Friday, February 28, 2020

Colorado’s Presidential Primary Heading to One Million Plus

More than 850,000 Colorado voters have already returned ballots five days before the March 3 primary. More than 250,000 unaffiliated have voted, casting their ballots nearly two-to-one in the Democratic primary. More than 1.3 million voters are possible. In the 2018 gubernatorial primary, 1.1 million turned out. Democrats, who often vote late, have low turnout as of Thursday, February 27.

The 852,428 total, as of Thursday, is twice the previous number of voters in Colorado’s eight-year experience with presidential primaries from 1992 to 2000.


The highest Republican presidential primary turnout high was in the 1996 contest among five candidates, including Bob Dole, Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes, when 246,339 voted. The Democratic high turnout was in the first event in 1992 when 234,287 voters made Jerry Brown the top candidate with 29 percent against Bill Clinton (27%) and Paul Tsongas (26%).

Significance of the 2020 Vote
  • First presidential primary in 20 years
  • Early date in competitive year for Democrats
  • All mail-back ballots
  • More than 1 million unaffiliated voters sent ballots and encouraged to vote by campaigns
  • 17-year-olds allowed to vote (if reach 18 years old by Nov. 3, 2020)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Sanders in the Lead

Bernie Sanders is in a strong position for Super Tuesday – the 14-state March 3 event – with 34 percent of the pledged delegates at stake (1,357). Historically, the winners of 17 out of the last 18 Super Tuesdays from 1984 to 2016 won the nomination.

After the Nevada caucus (47%), he is the delegate frontrunner with 45. Polls show him ahead in the two most delegate-rich Super Tuesday states – California and Texas. He is up 13 points in California (415 delegates) and 1 point in Texas (228), which represent nearly half the delegates (47%). Sanders is also ahead in North Carolina (110) by one point and 6 points in Virginia (99), the next two largest states.

A new poll in Colorado shows what most people have long assumed – Sanders is the frontrunner for delegates with 27 percent of the vote, 12 points ahead of Elizabeth Warren in second.

At the conclusion of Super Tuesday, he may still only be the plurality leader in delegates, but it is likely to be at least a third of the total delegates, or more than 500 of the 1,991 needed for nomination.

Many of the state polls have been volatile in the last few days and the spreads are narrow. Sanders’s potential wins will depend on his base turning out, the effectiveness of the efforts of other candidates, and the nascent “stop Bernie” movement gaining traction.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

DU Panel on “The Future of Democracy, Free Trade and Alliances in the Trump Era.”

On March 3, as the returns are coming in the Democratic primaries on Super Tuesday, a panel of experts at DU’s Korbel School will discuss “The Future of Democracy, Free Trade and Alliances in the Trump Era.”

Most observers believe it is a critical moment for American foreign policy. Powerful trends are afoot in the world.
  • Democracy is in retreat worldwide and the U.S. What should or could be done about it?
  • Tariffs are now common and foreign trade in decline. What’s gained, what’s lost in the new environment?
  • Alliances and treaties are disdained (NATO), breaking up (EU) or abandoned (TPP). Are we weaker or stronger without them? Is the rule of law, peace and prosperity more or less secure? 
  • Many foreign observers believe President Trump is likely to be re-elected. They are prepared for four more years similar to the last. What does that mean for democracy, free trade and alliances?
Join the discussion with Ambassador Christopher Hill, Senior Researcher Dina Smeltz of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and Professor and Director of the China Center, Sam Zhao. I will present and update the election as the Super Tuesday results roll in.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Doors Open/Reception: 4:45 pm
Program: 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm

Maglione Hall
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Anna and John J. Sie International Relations Complex
University of Denver
2201 S. Gaylord St., 5th Floor Denver, CO

Please register early
Free and open to public
Food provided


Presented by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Office of Global Engagement and the Center for China-US Cooperation.

Mitt Romney Won Debate With Barack Obama in 2012. Now, he’s Back to Talk About the Crisis of Democracy.

Most observers and the snap polls gave the first presidential debate in the 2012 election to Mitt Romney. It was held at the University of Denver on October 3 and was a high point for the Romney campaign, which ultimately lost the race and Colorado by 5 points.

He’s back this week to talk about the state of democracy with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark and NATO General Security. Senator Romney has spoken often about the importance of the rule of law and public character, but never more as than during his impeachment vote.

“Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence. I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We have come to difference conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.”

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research is honored to be a cosponsor of the democracy program with the Korbel School of International Studies and other DU organizations.

Democracy has been an important issue for the Crossley Center for many years. In 2018, DU launched a podcast program called Engaging Issues directed by former business school dean, Jim Griesemer. One of the first programs done in two parts due to the level of interest was “Democracy on the Defensive.” To access the interviews directly, click here.

The overall site with a host of interviews with DU’s most interesting professors on valuable topics is here.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks on Senate floor about the impeachment
trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington,
Feb. 5, 2020 | Senate TV via AP.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Republican Voters Flood Colorado’s Presidential Primary. Early Returns Hit Turnout Record.

More than 500,000 Colorado voters have already returned ballots nine days before the March 3 primary and nearly half are Republican. Republicans have flooded early voting with 257,539 returns compared to 202,079 Democrats. Republicans tend to vote earlier in mail-back ballots and Democrats and unaffiliated (for the first time) later. Unaffiliated voters are being counted in with their preferred party.
The 523,938 total as of Sunday is already a record for Colorado’s short eight-year experience with presidential primaries from 1992 to 2000.
The Republican primary turnout high was in the 1996 contest among five candidates, including Bob Dole, Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes, when 246,339 voted. The Democratic high turnout was in the first event in 1992 when 234,287 voters made Jerry Brown the top candidate with 29 percent against Bill Clinton (27%) and Paul Tsongas (26%).
History is being made in this vote.
  • First presidential primary in 20 years
  • Early date in comparative year for Democrats
  • All mail-back ballots
  • More than 1 million unaffiliated voters sent ballots and encouraged to vote by campaigns
  • 17-year olds allowed to vote (if reach 18 years old by November 3, 2020)

Monday, February 24, 2020

“Thousands of Colorado 17-year-olds can vote on Super Tuesday” – Will Likely Help Bernie Sanders

Generation Z, aged 7 to 22, the cohort just behind Millennials (aged 23-36) is about to start voting in substantial numbers. A new Colorado law allows 17-year-olds, estimated at about 25,000 registered voters, to participate in the March 3 presidential primary if they turn 18 by November 3, 2020. The conventional wisdom has been that younger voters don’t participate – that has been changing. In the Colorado 2018 election, they came out in substantial numbers. I argued in an Aurora Sentinel article that they could make a difference for Bernie Sanders. My quote:

“However, the new voters could help Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and that could make a difference in a tight race. Denver pollster and commentator Floyd Ciruli said. The Vermont senator has benefited from support among Generation Z and Millennial voters.”

The division of the generations by their date of birth and current age.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Japan-U.S. Alliance and the 2020 Election

On March 2, the Korbel School will host a dialogue with experts on the vital U.S. and Japan strategic alliance. Professor Koji Murata from Doshisha University of Kyoto and Dina Smeltz, senior fellow on public opinion and foreign policy from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs will describe the current political environment in the Asian Pacific.

They will be joined by DU professors Ambassador Christopher Hill, Suisheng (Sam) Zhao and Floyd Ciruli for a panel discussion on the impact of the 2020 election on the alliance and politics in the Asia Pacific in general.

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Office of Global Engagement and the Center for China-US Cooperation Present: Japan-U.S. Alliance and the 2020 Election.

Monday, March 2, 2020
Doors Open/Reception: 11:45 am
Program: 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
University of Denver
Sie Complex, 2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO
The Forum, 1st Floor, Room 1020

Please register early
Free and open to public
Lunch provided


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Will Bernie Sanders Defeat John Hickenlooper?

Bernie Sanders is already a major problem for John Hickenlooper, and if he is the Democratic presidential nominee, Hickenlooper’s race to defeat Senator Cory Gardner takes a major blow. Hickenlooper, recognizing his weakness with the Democratic Party’s activists and special interest groups, decided early to use a petition route to the nomination.

And, although he will show up at the Saturday, March 7 caucus, he won’t be popular. Sanders’s supporters, who are likely to dominate the March 3 presidential primary, are one of the most powerful forces in the party today, and Hickenlooper is one of their least favorite politicians. Recall, he specifically criticized Sanders’s socialism in debates and called him a loser at the 2019 California Democratic convention and got booed for it by the party’s left wing and Sanders accolades.

The caucus, convention and primary processes from now to June 30 will provide a perfect platform to endlessly criticize Hickenlooper. And, of course, they will be joined by the anti-fracking activists that have already disrupted the State of the State speech and have specifically targeted Hickenlooper with their anger and aggressive tactics.

If Hickenlooper survives the primary because a majority of the party still wants to win in November, he may then have to run with the most vulnerable Democratic nominee since George McGovern in 1972, who only carried Massachusetts and D.C. (even Vermont voted for Nixon). Candidate Trump will assail him as an extremist. Cory Gardner will be the major beneficiary as moderate Republicans stay with the President and moderate Democrats abandon the ticket.

Read The Buzz:
Sanders Surging. Now Leading in California. Will Sanders Win Colorado?
Is Bernie Sanders the George McGovern of 2020?

Nomination Contests Just Starts - Only 64 Delegates Selected

A huge wave of publicity has engulfed the Democrats. After two nomination events with only 0.3 percent of the delegates needed for the Democratic nomination, the pundits are beginning to declare the contest over.

Iowa and New Hampshire Muddle the Field

The impact of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have been well documented, but it’s still impressive to observe, especially since the Democratic Party’s goal has been to winnow the candidates through debates (another Feb. 19) and early events, and there are still seven in the field, not counting Michael Bloomberg who won’t enter until March 3.

Nevada’s (36) and South Carolina’s (54) 90 delegates will add slightly to the total (155), but the main events don’t begin until Tuesday, March 3, from Maine to Texas, to California to North Carolina, when 1,357 delegates are selected, or nearly 30 percent of the total convention-pledged delegation

Will Colorado Have Record Turnout? 

Colorado’s modest 67 delegates could attract 500,000 mail-back ballots from Democratic and unaffiliated voters. Turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire has not been exceptional – will Colorado set a record?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Super Tuesday Twelve Days Out

After one more debate and two more preliminary events, 14 states, one territory and a group of Democrats abroad will weigh in on Super Tuesday with 1,357 delegates, or more than 8 times the first four caucuses and primaries.

Thus far, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg – the frontrunners in votes and delegates – have been attracting about a quarter of the votes, which has translated into a third of the delegates. Unless the field clears soon, Sanders, who has a national base of previous supporters and young people, will collect around 1,400 delegates, but needs 1,991 to win in the first round at the convention.

If the convention goes to a second round, 771 super delegates – mostly appointed elected officials and party leaders – will be allowed to vote. They will be inclined to try to balance the issue and candidate passion of the primary voters with the goal of winning the general election, especially in swing states. That will be an interesting process to watch.

Since the last contested Democratic convention in 1952, the party has shifted most of its discretion and deliberation to the caucus and primary voter. To attempt to shift it back to the delegates in a deliberative process will be a major change and no doubt be accompanied by a major war on the floor of the convention.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Sanders Leads in Two Largest Super Tuesday States – California and Texas

A new poll in Texas now has Bernie Sanders ahead of Joe Biden by 2 points (UT/Texas Tribune – Sanders 24%, Biden 22%, Warren 15%, Bloomberg 10%). Older polls, when blended together, have Biden ahead by 5 points. But, it’s fading fast. Several California polls in early 2020 placed Sanders ahead by 5 points (4 polls average – Sanders 26%, Biden 21%, Warren 20%, Buttigieg 7%, Bloomberg 4%). In neither state does Sanders exceed his quarter of the Democratic electorate, but the still multiple centrist candidates are dividing the opposition.

Eight Left on Valentine’s Day. How Many Make March 3?

The list of Democratic dropouts is long (18) and grew by three within hours of the New Hampshire primary results.

Actual election results have a way of instilling reality into the most wildly optimistic and aggressive vanity campaigns. The lack of measurable polling support can be rationalized away with various longshot theories and the lack of funds is less severe for the millionaires and online fundraising experts, but few votes and no delegates end the show. The media packs up, the staff moves on, and in the case of Michael Bennet, you start to worry about the judgement of Colorado voters who just got their March 3 ballots.

There are at least two candidates who are unlikely to gather much support beyond the 1 or 2 percent they currently have. Tom Steyer is proving that money alone does not buy the nomination. Tulsi Gabbard has a miniscule support base and is mostly being ignored, except online.

Will Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom have lost more than a third of their support (10 points) in a few weeks, make it until March 3? As of today, Michael Bloomberg may be the frontrunner to take on Bernie Sanders. But, the continued muddle is making a fight all the way to the convention likely.

Is Bernie Sanders the George McGovern of 2020?

George McGovern’s loss in 1972 was historic. He carried one state and D.C. in the reelection contest against Richard Nixon.

There are some similarities of that loss with today. Democrats had reformed the party rules after the 1968 convention debacle, pushing out much of the establishment-elected officials, such as mayors, governors and labor leaders, making the nomination of McGovern more possible. The Party’s passion was driven by its anti-war left and newly enfranchised 18 years olds. They were the voters McGovernites claimed would defeat Nixon.

The 2020 Democratic rules were changed due to Bernie Sanders’s complaints. His base is supporters under 35 years old and he advocates revolutionary change. His program and rhetoric are clearly popular with at least a quarter of the party, but even with Elizabeth Warren’s supporters, less than 40 percent endorsed it in the first two events. A majority voted for other candidates and want primarily to remove Donald Trump.

Republicans are pulling for Sanders because they believe the “socialist” label will be a gift for attack advertising and a death sentence with Middle America. And, the latest Gallup report appears to confirm that “socialist” of all the candidates’ characteristic they tested is the least favorite shared by a majority of voters.

Question wording: “Between now and the 2020 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates – their education, age, religion, race and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [characteristic], would you vote for that person?”

Although 76 percent of Democrats said they’d vote for a socialist, only 17 percent of Republicans, and most importantly, less than half of independents (45%) would. The “socialist” label will likely be a major vulnerability in battleground states.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Did Crow Win or Lose in Impeachment?

Jason Crow was a surprise impeachment manager for the House. In a long article in the Colorado Community Media, a sprawling suburban newspaper network, Ellis Arnold presents the pros and cons in Crow’s selection and the impact on his reelection.

I mostly suggested it was a net positive for Crow and that his performance was well received. But, just as it raised his profile, it put a target on his back.

“I'm kind of cynical — I don't think that anything the House managers did was going to sway any Republicans,” Ciruli said. But if anything stood a chance, focusing on military arguments was the ticket, he added.

Although Crow's performance didn't move the needle among Senate Republicans, it established the lawyer as an “up-and-coming” Democrat, Ciruli said.

Ciruli, the pollster, noted that Crow garnered much media coverage. “He was seen,” Ciruli said. “It's both good for him and, in a way, good for Colorado.”

Crow's prosecution of the president is likely to draw the Democrat more negative attention, Ciruli said.

But “the tradeoff to him was more than worth it,” said Ciruli, adding that the Republican base in Crow's district has diminished in recent years. And “the tradeoff is worth it, frankly, with unaffiliateds.”

Although approval of Trump among voters in Crow's district is likely “upside-down” — lower than Trump's disapproval — the president has seen a recent uptick in support nationally, said Dick Wadhams, political strategist and a former chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

Wadhams argued the impeachment process “backfired on the Democrats” but also pointed to the health of the economy as factors that explain Trump's bump.

“I think it's conceivable that Trump is in a better position in the 6th Congressional District than he was in 2018, but we have no numbers to show that yet,” Wadhams said.

Impeachment managers, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry
Nadler ( R) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (C),
lead as Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Rep. Jason Crow follow on their way to the
Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 16, 2020 | Julio Cortez/AP

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Sanders Now National Frontrunner for Nomination

Tuesday, February 11, Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary by 2 points – closer than expected. But more significantly, nine days after the results of the Iowa caucus, in which he also ran neck-and-neck with Pete Buttigieg, Sanders became the new national polling leader, ahead of Joe Biden by 3 points. Michael Bloomberg is now in third, ahead of a fading Elizabeth Warren and not yet national campaigners, Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

As predicted, Michael Bennet finally dropped out, receiving less than a 1,000 votes out of nearly 300,000 cast and as Colorado Democrats started to vote. Some post New Hampshire observations:
  • Can Sanders get more than a quarter of the Party? If Warren drops out, does he pick up 10 points of her 13 points of national support?
  • Is Buttigieg the moderate challenger or does Michael Bloomberg’s March 3 national entrance into the race make him frontrunner of the moderate wing of the party?
  • How long does the alternative to Sanders stay divided between two to four candidates?
  • When does Biden run out of money and believability? There were several reasons for his collapse, but mostly they are a factor of his repeated weak performances in debates and events.
  • Does this contest need a convention to sort it out?
Democratic presidential candidates take the stage for first primary debate after
the Iowa caucuses in New Hampshire, Feb. 7, 2020 | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Read The Buzz:
Bennet’s Last Day
Why is Michael Bennet in New Hampshire?

Fort Collins Coloradoan: Will Super Tuesday Count?

In a long Sunday Coloradoan analysis, Jacy Marmaduke presents the case for Colorado to have an impact on Super Tuesday and an exceptional turnout. She pointed out the shift from caucus to primary, the universal mail-back ballot and unaffiliated voters as factors that make Colorado unique in 2020.

I suggested Sanders will be a strong candidate, attracting young, unaffiliated voters and that
Democrats’ intense desire to remove Donald Trump will likely drive turnout.

Sanders won the 2016 caucus in Colorado, leading many to think he has an edge here. However, the addition of unaffiliated voters and the switch to a primary adds some uncertainty to that prediction.

But Colorado’s unaffiliated voters skew younger and more liberal — two key components of Sanders’ base. 

“I think you can predict that Bernie Sanders will likely do well,” said Floyd Ciruli, a veteran political pollster and analyst who founded Ciruli Associates in Denver. “He’s beat the establishment here before. If he wins here, that will show that this state remains a state with a lot of voters who like to shake things up.”

And if Sanders fares well in early state contests, he’ll do even better here, Ciruli predicts.

The four early states — Iowa on Feb. 3, New Hampshire on Feb. 11, Nevada on Feb. 22 and South Carolina on Feb. 29 — make up just 4% of delegates. But they traditionally winnow the field anyway, amplifying front-runners and casting aside the also-rans.

While the push and pull between head and heart is always on voters’ minds, the dynamic feels especially pronounced in this election, Ciruli said.

“People usually favor less risk,” he said. “The reason it’s so incredibly intense this time is that most Democrats think of Trump as an existential problem. They believe there is nothing more important than beating him.”

“It’s volatile, but that’s what makes it exciting," Ciruli said. "It is not knowing that helps bring people out — because your vote counts."

At State of the Union, Trump Bets on the Economy. Is it Enough? – PBS Releases Poll

At the recent State of the Union, POTUS 45 dropped much of the dark carnage imagery of previous addresses and went “optimistic,” at least for him. “The Great American Comeback” mostly focused on the economy. In an online analysis, PBS’s Gretchen Frazee, the deputy digital NewsHour editor, interviewed a group of pollsters and political scientists on Trump’s strategy of riding the economy to reelection.

I argued that a booming economy normally gives an incumbent an advantage. It was pointed out that he has not gotten full benefit due to his personal style and the chaos that tends to surround him.

President Trump delivers his State of the Union address, with VP Mike
Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the background, Feb. 4, 2020

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Sanders has a Quarter of the Democratic Party, After That, It’s a Fight in New Hampshire

The final New Hampshire polls – tracking and late polls out of the field on Monday – show Bernie Sanders somewhere between 25 percent and 29 percent. He ended with 26 percent in Iowa. But, the race’s volatility has settled on second and third place. Pete Buttigieg, gaining advantage from his Iowa tie with Sanders, is currently in second. But a large bloc of late and weak deciders are moving toward Amy Klobuchar. She’s benefitting from her debate performance and is now ahead of Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden in third place.

What is clear is that the first two events will leave a muddled result with a flawed frontrunner, Sanders, and a field of four likely to stay in the race to Super Tuesday, March 3. In addition, Michael Bloomberg is now in fourth place nationally. He could become the alternative to Sanders by Super Tuesday. Stay tuned.
Democratic presidential candidates take the stage for first primary debate after
the Iowa caucuses in New Hampshire, Feb. 7, 2020 | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

January 31, 2020 Nationalism Day – Brexit and Impeachment Witnesses

The surge of nationalist enthusiasm that began in 2016 in the UK’s Brexit vote (June) and in the U.S. with Donald Trump’s election (November) reached an apex of success on January 31, 2020 when Britain formally and finally exited the European Union and when the U.S. Senate voted 51 to 49 to not call witnesses on Trump’s impeachment trial signaling the Senate’s Republican majority’s complete loyalty to the Trump presidency. The nationalism we are witnessing is a worldwide phenomenon evident in a host of countries. It is unlikely to go away and more likely to spread.

The causes are many – the end of the Cold War released countries to pursue their own agendas, including the non-democratic; the economic crisis of 2008 damaged confidence in western capitalist leadership; the rise of inequities driven by the imperatives of financial and technological globalization created the “leave behind” communities; and the proliferation of social media on smart personal devices are powerful tools for expressing grievances.

Importantly, the ascendance of nationalism has been greatly helped by the shift of America’s international priorities away from multi-lateral alliances and democracy promotion, to “America First,” along with the rise of authoritarian powers, Russia and China.

Although last Friday was a day of celebration for U.S. and British nationalists, their respective publics are bitterly divided concerning the turn in direction. In America, voters were divided on impeachment with a small majority in favor, and a bigger majority disapproving of Trump’s performance in office. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, although just elected to what could be a 5-year term, is not much more popular and Brexit opinion today mirrors the close vote in June 2016.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Colorado Starts Voting for President this Week

Nearly 2.4 million Colorado Democrat and unaffiliated voters will receive mail-back ballots Monday, which must be returned and received by 7:00 pm, March 3.

Potential Democratic turnout is mostly a guess, but it’s likely to be well above the 123,000 who turned out in the 2016 presidential caucus, which Bernie Sanders won against Hillary Clinton. A working figure is between 500,000 and 700,000, similar to the 636,000 Democrats and unaffiliateds who voted in the Democratic primary for governor in 2018.

And, it could be higher due to the competitive nature of the race, the organization of some candidates, especially Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and the advertising of Michael Bloomberg.

When you receive your ballot, there will be several candidates on it that dropped out (e.g., Cory Booker, John Delaney), several candidates at one percent (Tulsi Gabbard, Deval Patrick), and a few vanity candidates (Robby Wells, Pete Kechenovich). It’s likely that Michael Bennet will be on the ballot, but out.

Bennet’s Last Day

After receiving no support in Iowa and having almost no detectible support as of Monday, February 10, the day before the New Hampshire primary, Michael Bennet’s run for president is at an inglorious end.

Nationally, Bennet is listed at 0.8. He needs to get out of New Hampshire and the race as quickly as possible since Colorado Democrats and unaffiliated have started to vote for the March 3 primary. Failure in Iowa and New Hampshire was long expected, but receiving only a handful of votes in Colorado will not be a resume builder.

Iowa Results: Party Divided Between Progressive and Pragmatic Wings

With 99 percent of the Iowa results in after four days of counting and recounting, it confirms polling that the Democratic Party, prior to starting a difficult election against Donald Trump, must first resolve a divide between its progressive wing (44%) represented by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the pragmatic wing (54%) with Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar.

Going into the Iowa caucus, it was assumed that Biden would lead the voters who most wanted to defeat Trump, but Buttigieg led the evening and tied Sanders as the frontrunner. This was a major blow for Biden, whose support and funding depends on the Democratic establishment of current and former officeholders and donors who are desperate for a winner and will rapidly shift their interest if they can find someone who they think can beat Trump. There is still some doubt that Buttigieg can survive the Trump onslaught based on his experience and youth. Although it’s not discussed publically, but for a country that just legalized gay marriage in 2015, it’s not clear that the Democrats’ core constituencies and the battleground states are ready for a gay nominee for president.

Two powerful candidates are watching this conundrum with self-interest. The President believes a disorganized Democratic Party will produce a weak nominee. And, Iowa’s non-candidate, Michael Bloomberg, believes he may become the default pragmatist after Super Tuesday. And, indeed, his national numbers are moving up in the last RealClearPolitics national primary average. He’s now fourth with 11 percent, just behind Warren (14%) and ahead of Buttigieg (7) and Klobuchar (4%).

9News Reinforces its Brand in Political Year

2020 will be an intense election year in Colorado with the presidential, senate, and many state and local elections. 9KUSA has renewed its commitment to top political news coverage and analyses by installing one of its best news managers, Tim Ryan, to be the new director of content.

Floyd Ciruli, 9News Political Analyst

Friday, February 7, 2020

Do Democrats Want Revolution or Relief?

The Iowa caucus results confirm that the party remains divided between its heart that wants a candidate who represents them on the issues, and their mind, which wants a candidate who will win the election – idealism or pragmatism, revolution or get rid of Donald Trump? Of course, they would prefer a nominee who satisfies both desires, but given many of the party’s purest issue positions, some of which are outside the mainstream, they will likely have to choose.

Iowa’s top two choices – Pete Buttigieg (26%) and Bernie Sanders (26%) – and Elizabeth Warren (18%) and Joe Biden a weak fourth (15%) highlight the divide among four-fifths of Democrats voting.

When voters were asked in the Berkeley IGS California poll to choose between a candidate that can defeat Trump (53%) or a candidate that most agrees with them on the issues (47%), a narrow margin selected pragmatism. Most Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar voters wanted to defeat Trump, and Sanders, Warren and Andrew Yang supporters wanted a candidate that most agreed with them on the issues. Buttigieg was nearer the middle.

Is Sanders Breaking His Color Barrier?

Bernie Sanders is on a roll having just won, or nearly won – who can tell – what may have been Iowa’s last caucus. A recent poll in California by Mark DiCamillo (Berkeley IGS in the LA Times) shows Sanders is now in first place (up from third place during the summer and early fall).

Sanders has not done well with Democratic minority voters. But at least a part of that surge of support in California is due to winning 38 percent of Latino voters and 31 percent of African Americans. Less surprising, he is the overwhelming choice of those self-described as “very liberal” (41%) and younger voters under age 30 (54%).

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Impeachment Effect in November, Trump, Gardner?

In spite of nearly saturation news coverage since September, impeachment hasn’t changed Americans’ views of President Trump. He still has his base (45%), with the same slightly over half of Americans (53%) who disapprove of him. Impeachment appears likely to just be another issue with voters that have already decided their position on Trump.

But, impeachment may be a bigger problem for vulnerable senate candidates. Susan Collins (ME) thought so and voted in favor of witnesses (49 to 51), but others, such as Cory Gardner (CO), Martha McSally (AZ), voted with Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership to end the process without witnesses. McConnell is considerably less popular than Trump and the vulnerable senators are in states that Trump barely carried or lost.

For senate candidates, the impeachment votes are high-profile defense of Trump’s least admirable behavior. Specifically, the vote against witnesses defied two-thirds of Americans who thought a fair trial required witnesses. And, of course, next fall Trump may do something that reminds voters of his Republican-engineered escape from accountability.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Iowa: Sanders and the Field

Iowa Democrats have been shifting positions among candidates for months and the final caucus polls reach no consensus, except Bernie Sanders is ahead with about a quarter of the vote. But, the field after him varies by poll and timing. Does it reflect real change or just an artifact of the polls?

In the last four polls, Joe Biden is in first place in one, one tie for first, but he’s in third place in one. Elizabeth Warren has fallen back since December, but is ahead of Biden in one poll. Pete Buttigieg is now in third, but close, and Amy Klobuchar has moved up and is in fourth place. Who wins the first sprint?

Political Fireworks at Water Congress Conference

A standing room only crowd at the Colorado Water Congress annual conference heard an hour of tough as nails political analyses, sandwiched between a brief cautious policy speech from the Governor and a more technical presentation from the Attorney General.

The panel of commentators talked about the upcoming primaries, the political personalities and the many controversial issues that could be on November’s ballot. The panel consisted of: Dick Wadhams on the right side; the left, Sheila MacDonald; and in the middle, fiery media star Joey Bunch. I moderated after presenting some data on the political environment.

Sheila MacDonald, Dick Wadhams, Joey Bunch and Floyd Ciruli

A few highlights:

Sanders. Bernie Sanders has head of steam in the early events, but the consensus was he would struggle to go the distance. He will be a major contender in Colorado on March 3. The panel felt Sanders would be a disaster for Democrats in many states, including Colorado, but it might take the Democratic convention to finally sort it out. Republicans are pulling for him.

Hickenlooper. John Hickenlooper remains the favorite for the Senate nomination and is still seen as the strongest candidate for the November contest. But, the general sense is that the last 60 days have been poorly managed. Republicans have an ethics issue that will dog him and anti-fracking extremists, who disrupted Gov. Jared Polis’s State of the State speech, are accosting Hickenlooper at speeches. Watching the Democratic caucus on March 7 and the assemblies and convention will be an insight as to the party’s balance between pragmatists and idealists. Hickenlooper may be better off going petition, an expensive process.

Ballot Issues. The panel cited the abortion initiative, anti-growth and wolf reintroduction as polarizing issues that will stir the pot, further divide voters into camps and drive some constituent turnout. But, November turnout should be high regardless of issues.

The audience put their phones down to listen to a Colorado version of a cable talk show, but with Democrats and Republicans disagreeing without screaming at each other. Joey provided a wild, unpredictable balance and the audience loved it.