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

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