Monday, April 30, 2018

Is National Legalization of Marijuana Use Inevitable?

Although polls in Colorado make clear the vote to legalize marijuana would pass again, possibly by somewhat more than the 55 percent in 2012, there remains resistance to widespread use in some Colorado communities and demographic and political groups. Nationally, polls show majority support for legalization, but also with states, populations and politics remaining resistant.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows 63 percent of the country believes marijuana use should be “made legal in the United States.” That is similar to several polls that show national support above 60 percent. A January 2018 Quinnipiac poll showed 58 percent support for legalization.

It is also clear is that legal medical use of marijuana is now a consensus position with 93 percent of the public favoring it. Also, the public does not support enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized it.
  • Medical marijuana legal – 93%
  • Don’t enforce federal laws against marijuana in legal states – 70%
National momentum for legalization will be one of the topics at the May 15 American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver panel will consider.

Public Opinion and Legalization of Marijuana
May 15, 5:00 pm, Reception Follows
Sheraton Denver Downtown

AAPOR and the Crossley Center sponsor a panel on Marijuana, Public Opinion and Legalization.
Doug Schwartz – Quinnipiac University Poll, director, moderator
David Metz – President of FM3 pollsters in California
Rick Ridder – Campaign manager, pollster (international), Colorado
Skyler McKinley – Former Deputy Director of Colorado Office of Marijuana Coordination, Colorado government affairs AAA
Floyd Ciruli – Director of Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, Korbel School, DU, pollster

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Denver Post’s Amazing Shout Out

Much of the nation’s media have written about and praised the Denver Post’s editorial page effort to shout out to Colorado readers that they are losing their only statewide newspaper by steady and accelerating economic attrition. But even after the effort and some suggested remedies, there remains a sense of inevitability about it – the hidden hand of market, technology and out-of-town investors, which can’t really be stopped.

Most of us recognize the quality of political life in the Denver metro region, which represents 55 percent of the state’s population, and much of its economy, sports and cultural infrastructure was diminished by the loss of the Rocky Mountain News. Today, decline of the Denver Post’s finances and reporting reach and depth, often highlighted by the thinness of the Monday edition, are a common topic of the quarter of the population that actively engage in daily local news consumption.

A sketchy version of public policy aspects of good journalism, including accountability in government, coverage of political competition for office and policy differences, and providing the forums for discussion, is moving to digital platforms. Possibly, an Amazon Prime of politics and public policy will replace the print edition. But, we will still miss the connectivity of a well-written and edited newspaper and the public service of investigative journalism that requires exceptional levels of resources and talent.

The transition to digital is leaving gaps in coverage and in our public life that newspapers best filled, but are rapidly diminishing.

Read The New Republic: Finance is killing the news

Monday, April 23, 2018

Foreign Policy Opinions: Public Likes Meetings and Tough Sanctions

President Trump is on sound ground when he advocates meetings with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. A majority of Americans (52%) believe Trump should invite Putin to the White House to improve relations. Slightly more (56%) support Trump meeting with Kim Jong Un to try to get North Korea to give up nuclear weapons. They are highly skeptical it will happen (two-thirds not likely to happen), but favor the summit.

Although the public sees Russia and North Korea as threats, they support meetings, diplomacy and sanctions before conflict. For example, the public supports tougher sanctions on Russia. Sixty-eight percent advise “tougher sanctions” against Russia, including Republican (68%). A CNN poll on North Korea asked if people believed the “situation involving North Korea can be successfully resolved using only economic and diplomatic efforts.” Sixty-three percent believed it could.

See Washington Post/ABC News poll findings here

Friday, April 20, 2018

Both Parties Head for Tough Primaries; Kennedy and Stapleton Secure Top of the Ballot

As readers of The Buzz already know, Cary Kennedy and Walker Stapleton are the frontrunners of their respective parties’ nomination ballots as the two parties head into tough and expensive primaries. Both parties will likely have four candidate fields once petition certification is completed by the Secretary of State.

Democratic Convention
At Saturday’s Democratic State Convention, former State Treasurer, Cary Kennedy, crushed Jared Polis for top position on the ballot (62% to 33%). As earlier straw polls had indicated, Polis barely made the ballot.

It is likely to be a four-person primary. Democrat Mike Johnston is already on the ballot by petition and has money, if not much of a base in the regular party. He will need unaffiliated voters. Donna Lynn is awaiting certification, but unlikely to be a factor.

Republican Convention
Although Walker Stapleton still doesn’t have the whole-hearted support of the Republican Party’s rank and file conventioneers (he does better in polls), he crushed his main rival, Cynthia Coffman, who failed to make the ballot. His 44 percent win over former Parker mayor, Greg Lopez, secures his position as top of the ballot and party frontrunner.

The Republican Convention was an embarrassing loss for Coffman. As The Buzz related, she attracted little support in caucus and county assembly straw polls. In fact, Stapleton regularly beat her. His shift to the state convention was her doom, which she recognized, launching a vicious, late, but forlorn attack.

A couple of non-participants in the Republican conventions will likely be players in the primary. Vic Mitchell has money to spend on TV and a good pollster. Doug Robinson will be another Stapleton critic, assuming they both make the ballot. Greg Lopez will not likely be a top finalist once money enters the race. His convention win demonstrates many party activists are still looking for that conservative outsider who will take on the system. All the better if the person is the member of a minority the party must get more of if it is to survive in Colorado.

Read The Buzz:
KOA: Walker Stapleton Drops Petitions and Goes to Convention – April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz
Kennedy and Stapleton Frontrunners in Early Race
9News: Will Unaffiliated Voters Affect the Governor’s Race?
Governing Magazine Lists Colorado’s Governor’s Race Competitive

AAPOR National Polling Conference Panel on Marijuana Legalization – May 15

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) will hold its national conference for the first time in its 71-year history in Denver this May. Its opening panel on the legalization of marijuana is co-sponsored with the University of Denver-based Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Korbel School. The panel for AAPOR members is open to the public and will be held May 15 at 5:00 pm at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

Marijuana legalization will be examined from the perspective of the interaction of public opinion and public policy. Beyond the extensive research of national trends, we now have opinion to study in several states at different stages of implementation with a variety of regulatory regimes.

Not only is public opinion analyses useful, but a variety of other metrics are available as acceptance and resistance within “legal” states continues with local votes on distribution and taxation. Also, there are growing numbers of studies, often using survey research about benefits and costs, including criminal activity, youth usage, health issues and driving.

Some topics for public opinion and marijuana panel are:
  • Current national status of public opinion on legalization of marijuana
    • Is national acceptance inevitable?
    • Which states are next to legalize? Which are not?
  • Change in opinion/political environment due to Attorney General Sessions’ position. Impact on legalization in more states.
    • How does it affect adoption of recreational use in legal states?
    • Impact of President Trump’s comments on enforcement
  • Colorado 5 years into legalization 
    • What is the geography of recreational/commercialization acceptance?
    • What are the economics of marijuana, tax benefits?
  • California one year in
    • Merge of medical and recreation
    • Conflicts between legal and illegal
Public Opinion and Legalization of Marijuana
May 15
5:00 pm
Reception Follows
Sheraton Denver Downtown
Doug Schwartz – Quinnipiac University Poll, director, moderator
David Metz – President of FM3 pollsters in California
Rick Ridder – Campaign manager, pollster (international), Colorado
Skyler McKinley – Former Deputy Director of Colorado Office of Marijuana Coordination, Colorado government affairs AAA
Floyd Ciruli – Director of Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, Korbel School, DU, pollster

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Strengthening American Democracy

Floyd Ciruli speaking at WorldDenver
Before an audience of 150 at a WorldDenver event on the worldwide crises of democracy, the loudest applause came on the topic of defending American democracy.

I related a list of actions the next administration should enact with Congress. Most of the actions were political norms that historically didn’t need statutory rules – they were usually followed, but not today. Hopefully, both parties will see the benefit of ensuring that American democracy continues to function as designed and intended, namely with a constrained executive, within clear boundaries.

Norms, like precedence, are expectations. Codifying and strict enforcement of most of the items on the list – for example, disclosure of tax returns, enforcement of limits on emoluments, prohibition of nepotism, limits on pardons – didn’t appear necessary, but when they are disregarded by an executive and other restraints are failing, statutes are necessary.

Amb. Christopher Hill and Floyd Ciruli at WorldDenver event

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Denver Press Club Hosts Panel on May 8 on Trauma of 1968 – Remembering Bobby Kennedy – Assassinated June 5, 1968

Robert Kennedy addresses a mostly black crowd
of 2,500 in Indianapolis, breaking the news of
Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination,
April 4, 1968 | Indianapolis Monthly
The Denver Press Club is hosting a presentation and panel on the turmoil and trauma of 1968 on the
year’s 50th anniversary. The year saw the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.

On April 4, after King was assassinated, Kennedy, campaigning in Indianapolis, spoke to a crowd of predominately African American supporters in what was later considered his politically bravest and best speech of his career. More than 100 cities saw riots after King’s death, but not Indianapolis.

See my blog of Bobby Kennedy’s speech on the night Dr. King died here.

1968: A Year of Turmoil and Transition
Denver Press Club
1330 Glenarm Place
Tuesday, May 8
Social Hour – 5:30 pm
Panel and presentation – 6:30 pm

Mueller and Cohen: Political Danger and Existential Threat

It is said the White House believes that the Michael Cohen investigation is a much greater threat to the President than what Robert Mueller is likely to release as a final report. This belief is well-founded and reinforced by the news last week of the impeached president of South Korea being sentenced to 24 years in prison and former, very popular President of Brazil beginning a 12-year sentence, both for financial corruption.

Mueller’s finding related to the President could be violations of law and the Constitution that will be considered by Congress. The Cohen investigation could produce criminal indictments, including Donald Trump.

New polling from ABC News/Washington Post conducted by Langer Research Associates shows the American public has a different view. They are very supportive of the Mueller investigation of collusion, but less so on the hush money allegations; i.e., Stormy Daniels.

There is eleven percent less support for the hush money investigation than the Russian election interference. In terms of the Mueller investigation of collusion, even 43 percent of Republicans support it compared to 80 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans. But in another question, only 51 percent of the public believe Trump’s pattern of sexual misconduct is important vs. 46 percent who do not. However, there is a gender gap. Women are 15 percent more likely to judge both issues – the hush money investigation and the importance of the politics of sexual misconduct – higher.

See questions and poll here

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bobby Kennedy in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968

Robert Kennedy won the Indiana primary on May 7. It was an important victory in his 82-day presidential campaign. But its significance pales compared to his speech in Indianapolis to a campaign crowd of supporters in a primarily black neighborhood on the night of April 4 after Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. It is considered both his most significant speech and an act of political courage that probably saved the city from disruption that swept more than 100 cities the next two nights.

Robert Kennedy addresses a mostly black crowd
of 2,500 in Indianapolis, breaking the news of
Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination,
April 4, 1968 | Indianapolis Monthly
A few lines from a Washington Post report of Bobby’s remarks:
What unfolded during the next six minutes, according to historians and Kennedy biographers, is one of the most compelling and overlooked speeches in U.S. political history — the brother of an assassinated president announcing another devastating assassination two months before he’d be killed, too.
“I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world,” the 42-year-old senator said in his thick Boston accent, “and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.”
There were audible gasps.
“For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling,” Kennedy said. “I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.”
One of Kennedy’s campaign staffers was John Lewis, who had already risked his life to defy segregation alongside King and would later become a congressman from Georgia. Lewis urged Kennedy not to cancel the speech.
“I thought Bobby Kennedy coming would have a cooling impact on the audience,” Lewis said in an interview. “He appealed to the hearts and the minds and souls of the people there — black and white.”
“He spoke in a prayerful, mournful fashion,” Lewis said.
King’s death, Kennedy said, left the black community with a choice about how to respond, whether to seek revenge.
“We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization … black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another,” Kennedy said. “Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.”
“What we need in the United States,” he continued, “is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
A sense of grace washed over the crowd.
See Washington Post story: “That stain of bloodshed”; After King’s assassination, RFK calmed an angry crowd with an unforgettable speech

Hill and Ciruli Present Tour of the World Dictators and Hot Spots

Amb. Christopher Hill and Floyd Ciruli present at WorldDenver
One hundred and fifty WorldDenver guests joined a presentation on April 10 by Ambassador Christopher Hill and professor and pollster Floyd Ciruli on the topic of: The New Authoritarianism: Can America Meet the Challenge? Americans, especially people interested in foreign policy, are extremely concerned about the state of democracy, including in the U.S.

One of the evening’s topics was that trade, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), not only supported the member countries’ economies, but aided the functioning of their democratic decision-making and collective security arrangements with the U.S. The TPP agreement was especially seen as a counter to China’s aggressive economic initiatives in Asia.

President Trump opposes multi-lateral agreements, and during the campaign, was especially critical of TPP. He withdrew the U.S. from the TPP negotiating process as his first executive order. Trump believes the pact hurt American workers and businesses. He prefers bilateral agreements and claims agreements with six are underway.

The eleven countries that were partnered in TPP have proceeded forward without the U.S. and have a signed agreement (less robust), waiting approval by their individual governments. A number of additional countries want to join, such as South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Amb. Christopher Hill and Floyd Ciruli at
WorldDenver presentation
But two days after our presentation, the President realized his trade war was costing him support among farm state interests and senators and ordered his new head of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, to examine a U.S. role in the TPP as an effort to promote American products. He also needs allies in Asia for his trade initiatives against China. Japan has especially been interested in America rejoining the agreement.

Dealing with the impact of trade agreements, especially with Asian economies on American jobs, is still to be addressed, but the benefit of allies is beginning to look especially important to the administration. Trade agreements not only benefit the economy, but diplomacy and national security.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Sixth Congressional District Democrats Have Stormy Primary; Coffman Clear Sailing

Congressman Mike Coffman beat his party challenger, Roger Edwards, 75 percent to 25 percent at the Republican assembly, April 7. Edwards is a Trump identifier and argued Coffman wasn’t conservative enough (30% is needed to get on the ballot).

Unfortunately for Democrats, their frontrunner and preferred candidate of the party leadership, Jason Crow, must battle a far-left Democrat, Levi Tillemann, into the June 26 primary. The vote was 64 percent Crow and 36 percent Tillemann.

A primary can be productive to help name identity and build a candidate’s base, but it usually wastes money, time and raises damaging issues. It can alienate parts of a party for general election.

Pueblo Loses a Champion

Walt Bassett, president of Bassett Construction, died over the weekend. He was a part of a small circle of fellow Pueblo business and civic leaders that basically pulled Pueblo out of an economic decline and recession in the 1980s. Bassett’s positive attitude, vision of success and gung-ho energy was a catalyst that jumpstarted Pueblo’s recovery.

In 1982, a steel market collapse brought Pueblo’s economy to a standstill. The business and political leadership developed an economic development organization (PEDCO) to promote new business. They asked voters for a one-half-cent sales tax that provided a fund to help entice businesses to move to Pueblo. Ciruli Associates ran the first campaign and several subsequent renewals of the tax. It worked as dozens of new businesses moved in during the following decades.

But Bassett more broadly dedicated his personal time, energy and resources to promote the city to corporate prospects. He never had a discouraging word about Pueblo.

Bassett was a Pueblo character and civic asset.

Thanks Walt.

Walt Bassett, left, applauds as Sperry executive Bob Faust is introduced during
a Pueblo Chamber of Commerce event in 1984 | File, The Pueblo Chieftain

The Buzz Predicted Ryan Quits

In a Colorado Politics article concerning the Republican loss of the Alabama senate race last December, I speculated “Paul Ryan Quits.”

The election has significant impact for Republicans as the 2018 contests begin. The first casualty of the Alabama result may be Paul Ryan. He sees the election, as do most political observers, as a mirror image of the 63-seat disaster for Democrats in 2010. Ryan does not intend on being the minority leader, defending the ever embattled and seldom grateful Donald Trump.

Although Ryan was never enthusiastic for Trump during the 2016 campaign, he saw the benefit of a unified Republican government. But clearly, the legislative accomplishments of the first year were, but for the tax cuts, far more modest than expected. And even tax reform is not yet producing political benefit.

Ryan’s timing reinforces the gloom the Republican House Majority faces under the leadership of President Trump. It also highlights what was already clear – legislative accomplishments in 2018 are done!

Supporters of Majority Leader McCarthy and Majority Whip Scalise have been maneuvering for weeks in anticipation of Ryan’s decision. Both of them get along better with Trump than Ryan, which is good because if they are in the minority, defending Trump and the administration from investigations will be a full-time job. And, of course, the Democrats will be looking to make their record for the 2020 election.

Speaker Paul Ryan announces he will not run for re-election,
April 11, 2018 | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Thursday, April 12, 2018

KOA: Walker Stapleton Drops Petitions and Goes to Convention – April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz

Walker Stapleton, three days from the Republican State Convention, gives up the spot on the ballot he won with petitions for a struggle with Cynthia Coffman and a half dozen other candidates to win 30 percent of the 4,200 delegates showing up at the Saturday Boulder event.

Stapleton, who has been the frontrunner as indicated in voter polls and straw polls at caucuses and county assemblies, is now at risk not making the ballot. But even more threatened is Cynthia Coffman, whose weak statewide campaign has failed to demonstrate much traction since the February caucus. She felt against a weak field at the convention, 30 percent was easily doable. Stapleton’s entry into the field is an existential threat to her ballot position.

Stapleton now dominates the narrative going into the convention. His gamble may secure him top position on the ballot and reinforce his frontrunner status with the rank and file of the party or it may stop his momentum just as the run to the June 26 primary begins.

KOA: Walker Stapleton talks ballot strategy

Panel Selected for National Polling Conference on Marijuana

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) will hold its national conference for the first time in its 71-year history in Denver this May. Its opening panel on the legalization of marijuana is co-sponsored with the University of Denver-based Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Korbel School. The panel for AAPOR members is open to the public and will be held May 15 at 5:00 pm at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

The panelists include the director of the Quinnipiac poll and a leading pollster from California, which just legalized marijuana. The Colorado perspective is provided by pollsters and experts knowledgeable of the state’s 5-year experience with legalized recreational marijuana.

Public Opinion and Legalization of Marijuana
May 15
5:00 pm
Reception Follows
Sheraton Denver Downtown

AAPOR and the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research sponsor a panel on Marijuana, Public Opinion and Legalization.

Doug Schwartz – Quinnipiac University Poll, director, moderator
David Metz – President of FM3 pollsters in California
Rick Ridder – Campaign manager, pollster (international), Colorado
Skyler McKinley – Former Deputy Director of Colorado Office of Marijuana Coordination, Colorado government affairs AAA
Floyd Ciruli – Professor at Crossley Center, pollster

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Kennedy and Stapleton Frontrunners in Early Race

A couple of recent polls show Cary Kennedy, former State Treasurer and Denver chief financial officer, and Walker Stapleton, Bush scion and current State Treasurer, the frontrunners for governor leading their respective parties, with a third or more of voters undecided.

The early polls measure name identification and media covered events. Among the Democrats, Kennedy surged from the pack and caught up to the earlier frontrunner, Congressman Jared Polis, due to winning decisively the party caucus in February and a gaggle of March county conventions.

Assuming Mike Johnston doesn’t just plan to fade away, the race won’t really shake out until political punches are thrown and shots fired at and after the April state convention. Johnston has considerable money for the two-month battle. Nor will Polis give up his chance to be governor without putting up an expensive fight. The alternative is the likely end of his decade-long quest to have political influence equal to his wealth and ambitions.

Stapleton’s campaign’s sudden shift from petitions to convention delegates adds an element of drama to the April 14 state convention (4,200 Republicans assembling in Boulder). But, Stapleton is still the frontrunner for the nomination. His advantage derives from the Republican establishment’s belief that he has the best chance to win the governorship in what will likely be a friendly Democratic year. But, Vic Mitchell with advertisements already up and Doug Robinson on the attack against Stapleton are ready for a high-profile brawl. Although her early campaign was late and weak, some still consider Cynthia Coffman the best statewide candidate. These races will also kick into high gear at the state conventions.

Kelly Gone?

The Buzz asked “Tillerson Gone?” on December 5, 2017. He was fired by a tweet on March 13, 2018. The speculation has now shifted to General John Kelly as it is now clear he has a reduced role in President Trump’s current White House operation.

Trump’s “throw away the script” moment in West Virginia is a part of announcing his new comfort with the job of president after the first year. He’s going now with more gut instincts. The removal of National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is a part of the new Trump.

President Trump “tears up the script” to blast Democrats on immigration,
April 5, 2018 | Doug Mills/The New York Times
The more comfortable Trump is in the job, the less he needs Kelly’s viewpoint or restraint. However, Trump realizes Kelly’s resignation will be seen as a major loss, much greater than Cohen, Tillerson or McMaster – so it must be finessed. Expect Trump to attempt to choreograph a removal that tamps down the criticism as much as possible.

Also see: The Buzz: Tillerson Out

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Northern Colorado Water Leader Retires

Eric Wilkinson
Eric Wilkinson, one of Colorado’s most respected water leaders, has retired after 24 years of leading Northern Water, the utility that represents eight northeastern Colorado counties and manages the water supply from the Colorado-Big Thompson project.

Wilkinson received the prestigious Aspinall Award for leadership from the Colorado Water Congress. He served on the Colorado Water Conservation Board from 2000 to 2012 and as chair twice.

Congratulations Eric on an incredible career.

Colorado Politics: Is Denver Ready for a Change?

The 2019 Denver mayor’s race is about to start and the incumbent Michael Hancock has all the advantage of a two-term mayor in one of America’s most popular and fastest growing cities.

But, a number of trends remind observers of Denver in 1983 when it shifted its politics and a three-term mayor lost. Read my analysis of the trends in Colorado Politics of April 4, 2018: “Is Denver Ready for a Change?

Mayor Michael Hancock apologizes for his inappropriate text messages
in a video statement, March 5, 2018 | Colorado Politics/YouTube screen grab

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Denver Press Club Hosts Panel on Trauma of 1968 – Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Assassinated April 4, 1968

The Denver Press Club hosts a presentation and panel on the turmoil and trauma of 1968 on the year’s 50th anniversary. One of the most shocking events was the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lorraine Motel, April 4, 1968
On April 4, King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee at about 6:00 pm in front of his fellow civil rights colleagues, Ralph Abernathy, Jesse Jackson and Andy Young. King’s death sparked days of riots in more than 100 American cities and helped spur the last significant civil rights legislation, the Fair Housing Act, signed by President Johnson on April 11, 1968.

See my blog of Dr. King’s final speech here.

1968: A Year of Turmoil and Transition
Denver Press Club
1330 Glenarm Place
Tuesday, May 8
Social Hour – 5:30 pm
Panel and presentation – 6:30 pm

9News: Will Unaffiliated Voters Affect the Governor’s Race?

Brandon Rittiman of 9KUSA and I did an interview and analysis of the potential impact of unaffiliated voters on the 2018 governor’s primary on June 26.

One Republican candidate, Vic Mitchell, already has an advertisement on air that points out his lack of name identity and extols it as reflecting his “non-politician” status in the race. It is an effort to appeal to Republican partisans who would like a political outsider as their nominee, but also be attractive to the thousands of unaffiliated voters who will be encouraged to participate in the primary for the first time in history.
Victor Mitchell TV ad | YouTube screen grab

Every active unaffiliated voter will receive the ballot of both parties and can vote their preference (only one party vote allowed).

Out of the 1.2 million unaffiliated voters, it’s not known how many may vote and for which party. Polling and some experience with midterm elections suggests the following assumptions:
  • Turnout for partisans in this primary should be higher because of the competitiveness in both parties and the money being spent to encourage support for particular candidates.
  • Unaffiliated voters, who tend to vote at lower rates in general elections than partisans, will be solicited by many campaigns and have the convenience of a mail-back ballot. Voting will also have a “first time” novelty value and publicity.
  • If a third of unaffiliated voters participated (about 40% to 50% of partisans are expected), they would vote about 2-to-1 in the Democratic primary vs. the Republican primary. In rough numbers, if 300,000 unaffiliated voters were motivated to vote, about 200,000 would vote in the Democratic primary and 100,000 in the Republican.
  • At present, about a third of partisans say they are still undecided. That percentage would be higher among unaffiliated voters. Hence, for many unaffiliated voters there is a dual challenge for candidates to get them to vote at all and then for the candidate.
  • Like partisans, they are divided among liberals (a growing group in Colorado), moderates (the largest group) and conservatives.
  • Unaffiliated voters have particular barriers to politics. They don’t participate in party activities, don’t receive or pay attention to partisan communications, and often don’t even like the parties. Their lack of participation can reflect a view that politics is not that important or it’s a corrupt and corrupting business. Also, in general, they don’t know the candidates or nominating system.
Both parties are going to target unaffiliated voters. Democrats may have the most incentive because recent growth in the state has leaned toward the liberal side and registered unaffiliated. The outside-type candidates will be especially active, such as Vic Mitchell and Jared Polis (who already represents many unaffiliated voters in Boulder, Larimer and Jefferson counties).

1968: A Year of Turmoil and Transition. Where Were You?

The Denver Press Club is hosting a presentation and panel titled, “1968, A Year of Turmoil and Transition,” on May 8. Nineteen sixty-eight was the year the Baby Boomers came of age. The oldest members of the cohort were 22, four years out of high school, four years into the draft, the music, the drugs, the Pill, the attitude about authority.

What were you doing? It’s time to remember what you were doing when you heard the big events and what did it mean to you. Leave a comment below or #1968Remember on Twitter. The list will be published and some used in the panel.

I use the following chart in my Korbel School class on Public Opinion and Foreign Policy. The Vietnam War was the event that made public opinion critical in foreign policy decision-making, witnessing President Lyndon Johnson announcing on March 31 his bombing pause and decision to not run for re-election. Opinion was turning against the war and especially against him.

The list is just a brief selection on the events of the year, many of them accompanied by great acrimony and violence.

Leave your memories in the comment section or #1968Remember.

Denver Press Club
1330 Glenarm Place
Tuesday, May 8
Social Hour – 5:30 pm
Panel – 6:30 pm

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

AP: King Assassinated in Memphis – 1968

Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve been to the mountaintop,”
April 3, 1968 | YouTube screen grab
Fifty years ago during the year that traumatized Americans, one of the most tragic events was the
assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. at 6:00 pm, April 4, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

King gave a very emotional final speech the night before to Memphis civil rights and sanitation workers and his preacher colleagues, which spoke of his premonition that death was coming.
“I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead…but it really doesn’t matter to me now.”
“King paused. ‘Because I’ve been to the mountaintop,’ he declared in a trembling voice. Cheers and applause erupted. Some people jerked involuntarily to their feet, and others rose slowly like a choir. ‘And I don’t mind,’ he said, trailing off beneath the second and third waves of response. ‘Like anybody I would like to live – a long life – longevity has its place.’ The whole building suddenly hushed, which let sounds of thunder and rain fall from the roof. ‘But I’m not concerned about that now,’ said King. ‘I just want God’s will.’ There was a subdued call of ‘Yes!’ in the crowd. ‘And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain,’ King cried, building intensity. ‘And I’ve looked over. And I have s-e-e-e-e-e-n the promised land.’”
“King’s eyes were brimming now and a trace of a smile crossed his face. ‘And I may not get there with you,’ he shouted, ‘but I want you to know tonight, [“Yes!”] that as a people we will get to the promised land!’ By now the crowd was clapping and crying and preachers were closing in behind him. ‘So I am happy tonight!’ King exclaimed, rushing into his close. ‘I’m not worried about anything! I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!’ He broke off and ‘stumbled sideways into a hug from Abernathy,’ writes Branch. ‘The preachers helped him to a chair, some crying, and tumult washed through’ the Temple.”
Lorraine Motel, April 4, 1968 |
King was pronounced dead an hour after the shooting. A wave of riots broke out in more than 100 cities. It was the greatest occurrence of civil disorder since the Civil War and saw more than 45 deaths and 15,000 arrested.

April 7 was declared a day of national mourning.

Forty-three years later, President Barack Obama dedicated a four-acre park and monument on the National Mall to King.

“Out of a mountain of despair, a stone
of hope.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.
memorial in  Washington, D.C.,
Aug. 22, 2011 |  National Park Service

Monday, April 2, 2018

Governing Magazine Lists Colorado’s Governor’s Race Competitive

Louis Jacobson, who writes a regular political column for Governing Magazine (he’s also an author of the Almanac of American Politics), reviewed the 36 gubernatorial races this year, and as of today, rates Colorado a toss-up with Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Nevada.

If there is a Democratic tide, they could pick up 5 to 7 seats. Democrats are only defending 9 seats to 26 for the Republicans.

Kennedy and Stapleton Rated Frontrunners

Due to the caucus results, polling and expert observations, Jacobson believes Cary Kennedy is the Democratic frontrunner, with Jared Polis still able to change the outcome with money.

Walker Stapleton is seen as the Republican frontrunner, with Vic Mitchell with money and Steve Barlock with some Trump support still in it.

It is still early for both primaries. Most analysts see the state as having a slight Democratic tilt.