Wednesday, October 31, 2018

End of Second Week, 800,000 Colorado Voters Cast Ballots

Two weeks into Colorado’s mail-back ballot and seven days until the election, a third of the vote is in, assuming a turnout of 2.5 million (see The Buzz: Midterm Voting Starts, Record Turnout Expected). Republican and Democratic returns are keeping apace: 281,000 Republican and 280,000 Democrats, or 35 percent each, with 29 percent of returns from unaffiliated voters.

Jefferson County with 105,000 votes in has the largest early numbers among counties in the state (reflecting the two hard-fought State Senate races), leading El Paso, a larger county that has 93,000. In the Denver metro area, Arapahoe and Jefferson have a few more Democrats returning ballots than Republicans. Jefferson with its 33,000 unaffiliated early returns is the statewide record. Denver voters turn in ballots late. Arapahoe’s high vote early turnout reflects the intense congressional race.

The Voter Pyramid below shows likely voter turnout, given the level of awareness and engagement in the political process. There are 3.2 million residents currently registered to vote. About 2.3 million Coloradans are non-voters; for example, if they haven’t registered or are too young.

Voters are most engaged in a presidential race, which in Colorado in 2016 saw 2.85 million voters cast ballots in the presidential race.

This year, about 1,140,000 voted in the June primary election, including a significant turnout from unaffiliated voters encouraged to vote for the first time. It represented an increase of 500,000 from the 2016 primary vote. One hundred and thirty-four thousand more voters selected a Democrat rather than a Republican gubernatorial primary candidate.

The primary voters are labeled in the triangle as “attentive voters.” They are more interested in politics and motivated to participate. “Elites” are the civic, business and political activists that tend to dominate the political process. In Colorado, they are more likely to participate in a party caucus, contribute to a campaign, and attend a candidate or issue event.

Bolsonaro Wins, Merkel Loses

Sunday is an election day in many countries. Last Sunday, Brazilian voters elected a new president, Jair Bolsonaro, called the Donald Trump of the South. In Hesse state, home of Frankfurt, the German financial capital, voters continued to turn away from Angela Merkel, the European anti-Trump, and her ruling center parties and rewarded more left and right parties.

Both elections reflect a trend of voters looking for alternatives to the status quo, empowering parties and personalities recently seen as fringe and promising to disrupt the establishment. Bolsonaro, whose campaign focused on corruption and crime, joins nationalist in Western Europe now ruling in Italy, Hungary and Poland. He’s on the right, but is similar to Mexico’s newly elected president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is on the political left, but was elected as a similar anti-establishment disrupter attacking corruption and promising more security.

Merkel’s political power is gone and her term will end as soon as her coalition can find an alternative that can help them win an election. But, the likely winners in the next German election will be a mélange of parties making assembling a government even harder than it has been for Merkel the last year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From Stock Show to Van Gogh, Denver Has a Winning Strategy

The Denver metropolitan area continues to be a leading region in the country that’s willing to invest in its future. John Wenzel, a Denver Post survivor, chronicles the success of the region’s cultural scene most recently with a front page story titled, “Artful Outlook: Denver’s reputation is on the rise as a must-see for cultural events.” As he describes, Denver’s major cultural venues have become favorite stops for the best of Broadway and the nation’s top art, historic and scientific exhibits.

From the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ hit “Hamilton,” to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s Dead Sea Scrolls, to the Denver Art Museum’s recent Van Gogh exhibit and hugely popular “Star Wars” costumes exhibit (I went twice), to the Denver Botanic Gardens’ crowd-attracting Chihuly sculptures, the area’s high quality cultural scene has added “Culture Town” to its already well-known reputation as a “Cow” and “Sports” town.

Wenzel points out that the Denver region’s civic leaders and voters generously support its cultural life. He cites the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) as a national model in regional cooperation, which has undergirded the cultural scene for 30 years with public funding for operations and public access. But, regional voters have also built sports stadiums and, recently, Denver voters approved fees and taxes for a massive rebuild of the Stock Show complex.

One factor of the region’s success is its display of a temperament in short supply in the country today. A broad group of civic leaders has been willing to look beyond parochialism, make compromises in crafting proposals and then unify behind a common strategy. By staying focused on the public benefits, voters have joined them and approved.

Gov. Roy Romer signed the legislation creating the District on July 1, 1987,
with supporters gathered around his desk. In Nov. 1988, 75 percent of Denver
metro voters in six counties authorized the collection of the sales tax, producing
about $14 million for distribution to regional cultural organizations starting in
1989. Today, more than $60 million will be distributed. | Photo: RMPBS

Read The Buzz: SCFD’s 30-Year Anniversary

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Republican D.C. Operatives May be Betting on a Losing Strategy

The Republican D.C. consultants pulled millions of dollars of TV advertising out of Mike Coffman’s race seat and gave it to Maria Elvira Salazar in Miami. Salazar is a broadcast reporter/anchor for Telemundo and Univision. She is attempting to hold a long-time Republican district that has been trending Democrat from Donna Shalala, the former Clinton cabinet member and former president of the University of Miami. Polls have Shalala up by about 5 points. Florida’s District 27 was represented by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a fierce anti-Castro Cuban, for 30 years. Obama and Clinton carried the district in 2012 and 2016, respectively.

Donna Shalala and Maria Elvira Salazar | CBS Miami

Mike Coffman: Trump’s First Midterm Casualty?

The Republican Party’s national political action committees have abandoned the
campaign for a Republican challenger in Miami. Both the leadership PAC of Speaker Paul Ryan and the official National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) have withdrawn millions in TV ads from the race as  “beyond reach” (see blog: Mike Coffman Coffman: Out of Reach?).

The latest New York Times/Siena College poll, which shows Coffman losing by 9 points, highlights what’s different this time from Coffman’s previous tough re-elections. Coffman has not had to deal with two years of Donald Trump. Nationally, Trump is 8 points under water. In Colorado’s 6th District, he’s 22 points down. The generic ballot test is 8 points toward Democrats nationally, but 14 points negative for Republicans here according to the Times poll.

Coffman, of course, tried to keep his distance from Trump and the Republican House leadership, but Trump’s nonstop blunderbuss simply takes all the space to politically maneuver. Reinforcing this, Democratic advertising in the 6th CD, and in most Colorado state races, ties Republican candidates to Trump as their main message. And, the issues Coffman’s and his Republican colleagues focused on the last two years were of no help. Repeal but not replace on health care, nothing on guns, not even a bump stock ban, and constant dithering on DACA and funding the wall gave Coffman a record to run from, not with in 2018.

Knowing that Colorado’s 6th CD could help put Nancy Pelosi back in the Speaker’s Chair, Democrats recruited a strong candidate in Jason Crow, and then loaded him with millions in financing. Even before the latest loss of funding, Crow had a $2 million advantage over Coffman with out-of-state money, which by the second week of October was a record $19.8 million in reported expenditures.

Coffman continues to run an aggressive campaign, and just received the Denver Post’s endorsement, which he has regularly won, but it appears this seat is going to contribute to the Democrats’ run for control of the House. If Coffman loses, the 6th CD will be a clear example that Donald J. Trump is a liability and not an asset for Republicans in many swing districts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Amendment A: Slavery or Not? – KOA Interview

The proposal to ban slavery is back on the ballot. In a KOA interview (Oct. 22) with April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz, we discussed what happened to the proposal in 2016, the last time it appeared, and the difference this year as a part of KOA’s ongoing 2018 election coverage.

The proposal revises the 19th century language in the Colorado State Constitution that says slavery and involuntary servitude are banned except as punishment for a crime by removing the exception language. Changes will not affect prison work or community service programs.

In 2016, the proposal lost by 16,000 votes in an election with 2.2 million voters. Advocates believe it lost partially because it was near the end of the Blue Book and the ballot – Amendment T, now it’s toward the beginning – Amendment A. More than 250,000 people who voted did not vote on Amendment T.

Most importantly, they believe the ballot language in 2016 was confusing. It described the purpose of the amendment as “concerning the removal of the exception to the prohibition of slavery.” This time it very clearly says: “there shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude” and then strikes the “except as a punishment for crime” with lines clearly marked through the removed language.

Amendment A was referred unanimously by the Legislature, and as yet, has no registered opposition. There will still be some no votes from people who don’t like to change the Constitution or care for the symbolism of the change. So, we shall see the level of the no vote, but it’s assumed in 2018, Amendment A banning slavery will pass.

Polls Two Weeks Out Keep U.S. Senate Republican

The latest round-up of polls by RealClearPolitics and 538 appear to put Senate control out of reach for Democrats, with a late surge of Republican solidarity, enthusiasm and President Trump’s non-stop campaigning, especially on “mobs and caravans.”

Trump is trying hard to defeat Jon Tester in Montana and pull Dean Heller and Martha McSally across in Nevada and Arizona, respectively.  North Dakota appears gone for the Democrats as does Tennessee. Missouri and Florida are toss-ups, but Democrats are defending incumbents.

Hence, if Democrats don’t win Nevada, Arizona and Tennessee and lose North Dakota, they lose a net seat. If Claire McCaskill loses in Missouri, they are down two seats.

Landess - 40 Years in News

Mike Landess, one of Colorado’s veteran news anchors, is about to take a sabbatical after 40 years. Landess joined Channel 9 in September 1977. Jimmy Carter was president, Dick Lamm the governor and Bill McNichols the mayor of Denver. About ten years after his start, I joined Channel 9 with Mike’s co-anchor, Ed Sardella.

Mike was a patient teacher for a new commentator. In those days, I did polls for the consortium of 9News, the Rocky Mountain News and KOA Radio.

As I wrote Mike after reading John Wenzel’s great piece, “Your interview highlights your adaption to the changing news and tech environment. Keep having fun.” Mike is not retiring, just moving to his next adventure.

Mike Landess and Ed Sardella (foreground), May 13, 1980,
May 27, 1980 | Denver Post via Getty Images
Mike Landess, July 18, 2016 | FOX31 Denver

Monday, October 22, 2018

Midterm Voting Starts, Record Turnout Expected

Midterm elections attract fewer voters than presidential elections, but with polls showing interest and enthusiasm up, and Colorado’s recent increase in registration, more than 2.5 million Coloradans may return their ballots by November 6.

In the 2014 midterm, which saw Democrats win a handful of House seats nationally but lose control of the U.S. Senate, Colorado had slightly more than 2 million voters participate. Statewide voters split their tickets, reelecting Democrat John Hickenlooper as governor by 68,000, but exchanging incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Udall for Republican Cory Gardner by 40,000 votes.

There are 3.2 million voters registered, 348,000 more since the 2014 midterm. If about a similar 71 percent turnout, 2.3 million voters will cast ballots. If the enthusiasm that has been registered in some polls is correct, the vote could reach 2.5 million.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Is Scott Tipton in Trouble?

The Denver Post reported on October 12 that Republican Congressman Scott Tipton is in a “toss-up” race according to FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s political rating website. Silver must see a massive blue wave that is going to help Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush. No polls have been published, and Tipton’s re-election track record is impressive.

Rep. Scott Tipton | Post Independent
Tipton has won against well-funded opponents by 15 percentage points or more. In 2016, while Donald Trump was winning the district by 196,000 votes, Tipton won by 204,000. The extra 8,000 voters were mostly in Pueblo County, which Trump won by 600 votes and Tipton carried by 9,000. He won his Western Slope base, Mesa County, by 66 percent.

I told Anna Staver, the Denver Post reporter, that I appreciated her story, but short of an extraordinary event, a PhD in sociology from Steamboat Springs, was going to be a hard sell in many parts of the district, but especially Pueblo.

Midterm Elections 2018 Results: What Policy Changes are Likely?

Date: 11/7/2018
Time: 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Location: Maglione Hall (5th Floor)

Ambassador Christopher Hill and Professor Floyd Ciruli reprise their popular post-election analyses of the November results and its domestic and international effects on November 7 in Maglione Hall.

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, immigration and alliance policies. How will the results align with international trends of populism, nationalism and authoritarianism?


Denver Press Club Hall of Fame

The Denver Press Club’s Hall of Fame awards and dinner is becoming Denver’s version of the White House Correspondents Dinner. A crowd of several hundred mingled with the region’s top media talent, managers and owners. This year’s honorees were all stars of the metro Denver’s legacy media. The Press Club in recent years has managed to attract television and radio to its historic focus on the print media. The expanded participation is a product of the new president, David Milstead (about to leave for a newspaper position in Toronto), his officers, and former Channel 4 and 9 president, Roger Ogden.

Mike Landess, a veteran TV journalist at 9KUSA, 7KMGH and now Channel 2/FOX 31, was the MC (he is about to leave on a sabbatical). The awardees were:

Jerry Bell – managing editor and voice of KOA, the region’s most powerful talk and sports radio, with station manager Kathy Walker and a contingent of iHeartMedia’s top local management in attendance.

Greg Moore, now at CU, recently completed 14 years editing the Denver Post, from the War in Iraq, to the great recession, through Colorado’s recovery and reputation as a political swing state. (He managed to leave just before Donald Trump became the nominee.) The Post was well represented with current and former employees.

John Temple, final editor publisher, and Janet Reeves, photo editor, were key actors in the late Rocky Mountain News – the paper many in Denver still mourn after its demise in 2009. Its loss marked the beginning of the long slide of print news in Denver, with the diminished Post holding on.

Anne Trujillo of Denver 7 has a 30-year plus, Emmy winning career in TV journalism.

Lowell Thomas, one of the nation’s earliest and best known radio and TV personalities, was honored. His career spanned 40 years, started in Victor, Colorado, and included a DU degree.

Competitors and partners of legacy media, mostly online, were also well-represented, including the Colorado Independent, Colorado Sun and Colorado Politics.

Hall of Fame inductees | Photo: Denver Press Club newsletter

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Colorado Takes on Redistricting – KOA Radio

The Colorado State Legislature referred two constitutional measures to the ballot: Amendment Y Congressional Redistricting and Amendment Z State Legislative Redistricting. KOA Radio anchors Marty Lenz and Ed Greene talked about Colorado’s ballot proposals. A few points made in the interview:
Marty Lenz and Ed Greene
  • Changes to the process of redistricting are very important to the politics of the state. It will influence which party controls the legislature, and in 2022, it could decide which party has the best chance to win Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District.
  • America has been concerned about the fairness of redistricting since its founding. Gerrymandering has been and still is controversial. In Colorado, out of the current seven congressional districts, only one appears competitive – the 6th CD of Mike Coffman – in the metro area. All the rest, Democrats DeGette, Polis and Perlmutter or Republicans Buck, Lamborn and Tipton have not been closely challenged in elections for most of their careers.
  • In the State Legislature, only 4 or 5 districts in the 35-person State Senate are considered competitive.
  • The main goal of the measures is to reduce partisanship in the drawing of new maps after the census and add competition between the parties as one of the criteria the new commissioners should consider. The two measures were put on the ballot by the leadership of both parties and the members of both houses. The major interest groups that advocate reform are on board and there doesn’t appear to be engaged opposition.
  • The proposals are complex, taking 22 pages of the War and Peace length, 65-page Blue Book. The three main goals are to reduce the partisanship among map drawers by allowing retired judges to pick people from applicants, with some people put on the panel by random draw. A non-partisan staff is supposed to assist.
  • Rules to increase transparency with open records, open meetings and lobbyists having to register were added.
  • Finally, after the normal criteria for drawing districts, such as equal population and voting rights, be as compact as reasonable, and preserve communities of interest (cities, communities, etc.) where possible, they will attempt to maximize competitive districts.
  • The whole effort ends with a Supreme Court review for possible “abuse of discretion” in applying the criteria.
  • Opponents complain the process is too complex, the criteria too vague and opaque, and it won’t really remove partisan preferences.
These two reapportionment measures are likely to pass.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Lock Him Up

Although President Trump likes the rally chant, “lock her up,” aimed at women he finds irritating, such as Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein, it’s Trump who may be locked up (figuratively) after November 6. History and polls confirm what Trump himself argues, this midterm election is all about Trump. And, if Democrats take the House, they will have a mandate to restrain what I call the “Authoritarian Presidency” (see blog Authoritarian Presidency).

Trump’s and the Republicans’ main election weakness is the desire of a plurality of voters to put up restraints on his presidency, not encourage it. Of course, that corresponds to decades of experience where it’s the out-of-power party that is most motivated to containing newly elected presidents, such as Ronald Reagan in 1982, Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010.

The second problem for Republican candidates is that the swing voters who have reservations about Trump aren’t in a revolt over policy, but his personality. In other words, citing accomplishments and the great economy is undermined by his relentless disruption of the status quo and need for attention expressed in endless commentary, interviews, announcements and tweets (72% say he Tweets too much, 58% of Republicans, Politico, 5-18)

Hence, the 2018 midterm is either going to be an extraordinary victory for Trump if the Democrats fail to take the House or the beginning of “locking him up.”

Q: Would you rather see the next Congress controlled by the Democrats, to act as a check on Trump, or controlled by the Republicans to support Trump’s agenda? (ABC News/Washington Post)

Q: [Respondents who disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job, N=499] Is your disapproval of Trump’s job so far driven more by the positions he takes on issues or more by his personality and leadership qualities? (CNN/SSRS)

See Politico: Poll: Trump’s tweets damage the nation

Friday, October 12, 2018

Ballot Clutter

The Blue Book just arrived. Voters are staring at 65 pages of small print and very legalistic language (plus more – 15 pages of material on judges).

Colorado leaders were hoping that the newly adopted Amendment 71 would constrain the flow of initiatives, but the ballot is as cluttered as it often has been in recent years with statutory and even hard to pass constitutional amendments, some of which, like TABOR in 1992 or Amendment 23 in 2000, will have a major revenue impact. This year’s revenue initiatives are in reverse of TABOR as they will commit Colorado to producing billions of dollars of new tax revenue every year for roads and schools.

The following are the 2018 proposals with some brief comments on the more talked about items.

The legislature placed several measures on the ballot, all constitutional amendments:
  • A – Repeals slavery language (second effort)
  • U – Lowers age for legislature from 25 to 21 (Do people like Millennials?)
  • W – Language on judicial retention
  • X – Hemp (statutory definition)
  • Y – Congressional redistricting (could have major impact on Colorado’s current delegation and new seat in 2022)
  • Z – State Legislature redistricting (changes in 2022 could affect party control)
Citizen initiatives (“C” for constitutional, “SS” for statutory)
  • 73 C – Taxes and education ($1.6 billion. A lot of union money in the campaign.)
  • 74 C – Takings (Oil and gas industry favor. But local government argue litigious and expensive for taxpayers.)
  • 75 C – Campaign finance (The Polis amendment. If billionaire runs, it offers a little help for underdog.)
  • 109 SS – Fix Our Damn roads (Does Jon Caldara get a win?)
  • 110 SS – Taxes for roads (Governor, Chambers and businesses all in with massive TV campaign. Holding at about 50% in private polls.)
  • 111 SS – Payday loans – 36% cap
  • 112 SS – Fracking limits (If it wins, expect major economic impact and possible backlash in next election cycle)

The Authoritarian Presidency

As Richard Nixon faced his Watergate accusers after his landslide 1972 re-election, critics had already established an intellectual theme, the Imperial Presidency, that appeared in scholarly journals, books and guest editorials. It urged action to tame his administration’s behavior.

After his resignation and pardon, the 1974 midterm elections brought 43 new Democrats to the House and three more to the Senate, setting the stage for new legislation to constrain the Nixon administration’s long described rogue behavior. The War Power Act was passed (before the resignation), along with dozens of laws related to elections and abuse of power, such as the Federal Elections Commission and Freedom of Information Act. To help strengthen congressional oversight, the Congressional Budget Office was created. The growth of presidential power was slowed.

Similar to the 1970s, an entire publishing industry has been established critiquing President Trump’s abuse of power and danger to democracy. Google the term “Trump and fascism” or “authoritarianism” and see dozens of citations to popular and academic references. The intellectual framework is in place to limit the Authoritarian Presidency. If the Democrats win the House in the 2018 midterm, it will reflect a desire by voters to put some side rails on the Trump presidency. Discussions have already begun about which House committees would be involved, what issues addressed and the timing and process to follow.

Reporter Jeff Barker in the Baltimore Sun, hometown paper of Elijah Cummings, described the 22-year congressional veteran who could replace retiring Republican Trey Gowdy as Chair of the powerful Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which was a scourge of the Obama administration under Darrell Issa and now works equally hard to protect Trump

Cummings, as a ranking minority member, has already requested subpoenas for subjects related to immigrant family separation, security clearances and patient protection, such as pre-existing conditions. A few of the topics discussed among staffs and members include:

One issue Cummings and the Democratic House leadership want to avoid is impeachment. As I told Barker:

“The risk of talking about impeachment is to scare off moderates, suburbanites, independents who would like a little relief from the level of bitter partisanship and the unbelievable gridlock,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado-based independent pollster. “Their problem is, Mueller may come in with true high crimes and misdemeanors.”

If Mueller presented impeachment-worthy evidence, Ciruli said, the Democrats could get dragged into a debate “in spite of their leadership.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Expert Panel Highlights Stapleton’s Challenge in Colorado

The gubernatorial debates have started. Will they make a difference? A DU panel of political experts described the challenge Republican Walker Stapleton has, highlighted by the recent poll that showed him 7 points behind Jared Polis.

The data shows Stapleton facing a gender and age gap in addition to being behind Polis by 18 points among unaffiliated voters, who are likely to turn out above their usual weak numbers due to their new engagement in the June party primary and surge in late registration (more than 2-to-1 over both parties).

  • Stapleton must deal with a 12-point gender gap. He’s up 5 points with men, but down 17 points with women.
  • Voters under 55 are a problem for Stapleton. He’s down 20 points, but only up 7 with 55 and over – a 13-point age gap.
DU panel (L to R): Floyd Ciruli, Dick Wadhams, Steve Welchert, Fofi Mendez and Sam Mamet (not pictured Jerry Bell) | Twitter post @JonMurray of Denver Post

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

SCFD’s 30-Year Anniversary

One of America’s most extraordinary cultural funding organizations, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), is celebrating its 30-year history in an event on November 28 at the McNichols Civic Center. As part of the celebration, Rocky Mountain PBS has created a program highlighting the founding of the SCFD.

Governor Roy Romer signed the legislation creating the District on July 1, 1987, with supporters gathered around his desk. In November 1988, 75 percent of Denver metro voters in six counties authorized the collection of the sales tax, producing about $14 million for distribution to regional cultural organizations starting in 1989. Today, more than $60 million will be distributed.

Picture from RMPBS
Ciruli Associates was the primary consultant for the creation of the SCFD. It managed the initial campaign in 1988 and the subsequent renewals in 1994, 2004 and 2016.

Thanks to RMPBS, the SCFD and the Citizens for Arts to Zoo (CATZ) (a civic organization that supports the SCFD) for their support of the 30-year celebration. Ciruli Associates provided the historical material for the RMPBS program.

Sex Abuse Scandal Causing Massive Damage to Church – Colorado Archdiocese on the Offensive

The reputation of the Catholic Church is suffering massive damage from the sex abuse scandal. Opinion of the church and its priests and bishops from both the public at-large and among Catholics has been harmed.

A new Economist/YouGov poll shows that 54 percent of the public now has an unfavorable view of the Catholic Church. Even 28 percent of Catholics now have a negative opinion of the Church.

When compared to the public’s views on churches in general, it’s easy to see how much lower the Catholic Church’s reputation compares.

In a series of questions, the poll identified the key elements of the scandal for the Church:
  • 33% of those raised Catholic no longer view themselves Catholic (in this survey 25% of public were raised Catholic, 18% call themselves Catholic)
  • 44% believe “many priests abused children and teenagers”; 30% of Catholics agree 
  • 30% believe many priests are abusing children now, 15% of Catholics agree
  • 44% say “most or all” bishops were aware of serial abuse, 43% of Catholics agree
  • 28% believe Church is now mostly trying to cover up serial abuse by priests rather than protecting children, 18% Catholics
The Denver Catholic Archdiocese was at least 10 years ahead of the U.S. Bishop’s Conference in dealing with the problem. In 1991, Archbishop, now Cardinal Stafford, started mandatory reporting of abuse to law enforcement authorities. Programs for victims were initiated. Archbishop Chaput continued and extended the programs assisting more than 50 victims of priests (who were deceased). Archbishop Aquila joined the effort to focus on preventing future abuse with a zero tolerance policy.

Nationally and locally, procedures in seminaries are being stepped up to ensure healthy priests and policies are enacted to ensure accountability and transparency in misconduct of cardinals, bishops and priests.

The archdiocese has been highlighting their response in a series of high-profile articles in the Denver Catholic (the old Register). The September 22-October 12 Denver Catholic described Pope Francis’ effort to deal with the scandal with a worldwide session of bishops next February. In a Q&A, Scott Browning, an attorney for the Archdioceses of Denver, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and St. Louis, provides a factual background on the history of cases in Denver and the current efforts to protect children and detect abuse. It’s worth reading.

The Buzz: Francis – Clean house
Pew: Confidence in Pope Francis down sharply in U.S.

Monday, October 8, 2018

DU Panel of Experts Offer Their 2018 Midterm Predictions

A panel of political experts assembled by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver’s Korbel School reviewed the range of state and national political topics in the 2018 midterm election.

Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center, leads a discussion with (from left) Republican campaign strategist Dick Wadhams, Democratic strategist Steve Welchert, ballot initiative manager Fofi Mendez, Colorado Municipal League Executive Director Sam Mamet and KOA Radio managing editor Jerry Bell | Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics
In general, the panel perceived 2018 as having advantages for Democrats, especially in Colorado. In an article describing the discussion, Colorado Politics reporter Joey Bunch wrote:

Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center, moderated the two-hour discussion on candidates and issues. He said polls and the decisions by both national parties to withdraw money from the 6th Congressional District race suggest Coffman, the five-term incumbent, also might be in deep trouble as a blue wave gathers.

As with Stapleton, national events could overtake his candidacy. He said the race would have little directly to do with Coffman or his challenger, Democrat Jason Crow, and more to do with Trump and the energy on the left.

“He’s no doubt in trouble, Mr. Coffman, but to say he’s going to lose, I still think is very difficult, because of the amazing ability he’s had to survive in difficult years.”

. . .
The panel convened by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at DU agreed that Stapleton and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a usually popular incumbent from Aurora, are running in a tough environment for Republicans this year.

Usually Republicans can separate themselves from the national party to appeal to local voters, but President Trump has kept the focus on him, making this midterm a referendum on his politics and antics.

Late Registration Helps Democrats, But Independents Rule

Corey Hutchins of the Colorado Independent reports that September’s voter registration figures benefit the Democrats more than two-to-one over Republicans, but unaffiliated voters beat them both combined (58% of total). As of September 30, unaffiliated voter are 229,000 registrants ahead of second-place Democrats with Republicans in third, about 28,000 voters further back.

The Trump era and Colorado’s recent growth has not been kind to Republicans. At the end of September 2014 when John Hickenlooper ran for reelection, Republicans were ahead of Democrats by 55,000 voters. That edge helped Cory Gardner beat Mark Udall by 39,000 votes.

In the last four years, unaffiliated have added 209,000 new registrants to their rolls, or 59 percent of the total 348,000 new voters. Democrats beat Republicans in new registrants by more than three-to-one over the last four years to gain their current 28,000-vote advantage.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Coffman: Out of Reach?

Politico reported on September 28 that the House Congressional Leadership Fund, the PAC controlled by Speaker Paul Ryan and the leadership, has labeled the Mike Coffman race as “out of reach” and moved $1 million in TV advertising to other more winnable races.

Five-term Congressman Mike Coffman’s district has drifted to the left in the three elections since 2012 when Barack Obama won the district by 18,000 while Coffman beat the Democrat by 7,000. More spectacular was his victory in 2016 by 31,000, while Hillary Clinton was winning his seat by 34,000.

But today, polls and national pundits believe his reelection is in serious trouble. The respected Cook Political Report now rates the race “lean Democrat” from “toss-up.”
  • The only current non-partisan published poll from the New York Times and Siena College reports Democrat Jason Crow has an 11-point advantage, 51 percent to 40 percent for Coffman.
  • Two new partisan polls have the district at 11 points for Democrat Jason Crow (from left-leaning PAC) and 1 point for Crow from a respected Republican firm.
  • Nate Silver’s eponymous 538 gives the Democrats an 82 percent chance of winning the district from a calculation that includes partisanship and voting history of the district, campaign funding and challenger’s experience.
  • The Democrats have been pouring money into the district, but are now so confident their House Majority PAC has withdrawn some funds to place elsewhere.
Coffman’s problem in 2018 is more than the district’s shifting partisanship. His image of independence and moderation was overwhelmed by congressional action of repeal but no replace health care, a series of fatal gun incidents with children (and his strong NRA support), Republican fumbling with DACA and border security, and mostly just Donald Trump occupying all the political space, taking away even the most talented congressperson’s room to maneuver.

Can Debates Get Stapleton in the Race? – KOA Radio Interview

Six televised gubernatorial debates are scheduled over the next four weeks beginning this Friday. A new poll shows Republican Walker Stapleton is behind by 7 points, which is about where the race was at the primary in late June.

Stapleton must change the dynamics of the race to have any chance to win. Voting will begin on October 15 as ballots are mailed to 3.2 million registered voters.

Oct. 5 – CBS4, KOA, CPT12 and Colorado Sun
Oct. 6 – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Colorado Mesa College and RMPBS
Oct. 8 – Pueblo Chieftain
Oct. 13 – Gazette and KOA
Oct. 17 – 9News and Fort Collins Coloradoan
Oct. 23 – The Denver Post and ABC7

These were among a number of observations offered during the Marty Lenz and Ed Greene interview.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Is Colorado Now Blue? A Panel of Political Experts Predict.

Has Colorado shifted from its swing state status of a more reliably Democratic state? The last three presidential elections, new registration figures and 2018 primary turnout has trended Democratic. But Colorado voters still split their tickets.

Voting 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 

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