Monday, February 29, 2016

Republicans Not Happy

Note to the State Republican Party Leadership: a number of your rank and file believes you are not very bright. You have pulled the Colorado Republican Party out of Super Tuesday and made picking convention delegates in one of the most interesting nomination battles in modern history a matter for party insiders. Also, you did this in the year Republicans are breaking turnout records and attracting new members. A Douglas County Republican states her dismay very well:
“I am a Douglas County Republican and recently found out that Republican voters will NOT be allowed to take a straw poll at our caucus for presidential candidates. I don't know if it's the same for the Democrats. According to a Denver Post article, the State GOP voted last year to eliminate straw polls due to some stupid rules with the National GOP. Would you consider doing a story on KUSA about this? I find it appalling that Colorado is the only state that doesn't let its voters have a voice in selecting a presidential candidate.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Iran Nuclear Deal – Still a Liability for President

Barack Obama wanted the seven years of negotiations that produced the Iran nuclear deal to be perceived as his greatest triumph and legacy. Much of the liberal foreign policy establishment agreed with his strategy – right size the U.S.-Middle East commitment and do a deal with Iran on its nuclear ambitions.

Iran has been a significant topic in the President’s State of the Union. He downplayed the successful negotiations in 2016.

But America’s image of Iran remains in deep negative territory, where it’s been since the fall of the Shah and the Iranian hostage crisis. Even America’s well-observed partisanship doesn’t much affect the negative view. Although Democrats are slightly more favorably disposed toward Iran than Republicans, it does not exceed 20 percent.

So the administration’s long negotiations have not shifted attitudes favorably toward Iran. Nor has the Iran nuclear deal become more popular over time. When the agreement was approved last fall, a majority of Americans did not approve it. They still don’t. Gallup reports opposition exceeds support by nearly two-to-one. Partisanship makes a difference, but a majority of independents disapprove and barely half of Democrats approve. And this is after President Obama’s best rhetorical efforts to declare the implementation and prisoner exchange last January a major policy success.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cuba: One of a Few Obama Policies Americans Like

Gallup reports that for the first time in survey measurement history of the topic, Cuba is now seen in a favorable light by a majority of Americans (54%). It represents a 27 percent increase in favorability since Barack Obama became president (27% favorable in 2008).

Like nearly everything in American politics involving President Obama, opinions are highly polarized. Only 34 percent of Republicans have favorable views of Cuba versus 73 percent of Democrats (Gallup, 1021 adults, Feb. 3-7, ±4.0 percentage points).

In terms of national security strategy and economic value, the Cuban rapprochement is small, but in terms of the foreign policy of this administration, it may end up the high point in public approval. Very few of the administration’s policies or reactions to international crises have been judged by the public as successful.

The President would like to end the trade embargo as he stated in his last State of the Union address, and the American people agree 59 percent to 29 percent (Gallup, Feb. 3-7, ±4.0 percentage points).
Let me give you another example. Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, and set us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations -- (applause) -- opened the door to travel and commerce, positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. (Applause.) So if you want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere, recognize that the Cold War is over -- lift the embargo. (Applause.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Could Sanders Win Colorado Caucus?

March 1st – Super Tuesday – is not a delegate-rich environment for Bernie Sanders. Colorado and Minnesota have the only caucuses and Sanders’s home of Vermont and Massachusetts are the most liberal states. But most of the territory is southern or border states where Sanders will have to contend with older and more minority dominated Democratic electorates.

Colorado will clearly be a state he hopes to win. Not only are the demographics hospitable, but Barack Obama swept the state early in 2008 on his successful run to the White House.

After Clinton wins in the Iowa and Nevada caucuses, even if near death experiences, it’s clear that Sanders needs some victories to remain viable. Although Clinton’s Nevada win was five points, it was mostly secured in Clark County, with labor delivering minority voters. Sanders was able to motivate a surge of younger voters and some Hispanic voters (according to exit polls) to shift the race from an expected “firewall” blowout for Clinton to a panic attack the last five days.

But, he still has a problem with minority voters, especially middle-aged and older voters who are most likely to participate in party nominations.

A new Colorado poll published by conservative paper, The Washington Free Beacon, claims Sanders is now ahead of Clinton among Colorado Democrats who participate in party primaries. Although, caucus goers will likely be only a modest percentage of total primary voters. (In the last high-profile contest, Democratic Party had 338,000 turnout. If 100,000 caucus on Tuesday, it will be a big turnout.)

A previous poll by Quinnipiac had Clinton ahead by 28 points. So there’s not much doubt that Colorado is a competitive race and Clinton will have a major task to turnout her supporters.

There are 79 delegates, 66 pledged and 13 super delegates (party and elected officials). Peter Blake in Complete Colorado claims nine are committed to Clinton, four uncommitted and zero for Sanders.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Colorado Republicans Senate Race Begins to Assemble

Who will be the Republican nominee against Senator Michael Bennet? The March 1st caucus will begin the sorting process. Out of the long list of names mentioned, mostly self-promoted, only a few will go a caucus route or, if they do, survive Tuesday night.

El Paso, Colorado’s largest Republican dominated county, has four names on the list, including two current county commissioners. Jefferson County has the reputed frontrunner, State Senator Tim Neville, and a county commissioner and state representative.

A few of these candidates will attempt to petition onto the primary ballot scheduled June 28, 2016.

None of the candidates have high-profiles, and some have views appearing too narrow to attract significant support or they will be unattractive to major donors.

Bennet can’t be relaxed about national senate politics in 2016. Not only are there issues that are polarizing this electorate, such as the Scalia vacancy and the Iran nuclear agreement, but neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders look like a strong re-election partner.

Bennet, like most incumbents, has a lot of money on hand (more than $7 million) for the campaign. In 2014, the Mark Udall vs. Cory Gardner race spent more than $100 million, with most of it from national political committees.

Bennet’s 2010 election, the year of the Tea Party takeover of Colorado’s Republican Party, was hardly a landslide. He hopes the higher turnout of 2016’s presidential race will help him motivate infrequent voting Democrats and liberals. But the general expectation is for a close race if the Republicans stay out of the weeds with their nominee.

Colorado’s Republican Candidates for US Senate, 2016

Robert Blaha – Businessman
Declared in January 2016. President at Human Capital Associates, a firm that conducts leadership training for businesses. Running in response to the Iran deal, which he strongly opposes. In the 2012 campaign, he put about $775,000 into a losing primary bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the 5th Congressional District. Pledged: “If I am not able to reduce illegal immigration by 50 percent, drastically cut the deficit, and help fix this horrific tax system, I’ll voluntarily leave after one term.”

Charlie Ehler-Retired Air Force Computer Programmer
Tea Party activist. Retired in 2006. Resident of Fountain for 20 years. Number one issue is to balance the federal budget.

Ryan Frazier - Former Aurora Councilman 
Declared December 2015. Previously worked for 9News as a pundit. Frazier last ran for office in 2011, when he unsuccessfully ran for Aurora mayor. He also previously mounted an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2010 against U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden.

Darryl Glenn - El Paso County Supervisor
First to declare ( January 2015). African American lawyer. Retired Air Force Officer, elected twice to Colorado Springs City Council and twice to El Paso Board of County Commissioners. Calls himself a “Christian constitutional conservative.”

Jack Graham – Businessman
Declared in January 2016. Former CSU Athletic Director. Hired Dick Wadhams as campaign manager. No previous political experience, was a highly successful businessman in the reinsurance industry

Jon Keyser – State Representative
Declared in January 2016. 34 year old corporate lawyer. Air Force veteran, Bronze Star recipient and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, has said he was largely motivated to run because of Bennet's decision last year to support the administration's nuclear deal with Iran. Lives in Morrison. Resigned as State Rep to focus on Senate run.

Peg Littleton - El Paso County Commissioner 
Declared in January 2016. First elected to public office as a representative to the State Board of Education from the 5th Congressional District in 2004. Former teacher and real estate agent.

Greg Lopez - Former director of the Colorado Small Business Administration
Declared July 2015. Bilingual. Served on the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board for 10 years, including a year as interim president. Served as mayor of Parker for four years, beginning in 1992 (when he was only 27). When Lopez was running for mayor, he was a Democrat. He changed his party affiliation to Republican in 1994, and ran for the state Senate in 1998. He lives in Elizabeth. An Air Force veteran. He and his wife run GNL Concepts, a consulting firm.

Tim Neville - State Senator
Declared in September 2015. Tea Party. From Florida, moved to Colorado in 1961. Lives in Littleton. Owns an insurance agency. Sponsored Senate Bill 16-017, which would allow concealed carry without a permit in Colorado.

Donald Rosier - Jefferson County Commissioner 
Declared in December 2015. Elected Jefferson County Commissioner (District 3) in November 2010 and won re-election to another four year term in November 2014. Lifelong Jeffco resident.

Friday, February 19, 2016

WorldDenver Event

Monday, February 22nd, WorldDenver is honored to host 7 European visitors at the conclusion of the Denver segment of their U.S. State Department International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) titled “U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges.”

Mr. Floyd Ciruli, from Ciruli Associates, a polling and consulting firm that specializes in public policy, will provide a brief introduction and frame current events before the start of the informal discussion. The conversation could include international topics such as the U.S.’s role economically and militarily overseas, as well as domestic issues such as the 2016 presidential campaign, gun control, gay rights, the role of women in the economy, and the recent legalization of marijuana use in the state and other issues.

International guests include:
  • (Austria) Mr. Mehdi HAMIDI FAAL - Foreign Affairs Writer/Reporter, Austrian Press Agency and Wiener Zeitung (daily) 
  • (Bulgaria) Ms. Miroslava GATEVA - Chief Foreign Policy and International Affairs Expert, National Council, Bulgarian Socialist Party 
  • (Estonia) Ms. Aari LEMMIK - Director, International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Defense 
  • (Germany) Ms. Viktoria DUEMER - Foreign Policy Editor, Bild (daily) 
  • (Latvia) Mr. Andrejs ELKSNINS - Member of Parliament (Harmony Party) 
  • (Netherlands) Mr. Marno DE BOER - Political/Defense Editor, Trouw (daily) 
  • (Romania) Ms. Veronica ANGHEL - Foreign Affairs Advisor, Department of Foreign Affairs 
When: Monday, February 22nd 2016
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Location: Rocky Mountain PBS Building, Teleconference Room, 1089 Bannock Street Denver, CO 80204

Public Divided on Court Vote

Less than a day after the passing of Antonin Scalia, partisan war broke out. But, it’s not just Washington that’s divided. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows the public is nearly evenly split, with 43 percent who believe the Senate should vote on the President’s replacement nominee and 42 percent who believe the seat should remain vacant.

And no one will be surprised in the stark partisan differences in viewpoint.

Conservatives Have Been Most Critical of Supreme Court

It is not surprising the Republican congressional leadership and candidates for president rapidly threw down a gauntlet to President Obama on his appointment to replace Justice Scalia. Republicans and conservatives have been highly critical of the Court in recent times, largely due to its legalization of same-sex marriage and upholding the Affordable Care Acts (ACA) insurance subsidies (63% of Republicans oppose same-sex marriage and 81% of Republicans disapprove the ACA).

The loss of Justice Scalia and the near certainty that, regardless of how centrist Obama’s court nominee may be, the court would move to the left is a high-profile cause for maximum resistance. The strategy also has benefit of constraining Obama’s choice to a very consensus-type candidate if the political heat gets too high and Senate Republicans have to accept someone.

U.S. News: Scotus-hating candidates should look in the mirror to see what Americans really hate
Pew Research: Negative views of Supreme Court at record high, driven by Republican dissatisfaction

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Political Parties in Crises

The establishment in both American political parties is out of alignment with substantial numbers of their adherents. More than 50 percent of Republican Party favors outsider, anti-establishment candidates. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz represent passionate Republican constituencies, with Trump more on the left and Cruz more on the right, but both willing to attack the party’s elected and financial establishments.

Although Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s establishment candidate, still commands about half of the support of Democrats, she is on the defensive from an insurgent representing a wing of young and white liberal voters who believe the Democratic establishment is too timid and too corrupt by campaign funds to be expected to shift the country to their preferred direction.

The crack up of the two parties is happening at the moment of their historic weakness. The latest Gallup poll on party identification (2014) shows American preference for an independent label at a historical high of 43 percent, with Republicans at a low of 26 percent and Democrats barely ahead at 30 percent.

Both parties are losing supporters to the independent category, but the Democratic decline during the Obama presidency has been stark. The Republican loss was most dramatic during the last half of the George W. Bush presidency.

The changes in American adoption of a party is adding to the volatility of 2016 politics, opening up space for party insurgents and outsiders with little electable experience or party loyalty.

It is accompanied by a common refrain today from substantial number of voters that: “I don’t see a good choice being offered.”  Does that create an opportunity for an independent candidate for president?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Denver Post – Dems Turn Up the Heat

John Frank describes the pending battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. He refers to our blog, Guide to Colorado Caucus, February 11, 2016

Will Sanders win the March 1st Colorado caucus two-to-one over Clinton like Barack Obama did in 2008?

Will the Democratic establishment deliver any people on caucus night for Clinton?

Will minority Democrats sit it out or show up for Hillary?

Are Millennials as fired up in 2016 as they were in 2008 for a 74-year-old class warfare socialist offering free college compared to a 47-year-old black idealist offering hope and change?

Read The Denver Post: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders amplify fight for Colorado’s vote

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Colorado – In Middle of Political Ranking Will be Contested

Two new Gallup polls just released reaffirm Colorado’s position as a state near the middle of the political spectrum and likely to be contested in the presidential election.

Obama’s approval rating has mostly ranged in the mid-40s since his re-election. It is now 46 percent, exactly Colorado’s score.

Western states joining Colorado toward the middle of the pack are Nevada (45%), New Mexico (47%) and Arizona (44%).

Colorado’s partisan and ideological ratings place it among 16 states Gallup considers competitive. Similar to Obama’s approval rating, Colorado is joined by Arizona and Nevada as competitive states.

Gallup notes that Republicans have improved their position since 2008 when they dominated only five states compared to 35 Democratic states. Today, Republicans have the stronger position in 20 states compared to only 14 in the Democratic column.

Colorado is on the liberal side in ideology (14th most liberal), but near dead center on partisanship (i.e., 25th state).

See Gallup:
Red states outnumber blue for first time in Gallup tracking
Obama rated best in Hawaii in 2015, worst in West Virginia

Friday, February 12, 2016

Foreign Policy is a Major Issue in the 2016 Presidential Election

Foreign policy has already become a major topic in the 2016 presidential election.

Both parties’ debates, a cascade of events and polling results have placed America’s position in the world and specific topics, such as the Middle East, terrorism, Iran and the South China Sea, into the public and candidates’ consciences. But regardless of foreign policy topicality, the next president will have significant influence on policy. And the signs are policy could change dramatically.

A panel at the American Association of Public Opinion Research conference in Austin this May has been organized by Floyd Ciruli of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research on foreign policy as a significant issue in the 2016 campaign. Three nationally known researchers will join Ciruli to examine the impact of events, partisanship, elections, media and public opinion on the foreign policy of the next president.

AAPOR Annual Conference
Panel Title: The 2016 Election and Impact on American Foreign Policy
Panel Description: A panel will examine the impact that the 2016 US Presidential election is having on American foreign policy. The topics will include: partisanship’s impact on voter positions on key foreign policy issues; internationalism and militarism in a new world of threats; the panel will include Kathy Frankovic, formerly of CBS News, Robert Shapiro, professor at Columbia University, Dina Smeltz of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research. 
First Abstract Title: Is U.S. Foreign Policy Moving to the Right? All Rhetoric or Boots on the Ground? 
First Abstract: The 2016 U.S. presidential nomination contest, with a plethora of debates and polls, will be used to describe the likely trajectory of foreign policy in the next administration in several key areas. An overlay with known U.S. opinion will be integrated to identify alignment and disagreement. Discussion will include the likely influences that public opinion will have on policy implementation in the next administration. 
Presenter: Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, Adjunct Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
Second Abstract Title: Increasing Ideological and Partisan Conflict in Public Opinion
Second Abstract: This presentation will show in historical perspective how ideological and partisan conflict in American public opinion has increased in the last decades. This conflict has reflected increasing polarization among Republican and Democratic leaders on a stunningly wide and far-reaching range of both foreign and domestic policy issues and perceptions of national problems – and to a degree not seen since opinion polling began in the United States. This has important consequences for American politics and policymaking, and how we think about the role of public opinion. How long this conflict will persist is an important question for the future of the nation. 
Presenter: Robert Shapiro, Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government, Columbia University
Third Abstract Title: Developing a Conservative Foreign Policy
Third Abstract: Many self-described conservatives today favor an interventionist foreign policy. While this year’s GOP candidates take a variety of positions on the role of the United States in the Middle East, there is consistently more support for military action of all sorts among conservatives than among other groups in the population. The paper will examine the differences in positions of the major GOP candidates and their supporters on questions of terrorism and foreign policy. 
Presenter: Kathy Frankovic, Consultant, former CBS News Polling Director, Professor, AAPOR President
Fourth Abstract Title: America Divided: A Growing Rift Between and Within the Parties on Foreign Policy
Fourth Abstract: With the world seeming lurching from one international crisis to the next, foreign policy will not doubt play an important role in the 2016 presidential campaign. So it is no wonder that candidates are appealing to their base voters on foreign policy issues such as immigration, terrorism and climate change. But when competing for votes next year in the presidential election, candidates will have to appeal to the median voter, which may be at odds with their base. This presentation will explore partisan differences in Chicago Council’s 40 years of surveys of Americans on foreign policy and demonstrate that partisan differences on these issues have not always been as wide as they are today. 
Presenter: Dina Smeltz, Senior Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Super Tuesday Voters More Typical of Both Parties

The voters of Iowa and New Hampshire are on the extremes of both parties. Not until the March 1st Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses will each party’s broader base of voters start to engage.

Iowa and New Hampshire Democrats are mostly white liberals, with a powerful cohort of young voters. Republican voters in Iowa are more conservative and evangelical. Adding some unpredictability, in New Hampshire, independent voters are major influences in both parties.

Super Tuesday will provide Democrats the first events with substantial voters of color and political moderates. It means New Hampshire is both less evangelical and less conservative than Iowa and many states on Super Tuesday. It is a better state for Republican moderates than many on March 1st.

In 2012 on Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney won 200 delegates to 80 for Rick Santorum and 80 for Newt Gingrich. Hillary Clinton was slightly behind Barack Obama, an indication that the final result would be too close to call until after the June California primary.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Conference and the Year of the Outsider

Mark Baldassare
Mark Baldassare, public opinion researcher and President and CEO of California’s leading public policy think tank – the Public Policy Institute of California – joined a group of public opinion pollsters to analyze the 2016 presidential campaign at the Pacific Chapter of the American Association of Public Opinion Research in December 2015. And excerpt from Mark’s presentation:

Californians’ Views of Political Outsiders
One of the early surprises in the 2016 presidential election is the strength of polling support for primary candidates who have never held elected office. A recent Pew national survey also found that Americans chose "new ideas and a different approach” by a wide margin over "experience and a proven record” when asked what was more important in a presidential candidate (57% to 36%). What are the political ramifications of this emerging national trend for the 2016 California elections?

Californians have a storied history of choosing political outsiders, electing movie stars Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger as their governors. But in the past five years, career politicians have won by wide margins over political outsiders with business credentials. Voters chose Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman and Barbara Boxer over Carly Fiorina in 2010 and Jerry Brown over Neel Kashkari in 2014.

PPIC’s recent polling does not show a swing toward political outsiders among Californians this year either. When we repeated the Pew survey question in a recent PPIC Statewide Survey, California adults were less likely to say they favor new ideas over experience than their national counterparts (51% to 41%). More importantly, California likely voters are closely divided on new ideas versus experience (46% to 44%).

Crossley Students and the Crisis of Refugees

Chelsea Bartholomew and Gina Jannone
Chelsea Bartholomew and Gina Jannone, Crossley Scholars at the Korbel School of International Studies, presented a poster at the Pacific Chapter of the American Association of Public Opinion Research in December 2015 on the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on U.S. and European public opinion and its political and policy impact. An excerpt from the Crossley Scholars panel presentation:

Western Europe:
Although they have faced nowhere near the volume of Syrian refugees as Middle Eastern states that surround the war-torn country, European nations have experienced a significant increase in 2015. Western European leaders and publics, with the exception of the far-right wings of each, have largely been welcoming of these refugees, viewing it as a humanitarian duty to aid them. However, the combination of more and more refugees continuing to pour across borders and last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris appear to be increasingly calling this welcome into question.

United States:
While the disturbing images and stories of refugees fleeing Syria generated notable interest from the American public from a humanitarian perspective, the attacks in Paris, France, and subsequent terror attacks appear to have dominated the debate over increasing the number of Syrian refugees allowed to resettle in the United States. This environment differs in some ways from that of Europe, where the debate over refugees is certainly framed in security terms by far-right political parties, but is also driven by issues of humanitarianism and integration.

Guide to Colorado Caucus

The Colorado presidential caucus is often too late to have any impact on the nomination, but this year’s March 1st events will join twelve other states and territories as Super Tuesday offers each party’s candidates a super market of delegates.

Also, there are events on March 1st in American Samoa and for Democrats Abroad.

Since 2000 and the end of Colorado’s presidential primary, there have only been three caucus contests of note in Colorado – two among the Republicans in 2008 and 2012, and the 2008 Clinton vs. Obama contest among Democrats. Obama won Colorado in 2008 on his way to the nomination using a small state caucus strategy fueled by young and liberal voters.

In 2010, Colorado became a Tea Party state with Republicans handing their nominations for governor and U.S. Senate to Tea Party conservatives. Then in the 2012 presidential caucus, Rick Santorum, the social conservative, beat establishment candidate Mitt Romney, reversing Romney’s position from four years earlier when he beat easily defeated John McCain.

The last public poll in Colorado (Quinnipiac, Nov. 2015) had Hillary Clinton ahead of Bernie Sanders by 28 percent, but that mostly reflected name identification, and it was a sample of Democrats in general, not the support of Democratic caucus goers (less than 10% of all Democrats, about 60,000 to 100,000 out of 1 million).

In visits, Bernie Sanders has attracted large crowds of young people and liberals. Hillary Clinton has also made numerous visits, but attracted smaller crowds. However, she’s won the endorsements of most of the state’s Democratic political establishment.

It should be a good fight. Clinton has an organization and a supportive Hispanic community if they can be motivated. Of course, Sanders has liberal and young voters.

Among Republicans, Ted Cruz will draw the evangelical constituency. The Party’s anti-immigration wing would be attracted to Donald Trump. Marco Rubio has the endorsement of the most popular Republican in the state, Senator Cory Gardner.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Iowa has Spoken – Four Observations

After more than six months of nonstop campaigning, serial debates and interminable polls, on February 1st Iowa voters started the sorting and winnowing process.

1.  Clinton wins, but looks weak. Hillary Clinton still has a lock on the Democratic nomination. She carried more moderate and older voters in Iowa to survive the Bernie Sanders challenge with a tie. Adding them to minority voters, which she carries by 30 to 40 points, and toss in 400 already committed super delegates, will get her to the 2,382 delegates needed for nomination.

But Iowa confirmed what months of campaigning displayed. She is not very good at it, and her older voters are mostly practical, instead of passionate, in their support. She will be a weak candidate for the general election, and is likely to only win if the Republicans offer an even less attractive choice.

Clinton thought she would wrap the race up by the March primaries, but Sanders’ strong Iowa showing and likely New Hampshire win suggests the race will go deep into May. (See blogs: Clinton Struggling in Iowa and New Hampshire But Strong Beyond, Jan. 19, 2016; and Clinton Expects to End Contest March 1st Super Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.)

2.  Trump underperforms his polls. Live by the polls, die by them. According to the polls, Donald Trump became the Iowa frontrunner a few weeks before caucus day. He believed them and raised the expectations that caused his campaign a crisis on caucus night that could leave him in a long-term defensive position.

The real benefit from quality polling, of which there was some in Iowa, including a poll as voters entered their caucus, is that it illuminated the Republican Party’s major factions and their alignment with each candidate. They also described what happened on caucus night with late deciders and new voters.

The fierce contest, the Iowa ground games and Donald Trump drew record turnout. It has long been speculated that Trump has a ceiling of public support. And, indeed, the caucus results appear to confirm it. His record-high unfavorability led many new voters to the caucus to vote against him. Also, his famous boorish behavior finally caught up with him. Late deciding voters broke strongly against him. Boycotting the debate not only hurt him, but his absence created the platform that gave Marco Rubio a push and brought him within one percentage point of catching Trump. Finally, the results confirmed what was suspected about a celebrity candidate with no organization – they can’t convert polls to votes. That flaw could be fatal and will be tested quickly in New Hampshire and South Carolina where polls have put Trump in the lead for months. In fact, even a win in New Hampshire, if it is substantially less than his polls, will be interpreted as a sign of weakness. (See blog: Republican Rush to Iowa and New Hampshire, Jan. 6, 2016)

3.  The establishment lane needs to clear out. New Hampshire should reduce the Republican race to three candidates – Trump for the angry, Cruz for the devout and rigidly conservative, and Rubio, if he can ride his Iowa momentum, for the practical, electability voter. Rubio left Iowa looking like a good candidate for the general election, demonstrating crossover ability for attracting some religious and some angry voters. But, he will have to emerge convincingly from the New Hampshire primary, where three governors are fighting for their political lives. Unfortunately for the governors, experience is less valued this year among Republican voters.

Iowa convinced Martin O’Malley, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum to withdraw. After months of effort and attacks on Marco Rubio and each other, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie need to either become the strong third candidate (assuming it’s not a tie for second or third post the New Hampshire debate) or get out after New Hampshire. John Kasich may have the New York Times, but if he can’t become a player in New Hampshire, it’s over. (See blog: The Winnowing Has Started, Jan. 20, 2016)

4.  The long game keeps lengthening. Iowa could have ended both parties’ races quickly. Had Clinton held her early lead, Sanders would be seen as the usual Democratic far left candidate isolated to the most liberal states. But Iowa highlighted the party’s close division on its future and voter’s attitudes toward Clinton’s tedious, desultory style. The Democratic race is likely to be a long story, even if Clinton has an advantage.

Had Trump won Iowa, he would have been catapulted into a very strong position for subsequent events. Now, the Republican race is still far from even becoming a three-person contest, and it is not yet clear which combination of party factions can sufficiently unite behind a candidate to reach the 1,236 delegate majority. (See blog: The Counting Begins, Jan. 28, 2016)

FiveThirtyEight: Donald Trump comes out of Iowa looking like Pat Buchanan
New York Times: Ted Cruz wins Republican caucuses in Iowa
CBS News: 2016 Iowa caucuses: Two races decided by very different factors
NBC News: Iowa entrance poll results: Rubio’s good night
Politico: Democrats lag badly in chase for national security voters
Sabato’s Crystal Ball: What we learned from Iowa
New Republic: Five takeaways from the Iowa caucuses
The Federalist: 13 quick takeaways from the 2016 Iowa caucuses
The Cook Political Report: Making sense of Iowa
ABC News: Schisms carve the Iowa contests, leaving a murky political calculus

Rubio Strongest General Election Candidate

Marco Rubio
The internal data in the latest Quinnipiac national poll shows why Ted Cruz will be a hard sell in the fall general election and Marco Rubio the strongest candidate.

Ted Cruz
The February 2-4 survey, which conducted a telephone survey of 1,125 registered voters nationwide (margin of error ±2.9 percentage points), presents overall data that among Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, only Rubio beats Hillary Clinton and he has the highest favorability rating of all four candidates.

A comparison of the internal data of Trump, Cruz and Rubio shows Rubio’s strengths with independent voters and his better than expected (or at least better than Trump or Cruz) support with Democrats, Millennials and women.

Rubio, with a 48 percent to 41 percent advantage over Clinton, carries 9 percent of Democrats, holds 89 percent of Republicans and beats Clinton with independents 47 percent to her 38 percent. He only loses women by 4 points and carries men by 20.

He beats Clinton with both the degree and non-degree voters and only loses Millennial voters by 13 points, compared to Cruz who loses to Clinton by 24 points (57% to 33%) and Trump who is crushed by 38 points (61% to 23%).

National polls are less important than statewide primary and caucus polls and results and each event produces a flood of new publicity, but at least after Iowa and before New Hampshire, Marco Rubio is the Republican Party’s strongest general election candidate.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Hampshire – Clinton Starts 18 Points Down

On December 1, Hillary Clinton was ahead in New Hampshire by four percentage points in the average. Today, she is down 18 points. New Hampshire polls are volatile, and the tie in Iowa should lead to a tightening in the race, although Bernie Sanders will, no doubt, maintain an advantage.

Probably what is most clear is that Clinton is in for a long slog. And long primary seasons tend to build negatives in the candidate’s image, create opportunities for stumbles, and in this race, move the candidate too far out of general election alignment trying to appeal to the Democrats’ alienated liberal wing.

Trump Leads in Remaining February Events

Unfortunately for Donald Trump, down is the most likely direction of his polling spread in New Hampshire and the remaining February nominating states. He leads by 21 points in New Hampshire, and between his underperforming second place finish in Iowa and the normal tightening of a race as advertising increases with voter attention, he may still win, but it’s likely to be much closer.

He now has to prove he can convert polling preferences to votes. The Iowa loss also suggested that his basic unlikability will keep a ceiling over him for all but his most hardcore voters.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hickenlooper's Legacy

Gov. John Hickenlooper
The new state water plan may be one of Governor Hickenlooper’s most important legacies. The water plan has been strongly supported by the public for its joining science, collaboration and action items, such as conservation, reuse and storage. Although the Governor highlighted the plan and water in his State of the State speech, water leaders are asking if the Governor is going to support projects identified in the plan essential to close the water gap and near final permitting, but stalled for various, mostly, bureaucratic reasons. The process now needs political leadership.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Polis Jumps Back into Fracking

Jared Polis possibly considers his anti-fracking political strategy in 2014 a success. Very few of his colleagues or fellow party leaders would agree. They, in fact, were nearly universally opposed to his action to fund and direct the anti-fracking initiatives.
Jared Polis

Not only did he spend millions in a failed effort to place the initiatives on the ballot, his actions were considered a threat to Democrats running for statewide office. Former Senator Udall and Governor Hickenlooper both opposed his approach, as did former Interior Secretary Salazar and former Denver Mayor Webb.

Interestingly, it did not particularly help him win local political support in the 2014 election for he managed to lose Larimer and Jefferson counties in his re-election against an underfunded Republican opponent. He also lost his bid to move up the leadership ladder in D.C. All-in-all, a weak showing for an expensive adventure.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Year of the Outsider – Denver Post, January 31, 2016

To open the 2016 presidential caucuses and primaries, the Denver Post published “The Year of the Outsider” by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research director and author of The Buzz, Floyd Ciruli.

The article places the driving force of the 2016 as anger with the establishment and compares it with political upheaval in Europe and previous U.S. elections. The seismic factors that are affecting democracies are economic turmoil from the financial crisis of 2008; generational shifts; racism; ethnic and religious conflicts; massive migrations across national boundaries and national security anxiety.

The final question asked is will the year of the outsider bring resolution to some of the tensions and produce some sought after solutions or is this just the beginning of a crisis of democracy?