Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Happy Holidays

Friends of the Crossley Center,

We are all looking to a very different 2021 – safer, calmer and brighter.

The 2020 election created a sense of purpose for the Crossley Center in organizing a program of informed conversations about the functioning of our democracy. And as our program and panels described, in spite of the chaos most of the election results were quickly reported and disputes amicably resolved. For the rest, I remain confident we are going to arrive at the constitutionally prescribed results.

The Crossley Center is planning a busy program next year with online events as we begin a national political transition and Colorado continues to address a myriad of important issues. We hope you continue to join us for the conversations and thank you for your support.

Here’s to a healthy and happy New Year.

Our last in-person DU program was March 3 in Maglione Hall. It’s been on Zoom ever since. Education has become very adaptable and resilient.

Trump Approval Drops in Contentious Election Fight

Nearly every indicator of the public mood has soured since the election, reflecting the public’s approval of Donald Trump’s continuing fight over the election result, the COVID-19 surge and Congress’ failure to act.

The Gallup poll just reported a comparison of public opinion from the first weeks of November to the final weeks of December. Direction of the country down; Trump and congressional job approvals down. Also, Joe Biden is receiving higher marks (65% approval) for his transition than Trump did four years ago (48% approval).

Will Trump’s increasingly desperate strategy damage Republicans’ chance in Georgia – the next big test?

President Donald Trump speaks at an "Operation Warp Speed
Vaccine Summit" at White House, Dec. 8, 2020 | Evan Vucci/AP

Monday, December 21, 2020

Video Now Available on the United Nations' Relevance in a Turbulent 21st Century

Hear a presentation from Professor Akiko Fukushima and Professor Tim Sisk discuss the U.S.’s recent antagonism to the UN’s purpose and if the U.S.’s reentry into supporting the UN’s goals and affairs help rejuvenate multilateralism and international cooperation. A video of the session follows.

The Dec. 9 program was supported by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver.


See blog post on the presentation:

Can the UN Gain Relevance in the Turbulent 21st Century?

Year-end Political Wrap-up: What’s Next ?- Video

The December 15 year-end conversation with Colorado political experts Republican Dick Wadhams and Democrat Steve Welchert is now available on video. With moderator Floyd Ciruli of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the 2020 election results and transition was deconstructed and the next round of federal and state Colorado 2022 elections reviewed.

The program was sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the University of Denver.


See blog post on the presentation:

Colorado Election: What’s Next? 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Colorado Election: What’s Next?

More than 100 friends of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research joined Colorado political professionals on December 15 in a Zoom discussion of the dominance of the state by the Democratic Party, the decline of the Republican Party and what could reverse the trend.

Democrat Steve Welchert made the case for Colorado as “officially blue, not purple, not periwinkle, not power blue.” But Republican Dick Wadhams said trends cycle and Republicans would be back if they significantly upped their game.

Although 2020 felt like the wildest election year in most people’s lifetimes, 2022 will be significant for politics in Colorado with the reelection of Senator Michael Bennet, Governor Jared Polis and all the state constitutional offices, many benefitting from the state’s voters being adverse to Donald Trump, who won’t be in office or on the ballot.

Republicans have not held statewide federal positions since early in the century, with the exception of Cory Gardner’s election in 2014. The party has been without a governor since Bill Owens’ term-limited service ended in 2004 and other statewide constitutional offices; i.e., attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, ended in the Democratic sweep of 2018.

A video of “Colorado Election: What’s next?” can be linked to at the end of this blog post.

This session ended the Election Central program for 2020, which tracked the national and state elections in a series of nine panels and presentations, beginning with an overview provided September 1 through the day after the November 3 election analysis and closing with final observations December 15. It included foreign policy panels on China and Japan, and programs on polling and forecasting, media coverage, and the best predictions by political experts.

The program was sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research; the Josef Korbel School of International Studies; on several sessions, the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver; and, of course, the University of Denver.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Can the UN Gain Relevance in the Turbulent 21st Century?

On December 9, professors from the U.S. and Japan reviewed the relevance of the United Nations after four years of the Trump administration’s antagonism to the organization’s purpose and specific agencies. The Zoom audience was assembled by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver

A recap of President Trump’s four UN speeches since September 2017 introduced the discussion. Trump’s rhetoric provided four years of relentless opposition to the UN’s purpose to promote peace, friendly relations, multilateral decision-making, human rights and relief.

In 2017, he debuted at the UN with an aggressive, hostile speech in which he threatened nuclear destruction of North Korea and labeled its leader “Rocket Man” in language that international media coverage compared to Khrushchev, Castro, Qaddafi and Chavez for its belligerent tone and substance. He used his subsequent three speeches to attack globalism, Iran, China, international borders, multilateralism and UN agencies, such as health (WHO), human rights and criminal justice.

Among the questions addressed by panel members Professor Tim Sisk of the Korbel School, Professor Akiko Fukushima of the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, and Professor Floyd Ciruli of the Crossley Center was: Can the U.S.’s reentry into supporting the UN’s goals and affairs help rejuvenate multilateralism and international cooperation? A video of the session follows. 


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Colorado Blue

The debate about Colorado being a two-party competitive presidential state is over for now. It moved from leaning Republican in presidential elections to Democratic in 2008 for Barack Obama’s big win (9 points). Even that performance was bested by Joe Biden’s crushing defeat of Donald Trump in 2020, 13 points, his second after a 5-point loss in 2016.

What’s unusual for Colorado and devastating for Republicans is the presidential losses are being accompanied by massive drops in voter support for other statewide Republican candidates and now local offices, such as county commissioners, sheriffs and clerks.

If Colorado is to be a two-party state, both national and local circumstances will need to change.

Biden Offers Hospitality, Pence Celebrates Court Case

Outgoing Vice President Joe Biden and Jill welcome Mike and Karen Pence to the Vice Presidential mansion on November 16, 2016 after a closer election than this year. On December 10, 2020, more than a month after the election, Pence celebrated the misbegotten Texas Court case to overturn the election at a rally in Georgia. On December 11, the Supreme Court said “no.”

Vice President Joe Biden (R) and Dr. Jill Biden (2nd R), stand with Vice
President-elect Mike Pence and his wife Karen at the Naval  Observatory in
Washington, DC, Nov. 16, 2016 | Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America
Vice President Mike Pence attends rally in support of Sen. David Perdue
(R-GA)  and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Savannah, Georgia, Dec. 4, 2020.
During the event, Pence celebrated a Texas lawsuit aiming to overturn the
election results and encouraged Georgia residents to get their absentee
ballot for the January 5 runoffs | Spencer Platt/Getty

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Gardner’s Woes Long Predicted

Polls in 2020 received criticism, but statewide polls in Colorado were consistent for more than a year – President Trump would lose and John Hickenlooper was a very strong candidate against Republican incumbent Cory Gardner. Indeed, Trump lost by 13 points and Gardner by 9.

Trump Weight

A part of that loss was a reflection of Gardner being associated with an unpopular national ticket. President Trump lost Colorado by 5 points in 2016, and instead of expanding his reach, he focused on a conservative Republican base. In Colorado, that is about 40 percent of the electorate. Hence, he added another eight points to his loss.

Colorado Changed

In addition, the 2018 midterm showed the state had become more unaffiliated and bluer in the intervening years as it awarded Democrats across the state and in particular counties, 10 percent wins. Trump made a bad situation worse.

Hickenlooper Resilient

Finally, Hickenlooper began the race in the late summer with a ten point lead and near universal name identification, mostly positive, even after a misbegotten presidential race. During the senate race, he was able to withstand a massive advertising attack on his reputation and character, yet not panic and stay mostly on message.

Gardner Support Drops

As the above chart shows, among major counties, Gardner’s support dropped 4 to 8 points between his 2014 close victory over Mark Udall and his 2020 9-point loss to Hickenlooper. Six years ago, he ran close in the Denver suburbs of Arapahoe and Jefferson, but this year, his support dropped 8 and 5 points, respectively, a major loss that added to the huge Democratic vote in Denver and Boulder doomed him. But even in Republican strongholds of El Paso and Douglas, he lost support (-8 and -6 points, respectively). Support mostly held in Mesa and Weld counties and he managed to gain support in Pueblo.

Power is Shifting Among Colorado Congressional Delegation

Although the only competitive congressional election in 2020 was the Third Congressional District’s Boebert-Mitsch Bush contest, power and position among the entire seven-member delegation is shifting as the session begins on January 3, 2021.


On the Republican side, Lauren Boebert is now its most high-profile member and has a statewide constituency that could make her a strong primary candidate. Her out-of-nowhere win reminds every incumbent that they’re vulnerable to the Trump voter. But being a political power due to the Trump base also makes her unelectable statewide, at least in 2022.

Ken Buck is likely ending his term as state party chair, a thankless job in a terrible year. But at least his seat is safe as is Doug Lamborn’s, who should the Republicans win the House in 2022 will be the senior member of the Colorado Republican delegation. History suggests they will win the majority. It will require picking up only 6 seats (222 D to 212 R), which is relatively easy for the non-presidential party in the first midterm. The average pick up since the 1940s in midterm elections has been more than 20 seats.


Diana DeGette is a favorite of the current speakers, but Ms. Pelosi could lose her speakership, and in any event, she is unlikely to serve another term (voluntary term-limit pledge). Does DeGette move on? It’s not fun to be in the minority, especially after your friend and mentor retires.

Joe Neguse is the friend of a future speaker or minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, the Democrat’s Caucus Chair. He is now a ranking member of the House leadership having been just elected as co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, making him the eighth position in House leadership. Another rising Democrat is Jason Crow, representing the powerful Denver South suburbs and being on the House impeachment team. Ed Perlmutter is well liked, in a safe seat and is likely to be in the House a long time.


Democrats rule Colorado in 2020 and are unlikely to be seriously challenged in 2022, but there are changes coming. Who replaces DeGette if she retires? Does Boebert represent the new Republican Party, even without Trump as president? Who do the Democrats run against her? Where will the new Colorado redistricting committee draw the lines for the state’s new district? How will it change the partisan make-up of all eight districts? What candidates will battle for the new congressional district?

Monday, December 14, 2020

Election Central – Colorado: Blue or Not?

Is Colorado Still Competitive? What’s Next?

Join the dialogue for the last of the Election Central programs to examine what happens next in Colorado’s politics. The following are a few of the recent articles on the topic and on prospects for Colorado in 2022.

Professor Floyd Ciruli and a panel of Colorado political professionals will analyze the future of the two parties and the next series of elections.

  • Dick Wadhams – former Republican Chair, consultant, CBS4 commentator and Denver Post columnist
  • Steve Welchert – Veteran consultant to Democratic campaigns and local and statewide ballot issues, political commentator and analyst


3:00 PM MT

December 15, 2020


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Election Central – Colorado: Blue or Not? – Dec. 15

Is Colorado Still Competitive? Will 2022 Produce a Backlash?

Join Colorado’s election experts for the last of the Election Central programs to examine what happens next in Colorado.

Is Colorado still a politically competitive state?

  • Will 2022 be a backlash year that Republicans can stage a comeback?
  • How did nine of the eleven 2020 ballot issues pass?
  • Does the new congressional seat change the political landscape?

Professor Floyd Ciruli and the panel will analyze the future of the two parties and the next series of elections.

  • Dick Wadhams – former Republican Chair, consultant, CBS4 commentator and Denver Post columnist
  • Steve Welchert – Veteran consultant to Democratic campaigns and local and statewide ballot issues, political commentator and analyst


3:00 PM MT

December 15, 2020



Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Early Poll Has Democrats in Lead in Georgia Primary

A new poll shows Democrats ahead in Georgia’s Senate races. So what you say? That’s what pre-election polls said in Iowa, Maine and North Carolina.

That’s true. But, they also got the races right in Colorado, Arizona and Montana, and by Election Day, the polls narrowed or varied enough in many contested states to be declared toss-ups. Most importantly, for the next three weeks Georgia will be a political story in the country, the stakes are high and there will be multiple polls to consider. So, let’s start.

The pollster is SurveyUSA, which conducted a couple of Colorado polls during the U.S. Senate race for 9KUSA and Colorado Politics. They captured the Hickenlooper victory close to the June 30 primary and were in alignment with other polls and the results in the November 3 general election.

This will likely be a more difficult electorate to estimate in terms of turnout. It’s unique – a double primary – after a polarizing close presidential race and for control of the U.S. Senate. Plus, there is a defiant President railing about being cheated by Georgia election officials. The assumption is that Democrats start behind. Except for Joe Biden’s 11,000-vote win, most statewide Democrats struggle with rural and working class voters and not getting the needed margins of Hispanic voters or exceptional Black turnout.

The poll results from SurveyUSA (583 LV, 11-30-20) are: Jon Ossoff (D) 50% to David Perdue (R) 48% and Raphael Warnock (D) 52% to Kelly Loeffler (R) 45% (SurveyUSA).

The main conclusions from the poll:

  • Loeffler is running weaker than Perdue
  • Warnock is running better with moderates and women than Ossoff
  • The Ossoff vs. Perdue race is close, but Ossoff polled better than Perdue in the run up election, yet ran 86,000 votes behind him on Nov. 3

Friday, December 4, 2020

Market Crosses 30000 in year of Historic Disruption

The Dow Jones stock average has just reached a milestone after one of the most tumultuous years in market history. On November 24, 2020, three weeks after the defeat of President Donald Trump’s reelection became widely accepted, the market managed to cross the 30000 level for a year-to-date gain of nearly 5 percent, which seems modest, but reflects an incredible rollercoaster since it hit 29000 on January 15, 2020 (see chart below).

President Trump, of course, expected to ride the extraordinary market to reelection. He bragged about the market incessantly; told voters at rallies that “like him or hate him” the market is up and their IRA’s required reelecting him; and offered to presidential chronicler Bob Woodward, “how about that market?” when confronted with the impact of the pandemic, the deaths and the disruption on his prospects. Unfortunately for the President, the market ride was not smooth and his handling of COVID-19 – the primary disrupter – was judged mostly unsatisfactory.

Trump used the market from his inauguration in January 20, 2017 to January 15, 2020 as his main metric of success. It rose 9000 points, or 45 percent. The ascent continued in early 2020 to a high of 29551 on February 12 when the news of the severity of the virus led to two of the greatest one-day declines in history. The circuit breakers went off on March 12 and 16 with a combined 5349 points of loss as the market plunged to its low for the year of 18591 on March 23.

Unfortunately for Trump, the market gave back the entire three-year gain and began what was seen as a bear market (20% drop after an 11-year bull market run) and the start of an assumed recession with unemployment equal to or greater than the Great Recession 2008 and 2009 (14.7% and still at 6.9%).

Surprisingly, in spite of the economic disruption with deaths of COVID-19 over 270,000; civic disorder after a series of high-profile cases of police-civilian violence; and a hostile, hard-fought presidential campaign, the market plowed ahead, mostly driven by the shift to technology, largely adapting to the new pandemic economy (NASDAQ up 39% YTD), low interest rates and trillions of dollars from the Federal Reserve and Congress.

Since November 2 (Monday), the DOW has risen 13 percent, from 26501 to 30046 on news of a successful election, a transition starting, multiple positive tests of vaccines and a signal of stability in financial management with the appointment of Fed Chair Janet Yellen to be Biden’s Treasury Secretary.

Read blogs:

Hellish Bad Quarter – Bear Market Starts and Recession and Record Unemployment on the Way

Crashes of 1987 and 2020 – Two Black Mondays

Dow Fires Past 29000, Yet Trump Struggles

Trump Rally Breaks 20000 in Near Record Speed

Nov. 20 – Trump Election Resistance Suffers Major Blow

It is not surprising that Rudy Giuliani, acting as President Trump’s lead attorney, was responsible for the event that put the failure of Trump’s legal strategy on the front page and in cable networks’ lead stories. It was encapsulated in one of the most bizarre and embarrassing press conferences in recent times. In quick succession highlighting the futility of the President’s strategy, a recount in Georgia was completed and Georgia and Michigan certified the results. Shortly after, November 23, the GSA, which had refused to authorize funding for the transition, relented, and Trump then ordered agency and White House cooperation. However, a week later, Trump continued to label the election a “massive fraud” and a winnable fight.

It became most clear that the Trump-Giuliani strategy was doomed when the Wall Street Journal’s board editorial turned against it in the weekend edition (Nov. 21-22). Peggy Noonan and Gerald Seib, the paper’s main established editorialists, then weighed in that he should take his successes and stop the damage to democracy and the Republican Party.

The media judgement was aligned with public opinion. Most voters (59%) believed the election had been “run and administered well” and that their vote had been “correctly counted” (88%). Joe Biden was getting positive ratings for his conduct twice as high as Donald Trump (62% to 31%) (Pew 2020).

Trump being Trump, of course, surrendered in substance when he ordered cooperation, but fought on rhetorically on Twitter and in the media. One place the technique worked was his mostly online legal defense fund, which raised $170 million since the election.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

AMLO Hasn’t Congratulated Biden

Third Informative Assembly,"
July 30, 2006 | Wikipedia photo
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), President Donald Trump’s authoritarian populist counterpart in Mexico, has just highlighted his strident tone to governing with his refusal to congratulate Joe Biden. It is not surprising. He has governed with a stubborn, confrontational tone. Under his leadership, the virus has surged, the economy tanked and crime spread nationwide. He only has one term, but the relationship with the U.S. in the next four years could be painful. 

His attitude and governing styles was seen in his close election in 2006. It was a very controversial election to replace the first non-PRI candidate, Vicente Fox, with his preferred candidate, Felipe Calderón, AMLO protested the close vote of about 250,000 out of 41 million cast by declaring himself “Legitimate President.” He then led months of protests around the country, but especially in Mexico City and the central square, The Zócalo, and the main boulevard, Paseo de la Reforma. The country was in a governing crisis up to the December 1 inauguration of Calderón. Most observers believe it lingered as a blow to functioning of Mexico’s newly established democracy and has never fully recovered. A lesson for America’s current election drama.

"Third Informative Assembly" called by
Andrés Manuel López Obrador,
July 30, 2006 | Wikipedia photo

Read blogs:

López Obrador Will Win and Mexico Will Lose

López Obrador Comes to D.C. to Celebrate NATFA II - Alone

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The United Nations: Japan and U.S. in the Suga, Biden Era

The United Nations was sidelined for the U.S. the last four years by the America First policy. On December 9, two experts on the United Nations will discuss its importance in foreign policy and the opportunities and challenges the new administrations in Japan and the U.S. face to use the agency effectively.

Professor Tim Sisk of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and director of the Institute of Comparative and Regional Studies will be joined by Professor Akiko Fukushima, a Senior Fellow of the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, to discuss their latest work as it relates to the UN’s potential contribution to addressing a host of global problems. Professor Floyd Ciruli will moderate the discussion.

The program is supported by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver.


2:00 PM MT

December 9, 2020


From Arapahoe to Wyoming Border, Republican Commissioners are Becoming Rare

Demographic and partisan changes and four years of Donald J. Trump have left only a handful of Republican county commissioners from the Arapahoe County line to the Wyoming border. In this last election, Republicans lost control of the Arapahoe County board and have no members on the Larimer or Jefferson counties’ boards. Only Weld County remains a Republican stronghold.

In Arapahoe County, the loss of Republican Commissioner Kathleen Conti and near loss of Jeff Baker (he held on by slightly more than 100 votes on November 20) will cost the Republicans control of the board with only Baker and near term-limited Nancy Sharpe. Jefferson County’s board has been shifting Democratic in recent years, but today, there are no Republican members. Possibly the most dramatic 2020 shift was in Larimer County where a board controlled by Republicans since the late 1990s is now controlled by Democrats, with a majority of women.

Denver and Broomfield city councils are nominally nonpartisan, but have detectible leans. 

Video Now Available on Foreign Policy Impact of Election: U.S. and Japan

Hear Japan’s leading political analyst and television commentator, Professor Toshihiro Nakayama, describe the U.S. election night results from Japan’s perspective. He was joined in the conversation on the election’s impact on U.S.’s and Japan’s foreign policy by former Ambassador Christopher Hill.

The Nov. 11 program was supported by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver.


As President-elect Joe Biden selects his foreign policy team, hear an analysis of the challenges and opportunities for a new policy in Asia.

See blogs:

Japanese TV Political Analyst Compares 2016 and 2020 Election Nights

President-elect Biden Warns China in First Talk with New Japanese Prime Minister 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Colorado Politics: Is Michael Bennet Safe or is 2022 an Upset Year?

Senators Mark Udall (R) and Michael Bennet (C) stand with
then Gov. John Hickenlooper during event at State Capitol,
Denver, March 14, 2014 | Brennan Linsley/AP
Is Colorado a safe state for Democrats or will 2022 be like Barack Obama’s and Donald Trump’s first midterms – a backlash? It was in 2010 when the Democrats lost the House of Representatives and 2018 when it swung back to them. 

Michal Bennet is up for his second reelection in 2022, which could be a difficult year for Democrats since the Senate has historically resisted national party-wide trends, but it has become much more susceptible in recent times. The general view is that Colorado has shifted “blue” in the last half decade; it will be safe for Bennet, even without the highly unpopular Donald Trump on the ballot. And, early polling will help set the stage, but just examining the recent history of federal races in Colorado highlights the Democratic advantage, except for Cory Gardner’s close 2014 race. Since 2004, they have won them all.

Bennet, as of yet, has not been a big vote-getter, winning initially in 2010 by 2 points and by only 4 in a Democratic presidential year in 2016 against what many saw as a weak Republican candidate. But what constitutes the Republican bench in 2020? Will the Republicans follow the Democrats’ model and try to find and nominate candidates for the general election ? Or, will their primary produce a narrow factional leader unacceptable to the wider electorate?

Read The Buzz: Colorado Politics: Dems Circle Overhead, Eyeing Colorado’s Cory Gardner as Their Prey

Colorado: A Model Voting System – One of the Nation’s Highest Turnouts

Colorado’s mail-back voting system, established in 2013, has now successfully managed four federal elections starting in 2014, including two presidential elections in 2016 and 2020, with record turnout.

Colorado is historically among a handful of states with the highest level of voter turnout. Often the same states are at or near the top – Minnesota at 80 percent of its eligible population voting, Maine was 79 percent and Colorado 76 percent. Many of the worst turnout states are regularly at the bottom, such as West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas (source: U.S. Elections Project).

Colorado’s 3.3 million votes was a half a million vote increase since the last presidential election. Democratic registrants exceeded Republicans by 81,000, but unaffiliated voters dominated both parties by more than 200,000.

The 86 percent of registered voters participating in the 2020 Colorado election, joined a national record turnout of 159 million counted on November 20. That represents a 20 million vote increase since the 139 million voted in 2016.

The Trump campaign added nearly 11 million more voters than he received in 2016, but Biden exceeded that with 14 million from a nearly 3 million vote higher base, leading to his 6 million popular vote advantage (more than 5 million votes went to third parties in 2016).

Monday, November 23, 2020

Trump and Boebert Win the Third CD

Lauren Boebert attended the White House nomination speech of President Trump and his recent D.C. rally to fight what Trump fans believe is the great election steal.

Lauren Boebert speaks at "Million MAGA March" in 
Washington D.C., Nov. 14, 2020 | YouTube screenshot

BOEBERT: That’s why we are here today. To sand for the constitution! To stand for freedom! To stand for President Donald J. Trump and the American Dream! God bless you all, thank you all so much for being out here today, for standing with President Trump as he has helped so many people like me in their races. How he has helped so many people like you and keeping the American Dream alive. This is about our children, and our children’s children and generations to come!

Her loyalty to Trump is reflected in the loyalty of Trump voters to her. Their totals in the Third Congressional District nearly match – if you voted for Trump, you voted for Boebert.

Record Turnout: Unaffiliated Dominant Voter Bloc

Unaffiliated voters, who already is the largest group among registered voters, have upped their turnout rate and were the largest bloc of voters on Election Day. They casted 261,000 more votes than Democrats and had 342,000 more identifiers than Republicans.

Colorado Republicans face a significant challenge with unaffiliated voters to win statewide. They will need more than half to support them, and as the November 3rd results reflect, they are falling far short of that goal. Republicans lost both statewide federal races with President Trump receiving 42 percent vs. Joe Biden’s 55 percent and Senator Cory Gardner received 44 percent to John Hickenlooper’s 53.5 percent.

If approximately 95 percent of party identifiers remain loyal, Republicans must win more than half of the unaffiliated votes, or about 53 percent, or more than 683,000 unaffiliated voters. In fact, the final result between Gardner and John Hickenlooper showed Gardner received only 41 percent of the unaffiliated and Trump about 36 percent. Republicans cannot win statewide in Colorado without addressing the new political reality.

Sen. Cory Gardner speaks during a campaign rally for
President Trump, Feb. 20, 2020 | Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Democrats Hoped for a Sweep, But Republicans Held and Expanded Seats Below Trump

Polls had raised Democrats expectations that, along with a “Biden win,” they could achieve a “blue wave,” producing a Senate majority by winning three seats, adding House members and taking control of several state legislatures that will conduct redistricting in 2021. Except for Joe Biden making President-elect, the wave was barely a ripple.

In the Senate, two seats were added in Arizona and Colorado, but an Alabama incumbent was defeated. And, a number of seats where Democrats had strong early polling and huge war chests were lost, including in Iowa, Maine and North Carolina. Due to runoffs, two seats in Georgia will be decided on January 5, 2021, but it is very difficult to win one, much less the two needed for Senate control.

Nancy Pelosi suffered a House defeat that snuck up on its optimistic political operatives and pollsters. The nationwide generic polls were plus 7 on Election Day, the same as November 2018 when Democrats swept suburban districts and won the House.

The final national polls had the race with Biden at 51 percent, which is what he received, and Trump at 44 percent. He closed to 47 percent with his late campaign rallies attracting a surge of voters, many of whom had been undecided earlier. They weren’t enough to save Trump in the six states he lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016 (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), but analysts and pollsters believe they helped in the five battleground states he carried at the senate, congressional and state level. Also, Republican and 2016 Trump voters who switched to Biden returned to the party for lower level races.

Democrats almost lost control of the House and maintaining discipline will be much more difficult with a narrow margin (see chart above). The defeat immediately led to finger-pointing and public friction among party moderates and liberal activists. Democrats know the danger of the first midterm election in a new presidency. Pelosi lost her majority in 2010 to the first-term Obama backlash from the Tea Party and over health care reform.

The success of Republicans extended to the state legislators Democrats had targeted for pick-ups to get more competitive in 2021 state-level redistricting after the census data is delivered. Democrats raised $100 million to ride the blue wave to win a host of legislative chambers (Republicans had $70 million). As of the final counting, they haven’t won a single chamber after targeting chambers in a host of states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Hickenlooper: Lucky or Colorado’s Most Formidable Politician or Both?

A debate on John Hickenlooper’s extraordinary career was launched when I observed he had some great luck in his long run that has propelled him from a restaurant owner to the U.S. Senate, especially when the next step wasn’t clear. As he neared the end of his term as Denver mayor, Governor Bill Ritter dropped out of running for a second term, handing it to Hickenlooper without a primary, who then faced a self-destructing Republican Party with Tom Tancredo, an independent, and Dan Maes, an unknown Republican nominee. After a failed and mostly ignored run for president, Hickenlooper was handed the frontrunner position in the Senate nomination and election in a very good Democratic year.

Hickenlooper has demonstrated his resilience and the strength of his Colorado reputation in the face of a multi-million dollar onslaught of attack advertising. And, he showed persistence on staying with his strategy of low engagement with Cory Gardner and focusing on health care with attacks on Gardner’s and Trump’s relationship. But 2020 will be seen as the year of the anti-Trump moderate in Colorado, and Hickenlooper was out of work at the right time in the right place.

His friend, Alan Salazar, says: “I think you make your luck.” Hickenlooper’s exceptional run since 2003 has both luck and talent. And regardless if mostly luck or talent, John Hickenlooper is likely to be representing Colorado for a very long time.

Read: John Hickenlooper’s Lucky Streak Continues

Newly elected to Colorado Senate, John Hickenlooper |
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

National Interest, Out-of-State Money and a Mixed Message

Of the eleven ballot issues, Colorado voters passed nearly all, and the result will be seen as more on the liberal than conservative side. But, the result was mixed. In two votes, more conservative fiscal forces won (lower the income tax and putting state fees under TABOR). But, the election also raised taxes on nicotine and homeowners with the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment. Also, paid leave will be a major expense for both workers and employers.

Some of the major trends were:

  • COVID-19 did not appear a deterrent to getting many initiatives on the ballot. Historically, eleven proposals make up a full ballot.
  • There were several significant out-of-state interest groups involved in Colorado ballot campaigns (e.g., Popular Vote, Abortion Limits, Paid Leave)
  • Significant out-of-state money flowed to several proposals
  • 2020 was a good year for the more liberal side of issues, but some close votes on both sides (Popular Vote 52%, Gray Wolves 51, Fees 52%)
  • Colorado likes sin taxes (Nicotine 67%) and gaming (Gaming Limits 60%) (if limited to 3 cities)
  • 2020 was a good year for “paid leave” (58%). It could argue it was relevant to both health care and economic help for workers.
  • The Governor’s support was mostly positive. He took 5 positions and won 4.
  • Gallagher repeal was a success for local government support (fire fighters) combined with both liberal- and business-desired tax reforms. It represents a small step in untying Colorado’s fiscal knot.
  • As TABOR in 1992 demonstrated, direct democracy can have major impact on state’s operations and finances

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Biden Wins Major Victory

President Trump has had a tumultuous presidency. He won in 2016 with only 46 percent of the popular vote; never had a honeymoon, in fact, his approval seldom reached 45 percent during the first term; and was impeached but not convicted. And finally, he joined only four presidents who lost second term runs in the last 100 years – Hubert Hoover (1932), Gerald Ford (1976), Jimmy Carter (1980) and George H.W. Bush (1992).

His team knew the re-election would be difficult, primarily because he never expanded his support. Consequently, early on they decided to ignore the popular vote and rather target a handful of states that could deliver a 2016-type Electoral College majority. Early in the year, he had a booming economy with a powerful online presence and a rich war chest.

Joe Biden’s victory was a significant defeat of an incumbent who was willing to use every instrument of the government to support his reelection and to campaign nonstop the last few weeks with his well-rehearsed message of “us against them.”

Biden doubled Hillary Clinton’s popular vote win from 2.9 million to 5.8 million and still counting. His electoral vote will equal Trump’s in 2016 (306), and most importantly, he defeated Trump in 6 of the 11 battleground states, whereas Clinton carried only one – Nevada. Biden carried Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Former President Obama called Biden’s electoral vote victory “decisive.” Trump called it a “massive landslide” in 2016. It was larger than George W. Bush’s in 2000 and 2004, Jimmy Carter’s (1976), Richard Nixon’s (1968) and John F. Kennedy’s (1960).

Due to strengthened partisanship and polarization, landslides are more rare, but Biden’s nearly 6 million popular vote will exceed every candidate since 1996 (Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole), except for Obama in his first win who generated more than 9.5 million votes. Even winning a majority of the popular vote is an achievement. Bill Clinton didn’t, nor George W. Bush in his first election, nor, of course, Donald Trump in his.

Biden prevailed in spite of a significant Republican advantage with the Electoral College. And although the President added 10 million votes since 2016, his percentage only went up slightly because Biden added nearly 13 million and overall turnout went up nearly 15 million votes. By 51 to 47 percent, a record 160 million voters opted for a change of government after 4 years of Donald J. Trump and brought along a 74 vote Electoral College advantage.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

President-elect Biden Warns China in First Talk with New Japanese Prime Minister

In his first diplomatic conversation with the new Japanese Prime Minister, President-elect Joe Biden committed the U.S. to Japan’s defense of its disputed islands with China. It was a clear and early warning to China that a new team is in charge. As a part of the transition, Biden spoke to his counterparts in Japan, South Korea and Australia, establishing relationships and setting priorities.

The Japanese government recently underwent its own significant transition as record-serving (8 years) Prime Minister Shinzō Abe resigned on October 10 and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party selected Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga.

The Associated Press (11-13-20) reported Biden and Suga hit the key diplomatic points, considerably different than reported phone calls with foreign leaders from President Trump early in his term. It was clear Biden had been well briefed on the issues.

  • Importance of U.S.-Japan alliance and how to strengthen it
  • Focus on climate change, promote democracy, and work for a prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific region with like-minded countries that share concerns about China
  • Shared view that China’s influence and North Korea’s nuclear trust are prime challenges. Most importantly, he offered a strong U.S. commitment to support Japan’s territorial rights to islands disputed with China.

Suga doesn’t have much foreign policy experience, but has been assisting Abe and his agenda for many years. Biden is not known for his relationship with Asia and Japan beyond his broad foreign policy experiences in the Senate and White House. So, the initial conversation was closely examined. Japan’s foreign policy senior officials were pleased with the alignment of values. Also, they believe Biden wanted to send a message of reassurance to other allies and a warning to potential adversaries that existing treaties are lines not to be crossed.

U.S. Adds 50,000 COVID-19 Fatalities in 30 Days; Now Above 250,000

More than 1.3 million people have succumbed to the COVID-19 virus worldwide in 2020 as America adds 50,000 fatalities since mid-September to exceed 250,000.

Meanwhile, much of the U.S. governments’ responses are paralyzed due to President Trump’s refusal to begin a transition and his political opposition to behavior solutions, such as masks and social distancing.

The surge that is engulfing most U.S. states is being met with a variety of educational efforts and limited restrictions. Most governors, recognizing the hardship of lockdowns with no stimulus funding on the horizon, are doing everything possible to avoid economic damage beyond what is already being caused.

Most of Europe is moving back into more restrictions. Italy reports record hospitalizations, higher than its April peak. Even Mexico, prone to minimum restrictions, has now locked down Mexico City.

Harry Lewis – The Breakfast Meeting Man

Harry Lewis attended thousands of breakfast meetings in his adult life. Even after he mostly retired from brokerage, it’s where he conducted his meetings to cajole, plan, manage, help finance and just generally encourage a myriad of civic projects. Harry was always going to board meetings from the Nature History Museum (precursor of the Museum of Nature and Science), to the Denver Chamber, to the Boettcher Foundation. He worked on the new airport, the Convention Center, and was a prime mover on the creation and planning of the reuse of Stapleton Airport. What a legacy.

I had a long series of always friendly and productive breakfasts with Harry throughout his years of support for the Scientific and Culture Facilities District (SCFD), one of the region’s most valuable civic investments. Harry, with his talent for conducting a meeting, helped guide the political action committee, Citizens for Arts to Zoo (CATZ), that supports the SCFD, especially its periodic elections from 1992 until he retired in 2012 – a twenty-year tour of leadership that involved two renewal elections, which secured the district as a respected and voter-favored institution in Denver.

Harry just passed away, but his legacy, from a host of projects along with warm remembrances of hundreds of friends and appreciative colleagues, is enduring.

Harry Lewis

Monday, November 16, 2020

Japanese TV Political Analyst Compares 2016 and 2020 Election Nights

“It’s not the chaos, but the dark and hostile tone.”

Toshihiro Nakayama, one of Japan’s most famous TV political commentators, has covered America’s two Donald Trump elections. In 2016, in surprise, he stopped commentary for more than a minute when the race was called for Trump – a major pause for national television.

Wolf Blitzer on Election Night 2016 | CNN screenshot

His discussion of election night 2020 at a recent Korbel School Zoom forum was illuminating. A guest of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at DU, Toshi Zoomed in from Japan.

  • The Japanese election night audience and commentators expected Trump to lose after mishandling the coronavirus and the normal election intelligence; i.e., polls, forecasts, etc., but the closeness, especially early in the evening, was a surprise.
  • But the bigger difference with 2016 was not the chaos of the election because American democracy is chaotic, but the dark and hostile tone – the uncivil language; the conspiratorial and aggressive social media, tweets and retweets; the bullying first debate; and the hostile rhetoric at rallies.
  • If you had a child watching in 2008, it was a celebration of democracy and America’s social progress. You wanted them to miss 2020.

John King on Election Night 2020 | CNN screenshot

Friday, November 13, 2020

Hong Kong’s Pollster, Robert Chung, President-elect of WAPOR

Robert Chung
The World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) has just elected Robert Chung, the independent pollster of Hong Kong, for its Vice President/President-elect.

Robert was detained, but released last summer by Hong Kong authorities on one of their latest crackdowns. Hopefully, the solidarity of the world polling profession will offer some support for him and his colleagues. Independent, credible polling is critical to democratic pluralism and rule of law.


2020 WAPOR Election Results

Democracy is Dead in Hong Kong – Yes 61%

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Election Central – Foreign Policy Impact: U.S. and Japan – Nov. 11

On November 11, join the conversation of the U.S. election results, the recent change in government in Japan, and their foreign policy impacts on the U.S.-Japanese alliance and policy in the Indo-Pacific region.

Returning is frequent Korbel School speaker, Ambassador Christopher Hill, now at Columbia University, joined by Japanese political and election television commentator, Professor Toshihiro Nakayama of Keio University in Tokyo. Crossley Center Pollster and Professor Floyd Ciruli will review the latest election results and moderate the discussion.

The program is supported by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver.


2:00 PM MT

November 11, 2020


Post-Election Day Video Now Available

The Nov. 4th post-Election Day video on “What Happened? Why? What’s Next?” is now ready for viewing. On Nov. 4th, Korbel School Dean Fritz Mayer and Pollster and Professor Floyd Ciruli reviewed the results, the final polling and the political implications.  

The program was sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Scrivner Institute of Public Policy.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Colorado is Not a Swing State and Pueblo is Not a Democratic Stronghold

The 2020 election results are putting some old verities to rest, but opening up new insights.

Colorado may be at its peak Democratic moment in history. It’s not because of its strength of voter registration, which is dominated by unaffiliated registrants, but voter performances. Not since the FDR sweep of 1936 has Colorado controlled more top positions – from the governor, to the senate, through Colorado’s statewide constitutional offices, to the two houses of the legislature.

In a recap of the many main observations of the 2020 election, one of the state’s best Democratic consultants, Steve Welchert, in a newsflash, straight to the point-style summed the state of play between the two parties:

  • Pueblo is no longer a Democratic stronghold. It gave few votes to Biden or Mitsch Bush. Mesa County really dominates the 3rd district.
  • Arapahoe and now Larimer counties haven’t been reliably Republican in statewide elections for more than a decade, but now local elections are delivering Democrats surprising victories, down to beating two incumbent county commissioners in Arapahoe (after defeating a sheriff, clerk and assessor in 2018). Larimer just switched from three Republican county commissioners to three Democrats in two years, and the two latest additions are the first women to win the office.

Read The Colorado Sun’s analysis of Welchert’s data here

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Early Turnout 87% of 2016 Total Vote

In Election Day interviews with Tom Green of 9KUSA and Jerry Bell of KOA, the extraordinary early turnout and expected record final votes were discussed.

Unaffiliated voters lead the early turnout (37%, see table below). The Monday before Election Day report shows nearly 2.8 million Coloradans have already voted by mail (a few in-person – 100,000), equaling the total 2016 vote of 2.8 million. Nationally, 100 million have voted by Monday in what experts predict heading for a record of more than 150 to 155 million total votes (135 million voted in 2016).

At this point four years ago, Republican returns were nearly tied with Democrats, and now they trail in third, 5 points behind Democrats. They may be following President Trump’s advice to vote on Election Day, which in Colorado means Republicans will drop off ballots on Election Day and with some (very few) standing in line.

Read: Colorado headed for Record Turnout – More Than 3 Million

A New Poll in Colorado Shows Democrats Poised for Big Wins in the 2020 Election. Can You Trust the Numbers? – Colorado Sun

A new poll out of the field November 1 confirms what a dozen surveys over the last two months have shown. Donald Trump is down at least 10 points. Twelve in this survey to Joe Biden. And, Cory Gardner is heading for a devastating defeat of 11 points to John Hickenlooper, much like previous polls. Gardner was hoping he would be closer.

Reporter John Frank asked about the level of confidence in polls. I said in a DU forum that my level of confidence was high.

The question of whether voters can trust polls is one that Floyd Ciruli gets often. The director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver said in a recent forum that “what you see is about what you get” in terms of the national and local polls.

“I’m pretty comfortable about Colorado as to the surveys we’ve seen here,” he said.

Some observations:

  • The volume of Colorado polls by reputable firms has been abundant since Labor Day
  • The consistency of the results between the topline candidates
  • The size of the spread is well beyond the margin of error

These items lend credibility to the polls’ results.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (L) and Sen. Cory Gardner in the 9News/
Colorado  Politics U.S. Senate debate, CO, Oct. 13, 2020 | 9News via YouTube

Monday, November 2, 2020

Ambassador Christopher Hill on Short List for Biden’s UN

Former Korbel School dean, Christopher Hill, was listed in a Los Angeles Times article as one on a short list of experienced former State Department hands mentioned in Joe Biden’s transition team’s conversations for consideration for a diplomatic job – UN Ambassador. Just early speculation, but congratulations for the mention.

Christopher Hill

Friday, October 30, 2020

The October Surprise is COVID-19

President Trump claims his around-the-clock campaigning the last two weeks in 2016 was responsible for his victory. But, it’s clear he believed the Comey letter was the coup de grâce on Hillary Clinton’s final momentum and a great asset to his message that she was a “crook.”

His effort to find an October surprise to use against Joe Biden (Hunter Biden) began in the summer of 2019 with the Ukrainian President conversation and has continued most recently by pressuring the Attorney General, the FBI director, supportive intelligence officials and Republican Senate Committees.

But the October surprise appears to be the COVID-19 surge, which the President, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and the White House communications team have all argued that COVID-19 is “behind us,” “can’t be managed” or “ending the pandemic was a top administrative accomplishment.”

Those statements may become as well remembered as Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s post Lehman Brothers collapse (Sept. 15) comment: “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.” The polling rapidly turned negative for him and the ticket after beginning close post the Republican Convention. The media coverage also focused much more on economic problems and McCain’s campaign difficulties (he suspended it for a while).

A man carries a box from Lehman Brothers'
offices after the bank failed, 2008 | Getty Images

See: How the Lehman Bros. crisis impacted the 2008 presidential race