Friday, September 28, 2018

‘He’s going to do It…He’s got a theory’ – Politico

Gov. John Hickenlooper | Alex Wong/Getty Images
John Hickenlooper believes the first Democratic debate in 2019 will look like the Republicans in August and September 2015 – two tiers, 17 contestants. Hickenlooper’s goal is to be on the first tier, a leader of the outside D.C. contingent.

Hickenlooper’s announcement continues to gather national attention. As I described to Politico’s David Siders:

“I think he understands that he’s a long shot,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Denver-based pollster. Ciruli said Hickenlooper’s candidacy will likely depend on a large field of more progressive candidates gridlocking.

“His goal is to start early and see if he can become the leader of the outside governors, moderates,” Ciruli said. “He’s going to do it … He’s got a theory.”

Read David Siders' article here

National Polls Switch to Likely Voters; Republicans Still Behind

Typically, reputable national polls switch from registered voters to a likely voter screen. The effect usually aids Republicans because their voters have been more likely to say they will vote. For example, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows a 12-point advantage for Democrats among 900 registered voters (52% to 40%), but a smaller 8-point advantage among likely voters (594) in the generic ballot test (51% to 43%).

Unfortunately for Republicans, they are still behind. As Republican pollster Bill McInturff said: “This [poll] is beyond weak” for Republicans. “Americans are hitting the brakes in a midterm and trying to send a signal they are not satisfied.”

Republican support from women is a disaster. Men prefer Republicans for Congress over Democrats by 3 percentage points (44% to 47%), but women prefer Democrats by 25 percentage points (58% to 33%).

  • September – 12 points, up from 8 points in August with registered voters
  • 59% want a change from Mr. Trump’s direction, including nearly a third of Republicans (In 1994, 62% wanted change from Clinton’s direction; Democrats lost 54 seats)
  • Top issues: economy, health care, corruption and special interests’ control of D.C. Economy: Prefer Republican – 47%, Democrat – 45%. Health care: Prefer Republican – 34%, Democrat – 58%
  • 58% prefer candidates who help Dreamers

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Will Democrats Take the House? Is the Blue Wave a Ripple or a Tsunami? A Panel of Political Experts Describe the Race.

The political environment is roiling. A flood of news appears to move the polls weekly. What will Washington’s impact be on the Colorado election?

Voting in Colorado starts in mid-October. Join a panel of the state’s political experts who will discuss the Colorado and national political environment just before voting starts.

Along with the national election, they will discuss the Colorado governor’s election and partisan change in the balance in the state legislature, as well as significant ballot issues on fracking, school and transportation funding.

Ask the experts.

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research is hosting a panel of top Colorado political experts on the election. The panel, called “Colorado Politics in 2018: A Transformative Election,” includes:

Panel Discussion: Colorado Politics in 2018: A Transformative Election 
Floyd Ciruli

Moderator: Floyd Ciruli, Director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Dick Wadhams – Republican campaign manager and former State Chair
Steve Welchert – Democratic campaign manager
Fofi Mendez –Colorado lobbyist and ballot initiative manager
Jerry Bell – Managing Editor of KOA Radio
Sam Mamet – Executive Director of the Colorado Municipal League

Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Program: 4-6 pm
Reception: 6-7 pm
University of Denver Campus
Anna and John J. Sie International Relations Complex
Room 1020
2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO
Event FREE, but space limited

RSVP to: Karen Hayden at 303.871.4374 or email to
Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center, will moderate the panel. It is sponsored by: Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

9News: Get Registered

About 3 million Colorado voters are on the active registration list, but only slightly over half tend to turn out in midterm elections. In an interview with 9News Nelson Garcia, both parties and the candidates are trying to increase voter registration and turnout for the 2018 election.

Elections in Colorado often are close. The June Democratic Attorney General primary was decided by 5,000 votes and Governor Bill Owens beat Gail Schoettler for the governorship by only 8,000 in 1998.

Colorado’s 2018 midterm election is considered competitive with the election of a new governor to replace term-limited John Hickenlooper and Colorado State Senate now held by Republicans by one vote.

Control of U.S. Congress will also be affected by the highly contested 6th congressional race between Mike Coffman and Jason Crow.

See 9News: A push to the polls for the midterm elections

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hickenlooper Runs for President

In an interview last Tuesday with KOA’s Jerry Bell, John Hickenlooper’s launch of his presidential campaign was discussed. Some expanded thoughts:

Governor John Hickenlooper has stepped up his run for the presidency. He’s been contemplating it since the results of the 2016 presidential election created a wide open Democratic field. Hickenlooper has been testing the water for months. He first got into the Democratic nomination process in 2016 when Hillary Clinton considered him as a potential vice president and he gave a Philadelphia Convention speech.

He is a longshot in late 2018, but starting early and getting known by local political leaders and activists is one traditional route to the nomination. Hickenlooper is now traveling to states to help Democratic gubernatorial candidates in the November election, building some name identification and supporting possible grateful winners for later endorsements.

President Barack Obama has a beer at Wynkoop Brewing Co.
with Gov. John Hickenlooper, June 2016 | Jacquelyn Martin/AP
The Democratic debates in 2019 may look like the Republicans’ 17-person, two-tier events in 2015. Hickenlooper hopes to be the frontrunner of the outside D.C. field, betting that the gaggle of leading senate candidates may fragment the left of the party. The class and identity politics they mostly champion may fall out of favor with a party in need of winning moderates and independents. And indeed, the Democratic Party has turned to outside Washington governors in recent years: Jimmy Carter in 1976, Michael Dukakis in 1988 and Bill Clinton in 1992. Not infrequently they win it all.

Mostly, Hickenlooper believes the effort will be fun and serve a purpose of bringing a message of civility and problem-solving to a national politics very short of it. As Kyle Trygstad and I discussed in The Atlantic: “The message is a good message. Whether there is a voting constituency, I don’t know.”

Hickenlooper’s entire career has been a longshot. He’s had a surfeit of what a politician most needs – luck.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Midterm Election: Who Controls Congress? What Happens Next?

A record crowd of more than 250 people joined Hill and Ciruli after the surprise 2016
election  to review the polling and forecasting and the national and international fallout.
Ambassador Christopher Hill and Professor Floyd Ciruli reprise their popular post-election analyses of the November results and its domestic and international effect on November 7 at DU’s Maglione Hall.

5-7 pm, Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Maglione Hall, University of Denver Campus
Anna and John J. Sie International Relations Complex
2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO
5:00 pm: Reception
5:30 pm: Presentation and conversation
6:15 pm: Discussion
Event FREE, but space limited

The post-election session will review the midterm results, the possible end of one-party control of the federal government and the likelihood of impeachment. Also, the impact, if any, on America First, and President Trump’s trade, immigrant and alliance policies. How will the results align with international trends of populism, nationalism and authoritarianism?

For more information, contact: Karen Hayden at 303.871.4374 or email to

Kavanaugh Is Midterm Problem

Public opinion is not especially important for selection of Supreme Court judges. But September 2018 and the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation is not a normal confirmation. The process is taking place six weeks before the midterm elections in the middle of the intense #MeToo movement and with Donald Trump as president.

Generally, nominees are not well-known and have low negative ratings with public opinion, often based on partisanship and high “don’t know” responses. Kavanaugh began the process with a low positive rating, and now has the highest negative since NBC/WSJ began polling nominees in 2005 (38%). Kavanaugh’s high negative rating increased 9 points since the controversy over sexual harassment charges began.

The bigger vulnerability for Republicans than losing the nomination, which they still appear confident to get, is being hurt in the November election. Kavanaugh’s negative rating among women (42%) is four points more negative than it is with the general public and support at 28 percent is 13 points lower than men. Forty-nine percent of college educated women oppose the nomination.

The last thing Republicans need is more fuel on the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote fire.

The Atlantic; Brett Kavanaugh could make the midterms a landmark election for women

Friday, September 21, 2018

Three Billion in New School Taxes on the Ballot – State and Local

Colorado voters are being asked to increase taxes for K-12 education to generate about $1.6 billion per year in state taxes and $1.5 billion annually in local taxes for operations and buildings. The statewide request is a record. Colorado voters rejected a Colorado Education Association supported $1 billion statewide tax initiative in 2013 by two-to-one, even after more than $10 million was spent in favor.

In a Denver Post article, Monte Whaley asked which school tax request has the advantage – local or state, and which could hurt the chances of the other with the voters?

Voters traditionally favor local tax measures over statewide proposals, which bodes well for school districts with requests on a crowded 2018 ballot, Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said.

“The general rule for Colorado is that we would rather pass a local tax than a state tax,” Ciruli said, adding that the local bond issues could hinder support for Amendment 73. “You can make a case that you are voting for a specific issue or building and that helps localize it for many people. While they generally have a hard time seeing where the funding will go on a statewide basis.

“There is also the issue that many people could be suffering from tax exhaustion, and that could hurt the state proposal,” Ciruli added.

See my blog: Another educational tax proposal – better chance than 2013?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Power of Women in the Midterms

Women running for office was a key topic when more than 70 members of the League of Women Voters assembled on September 11. Why hasn’t there been a woman governor in Colorado? Why didn’t Cary Kennedy win? Will women running for Congress win their races in the midterm elections?

Colorado is considered a progressive state on women rights. It passed women’s suffrage in 1893 and general economic rights before that, but it has not had a woman as governor. Lt. Governor Gail Schoettler got close in her run in 1998 against Bill Owens (8,000 votes). Women governors are common in other western states. Arizona has had four; Kansas, Oregon and Washington had two each; and one each in Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

Presentation to League of Women Voters
Cary Kennedy mounted a strong primary, but Jared Polis had higher name identification and a money advantage that was difficult to overcome. After she scared him at the state convention, he poured millions into the race in May and June. In addition, she and Mike Johnston, who also ran an effective, well-funded campaign, split an anti-Polis and more moderate vote. Expect to see her again.

Nationally, polls show women are favoring the Democrats in the generic congressional ballot by nearly two-to-one. Today, there are 84 women in the House in both parties and 23 in the U.S. Senate. There are likely to be more in the House in 2019 as 232 women are now running – 180 Democrats and 52 Republicans. The current prediction is that Democrats are likely to win the House and women will be a major force. Women are now 20 percent of the House. Someday, they will be a majority.

See Politico: ‘Something has actually changed’: Women, minorities, first-time candidates drive Democratic House hopes

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Trump Takes on NATO and U.S. Allies

President Donald Trump is not a friend of America’s historic alliances, which he sees as mostly benefiting the allies and restraining his America First strategies on trade and diplomacy.

Trump took the NATO alliance and its members to task at a now infamous July diplomatic swing from a rancorous Brussels NATO meeting, to an embarrassing dust-up with Prime Minister Theresa May in England, to the poorly received summit with Russian President Putin in Helsinki.

After the NATO summit, Senator John McCain expressed his straightforward disapproval of Trump’s behavior with a tweet.

And, American public opinion is generally in agreement with the late senator. It is highly favorable toward NATO, with upwards of 80 percent saying that the alliance should be maintained (Gallup 2018) (Pew: 62% favorable view, 2018).

The acrimony with American allies has been building from previous meetings, especially the G7 meeting in Quebec on June 10-11. A photo was released by the German Embassy of the discussion with annoyed-appearing Prime Ministers Angela Merkel and Shinzo Abe and President Emmanuel Macron facing an obstinate-looking Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with President Donald Trump
 during the Group of 7 summit meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada,
June 9, 2018 | Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government via New York Times

New York Times Poll: Crow Up 11 Points

If a newly released New York Times poll is accurate, the blue wave could be a tsunami. In the 6th District, the poll has Democratic challenger, Jason Crow, up 11 points over incumbent Republican Mike Coffman, 51 percent to 40 percent.

The Times and Siena College are conducting small sample telephone polls in identified competitive House seats. Its first iteration, conducted the last 10 days, has the Democrats taking the House, gaining about 30 seats or a close election for control.

The Times asks: “Can the battle-tested incumbent survive again?”

Republican Coffman has survived difficult elections, winning his district when it went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2012 and for Hillary Clinton by 34,000 in 2016 (he won by 31,000 votes). So if he is indeed behind by 11 points, the District voters are ignoring his incumbent advantage and voting in a very partisan fashion. This may well be the Trump effect where the President’s low approval rating and aggressive approach to controversial issues is simply impossible for a Republican incumbent to separate from. Trump has a 39 percent approval rating in the District.

The Times lists several polls that have shown Crow ahead by smaller amounts.

Crow’s campaign will be well-funding, and expect both sides to get very negative. A large percentage of voters claim to not be able to rate Crow, even though they indicate they will vote for him as of now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Autocrats Cook While Tanks Rumble

Western democracy, and America in particular, are being challenged by two powerful autocrats who argue that liberal democracy is a passé governing concept and that Americans don’t have the confidence, credibility or resources to maintain the order that it guided since World War II.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping make
pancakes during a visit to the Far East Street exhibition on the sidelines of the
Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 11, 2018 | Reuters
Vladimir Putin invited Xi Jinping to a Russian pancake cooking class in Siberia while Chinese troops joined Russians in a large five-day military exercise that U.S. Defense officials described as: “…moving beyond symbolic displays of force to coordinate weapons systems and command structures. Washington says the two countries have developed capabilities that could test U.S. military dominance in times of crisis.”

Russian General Valery Gerasimov (second from left) briefs
diplomats on military exercises, Sept. 11, 2018 | The Recorder

See Wall Street Journal: China joins Russian drills as ties deepen

Colorado Politics Could be Shaken to its Core this November – Denver Post Sunday Perspective Section

The Denver Post featured my guest commentary as the lead in its Sunday Perspective section. The cover graphic is a voter standing astride a separating fault line with the caption, “Hold on: Political rumblings afoot. Colorado’s political landscape is about to undergo another seismic shift from the 2018 election.”

By Floyd Ciruli
Guest Commentary

Colorado’s political landscape is about to undergo another seismic shift.

A surge in new social movements, evolving voter attitudes, rising new leaders and changing demographics, taken together, are creating significant fault lines. Like the earth’s surface, the political plates are about to slip and create a new configuration. The tension has been building for several years, but is now accelerated following the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.

Jeff Neumann, The Denver Post; photo by Thinkstock by Getty Images

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Impeachment – Difficult Issue for Democrats

Leon Panetta, one of the elder statesmen of the Democratic Party, warns the party leadership that it should avoid impeachment and said Democrats should “allow Robert Mueller to complete his work.” He believes that the investigation has the best chance to provide the facts related to collusion and obstruction in the Trump campaign and presidency.

Public opinion agrees with Panetta that Democrats are on much safe ground defending the Mueller probe and delaying talk of impeachment. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows 63 percent of the public support “Mueller’s investigation of Trump and his associates” (52% “strongly support the probe” and overall support includes 32% of Republicans). And, more than half (53%) believe Trump has tried to obstruct Mueller’s investigation.

President Trump’s, and his legal team and political allies, long campaign to discredit Robert Mueller, the investigation and even Attorney General Jeff Sessions has had very limited success.
  • 62% support Sessions in dispute to allow investigation to proceed
  • 64% oppose Trump firing Sessions (47% of Republicans oppose firing Sessions)
  • 66% oppose Trump pardoning Manafort (only 36% of Republicans support it)
In contrast, the public is highly divided on beginning impeachment proceedings (49% begin, 46% don’t begin). Bill Clinton’s impeachment, which hurt Republicans in the midterms, only had 33 percent support at the end of 1998 after the Kenneth Starr report was presented for much of the year.

Monday, September 10, 2018

KOA – Post-Labor Day Interview

KOA’s April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz opened the campaign season on Tuesday, September 4 with a post-Labor Day interview. April pointed out that the election is 63 days away, and in Colorado, mail-back ballots will drop in seven weeks, or about 50 days. The race will now begin with an onslaught of advertisements, debates, endorsements and the first public polls with likely voters, harder to identify during turbulent times.

Nationally, the Colorado governor’s race is getting the most attention, along with the 6th Congressional District race where Republican incumbent Mike Coffman must deal with any blue wave from Washington.
Rep. Jared Polis and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton

Many national observers believe the Colorado gubernatorial race could be competitive, but appears to lean toward Democrat Jared Polis over Republican Walker Stapleton. For example, the latest spending figures show Polis with $12 million in the race, mostly his own money, and Stapleton with just $2 million (latest report shows now a $21 million total). Also, Democrats now have a slight registration advantage after a disadvantage a decade ago, and they attracted more than 100,000 voters in the June primary more than the Republicans, and half of them were newly empowered unaffiliated voters.

The voters’ choice between Stapleton and Polis will be partially made on personality, experience and character, but in terms of issues, the differences could be more dramatic – health care, it’s single-payer or not; oil and gas, it’s more setbacks or not; and tax increases, it’s schools and roads or not. After eight years of moderate leadership from John Hickenlooper, often with a divided legislature, Colorado could take a much more liberal direction. One question being asked nationally concerns how liberal the Colorado electorate has become.

Mike Coffman is in another battle for his congressional seat, but he has an exceptional track record of winning his district even as Democrats carry it in presidential elections. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the district by 34,000 votes and Coffman received 31,000. In general, the latest national polls show the President’s approval rating and the generic ballot question tilting more toward the Democrats since the Paul Manafort conviction and the Michael Cohen guilty plea (approval is now 12 points negative – 42% vs. 54%, and the generic ballot test at 8 points favoring Democrats). Coffman will have possibly the toughest test in his long career.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Labor Day Blues

Democrats roll into the post-Labor Day political season with a head start according to the latest national polls. Although President Trump appears to hold onto his hardcore base, the edges have eroded under the onslaught of bad news from the Paul Manafort trial and the Michael Cohen plea agreement. The just published Investor’s Business Daily poll (IBD/TIPP) reports Trump’s approval rating is down 5 percent and is now at 36 percent. Disapproval is up 3 points to 56 percent. The poll reflects a 7-point falloff among Republicans (83% to 76%) and 4 points among independents (37% to 33%). The closely watched generic congressional metric shifted 11 points toward the Democrats. It was tied at 45 percent in July and is now 50 percent Democrat and 39 percent Republican.

In the Gary Langer conducted Washington Post/ABC News poll of August 26-29, 2018, Trump has a record-high disapproval of 60 percent, with 53 percent who offer strong disapproval. It was the first time his strong disapproval went over 50 percent. His approval was 36 percent. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans approve of Trump in the Langer/ABC poll and 35 percent of independents. This poll was in the field a week after the Manafort and Cohen news.

Finally, USA Today/Suffolk University poll taken after the Manafort and Cohen decisions saw a 3-point drop in approval to 40 percent, down from 43 percent in June. Fifty-six percent disapproved of his job performance, a 16-point negative spread.

Gallup’s August data (Aug. 20-26, pre-Manafort/Cohen) shows a continuing base of support at about two-fifths of the public (41%), with the strongest feelings tilted toward “strong disapproval” (40%).

Donald Trump’s job performance has dropped since the legal fireworks in late August. Hardly a time for Republicans to be losing ground with Trump’s already tattered reputation as the post-Labor Day campaigns for Congress begins in earnest.

Politico’s Ratings: Coffman, Toss-up; Governor’s Race, Leans Democrat

Politico released its inaugural post-Labor Day ratings of the nation’s congressional, senatorial and gubernatorial races. The rating gives Democrats the odds to win the House. Colorado’s 6th CD with incumbent Republican Mike Coffman facing Democrat Jason Crow is rated a “toss-up.” A recent statewide assessment from 538 (Nate Silver’s site) gave Crow an edge (64.57%).

The governor’s race between Jared Polis, Democrat, and Walker Stapleton, Republican, is rated “lean Democratic,” but winnable.