Wednesday, May 30, 2018

KOA Interview: The Campaigns Shift to Sprint Over Memorial Day Weekend

After a year of campaigning by many gubernatorial candidates, the Memorial Day holiday marks the beginning of a sprint to the June 26 primary for the eight candidates, four in each party. In a KOA weekend interview with Jerry Bell, the following points were made:

The race is considered competitive in each party, with upward of a third of partisans still making a decision. An additional unknown factor is how many unaffiliated voters will return a ballot. For the first time, all 1.1 million will get a ballot and can select which party primary to participate in. Polls and early ballot requests indicate upward of 200,000 could vote, with a Democratic ballot being selected by about 60 percent of unaffiliated voters.

Ballots will be mailed starting Monday, June 4, about a week away. Voters can expect to be flooded with mailers, robo calls, and Internet, TV and radio advertising for the remaining weeks. A record $20 million is expected to be spent by the campaigns. Congressman Jared Polis has just put another $2 million into his campaign as it approached $10 million.

Attorney General: Important Job and Competitive Race

The second most important race to be voted on June 26 will be for Colorado Attorney General. In a Denver Post interview with Jesse Paul, I posited the issue in the primary: “Do Colorado Democrats want to join the anti-Trump resistance? One Democrat in a competitive primary, Joe Salazar, represents the aggressive left wing of the party. Phil Weiser has more mainstream appeal and has the backing of the party establishment, who are concerned about Salazar’s electability and his political temperament.”

Weiser has $1 million in funding to a few thousand for Salazar, but Salazar is competitive because his last name is a popular Democratic brand in Colorado. Ken Salazar was Colorado Attorney General and Secretary of the Interior. His popularity in 2004 got his brother, John, elected to U.S. Congress as he was going to the U.S. Senate.

I told Paul the race was competitive:

“The Democrats are dramatically different,” said Floyd Ciruli, an independent political analyst in Denver. “A very mainstream, respected attorney-dean in Mr. Weiser versus a sort of insurgent legislator coming from the deep liberal wing of the party in terms of a lot of his positions and a lot of his support. It’s sort of the classic choice we are seeing in primaries across the country in the Democratic Party.”

He added: “I think it’s a competitive race.”

The Republican candidate will slide into the nomination without a primary after George Brauchler’s strategic shift from a tough governor’s race to an empty attorney general field. Cynthia Coffman left a likely re-election to run a stumbling campaign for governor – she raised little money and generated miniscule party support.

Both parties believe the position is highly important. Millions will be spent by out-of-state interests.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

“Diplotainment” Crashes in Korea

President Trump’s top of mind acceptance of the North Korean invitation for a summit mostly reflected his view of foreign policy as a form of public relations with substance as an afterthought. His two recent photo ops with European allies demonstrate the media relations strategy.


The two presidents staged a host of buddy pictures, but on trade and Iran, there was no convergence of differences.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and President Donald Trump
at joint news conference at White House, April 24, 2018 | Reuters


Although the warmth with Merkel was lacking, Trump managed to stage several public relations events. Again, no substance on significant issues.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) shakes hands with
President Donald Trump at joint press conference at White
House, April 27, 2018 | Mandel Ngan/AFP
The impression Trump’s “diplotainment” conveys is his talent at publicity moments and his sway with world media. Unfortunately, the real position between the U.S. and our main European allies is at or near a 70-year low.

The concern for the North Korean negotiations was that the President would declare victory for the photoshoot and a Nobel nomination. The North Korean shift to focus on the substance of nuclear disarmament a couple of weeks ago was a wake-up call for the happy talk that had dominated much of the administration’s early discussions.

North Korea got de facto recognition as a nuclear state and Kim Jong Un created a narrative as a reasonable negotiating partner. Negotiations with a cagey adversary are work. They take careful planning and strategic positioning, not just blustery threats and syrupy praise.

The U.S. has already lost some positioning on sanctions. Time for a reset before the correlations of forces that have favored the U.S. position begin to dissipate even more.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Walker Losing to “Undecided,” But Ahead of Mitchell

A new poll in the Republican stronghold of El Paso County (the 5th Congressional District) shows that five weeks out from the primary, “undecided” is ahead in the Republican race for governor, with Walker Stapleton in a close second and Victor Mitchell in third.

Similar to Stapleton’s Republican convention result (44%), he is the Republican leader, but hardly the consensus nominee. Stapleton likely has the money and momentum to win the primary, but Mitchell has shown considerable political talent to maneuver into second-place. The poll also demonstrates Stapleton’s major task will be putting some fire into the party’s base, while uniting its diverse factions. The poll labeled the Republican electorate in three component parts: 37 percent Trump Republicans, 21 percent traditional, 21 percent evangelical or Christian Republicans, and 16 percent not sure their category.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Griswold vs. Williams – Still Need the Big Blue Wave

Jena Griswold
Jena Griswold, the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, will need a major push from partisan Democrats and other voters saying no to Republicans up and down the ticket to beat incumbent Republican Wayne Williams.

Colorado is a state with a good reputation for honest elections. The system is decentralized with 64 elected county clerks running local elections.

Our most recent Secretary of State controversies involved candidate petitioning with the rules and vendor operations appearing incompatible. With all mail balloting and unaffiliated voters now participating in primaries, it’s hard to argue Colorado isn’t dedicated to ballot access.
Wayne Williams | CBS

Even a blue wave may not help Griswold enough as I said to Jon Murray of the Denver Post:

But Floyd Ciruli, a longtime political analyst in Colorado, cautioned against discounting Williams’ chances.

“If there’s a strong wave, I think it could go up and down the ballot and give (Griswold) a bit of a push, some momentum,” Ciruli said. Still, he added, “Wayne Williams will be the hardest person on the ballot to beat, just generically, because he is a very popular incumbent in an office that is seen as less partisan.”

Griswold has a small fundraising advantage, but as of today, an extra $100,000 or two is not enough to change the dynamics of this election.

Read Jon Murray’s article in the Denver Post here

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Denver Post Dominance is Already Gone

The latest trials and tribulations of the Denver Post only confirm what has been obvious to Denver metro news consumers for several years, and that’s to get the daily news, you might not even start with the Post, but go first to a half dozen online sites.

This is in spite of the Post’s continued news excellence. This weekend edition featured in-depth stories on the #MeToo movement as it affected this year’s legislative session and the gaps in the foster care system and youth homelessness. The Post dedicated a full page to its Colorado Press Association and Associated Press editors’ and reporters’ awards.

But, the competition is too great and the paper too slim to dominate metro political news today. I usually start my morning with the news aggregator, Complete Colorado, and usually click on one or two stories before going to the state’s best general political news site, Colorado Politics. The site is getting stronger with additional reporters and expanding coverage. After a scan of the Post’s main stories, I visit the partisan sites, Colorado Pols (Democrat) and Colorado Peak Politics (Republican).

Westword and The Independent frequently have in-depth stories on the latest political topics and are linked by Complete Colorado. Television and radio websites are often the best on breaking news, and many are getting the earliest and best interviews of key news figures.

The Post still has first-rate reporters and is the place for local sports. But, as it gets smaller, it becomes a news source that must be heavily augmented by other sources.

As he quit the Post editorial page, Dean Singleton said circulation is down to 100,000 daily out of more than a million metro households, a minor share of the advertising marketplace and unlikely to sustain its modest overhead and immodest profit margins for the owners.

Westword: Why the Denver Post will never be sold in a standalone deal
Politico: This is how a newspaper dies

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Most Expensive Primary in Colorado History

In 2017, I predicted we would have a $25 million primary race. Six weeks before the election, the campaigns are 60 percent of the way there. I expect them to hit it since the race is competitive in both parties.

The Democratic candidates have raised and spent the most money. The race appears a dual between Cary Kennedy, with much of the party and labor behind her, and Jared Polis, with money being guided into media and grassroots organizations, especially social media aimed at unaffiliated voters. Also, spending money on media is Mike Johnston. Donna Lynn has neither money nor much of a campaign.

Among the Republicans, Vic Mitchell continues to be the big spender, having self-funded his race at the start with a donation of $3 million. Reports appear to show Walker Stapleton only spent $600,000 during the report period, but he has an independent PAC supporting him. Doug Robinson spent $650,000.

Campaign spending observation:
  • Democrats regularly outspend Republicans in elections. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both outspent their rivals, and it’s common in Colorado. Democrats are outspending Republicans two-to-one so far in this primary.
  • The competition appears more intense on the Democratic side. Democrats believe the primary could be electing the next governor. With changes in the state’s partisanship and help from a blue wave from D.C., Democrats hope for momentum.
  • The Republican race is harder to estimate. Much of Walker Stapleton’s money is in the shadows. The Republican convention showed the frontrunners, but not overwhelmingly. His competitors have some support and money, but no public poll shows them in contention. Republican leaders mostly decided this race early, and thus far, the outsiders have not had an impact.
  • Colorado is a big money state, much of it from the coasts. Both parties intensely want the governorship for a host of reasons, but the presidency and next round of 2020 senate and congressional elections is one of the biggest.

Colorado Politics: Colo. Governor’s race: Who has raised and spent the most so far?
7News: Democrats continue to outperform Republicans in Colorado 2018 governor’s race fundraising

Monday, May 14, 2018

Steve Hogan. Region Loses Leader.

Not surprising, Steve Hogan cited his love of Aurora in his statement upon entering comfort care. The speed of his illness and his passing was a shock, but his candid and dignified description added even more honor to the man’s life and accomplishments.

Hogan’s service to Aurora was fierce. It is a city that has often felt ignored and thwarted. It has long-known its image as a housing development with some strip malls and few trees was neither true nor in alignment with its self-image and aspirations as a fully functioning, third largest city in Colorado.

Arvada Mayor Marc Williams, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan,
Greenwood Village Mayor Ron Rakowsky and Denver Mayor
Michael Hancock with Popsicle at Mayors Launch
SCFD GOTV, Oct. 4, 2016
Aurora mayors have been its main cheerleaders and protectors. Hogan was up to the task. But, he avoided being hostile to his neighbors or arrogant about Aurora’s many recent successes. He just wanted to make sure the city got its share and its credit.

Demonstrating Hogan’s confident view of Aurora and his own good nature, he was a friend and respected colleague of his fellow metro mayors and champion of regional projects.

In 2016, Hogan joined a group of fellow mayors promoting the renewal of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), the regional cultural funding program, which benefits all the cities in the region. The renewal passed in all seven metro counties, including Arapahoe (and the city of Aurora).

The citizens of the entire region benefited from Hogan’s long effort at making Aurora a great place to live.

Thank you, Steve.

The Buzz; SCFD – An Economic Powerhouse
Denver Post: “Thank you for allowing me to live my best life”: Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan enters hospice care

Friday, May 11, 2018

Republican Party is Now Colorado’s Smallest – Unaffiliated Voters Rule

The Republican Party was dominant in Colorado as the century began. They had 186,000 more registrants than Democrats and were slightly ahead of unaffiliated voters.

Democrats made an incredible surge in registration just before the Democratic National Convention held in Denver and the Obama election win in 2008. By 2009, Democrats equaled Republicans at one million adherents each.

As Democrats were increasing, unaffiliated registration caught fire, and in 2009, all three parties had one million registrants. But, unaffiliated voter registration tracked more closely to the huge population growth in the state. They are now the dominant group with more than 1.4 million registrants.

Republicans had some modest growth since 2000, but stalled in the late Obama years (2013-2015). Democrats continued modest growth after their 2009 surge and are now the second largest party at 1.1 million and about 40,000 ahead of Republicans.

Unaffiliated voters can now participate in primaries and could have even more influence in the general election. Will they vote in either election?

See CPR: Open primaries for unaffiliated voters come with a catch

Thank You for Remembering 1968

Thanks to an engaged audience and our panel of speakers. The events of 1968 brought back a flood of memories of where people were and what the year meant to their lives.

The Denver Press Club is an excellent venue for friendly conversation and interesting presentations. Another great job by the Club and especially Carol McKinley, Tom Foutch and David Milstead. I will continue to comment on 1968 with comparisons to 2018 during the year. See the collective posts on 1968 here.
Denver Press Club Pulitzer Lounge Bar

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fifty Years Later, Race Issues as Polarizing Today as in 1968

Race divides America as profoundly today as the time of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in 1968. A couple of recent polls show the continuing divide between black and white Americans.

Although most Americans see Martin Luther King Jr. as a significant historical figure (80% overall, 78% White, 90% Black) and that some of his civil rights goals were achieved, there is a significant difference among the races in views as to whether most of his civil rights goals were achieved. More than a third (36%) of Whites believe nearly all the civil rights goals were achieved, but only a quarter (27%) of Blacks.

The civil rights focus prior to and during 1968 had been on voting rights, segregation in public life (housing, jobs, public accommodations, schools, etc.) and poverty. African Americans believe some progress has been made in those areas, although not much in eliminating poverty. Whites agree, but are generally more positive on the level of progress.

It is treatment by police and the criminal justice system where both blacks and whites believe the least progress has been made. An Associated Press-NORC poll shows:

The civil rights struggle continues to be influenced by the events in 1968. Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young remember the day when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated (April 4, 1968). They were with him at the Lorraine Motel, 50 years younger. They both believe King’s moral authority survives to help the U.S. and worldwide struggle for human rights.

CBS New: Americans view MLK as important, but believe only some of his goals have been achieved
AP-NORC: 50 years after Martin Luther King’s assassination: Assessing progress of the civil rights movements

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

López Obrador Will Win and Mexico Will Lose

Andrés Manuel López Obrador | teleSUR
In a panel sponsored by WorldDenver May 3, the top Mexican pollsters declared the left-leaning populist candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will win the July 1 Mexican presidential election.

At that point, polls showed him at 49 percent. In fact, compared to recent previous presidential elections that have provided the winner with less than 40 percent, Obrador could win in a landslide above 50 percent.

López Obrador lost two presidential elections, at least partially because people feared his brand of politics was too close to the Latin American dictator model – a Mexican Hugo Chávez. But, fear is being blunted today by a greater anxiety seen in many western democracies, reflected in anger at corruption, the economic inequality and, in Mexico’s case, the level of violence. The target of the anger are the established parties, typically center-right and center-left that have held responsibility of governance for many years.

In his third try, López Obrador is benefiting from the same anger that put Donald Trump into office. Ironically, Trumps is helping López Obrador. Protecting Mexico’s sovereignty and demanding respect are López Obrador’s top issues.

The panelists were descriptive and rather insouciant of his presidential win. In fact, Obrador is bad news for democracy.
  • He has a record of using extra-legal confrontational activities, such as shutting down the government in 2006 when he lost by less than 1 percent (35.31%).
  • He likely will not have a majority in the Congress, but a mandate from the people. Most of his authority will flow from executive power. He is a populist, unlikely to be overly restrained by norms or precedence.
  • He is the least committed among the main candidates to free markets and the most committed to government control over major economic sectors, especially oil. He will expand government and spend money.
  • He tends toward nationalism (sovereignty rhetoric), isolationism and disinterest in promoting human rights and democracy.
  • Mexican democracy is new. The first competitive election was in 1994, or barely 20 years ago. López Obrador will test it. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Race and Reaction: 1968 and 2018 Differences and Similarities

America’s difficult race relations are not always rated a top issue, but are forever important. In 1968, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. ended a period of considerable progress, at least from Washington D.C., on civil rights. But, it had been accompanied with considerable conflict and confrontation.

With the death of King, the civil rights movement splintered between advocates of change within the system and those without between non-violence and a more confrontational strategy. Combined with riots that accompanied his death, a massive backlash developed that helped generate the law and order campaign of Richard Nixon and the success of Alabama governor, George Wallace.

Today, race relations continue to be a high-profile issue, with most attention on police-citizen confrontations. Politics of race is still polarized, with Donald Trump staking out his own law and order strategy and taking on defending the police, confederate statues and opposing kneeling football players.

The following chart makes some comparisons on race and reactions in 1968 and 2018. Join us May 8 to remember, compare and contrast.

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 (no charge)

Pollster Floyd Ciruli and the Denver Press Club host a panel on 1968 and how it compares to 2018.

Wellington Webb – Former mayor of Denver, civil rights activist
Polly Baca – Democratic and civil rights activist, in LA and Chicago in 1968
Dick Wadhams – Republican campaign consultant and activist
Floyd Ciruli – Pollster, professor and in LA in 1968

Monday, May 7, 2018

War and Peace: 1968 and 2018. Different and Similar.

The turmoil and tragedies of 1968 has been described as a turning point in American politics, and indeed, once it was over, the next decade felt very different. Vietnam and domestic demonstrations were mirrored in the radical split among foreign policy elites who had been part of the Cold War consensus.

In 2018, there is considerable anxiety about American foreign policy and specific confrontations, but there are no demonstrations on the streets. Isolationism affects both parties, whereas in 1968, the Democrats became the anti-war/intervention party. In 1968, the military was denigrated by many young demonstrators. Today, they are the most respected profession and in many high government posts.

One similarity was the demographic transition of Baby Boomers becoming voting and draft age in 1968 and Millennials surging into the electorate today.

The following chart makes some comparisons on war and peace in 1968 and 2018. Join us May 8 to remember, compare and contrast.

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 (no charge)

Pollster Floyd Ciruli and the Denver Press Club host a panel on 1968 and how it compares to 2018.

Wellington Webb – Former mayor of Denver, civil rights activist
Polly Baca – Democratic and civil rights activist, in LA and Chicago in 1968
Dick Wadhams – Republican campaign consultant and activist
Floyd Ciruli – Pollster, professor and in LA in 1968

Friday, May 4, 2018

Denver Post Suffers Another Blow

Chuck Plunkett | Photo: CBS News
Chuck Plunkett, editorial page editor, resigned criticizing the Denver Post ownership after orchestrating an extraordinary editorial tour de force in the April 8, 2018 Perspective section.

Plunkett has been a long-time Post writer on politics. He became the editorial page editor with the retirement of Vincent Carroll in 2016. For many readers, especially those engaged in community politics and public policy, the editorial page is the heart of the paper. Although he will be replaced, the Denver Post’s sagging credibility has taken another blow.

Read Colorado Politics: Defiant Denver Post opinion editor resigns 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Millennials are Marijuana Legalization’s Strongest Supporters

Marijuana legalization is highly polarized by age. In the most recent Quinnipiac University poll, 82 percent of Millennials favored legalization compared to 63 percent of the public overall and only 43 percent of people 65 years old and older.

Of the demographic and political groups reported, only Republicans (33% yes, 62% no) and persons 65 years old or over (43% yes, 52% no) opposed legalization. But among supporters, people aged 18 to 34 years old were the most supportive – 82 percent in support.

The demographic characteristics of supporters and opponents of 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

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Year of Petition Problems: Congressman Lamborn Hangs on to the Ballot

April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz of KOA Radio asked on April 24: What were the chances U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn would be restored onto the June 26 primary ballot after being removed by the Colorado Supreme Court for faulty petition signatures? The answer was less than 50 percent. But, Lamborn demonstrated his incredible good fortune. A federal district court judge allowed him to remain in the race.

Getting on the ballot is a candidate’s most urgent task, and in 2018, failures in the petition process have been the headline challenge. Walker Stapleton, realizing the complaints to his use of Kennedy Enterprises would dog his campaign and possibly toss him off the ballot, dropped his petition effort even after the Secretary of State had already ruled him on the ballot. He proceeded to challenge the field at the Republican State Convention – smart move, he top lined and pushed out Cynthia Coffman, a possibly strong opponent.

Rep. Doug Lamborn | Hyoung Chang/Denver Post
The 5th Congressional District is the state’s most Republican district; hence, the competition tends to be within the Republican Party. Lamborn has been especially vulnerable to primaries, given he was not the preferred candidate of his predecessor, the popular Joel Hefley. He has never won over the party’s factions nor has modest accomplishments warded off opponents.

Lamborn really had no alternative to using petitions. In his six terms, he’s had primaries in four of them and attracted two tough primary opponents in his latest run for re-election. He faces a local county commissioner and state senator. He barely got the minimum number of convention supporters in his 2016 effort. He assumed he would not have made this year’s convention ballot.

Lamborn had hoped that after his Kennedy Enterprises signers were deemed sufficient by the Secretary of State and a state court judge, after eliminated signatures from an out-of-state circulator, he was on. But objectors appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court. They ruled that additional fraudulently collected signatures must be removed, leaving Lamborn below the threshold needed. He was off the ballot.

Lamborn’s last ditch appeal to a Federal Court, hoping to have the petition requirements for in-state circulators ruled unconstitutional, appears to have been a winning argument; of course, there will likely be an appeal.

Lamborn has often won his primaries by a divided field of opponents. He may make it again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Denver Press Club Hosts Panel – 1968: A Year of Turmoil and Transition

People say that 2018 is a year of such extraordinary political chaos and disruption that it must be unique in American history. But, 1968 saw even more violence, turmoil and disruption.

Pollster Floyd Ciruli and the Denver Press Club host a panel on 1968 and how it compares to 2018.

Wellington Webb – Former mayor of Denver, civil rights activist
Polly Baca – Democratic and civil rights activist, in LA and Chicago in 1968
Dick Wadhams – Republican campaign consultant and activist
Floyd Ciruli – Pollster, professor and in LA in 1968

Nineteen sixty-eight was the year the Baby Boomers came of age. Most were in high school or a few years out dealing with war on TV, assassinations, the credibility gap, the drugs, feminism, race and the attitude about authority. All issues important today.

Join the panel and relate how you experienced or remembered 1968’s key events in the context of today’s unbelievable year.

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 (no charge)