Thursday, December 23, 2021

Protecting Colorado’s Land and Environment

Gov. Roy Romer and Dept. of Natural Resources Executive
Director Ken Salazar form a citizens committee, which
consisted of conservation, business and political leaders
 from across Colorado | Photo: GOCO website
After a decade of rapid growth, open space and recreational funds in Colorado have never been more valuable. Fortunately, Colorado voters recognized the importance of land protection and have been highly supportive of government funding dedicated to the outdoors.


Ciruli Associates, working with then Governor Roy Romer; Ken Salazar, Executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources (now ambassador to Mexico); and a group of dedicated land conservationists guided a constitutional amendment onto the 1992 statewide ballot and passed the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) program. Our firm directed and provided research for the campaign, which won with 58 percent of the vote.

The program redirected Colorado Lottery money that was being spent on prison construction to an open space, parks, trails, wildlife and recreation program. It has put $1.3 billion over the last three decades into grants for more than 5,000 local and regional land and water conservation and recreation projects in all 64 Colorado county governments.

State Land Stewardship Trust

In 1996, Governor Romer and Natural Resources Executive Director Jim Lochhead (now CEO/manager of Denver Water) requested we direct a new campaign for Constitutional Amendment 16 to reform the governance of the State Land Board and create a Stewardship Trust for up to 10 percent of the land held in the state trust, or about 300,000 acres.

The governance change created a volunteer board of citizens with backgrounds in schools, agriculture, local government and natural resources. The Stewardship Trust added a level of protection and preservation for environmentally valuable state lands. Our firm again provided management, focus groups, polls, and television and print advertising for the campaign. 

National Models

Both GOCO and the Stewardship Trust are considered highly successful national models, which were supported by state leaders and voters. They are among our firm’s most esteemed projects.

Greenland Ranch land protection of 17,000+ acres between Denver and
 Colorado Springs along the I-25 corridor | Photo: GOCO website

Protected land in Colorado | Photo: GOCO website

Why Xi Won’t Leave China?

Xi Jinping, the president of China, not surprisingly, did not attend the recent Zoom Summit of Democracy. He leads the world’s most powerful autocratic country as head of sole-ruling 95 million-member Communist Party. Xi is expected to be elected for a third term this spring, which will break a two-term precedent and will likely secure his position for the indefinite future.

After several years of traveling frequently, Xi has not left China for a foreign trip or welcomed a foreign leader in two years. Vladimir Putin, the authoritarian leader of Russia, will be his first leader to visit during the February Winter Olympics. Why has Xi self-isolated? The claim is covid worries, but that may be more related to China’s reputation for being the origin of COVID-19 than concerns of contracting it.

  • Xi’s reluctance to leave China beyond the official statements is not known. Divining motivation in the opaque governing environment of China involves speculation with a few facts:
  • Xi is according the Pew polls the least respected major power leader tested. Only former President Donald Trump exceeded him in the last test. In more developed democracies, the unpopular Xi could be booed.
  • The authoritarian sales pitch has its fans, but they are a small minority in the West.
  • His foreign and domestic policy is so aggressive and the “Wolf Warriors” so strident, he’s put off more parties than made friends among major power leaders and interest groups.
  • His economic transition for party control and more “equity” is slowing the economy. Free trade is on the defense. Entrepreneurs are wary as to the government’s shift.
  • Every new lockdown reminds the world of the origin of the pandemic and the unwillingness of Xi to own up to it and collaborate with an international investigation.

Photo: State Department

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Do Colorado Democrats have a Firewall Against the Republican Surge Building?

Hillary Clinton believed she had a firewall in 2016 in the upper Midwest, but then she lost Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In 2018, Colorado Democrats swept Colorado by 10 points or more in statewide offices, won a new congressional seat and took even firmer control of the state legislature. Republicans did even worse in 2020, losing the presidential election by 12 points (more than 2 times the loss in 2016) and their senate seat by 10. Do Democrats now have a firewall?

The Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections last November were warning lights that the big partisan wins a year earlier may not stop an electorate angry at Washington or wanting to send a message for change? President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points and New Jersey by 16, but the Democratic candidates lost in Virginia by 2 points and held on in New Jersey by 3. Biden’s low approval, new COVID-19 variants and a sharp increase in inflation are major burdens as the 2022 campaigns begin.

The early D.C. prognosticators have both Senator Bennet and Governor Polis as likely winners, rating the state overall leaning Democratic, but Democrats are wary, as they should be. Federal officeholders are especially vulnerable to national trends. Bennet’s wins have not been impressive (2 points in 2010, 6 points in 2016) and Democrats will be in a major fight to take the new congressional seat (8th) and to hold onto at least one vulnerable district (7th).

Cherry Creek West First Design Released

East West Partners, a longtime Colorado developer whose projects include Denver’s Riverfront Park and the redevelopment of the Union Station neighborhood in Lower Downtown, announced in November it is launching ‘a transformative redevelopment’ of the western end of the Cherry Creek Mall. The space currently has an empty big box, Bed Bath & Beyond, the popular Elway’s and parking lots.

The Buell Foundation and Taubman Realty Group, the owners of the land and the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, are key collaborators and will be involved in the planning. Helping lead the Buell board are civic activists Art Bosworth (vice chair) and Maggie Morrissey.

The 13-acre mixed use development includes housing, offices, and green open space with an amphitheater connecting Cherry Creek North retail area and the shopping center to the creek. The project’s value is $1 billion.

East West Partners just released their first proposed design for the space. Next, they will facilitate extensive discussions with all the stakeholders on the project, including the City of Denver, Cherry Creek North businesses and adjacent neighborhoods.

Developers unveiled an expansive project on the west side
of the Cherry Creek Mall | BusinessDen via public records

Friday, December 17, 2021

Trends and Predictions: Colorado Election Experts Start the New Year

The Crossley Center at DU presents a Zoom conversation on January 13, 2022 at 11:00 am MT with a panel of top political, policy and academic experts discussing the political terrain in Colorado for the 2022 elections. Will the national trends boost local Republicans? Will Senator Bennet or Governor Polis be vulnerable? Which party has the advantage in the new congressional district? 

Join Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center, and the panel as they provide their opinions on the state of the election. 

  • Dick Wadhams, Denver Post columnist, CBS4 commentator, consultant, Republican
  • Sheila MacDonald, Consultant for candidates, local and statewide ballot issues, Democrat
  • Melanie Layton, State legislative lobbyist for two decades
  • Seth Masket, Professor and director of DU’s Center on American Politics

Join the Conversation
January 13, 2022
11:00 am MT


The Crossley Center’s public engagement program aims to attract thought leaders and policymakers with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to participate in an informed and civil public conversation. The purpose is to give DU audiences and Coloradans an understanding of the major influences affecting their politics and policies.

Is a Woman to Be the Next Mayor of Denver?

After 45 men have served as Denver mayor since 1859, it appears the time may be near for a woman to get the job. Out of nine early candidates mentioned in recent reports and conversations, six are women.

Is Denver at an inflection point? There is a sense the city is ready for a major, not just a mayoral, change. A new generation of voters is influencing elections. After 12 years, Mayor Michael Hancock is term-limited, and the city election is slightly more than a year away. It’s getting close to the time potential candidates, their handlers and supporters begin to test the waters. What does the early field look like? The city’s economic and civic stakeholders are scanning it for candidates that reflect their positions, which tend to be centrist and pragmatic.

A handful of candidates are subject to speculation about running for Denver’s mayoral seat in 2023. All the candidates are liberal, but the list runs from center-left to extreme left. Many more candidates may enter the race, and those listed below may try to adjust their ideological positions, but early impressions are:

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Democrats Begin the Year Way Behind

Since August as the Afghanistan withdrawal collapsed and the Delta variant surged, The Buzz has tracked President Biden’s approval decline and the growing and now near universal sentiment among political experts that the Democrats will lose the House of Representatives.

Previous The Buzz posts:

Although Biden’s approval appears to have bottomed out for now at 43 percent with a 7 percent negative tilt, it is accompanied by a Republican 3 percent advantage in the generic ballot test, which projects doom for the Democrats’ majority in the midterm election. Along with the relentless covid pandemic, now morphed into the Omicron variant, Biden is dealing with inflation raging at 7 percent, the highest in many voters’ memories (1982 CPI, 1991 core prices) and no relief is in sight.

The national political environment effects state politics. It just helped Republicans in Virginia and New Jersey. Will Colorado Republicans be able to take advantage of the favorable national conditions? Can they mount effective campaigns in Michael Bennet’s senate race or the two most competitive congressional seats – Ed Perlmutter’s 7th and the new 8th – or any of the statewide offices that Democrats now hold?

All of these issues will be explored on a Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research panel on January 13, 2022. See The Buzz: 2022 Colorado Election: Trends and Predictions.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Crossley Center Panel on Colorado Election 2022: Trends and Predictions

Colorado’s top political observers will present their analyses of the 2022 election year and offer their predictions at a Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research program on January 13, 2022. The 2022 results could change the majority control of the U.S. Congress and set the political direction of Colorado for the next decade. 

“Colorado Election 2022: Trends and Predictions” will be presented virtually via Zoom at 11:00 am (MT) on Thursday, January 13, 2022, by the University of Denver’s Crossley Center and the Center on American Politics at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

Crossley Center Director Floyd Ciruli and the panel will highlight national and local political and public opinion trends and how they will affect the Colorado election. Panel participants:

  • Dick Wadhams, Denver Post columnist, CBS4 commentator, consultant, Republican
  • Sheila MacDonald, Consultant for candidates, local and statewide ballot issues, Democrat
  • Melanie Layton, State legislative lobbyist for two decades
  • Seth Masket, Professor and director of DU’s Center on American Politics

Join the Conversation
January 13, 2022
11:00 am MT


The Crossley Center’s public engagement program aims to attract thought leaders and policymakers with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to participate in an informed and civil public conversation. The purpose is to give DU audiences and Coloradans an understanding of the major influences affecting their politics and policies.

Metro Denver Sales Tax Revenue Up 18 Percent

The seven-county Denver metropolitan area sales tax revenue continues its extraordinary recovery from the modest down year in 2020 (-3%). As of October, it is up 18.29 percent year-to-date above 2020 at this time. One beneficiary of the revenue increase, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) will distribute about $70 million to more than 200 cultural organizations.

Denver continues to offer major financial support for capital improvements for cultural facilities. Its voters just approved (66%) several million in city bond improvements for the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Zoo, Bonfils Theatre Complex, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Also, during the last decade, including the pandemic, the Denver Art Museum matched $35 million in city bond funds with $140 million in private donations to renovate the Art Museum’s Ponti Building and build a new visitor center.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Is Denver in Decline?

The discussion about the state of Denver’s direction has generated a host of commentary (see: Denver Post: Is Denver in Decline or a Boom Town? Only the 2023 Election Will Tell.). At the December 9 Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research panel discussion, Denver City Councilperson Kendra Black detailed Denver’s many strengths. The best recent description was a Facebook post by a former manager at Visit Denver, Rich Grant. His reaction to the “declinists” follows:

Rich Grant

Ha ha! Are you all crazy? There’s a thousand people moving to Denver a week! Meow Wolf, McGregor Square, $54 million of new theatres at DCPA, 39 new gates at the 3rd busiest airport in the world, new parks, streets like Larimer closed to make pedestrian areas for outdoor cafes, new food halls from Golden to Aurora, a reimagined 16th street Mall coming soon, 5280 bike path around the city, electric bike and scooter rentals on every corner, new glass ballroom on the roof of the convention center, new national Western Center (which when the old folks catch up and finally build an arena there will be a year-round Red Rocks for 10,000 seat concerts with two rail stops) and 67 breweries and 366 dispensaries, dozens of dance bars and live music and a city ringed by all you g Neighborhoods like LoHi and RiNo and Baker and Golden Triangle and Ballpark. And even Aurora is becoming cool with an array of amazing ethnic restaurants. And have you seen Golden? Or old town Arvada? Ha ha!! The only ones wondering about Denver’s future are a bunch of old people wondering how come no one cares what they think anymore. 

The Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, Colorado

Will Polis Win Easily?

The latest Sabato Crystal Ball report continues to list Governor Jared Polis’ reelection status as lean Democratic. Because the turbulent national environment is benefitting Republicans in general and some of their local campaigns have improved, the report shifted the Democratic governor in Nevada to a toss-up from lean Democrat and the governor of New Mexico to lean from likely Democrat.

I agree with Sabato’s call. Polis is likely to win a second term. But it is not clear how easily. Two factors create doubts as to his smooth sailing. As they pointed out, national political conditions are trending toward Republicans. Inflation, COVID-19 and Joe Biden’s approval are all problems for incumbent Democrats. That is probably not enough by itself to change Colorado’s race dynamics, but it’s a factor. It especially helps Republican fundraising and grassroots activities. 

In addition, Polis has had some controversies, which could hurt him. For example, he doesn’t pay much in taxes and the state had a poor administration of unemployment compensation. But the leading Republican candidate, Heidi Ganahl, does not as yet have much traction and is underfunded. Of course, Polis will spend whatever he thinks is needed to win.

However, Democrats will remain nervous. Both the Senate and selective congressional races in Colorado could be highly contested, creating Republican enthusiasm that will benefit the entire ticket.

Gov. Jared Polis at a news conference in Denver,
 Mar. 9, 2021 | David Zalubowski/AP

Monday, December 13, 2021

Is Denver at a Political Inflection Point?

In 2023, Denver will elect a new mayor. Michael Hancock will leave after 12 years as mayor, but twenty in city government, having started in council in 2003. Will the transition be mostly a shift in personnel, but not priorities, or much more dramatic like 1983 when Denver elected Federico Peña after 14 years of Bill McNichols and 2003 with the election of John Hickenlooper after 12 years of Wellington Webb? Those were major shifts governing philosophy, personnel and priorities. 

Source: Crossley Center 2021

Wall Street Journal Changes Pollsters

In a front page story on Wednesday, December 8, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the work of its new pollsters: John Anzalone of ALG Research, a Democratic pollster for Joe Biden, and Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, a Republican pollster for Donald Trump. They both polled for then-candidates’ presidential campaigns and conduct polls today for them. They replaced longtime WSJ pollsters Democrat Peter Hart (or members of his firm) of Hart Research Associates and Republican Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies.

The WSJ claims the new pollsters “have stood apart with iconoclastic approaches and cutting-edge techniques that have responded to the moment and delivered clear results for their clients.” They will use larger sample sizes and “cutting-edge sampling methodology.”

The WSJ had partnered with NBC News for three decades and are now on their own (see Steve Kornacki election). The last joint poll conducted in 2020 showed Joe Biden winning by 11 points. He was up 7 in what was a very close race in electoral votes. The entire polling industry has been struggling with the election results, which reflect, it is believed, non-responses and missed Trump voters.

The latest WSJ poll did not break any new ground. “Voters Signal Peril for Democrats” is old polling news, but the comments of the two pollsters were a lot more adversarial than before. The reporters and editors will have more work finding a scientifically-based interpretation between two highly engaged candidate advocates and protectors.

Steve Kornacki in 2020 election | MSNBC photo

Friday, December 10, 2021

Mayor’s Race in LA Focused on Homeless Crisis. Candidates Move to More Tough Than Love.

The 2023 Denver’s mayor’s race is beginning, and homelessness is a major issue. It now dominates the 2022 mayor’s race in Los Angeles. The following report by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research describes the issue’s impact in Los Angeles politics.


After years of massive expenditures on housing and services with no visible relief from the growing homeless problem, LA voters are looking for near-term solutions. They want to clear the streets and sidewalks.

A new poll sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Business Council Institute shows that voters consider homelessness as the city’s top problem (94%), that it’s gotten worse (79%), and by 57 percent to 30 percent they opt for short-term shelter sites, contrary to the positions of homeless advocates who only stress long-term housing.

The poll was conducted by Peter Hart for the LA Times.

Although voters continue to express empathy for the homeless, they are clearly impatient and not satisfied with the region’s leadership. It has gotten the attention of the leading candidates in next year’s mayor’s race to replace Mayor Eric Garcetti, who’s term-limited and has been nominated to be the ambassador to India by President Biden. As the LA Times relates, after interviewing the leading candidates – U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Councilman Kevin de Leon and Councilman Joe Buscaino – the general sentiment was:

“Bass (U.S. Representative), Feuer (city attorney), Councilman Kevin de Leon and Councilman Joe Buscaino are among those who say the city’s immediate focus should be on short-term options that can help get people off the streets as soon as possible.”

Read: L.A. voters angry, frustrated over homeless crisis, demand faster action, poll finds

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Denver Post: Is Denver in Decline or a Boom Town? Only the 2023 Election Will Tell.

The Denver Post printed the guest column, “Is Denver in a Decline or a Boom? 2023 Election Will Tell,” which describes Denver as a city of two images – in long-term decline or a growing, evolving and investing in its future. Denver is at an inflection point. The election in 2023 and the politics running up to it will reveal the dominate image. Read the column here.

A homeless camp near the Capitol, Jan. 2020 | Andy Cross/The Denver Post

Vandals deface the Capitol, July 2020 | Photo: CBS

Friday, December 3, 2021

Colorado Election 2021: Will Results Impact Cities and Schools?

An encampment in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood,
July 2020 | Eric Lubbers/The Colorado Sun
Are school boards the new political battleground? Is Aurora’s politics competitive and shifting right? Is Denver in decline?

Join city officials, election experts and a political reporter for a roundtable discussion of what happened in the November 2 local elections and what it means for our schools and communities for the next two years.

Community members give comments against mask
mandates during a Douglas County Board of Education
meeting,  Aug. 2021 | AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Pos
“Colorado Election 2021: What Happened to Cities and Schools?” will be presented virtually via Zoom at 11:00 am (MT) on Thursday, December 9, 2021 by the University of Denver’s Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

Crossley Center Director Floyd Ciruli and the panel will analyze the election results, shifts in public opinion and the effect on the politics of Denver, Aurora and Colorado’s school boards. 

Panel participants:

  • Kendra Black, Denver City Council
  • Robin Kniech, Denver City Council
  • Sean Walsh, Political and municipal consultant
  • Lynea Hansen, Political consultant, local governments
  • Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics reporter

Join the Conversation
December 9, 2021
11:00 am MT


The Crossley Center’s public engagement program aims to attract thought-leaders and policymakers with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to participate in an informed and civil public conversation. The purpose is to give DU audiences and Coloradans an understanding of the major influences affecting their politics and policies.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Colorado Election 2021: What Happened to Cities and Schools?

Are school boards the new political battleground? Is Aurora’s politics competitive and shifting right? Is Denver in decline?

Join city officials, election experts and a political reporter for a roundtable discussion of what happened in the November 2 local elections and what it means for our schools, cities and local issues for the next two years.

Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research director, Floyd Ciruli, and the panel will analyze the meaning of the results and what’s next for the politics of Denver, Aurora and Colorado school boards. 

Join the Conversation
December 9, 2021
11:00 am MT


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Historic, High-Profile Win Seals Pelosi’s Legacy

Nancy Pelosi, having moved through the ranks of numerous historic firsts, most famously, the first woman speaker of the House (2007), is now securing her position in the pantheon of the greatest speakers. The start of the Joe Biden presidency has produced an extraordinary year of legislating, especially given the narrow majorities, with the American Rescue Plan (COVID-19 relief, passed House on Feb. 11, 2021), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (bipartisan, passed House Nov. 5, 2021) and now the slightly less than $2 trillion Build Back Better Act (passed 220 to 213, Nov. 19, 2021). Also, this year she managed the impeachment of ex-President Donald Trump (his second). 

This year adds to two decades of work in the leadership. In her first speakership, she had the primary congressional responsibility for passing Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (219 to 212, March 21, 2010). After Democrats lost their majority in 2011 and went into opposition, Pelosi fought to keep her job in a second stint as minority leader. She helped position Democrats for their 2018 comeback. With the restoration of the Democratic majority, Pelosi stopped much of Trump’s legislative agenda and managed his first impeachment.

It’s been an incredible run and there’s still more than a year to go. Completing 35 years, will she retire after 2022?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi celebrates with her caucus after House
approval of Build Back Better bill, Nov. 19, 2021 | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Read Associated Press: As Biden’s big bill advances, so does Pelosi’s big legacy

Congratulations to New U.S. Attorney for Colorado, Cole Finegan

A 1986 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Cole Finegan was just confirmed by the Senate as the U.S. Attorney for Colorado. 

Finegan has served in an incredible run of important political positions in Colorado. His appointment to U.S. Attorney represents his step from managing partner in a worldwide law firm and as a political advisor, chief of staff and top attorney for elected or aspiring politicians for 30 plus years to being nominated for a U.S. Senate confirmed position. He has also volunteered for a myriad of civic causes. For example, working with former DA Mitch Morrissey and his wife, Maggie, to establish a domestic violence victim center.

Congratulations Cole.

Cole Finegan | Photo: Andy Cross/Denver Post

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

City Commits Another $700 Million to Airport

Hopefully, the next phase of the airport project will be better managed than the last several. Fortunately for the previous manager, the problems were somewhat less visible due to the pandemic compared to the electric baggage fiasco in the early 1990s.

Denver International Airport’s CEO Kim Day; Larry Naum, federal security
director for the Transportation Security Administration in Colorado; and
Cristal Torres-DeHerrera, chief of staff, pull out a life-size rendering of the
new security checkpoints that will be built in the Great Hall
improvements, phase two | Dennis Huspeni/The Denver Gazette

Read Denver Gazette: Committee Oks $700 million in bonds for Denver International Airport capital improvements

Monday, November 22, 2021

Denver in Decline or on a Boom?

The dominant image of Denver since 2020 has been a city in decline, with references to violent demonstrations, homelessness, COVID lockdowns, project timelines missed and disputes among city officials. But neither Denver voters nor its civic leaders have stopped investing in the city’s future.

Bond Projects

Denver voters approved $260 million in new bonds for projects of housing, mobility, parks and recreation, and culture and education, including libraries, The Denver Botanic Gardens, The Denver Center, the Zoo and Nature and Science Museum. Although the new Stock Show arena was rejected, the project still has millions in construction money and likely the City will find a way to build the arena.

The new Sie Welcome Center at Denver Art Museum,
Oct. 7, 2021 | Rebecca Slezak/The Denver Post
Denver Art Museum

A $175 million renovation was completed and received rave architectural critics’ reviews and community excitement.

Denver Water and Gross Reservoir

Denver Water, after more than 20 years of planning and permitting, reached agreement with Boulder County to build a half billion dollar expansion of Gross Reservoir to provide water for its 1.5 million Denver and suburban customers.

Cherry Creek West

Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Photo: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post

A new long-term project to develop the west side of the Cherry Creek mall area was announced, incorporating residential, office, open space and the creek.

All projects will drive Denver in a positive direction in 2022 and beyond.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Democrats in Trouble in Colorado Congressional Races

The Colorado Democratic Party is on the defense in even holding its current four congressional seats, much less win the new competitive 8th District. Democrats everywhere are facing a harsh political climate and most national pundits are predicting a Republican takeover of Congress. Because of redistricting, Colorado Democrats could go from a 4 to 3 Democratic congressional delegation to a 4 to 4, or even 3 to 5 favoring Republicans.

The Democrats challenge:

  • The average loss of U.S. House seats for the incumbent president’s first midterm is 26. Republicans take control if they win only 5 seats.
  • President Biden’s approval rating continues to decline. The average is 41 percent, but several new polls show it in the “30s.”
  • The generic ballot test, which is a good indicator of congressional seat swings, is now negative for Democrats for the first time this year. Republicans are up 4 points on average. Because of apportionment, Democrats historically need a positive rating with a few extra points.
  • Early redistricting reports indicate Republicans will pick up seats nationally. In Colorado, an independent process greatly benefitted Republicans by helping their most targeted incumbent, Lauren Boebert (3rd CD), and making more vulnerable a longtime Democratic incumbent, Ed Perlmutter (7th CD). Republicans have already targeted Perlmutter and are spending hundreds of thousands on attack advertisements.
  • Most importantly, the new 8th District was made very competitive, and the highest profile early declared candidate, former Weld County Commissioner and current State Senator Republican Barbara Kirkland, is likely now the frontrunner.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Abortion: The Supreme Court and Public Opinion

The U.S. Supreme Court may strike down Roe v. Wade this term as it considers abortion cases on appeal. Although the American public is divided about the moral dimension of abortion, a strong majority support Roe v. Wade and its legal protections, which conservative-dominated legislatures continue to restrict. The Washington Post reports in a Nov. 7-10, 2021 national poll (1,001 U.S. adults) that 60 percent of the public support the upholding the 1973 ruling whereas only 27 percent would overrule it.

Democrats overwhelmingly support it (82%), but interestingly, Republicans are divided with 42 percent favoring maintaining it to 45 percent supporting overturning the ruling. The assertive anti-Roe v. Wade Republican officeholders are representing a very divided party and an opposed general public on the issue.

Read The Buzz: Roe v. Wade at Risk

Democratic Party Moves to Its Left – Out of Alignment With Its Narrow Majority and Greater Publics

Joe Biden’s challenge is to be leading a party with a new liberal majority in its ideological preference, but with only the slimmest majority in Congress.

Over the last two decades, the Democratic Party has shifted 23 percentage points to the left, from 28 percent liberal in 2000 to 51 percent self-identified liberal in 2020. A party that was a quarter conservative in 2000 cut that in half the last 20 years, down to 12 percent conservative today, and self-identified moderates dropped 7 points down to 35 percent. So, the party’s ideological makeup is 51 percent liberal and 47 percent moderate-conservative, but all the momentum is with liberals.

Hence, President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer must craft legislation with the tiniest majority for a very liberal party, including many members of the congressional delegation. Their success passing covid relief and bipartisan infrastructure within their own ranks has been a major achievement.

As the table shows, independents are more conservative (29%) than liberal (20%), but primarily label themselves as moderate (48%). Republicans have been overwhelmingly conservative for several decades (75% today), with few liberals (4%) and moderates declining 11 points to 20 percent during the last two decades.

Besides leading a party that has shifted dramatically to the left in recent years, Democratic leaders’ other problem is that the public is still moderately conservative in its identified bent. Gallup reports that the ideology of the U.S. is today only a quarter liberal (25%) with most people claiming to be conservative (36%) or moderate (35%).

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Steve Bannon Theater: He Goes Full Sonny Corleone in a Homeless Outfit

Steve Bannon, always the performer, currently marketing right-wing revolution, showed up for the first of no doubt many cameo appearances in D.C. court using his best angry, threatening tone.

He had some well-scripted lines as he vowed to topple the Biden “regime” and threatened the attorney general with making the charge against him a “misdemeanor from Hell” as he exclaimed loudly: “I’m never going to back down. They took on the wrong guy this time.”

He wore his unshaven, unkept outfit and yelled his defiance to the circus-like audience and the media scrum, some of whom are friends and all of whom have become enablers of his show.

Steve Bannon speaks to reporters after leaving federal court,
Washington, Nov. 15, 2021 | Alex Brandon/AP

As Xi Gets Another Five years, China’s Woes Mount

Xi Jinping was just defied using the Imperial Rome term as leader of China with the status of Mao and Deng. The irony is that in his decade-long push for power, capstoned by his ascension in the country’s updated history and a new five-year term, China’s woes have mounted to a point that if there was any alternative or independent authority, it would surely be heard. Many of China’s problems are a direct reflection of Xi’s strategy and actions.

Xi’s Decade of Problems

  • Still dealing with COVID-19 lockdowns, major public relations disaster
  • Economic growth stalls, inequity grows
  • Uyghurs in re-education camps
  • Hong Kong freedom suppressed
  • Taiwan regularly threatened with force
  • Faux Islands in South China Sea
  • Conflicts with India (border) and Japan (islands)
  • U.S. begins aggressive effort to counter, including trade, alliances and military capability
  • Free and open Indo-Pacific becomes a cause for most Pacific countries

Chinese President Xi Jinping at opening of Parliament
Photo: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Read The Buzz: Peak China – Xi Defense

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Infrastructure Bill Was Historic: Both Process and Result

President Joe Biden’s tireless advocacy of a bipartisan infrastructure bill succeeded in the face of endless cynicism from Democrats and opposition from Trump-leaning Republicans.

The legislation passed the Senate with 18 Republican votes and the House with 12.

Presidents have promised major infrastructure spending for decades. The more than $1 trillion will provide funding for new and old projects long sought. It is also a down payment on Biden’s effort to show foreign allies and adversaries that American democracy can work.

President Joe Biden speaks about infrastructure negotiations
outside White House, June 24, 2021 | Evan Vucci/AP

President Joe Biden signed into law a $1 trillion infrastructure
bill at a White House ceremony, Nov. 15, 2021 | Reuters 

Barbara Kirkmeyer Has Democrats Worried

State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer’s announcement she is running for the new 8th Congressional District has national Democrats already concerned. They immediately attacked her as too conservative.

Kirkmeyer, a longtime Weld County Commissioner, is the best-known and most likely the most electable person in a race that is expected to be highly competitive and very expensive.

Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer works at her desk before a session of the
Colorado Senate om Colorado Springs, CO, Feb. 16, 2021
Photo: Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP

Read The Colorado Sun: Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer launches campaign for Colorado’s 8th Congressional District seat

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The New Norm Among Autocrats: Stay in Power Until You Die

Daniel Ortega just secured his 4th term as president of Nicaragua by removing the last remnants of democracy. He now just arrests anyone who dares to run against him.

Xi Jinping has puppet congress approve new version of history where he joins pantheons of Mao and Deng and secures his 3rd five-year term as president. The Communist Party makes no pretense of democracy and exclaims the wonders of autocracy.

Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega | Getty Images

Communist Party officials are expected to decide this week whether
Xi Jinping (L) will be placed among the country’s era-defining leaders
Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Recovery From Pandemic. Dow Above 36000.

The year started with a 30606 Dow Jones average, and in 10 months, added nearly 6000 points, the sixth 1000 milestone for the year (albeit earlier to do with a Dow above 30000).

The powerful bull market continues in spite of supply chain disruptions, inflation above 2 percent mark and threat of rising rates next year.

Earning have been the strongest driver this fall and the Fed continues to signal their belief that inflation will moderate and the tightening will be slow (scale back the taper over 7 months). The federal government continues to provide a promise – trillions in new stimulus.

Read The Buzz:

Monday, November 8, 2021

Four Takeaways From Denver Election

There were few surprises in the Denver off-year election. Possibly the most remarkable thing was that a record of 13 ballot initiatives barely attracted 165,000 voters in a city with 500,000 registered and with nearly 400,000 voters in presidential years.

Four Takeaways

  1. National Western Complex | Photo: Hans Watson
    The Denver Stock Show development area on Brighton Boulevard has been a major beneficiary of Denver tax generosity. It appears to be at an end. The arena’s price tag was too large for the rest of the package. Voters said enough already.
  2. The Republican label is a non-starter in Denver. The political establishment – mostly Democratic, but includes Republican business and non-profit interests – went to war over the three initiatives and crushed them by 60 percent or better. Only homelessness, a major aggravation for voters, got slightly closer (only lost by 56%).
  3. Open space is a first for love for Denver voters. Even projects from credible developers with interested neighborhoods are not able to overcome the preferences. Voters said “yes” to open space (Park Hill golf course) – 63 percent, “no” to development – 63 percent.
  4. Denver voters still give the city major support in its investment plans – $260 million more for infrastructure. It’s considerably more than other Colorado jurisdictions invest and a lot quicker than the U.S. Congress.


Can Colorado Republicans Ride the Red Tide?

In 2021, there is a Red Tide from the East. Republicans showed that there’s a path for success, even with Donald Trump hovering. The Virginia and New Jersey results affirmed the old rule that off-year elections are a problem for the presidential party. Augmenting the problem is the President’s low approval; the still dangerous COVID variant with all the controversial mandates and protocols; the signs of long-term inflation; Democrats’ chaotic delivery of a legislative product; and the party’s inept handling of domestic social issues of crime, policing and education.

If Colorado Republicans can follow the model, could they get back some of the positions lost since the 2018 midterm? As described below, they certainly have some targets of opportunity, and a supportive national environment.

  • The just approved congressional redistricting map makes two seats appear very competitive – the new 8th CD from the north Denver suburbs to Greeley and Ed Perlmutter’s new extended into the south-central Colorado 7th CD.
  • Michael Bennet does not have a well-established image nationally or in Colorado. He will be burdened by the drag of the President and national party. But Bennet is a strong campaigner and will be well-financed. It will require a Youngkin-type Republican candidate to make it a race.
  • Statewide, Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s high-profile partisanship and Treasurer Dave Young low profile make them the two most vulnerable statewide Democratic officials.
  • Local races, especially for county offices, should be winnable and it would restore some of the positions lost in 2018 and 2020. Of course, there will be a few legislative seats to target, especially in the Senate, but a majority in either House will still be a reach.

It could be a very productive year for Republicans, or like recent elections, a bust. It will depend on organization, message, and candidate selection.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Low Turnout Election Says “No” to Statewide Initiatives

Voter turnout appears to be just above the modest turnout in 2019 of 1.5 million. The count was 1,565,994 as of Wednesday, November 3. I predicted 1.5 million on the Monday before Election Day (see KOA blog). Presidential elections in Colorado now can reach a turnout of 3.2 million voters (2020) and the last midterm saw 2.5 million voters (2018).

Voters said “no” across-the-board to statewide ballot measures. They defeated an increased marijuana tax for educational programming (54% no), a property tax assessment decrease (57% no) and a requirement that all state spending (e.g., federal funds) must go through the state legislative process (56% no). The three measures lacked much attention and the general mood of the few voters wasn’t supportive of Republican-driven statewide initiatives (Colorado Rising) or an ill-defined new tax initiative on marijuana for education. Although it had some bipartisan support and funding, and Governors Bill Owens and Bill Ritter and Mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Pena supported it, the Democratic Party called it a back-door voucher program.

In the few off-year elections held in Colorado, turnout tends to be low. In 2019, Colorado voters said “no” to a TABOR override, which had bipartisan support and a well-financed campaign.

Congratulations to Denver Water for Boulder County Settlement on Gross Reservoir Expansion

Boulder County commissioners accepted with considerable regret and bad humor the weakness of their legal position and that Denver Water’s offer of $10 million for mitigation was all they were going to get (Denver later added $2.5 million). It was unfortunate that all the time and funding for studies and lawyers was expended, but Boulder would not have approved the construction permit and were just using the process to stall. Denver Water has been working to get the project underway for more than a decade while the cost of construction increased and the shortage of water grew. Fortunately for the metro area’s critical water infrastructure, the federal planning process and the courts simply made it impossible to continue delay.

Denver Water, their board, management and lawyers showed considerable patience, resilience and strategic insight in arriving at a conclusion. Well done, and good news for the metro area.

Gross Reservoir

Denver Says “No” to Arena and to Republican Proposals on Taxes and Homelessness

A low, but overwhelmingly Democratic voter turnout supported four of five city bond initiatives, but said “no” to the $190 million National Western arena – a loss that many predicted.

While the controversial arena proposal lost, the City did receive approval for four other bonds for a total of $260 million benefiting transportation projects, libraries, cultural facilities, housing and parks projects. They each received about 60 percent voter support. But on the fifth item, a third of those voters shifted sides and said “no” to the arena (58% voted no).

With 89,000 Democratic voters to 19,000 Republican, being a Republican-labeled initiative was a fatal burden. The cap on taxes was crushed and the camping ban lost, although by smaller a percentage.

2021 Looks Like 2009 and Obama’s First Year Elections. Will the Midterms Be the Same?

Ten months into Barack Obama’s first term, the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections were a confirmation of his steady decline in the polls (from a much higher level of approval than Biden) and the Tea Party grassroots turmoil seen for months. Republicans Bob McDonnell won in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey. The major observation was that they won the independent vote Obama had carried so handily in 2008.

The elections were the prelude to a disastrous 2010 midterm election, which began with Democrats losing Ted Kennedy’s vacant Massachusetts senate seat in the January replacement election due to his death. In November, their newly won (2006) House majority and Speaker Nancy Pelosi lost 64 seats in the 2010 Obama midterm. What’s the guess on the Democratic loss in 2022? If it’s more than 4 seats, they lose their majority.

See blog: Midterms are Ugly for Incumbent President’s Party

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

State Supreme Court Starts the 2022 Congressional Races

Supreme Court Justice Monica Márquez just delivered a unanimous court approval of the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission plan for congressional redistricting. The decision will start the 2022 congressional races for seven seats with incumbents and one new competitive seat in the North Denver to Greeley area.

Márquez responded to complaints and appeals with approval of the Commission and its process. She dismissed the objections raised by Democrats and Latino groups arguing the Commission acted within its authority to enforce state constitutional requirements and didn’t abuse its discretion. Her praise of the overall process was fulsome:

“This year has marked a watershed for congressional redistricting in Colorado. For the first time, the state’s congressional district map is not the product of politics or litigation; it is instead the product of public input, transparent deliberation, and compromise among twelve ordinary voters representing the diversity of our state.”

All seven incumbents have a partisan advantage. Republicans did much better than expected and could end up with a 4-4 delegation. Lauren Boebert, who is the Democrats’ main target, was given a better district than she currently serves. Her most serious opponents’ home isn’t in the district. Republicans are at least competitive in Ed Perlmutter’s newly designed 7th CD and they start in a strong position in the new very competitive 8th district.

Given President Biden and the Democrats poor positions nationally, Republicans could be running with a tailwind in 2022.

Japan Votes to Maintain Steady Consensus

Japanese voters in their national parliamentary election continued their support for the long dominating Liberal Democratic Party giving them 261 seats in a 465-seat lower house of the Diet. Although it is down by 15 seats, it’s well over the 233 seats needed for a majority (an allied party, Komeito, won 32 seats).

The new Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, can begin what is usually a four-year term. Kishida has made clear he intends to continue the basic outline of policies from Shinzo Abe, who served from 2012 to 2020.

  • Continue commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and dealing with the rising tensions with China.
  • Strengthen Japan’s military capacity and increase funding. Taiwan’s independence and North Korea’s missile threat are top issues.
  • Maintain the alliance with the U.S. As a former foreign minister for Abe, he knows the history, participants and the relationships.
  • Build trade relationship with Pacific partners through a remodeled Trans-Pacific Partnership.

He left shortly after the election results to Glasgow, Scotland for the climate conference. Japan has committed billions for financing for developing countries.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (C) puts rosettes by successful candidate
names at his party’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, Oct. 31, 2021 | AFP

Read: Japan’s Party Bosses Pick Fumio Kishida Over Taro Kono. Consensus over Reform

G20 – Biden has a Good Moment

Joe Biden’s brief moment in Rome was a respite from the endless bad news that began late summer from COVID-19 and Afghanistan to getting on Air Force One last Friday leaving behind the pained infrastructure legislation impasse.

His meeting with Pope Francis was stunning, and even the politicians at the G20 seemed in a good mood, with Biden and President Macron shaking hands and a general agreement to a minimum tax.

President Joe Biden sits across from Pope Francis, 
Oct. 29, 2021 | Vatican News via YouTube

G20 leaders toss coins during a visit to the Trevi Fountain in Rome, 
Oct. 31, 2021 | Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images