiment

Interest groups and activists put seven major initiatives on the ballot for voters to decide on in the November 2016 election. More than $50 million was spent on advertising and ground games achieving a 71 percent success rate (5 out of 7 passed).

At the end of October, a DU/Crossley Center poll was released that identified the five likely winners and two losers. At the top of the list of popular proposals was giving people a right to die under specific circumstances and shifting the Colorado presidential nominating process from a caucus/convention system to a primary in which unaffiliated voters can participate.

Members of both parties and unaffiliated voters supported both propositions.

The least popular proposal was the single-payer health care initiative placed on the ballot by fans of Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. It should serve as a warning concerning the popularity of many solutions that can be labeled expensive and big government. It was never ahead in the polls and could not command a majority of Democrats.

More of a surprise was the defeat of the $2.50 cigarette tax measure, which started with more support than opposition in early polls, but faded after a withering advertising campaign ($20 million) questioned where the money collected by the tax would go. Taxpayer frugality overcame the usual voter support for sin taxes, especially related to cigarettes.

Proponents of the minimum wage had resistance from Republicans and had to work hard to get 57 percent support. Typically, minimum wage increases get voter support, and Colorado passed a less expensive version in 2006. The initiative had union and out-of-state support.

Two initiatives related to unaffiliated voters and limiting constitutional amendments were less popular and required campaigns to bolster their support. Both were complicated in their intent and effect and had higher levels of undecided voters late in the campaign.

The University of Denver/Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research survey was conducted by live interview telephone calls with 550 likely Colorado voters. The survey was in field from October 29-31, 2016 by Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center. The sample was selected by random probability design from a list of registered voters from the Colorado Secretary of State and included 258 landlines and 286 cell phone respondents. The data was weighted based on likely voter statistics for age and ethnicity. Overall, the survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The margin of error for subgroups is larger.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The SCFD Wins Big

The voters of the seven-county Denver metropolitan area gave an overwhelming thumbs up for the renewal of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). This is the third renewal of the SCFD since its creation by voters in 1988.

We thank the voters of the region for their continued support of the district. The 63 percent victory was among the highest percentages achieved by statewide ballot issues. The SCFD passed in all seven counties.

The SCFD is bipartisan. It carried counties that voted for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

In repeated surveys Ciruli Associates tracked the victory margin. The final survey indicated 62 percent support a week before the election.

The campaign, which began in earnest in July 2015, represented hundreds of organizations (248 endorsed) and thousands of volunteers throughout the area. A couple of metrics that stand out are 17,000 yard signs distributed and more than 300 appearances by Popsicle, the campaign mascot.

Ciruli Associates helped create the district and has been the general consultant in every renewal since. This year there was a team of top managers and consultants that ran a very strategic, energetic and disciplined campaign.

The SCFD represents an extraordinary investment in the culture of the seven-county Denver area. The endorsements of civic leaders and conversations with voters in surveys reinforce the value people place in large and small cultural organizations. They are especially supportive of the access for children and the funding for high-quality shows, exhibits and programs. Also, the showcasing of the community to the world and the economic benefits are highly appreciated. The organizations now have a dependable funding base until 2030.

Thank you all for the help and for voting to renew.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Korbel School Post-Election Event Attracts More than 250 Alumni, Professors and Students

More than 250 attended the post-election event co-sponsored by the Korbel School and the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research.

Along with examining what happened on Election Night, including a review of the polling and forecasting, the national and international fallout of the election was discussed. Questions ranged from likely personnel in the new administration (Secretary of State, Defense, etc.), to the impact of a one-party controlled federal government and the future of Obamacare and immigration policy. Also, a host of foreign policy issues were reviewed, including Syria, Russia and Eastern Europe.

The latest edition of Foreign Affairs features populism as a reoccurring phenomenon now on the move in much of the developed world. Its rise in the U.S. was tied to the political events and personalities in a number of European countries.

Another Korbel/Crossley session on the new administration and its politics and personnel is planned after the Inaugural next year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Colorado Voters Appear Reluctant to Expand Use of Recreational Marijuana

In the recent DU/Crossley Center poll, 53 percent of Colorado voters said no to a question asking if they wanted recreational marijuana sales expanded in Colorado. 

This does not mean voters are ready to delegalize recreational sales, but a majority says they are opposed to further expansion. Democrats are the most willing to see recreational marijuana sales expanded. Important votes on recreational marijuana use are taking place in Democratic strongholds of Denver and Pueblo.

Peter Roper reported in the Pueblo Chieftain (11-5-16): 
Colorado voters may have reached their limit on recreational marijuana, according to a new statewide poll that shows 53 percent of likely voters don’t want recreational pot sales expanded, while 35 percent do.
That’s not the same question that state voters faced in 2012, when 55 percent voted to legalize recreational marijuana.
But this latest survey could be a sign that voters are now viewing pot differently, said pollster Floyd Ciruli, who did the survey of 550 voters over the Halloween weekend.
“It’s not the question that Pueblo voters are facing on Nov. 8 — to repeal the licenses of recreational pot businesses — but we may be seeing signs that public support for recreational marijuana has hit its high point,” Ciruli said.
“But everyone is watching what happens in Pueblo because of the possible repeal of marijuana licenses,” Ciruli said.

Near Majority of Trump Voters Claim if Clinton Wins Election, “Not Legitimate”

Thirty percent of all Colorado voters question the legitimacy of the presidential election. A finding in the DU/Crossley Center poll conducted October 29 to October 31. Nearly half (47%) of Donald Trump voters would question the legitimacy of a Hillary Clinton win.

Only 13 percent of Clinton voters would question a Trump win. As reported by Peter Roper in the Pueblo Chieftain (11-4-16):
Nearly half of Colorado supporters of Republican candidate Donald Trump would consider a victory by Hillary Clinton on Tuesday to be an “illegitimate” election, according to a telephone survey of 550 voters by Ciruli Associates, the well-known Denver polling firm.
“That pretty much mirrors what Trump supporters are saying nationally,” said Floyd Ciruli, the Pueblo native who established himself as a Colorado pollster decades ago. “What Trump supporters mean by that is less certain. Of course, they are simply echoing what Trump has been saying in his speeches for a long time.”
The telephonic survey was conducted over Halloween weekend for the University of Denver’s Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research.
Also read Denver Post: What Colorado election officials are doing to keep polling places safe

Senate on Election Night

The Colorado Senate seat stopped being considered competitive on primary night, June 28. Darryl Glenn, a Ted Cruz conservative, county commissioner from El Paso County, was generally perceived as too conservative, too inexperienced and too under-resourced to win.

The Colorado Republican Party, like the national party, is still having difficulty finding a candidate that will attract its various factions, in particular its establishment. The polling averages give the seat to Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet by 7 points (which is the low end of the estimates). Nationally, the race to control the U.S. Senate is considered a toss-up. Close races are in Nevada, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

The latest polls have Democrats ahead within the margin of error in four contested seats that could let them take the Senate (with a Democratic vice president), but with the slimmest margin (Nevada, Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania). But, the advantage is razor-thin and will depend on turnout.

Election Final Forecast – Clinton Wins Close

The final polling averages have Hillary Clinton winning by at least 3 points and about 300 electoral votes (270 needed for election).

That result would be below the Barack Obama victory of 332 and 4 percent in 2012. But, it was expected that Clinton would have difficulty reassembling the Obama coalition in the face of a voter headwind of desired change. Clinton simply ran a stronger campaign against a candidate who injured himself in the primaries and never recovered. Donald Trump won his nomination alienating establishment and mainstream Republicans, along with major groups of voters, particularly minorities, who are key in a number of swing states.

The final polls aggregated by 538, Huffington Post and RealClearPolitics show a spread from 3 to 6 percent.

The forecasts agree with the aggregators that Clinton wins since near the end of a campaign they are driven mostly by polls. It is projected she will win from near certainty at Princeton Election Consortium (99%) and Huffington Post (98%) to 84 percent at the New York Times Upshot to a low of 72 percent at 538.

Colorado is also considered a lock for Clinton, with about a 2 to 5 percent spread.

Presidency on Election Night

We have been watching 13 states since Labor Day and at least 11 remain competitive (are within margin of error) today.

Many of these states have swung back and forth between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. These states in rank order by electoral votes are:
  1. Florida – 29
  2. Pennsylvania – 20
  3. Ohio – 18
  4. Michigan – 16
  5. North Carolina – 16
  6. Georgia – 16
  7. Arizona – 11
  8. Colorado – 9
  9. Nevada – 6
  10. Iowa – 6
  11. New Hampshire – 4 
As the map shows, in the West, Trump appears ahead in Arizona and Nevada, but Clinton up in Colorado. Polls have tightened in most swing states the last week, but Trump’s path to victory is still considered much more challenging than Clinton’s. Also, her organization is built upon, and possibly better than, the Obama Election Day super machine in 2012.

FiveThirtyEight refers to electoral vote projection – 302 Clinton. RealClearPolitics projects 272 “no toss-up” Clinton.

Monday, November 7, 2016

To Hit the 2012 Presidential Turnout, 800,000 More Ballots Need to Arrive

Either Colorado county clerks and election officials are about to be swamped with ballots or Colorado will have a weak turnout in 2016.

The presidential race in 2012 attracted 2.6 million voters and the growth in registration indicated that 2.8 million voters would be participating in 2016. Currently, there are 1.8 million votes cast, so unless a million people turn in ballots in the next 36 hours, this will be a modest turnout.

Statewide Democrats and Republicans have turned out in near equal numbers, with a slight Republican edge (Republicans just caught up this weekend). But people don’t necessarily vote their registration. Both major party presidential candidates attract votes from the opposing party. And third-party candidates get most of their votes from the major parties.

Democrats dominate the metro area due to margins in Boulder and Denver. Arapahoe and Jefferson simply don’t produce the Republican vote of the last century.

See Secretary of State report (11-7-16) here

RealClearPolitics Gives Clinton Three-Point Win in Colorado

A number of partisan polls have been conducted in Colorado, mostly showing Clinton ahead by 5 points. Many are automated polls. Also, there are several polls showing it closer – one point to a tie.

The forecasts all expect Hillary Clinton to win in Colorado by somewhat less than Barack Obama’s victory of 5 points in 2016.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Cultural District Campaign Waves Voters In

The vote to renew the Scientific and Cultural District (SCFD) is ending the campaign with maximum voter contacts. Phone bank, door-to-door literature distribution, an active social media and digital campaign, and a highly praised television advertisement are underway.

But most visible may be the sign wavers on busy metro area streets, often accompanied by Popsicle, the SCFD polar bear.

The SCFD renewal will be Ballot Issue 4B, located near the end of the long 2016 Colorado ballot. It will read:



Please vote to renew the SCFD and keep Colorado’s acclaimed program of culture for all in place for another 12 years.

Students Call the Election

A group of graduate students in a public opinion and foreign policy class at the Korbel School at DU made their election selection.

All of them believe Hillary Clinton will win. The majority believe the vote will be close. Sixty-seven percent believe it will be less than what Romney won by in 2012 (he won by about 4 million votes). One student saw a landslide.

And they believe (83%) that major polling averages (i.e., leading aggregators) will get the correct winner and be within the margin of error. One student thought they would be wildly off and one said they would be spot on. In my view, a very reasonable assessment of the status of the polls. November 8 will confirm or correct.