Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Biden’s Approval Drops to Low 40s

Since the Afghanistan withdrawal (last day 8-30), Biden and Democrats have been on defense. The conventional wisdom is that it is both rare to recover from a pre-midterm approval swoon and near impossible from a presidential drop in the low 40 percent range. But, these are volatile times and President Biden could recover the public’s approval if the major concerns voters now have lessened and Democrats deliver on some promises.

Key issues hurting Biden and Democrats that need resolution:

  • Both COVID-19 and its variants may taper off by the spring
  • The economy remains strong, supply distribution problems repaired soon and inflation lessened in the spring
  • Congressional Democrats finally deliver a legislative product, which liberals will declare transformative and most centrists will see as moderate due to the scaled-down cost

Democrats tend to rally to their president as an election gets closer. Independents may shift as the election becomes a choice between returning to 2020 turmoil or moving on.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Denver Sales Tax Revenue Continues Strong Year-to-Date Growth

The seven-county Denver metropolitan area economy continues to generate record-breaking sales tax revenue with 18 percent year-to-date growth through August. Each one percent of sales tax has produced $490,000,000 as of August. Sales tax revenue’s strongest months are the last quarter of the year with holiday shopping. Thus far, the Colorado economy has not been slowed with Covid, labor shortages, supply delays or inflation. Will it stay healthy for the rest of the year? It appears to have considerable momentum.

See: Regional Sales Tax Revenue Continues to Grow as Economy Surges

Monday, October 18, 2021

Is American Democracy at the Tipping Point?

If Trump “makes a successful return to the presidency in 2024, democracy’s done.” (There is Nothing for You Here. Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century, Fiona Hill, Politico interview).

“The destruction of democracy might not come until November 2024, but critical steps in that direction are happening now.” (“Our constitutional crisis is already here,” Robert Kagan, Washington Post column)

“Like an installment of a deathless Marvel franchise, for all its spectacle ‘Peril’ ends with a dismaying sense of prologue.” (Peril, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, New York Times review)

American news media, opinion pages and talk shows have taken up the danger to democracy posed by the domestic and international trend toward authoritarianism. In the U.S., it’s been an ongoing theme, at least since the January 6 insurrection, and is subject to a flood of books and opinion essays corresponding to the ongoing investigation of January 6 and the renewed 2024 ambition of former President Donald Trump.

The nation’s top public opinion analysts agree that the public perceives a danger to democracy. Also, many harbor beliefs that challenge democratic norms and the system. For example, as the writers above reference, Trump’s election fraud position is becoming the Republican Party’s platform.

  • CNN Poll: Most Americans feel democracy is under attack in the U.S. – 56% democracy under attack, 51% believe elected officials likely to overturn results if their party doesn’t win.
  • Reuters/Ipsos: 53% of Republicans believe Trump is “true president.” 61% believe election was stolen from Trump.
  • Pew Poll: A majority of Republicans want Trump to be a party leader – 44% want him to run again. 63% say party should not accept Republican-elected leaders who openly criticize Trump.
  • Gallup Poll: People are losing trust in democratic judgement – only 55% trust fellow citizens to decide important issues, down from 78% in 2006. Only a third (36%) have confidence in the media, few Republicans – 11%.

Will the Denver Camping Ban Pass by 80%?

Tents line Pearl Street and 16th Avenue in Denver,
Dec. 1, 2020 | Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver is a very liberal city. It gave Joe Biden 80 percent of its vote in 2020, but it may be headed for a revolt over widespread homeless camps.

In 2019, Denver voters crushed by 83 percent an effort by homeless advocates to legalize public camping. In 2020, city voters approved a 0.25 percent tax increase for the homeless, but the problem hardly receded, rather it grew more visible, requiring more dramatic actions, such as a ban on camping in the Civic Center. However, homeless camps appear to simply move to other sidewalks, vacant lots and parks. In reaction, Initiative 303 has been placed on the ballot. It would enforce a camping ban on private property, with property owners holding the city legally liable if they don’t take action. In response, many city leaders and civic groups are opposing it. The sponsor is the head of the out-of-power Republican Party in Denver. But if it passes, it will be a sign of a full-scale revolt over homelessness in Denver.

The homeless isn’t the only challenge bedeviling Denver’s political establishment. A host of other city initiatives are being resisted by proposals on the November ballot that could open the 2023 city council and mayor’s races to a wild moment in the city’s political history.

Nov. 2, 2021 Municipal Elections

  • 2E – National Western arena - $190 million. Although most of the bond package may pass since Denver voters have a history of approval, but the arena is struggling. And even a million-dollar campaign may not pass it, causing another blow to the mayor and political establishment.
  • 2F – Ban group living quarters in residential areas. If voters reject the city’s effort to densify and spread group treatment facilities to various neighborhoods, it will be a powerful rebuke of City Council and the planners and advocates they follow.
  • 303 Ban camping on private property and limit it on city land. As discussed above, if this passes, especially by a significant margin, expect the next wave of Denver city candidates to re-orient themselves around the issue as groups and politicians adopting the “progressive” label have to play defense.

These three issues will indicate if Denver continues its progressive direction or shifts to the right on some issues.

See: Denver November Ballot Turmoil

Friday, October 15, 2021

Congratulations to the Denver Art Museum for a Renovation Accomplished

Under the leadership of the Denver Art Museum’s board and management team, an incredible $175 million restoration of the 50-year-old Ponti building and the new Martin Building and Sie Welcome Center has been completed during the pandemic. The citizens of Denver contributed $35 million in bonds and private donors raised $140 million more for the project led by Lanny (board of trustee chair since 2013) and Sharon Martin and the Sie Family.

With new exhibit and visitor space, classrooms and a restaurant, the expanded museum will allow an enhanced display of the permanent collection. It is a major addition to downtown Denver’s arts complex and visitor experiences. The Museum’s director, Christoph Heinrich, announced the public welcoming grand opening October 24.

Well done Denver.

Northwest Indigenous exhibit at the Lanny and Sharon Martin
Building, Oct. 7, 2021 | Rebecca Slezak/The Denver Post

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

Read The Denver Post: Inside Denver Art Museum’s $175 million makeover, which opens this month

Biden Selects Hill to be Ambassador to the Balkans

Christopher Hill, former dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, has been nominated by President Joe Biden for another term of service at the U.S. State Department.

Hill, after a 34-year career as a foreign senior officer, will, if confirmed by the Senate, serve in Serbia in a region where he worked with special presidential envoy Richard Holbrook on the Dayton Peace Accords. Hill has served as an ambassador to four countries under three presidents, including Poland, South Korea and Iraq. He’s also served as the head of the U.S. delegation to the six-party talks in 2003 to address the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Hill has diplomatic background in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, but he’s probably most experienced in the Balkans and speaks Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian and Albanian.

Most recently, Hill has been lecturing and teaching as a professor of practice at Columbia University. Hill is regularly seen on national television and was a frequent speaker at events in the Denver community on foreign policy issues. He participated in numerous programs sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, including highly attended post-election programs in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Floyd Ciruli and Chris Hill present a post-election event,
Nov. 2016 | University of Denver photo

Former President George W. Bush speaks at the Korbel
Gala as Dean Chris Hill listens, Sept. 10, 2013
Photo: University of Denver via YouTube

Thursday, October 14, 2021

PAPOR Conference on California Recall

California’s top pollsters will review their recall election polls in a virtual panel moderated by Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver. The program is a part of the three-day December 1-3 annual conference of the Pacific Chapter of American Association for Public Opinion Research.

The two leading California polling organizations – the Public Policy Institute of California and its president and CEO Mark Baldassare and the Berkeley IGS Poll and its director Mark DiCamillo – who used different methodologies, will review the accuracy of their results and recall polling in general. Also, the media coverage of recall polling and its impact on the election narrative will be considered. Finally, the main drivers of Governor Gavin Newsom’s success in defeating the recall will be analyzed, along with the performance of key constituencies.

Panelists are:

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Education a Major Factor in Women’s Approval of Biden

Since the 2016 presidential election, the powerful effect of education on voting behavior has been a major research topic for public opinion practitioners and political scientists. In a Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research analysis from a recent Marquette University Law national poll, men – both white and non-white – were shown to have a 20-point drop-off in their approval for President Joe Biden depending on their level of college attainment.

A comparison with women shows, while they are 4 percentage points more approving of Biden than men, education is a powerful predicator of their level of approval. For example, among white women, there is a 19 percent fall off depending on the level of education, but among non-white, the decline in support is about half that amount – 11 percentage points. Non-white women are the strongest and most dependable Biden supporters regardless of level of education.

As previous analyses showed, the most significant difference in approval compared to men is among non-white respondents. Although approval among non-white females drops 11 points from 73 percent to 62 percent, it is about half the drop among men (69% drop to 49%, or 20 points). The following table compares male and female approval of Biden from the poll.

See: Democrats Losing Men, But Non-College Men a Disaster

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Democrats Losing Men, But Non-College Men a Disaster

New admission data shows men are less likely to attend or graduate from college than women (40% to 60%). Men are also less likely than women to support Democrats, and not just white men, which has been well-noted, but also non-white men in comparable percentages (both groups are 4 points less supportive than women). In addition, if the men don’t have a college education, their support is much lower.

The following September 2021 national poll shows approval of President Biden by men: white and non-white, college graduate (4-year) and non-college graduate. Biden’s overall approval rating was 48 percent, and 69 percent among non-white college graduates, but only 49 percent for non-college graduates. As the table shows, there is a 20-point drop-off in support by white and non-college graduates. The declines represent massive slumps in support. For example, among white college vs. non-college white men, the 20-point drop-off represents a 40 percent decline in support among white men and nearly a 30 percent (29%) decline among non-white men. 

Young men missing college is not only a problem among minority groups – long and well-documented, if not much improved – it’s also a problem for the Anglo community. And, it is a political crisis (20-point drop-off) beyond the loss in human potential for Democrats.

See: PollsAndVotes

Monday, October 11, 2021

Midterms are Ugly for Incumbent President’s Party

Charles Franklin, Director of Marquette Law School Poll and Professor Emeritus at UW-Madison, published a chart that reinforces the point that the Democrats face a very difficult history in holding the House – much better for the Senate (although, any loss would be fatal in 2022 – 2.3 average loss). As the chart displays, but for a few exceptions, a 26-seat loss can be expected November 2022.

Political scientists have provided numerous theories as to the mechanisms that appear to drive this result. Because the elections are a relatively small sample (11) and each involve significant variations, at best one can list some most relevant reasons and fit them to the apparent circumstances one year out to November 2022.

  • Surge and decline. Presidents tend to drive their supporters turnout and not being on the ballot dampens it.
  • Negative voting. People are more motivated to vote against a party or leader than support one. Anger is a stronger emotion than gratitude. The current intense polarization is a product of the negative sentiments.
  • Presidential popularity. President’s popularity tend to track election results – good and bad – for their party. It is extremely low now for the Democrats.

Given the polarization and closeness of recent elections, it may not be likely the Republicans win 26 seats, but it will be extremely likely they can win a third of that number and control of the House.

Read The Buzz: The House is Lost for Democrats?

Friday, October 8, 2021

Colorado’s New 8th District Could Decide House

Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call analysis of House seats around the nation after redistricting identifies Colorado’s new 8th District as one of the most competitive in the country. Nathan Gonzales writes under a headline “Competitive new 8th District could help decide the majority”:

“That means Democrats are going to have to work to gain even a single seat in a state that has been trending their way over the last three election cycles.”

Gonzales, a well-known Washington D.C. prognosticator who is the editor and publisher of Inside Elections, reviewed Colorado’s other 7 districts. His assessment was similar to The Buzz, “Predictions on New Congressional Delegation.”

He lists the 8th as a toss-up new seat, which Biden would have won by 4 points in 2020 and Trump by 2 points in 2016.

Colorado is a state that has been trending Democratic, but 2022 could be a good Republican year nationally, and all politics today tend to be more national than in the past.

See Roll Call: New Lines, new ratings for House races in Colorado

Europe – Divided and Transitional Leadership

Europe will be months, if not years, identifying its new leaders and direction. The shock of the UK leaving the European Union is still being absorbed – with the AUKUS agreement between the UK, US and Australia sans France reverberating. With Angela Merkel, the consensus-inclined EU leader, retiring and her electorate splintered among parties, Germany will likely need months to sort out a government and it may not be cohesive.

France’s Emmanuel Macron always aspires to lead Europe in a more independent direction, but there is resistance in the EU to his vision and he must face an unruly French electorate next spring.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin, while long of tooth, remains a dangerous expansionist nationalist. After recent parliamentary elections, he is even more secure and ever disruptive of the West and democracy.

President Joe Biden began his administration declaring America is back and European allies a priority. The statements were more aspirational than factual. America is still politically gridlocked and threatened by a 2024 nationalist revival. In addition, the U.S. looks to Asia as the next theater of global competition.

All in all, Europe is facing a deep set of challenges with no clear leader or direction.

Read The Buzz: Germany Has New Leader, But No Clear Direction

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Germany Has New Leader, But No Clear Direction

Angela Merkel, hailed for her leadership skills beyond Germany, led a final governing coalition that was highly unstable with repeated changes of key players. Nor was she able to pick a successor as her position weakened in recent years after local election losses.

That instability will continue after the recent close election with the electorate divided among four major parties. The winner, Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), barely beat Merkel’s Christian Democratic coalition (CDU/CSU). Although the SPD vote improved since the last elections (2017), it beat the CDU/CSU by only 1.5 percent, receiving barely a quarter (25.7%) of the national vote. Because of the fragmented result, it will likely take months of negotiations with other parties to build a parliamentary majority and assemble new government.

Scholz is a known quantity serving as the current finance minister in the Merkel government. The new configuration will be more left of the Merkel government because the SPD, which was the center-left member of the coalition, must form a coalition with the Green Party. But, it will be likely as unstable as Merkel’s final years as it must also join with the Free Democratic Party, a classical liberal free-market party. All three potential partners have very different positions on key issues. They are mostly united by wanting to end the dominance of the Christian Democrats.

As the election results show, the more left parties gained strength since 2017. The issue that dominated this election tuned on the devastating floods in July that made climate change the top issue, benefiting both the Greens and the SPD. Also, examining late polls show the candidates made a difference with CDU/CSU candidate Armin Laschet, seen joking and laughing at an event during the floods, damaging the party’s support after a storm of criticism.

Congratulations Chancellor – DU Campus in the Mountains

Congratulations to University of Denver Chancellor Jeremy Haefner for helping direct the purchase and creation of a new mountain campus in Larimer County near Roosevelt National Forest and Red Feather Lakes. It will serve as both a retreat and nature classroom.

Haefner will be installed this week as DU’s 19th chancellor. What a great gift for generations of future students.

Thanks to James Kennedy for the gift and the DU Board of Trustees for the leadership.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

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

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party selected former foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, a 64-year-old politician known for avoiding controversy and building party consensus. But, he’s less popular with the public than his leading opponent, Taro Kono, a Georgetown graduate and a good communicator, including in English, but he was known as a maverick who advocated reform.

The vote was close and required a second vote, which gave the party bosses more clout (LDP vote Sept. 29, full Diet vote Oct. 4). Conservatives united behind Kishida. The party leaders, although concerned about winning parliamentary elections scheduled October 31, felt simply having a new leader after the unpopular Yoshihide Suga and the improved conditions related to COVID-19 would be sufficient to hold their majority.

In terms of foreign policy, no change is expected. Kishida is an establishment candidate with a conservative reputation. The Biden administration has prioritized Asia and the China threat. Japan’s leadership has been fully supportive, and with the continued conservative orientation of the new prime minister and government, it should not change.

Fumio Kishida (R) succeeds Yoshihide Suga (L) as
Japan’s new prime minister | Photo via

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

China Rattling Its Sabers Toward Taiwan While Declaring Commitment to Peace

On October 2, China escalated its military threats toward Taiwan with a record number of incursions into Taiwan’s airspace. Two separate incursions took place with 20 planes in the daytime and 19 at night.

Shortly before, Chinese President Xi Jinping (Sept. 22) told the UN General Assembly: “China has never and will never invade or bully others, or seek hegemony.”

China sent anti-submarine aircraft, fighter jets and warships to
the southwest and southeast of Taiwan | Photo: Xinhua


KOA – Was There Disappointment in the Final Commission Map?

April Zesbaugh, Floyd Ciruli and Marty Lenz
A key topic in a KOA interview with April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz (9-29-21) concerned disappointment in the final map produced by the new Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission. My view was that voters in 2012 were promised more competitive districts and the map favors all seven of Colorado’s incumbents. The Commission was sensitive to the competition question. It was one of the factors that required 7 votes to get agreement on a final map.

The biggest disappointment for Democrats was that Lauren Boebert’s district went from a 5 percent win in 2020 to a 9 percent potential advantage according to the Commission staff calculations. Democrats had already raised over $1 million for a candidate who no longer lives in the district.

Republicans are somewhat pleased that District 7 Democrat Ed Perlmutter only has a 7 percent advantage in a new district that includes his home county of Jefferson, but extends south down the center of the state.

Both parties and the Hispanic community should be competitive in the new 8th district that runs from the north Denver suburbs to Greeley in Weld County. The partisan advantage is judged to be nearly dead even.

Clearly, the Commission worked very hard for several months. It held 36 public hearings throughout the state and staff published three preliminary maps before the final was approved. The biggest challenge was balancing the often competing guidelines to have an equal number in each district (721,714 required) and make them “compact,” “contiguous,” maintain “communities of interest” following civil rights laws, and finally, be competitive as possible.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Natalie Meyer RIP

We miss Natalie Meyer, a Colorado Secretary of State that believed the job should be professional and non-partisan. She served during the Reagan to Clinton presidencies and with Democratic governors Lamm and Romer (1983-1995).

She believed voters were the sovereign, and during those years, Colorado had fair and accurate counts. Media, pollsters and analysts could depend on the results and the availability of the data. She just passed away. Thank you for your service, Natalie.

Natalie Meyer | Photo: Michael Hesse

Bloomberg News Sees Latinos as Winners in Colorado’s New Congressional Map

Bloomberg Government reporter Tripp Baltz, who frequently covers Colorado politics (Tina Peters and QAnon Support Belief Election Stolen), posted in Bloomberg online government section his analyses of the final congressional map “approved by the Colorado Independent Commission that also would increase the voice of Latino voters.”

I pointed out that the impact the map had on Colorado’s seven incumbent congresspersons:

“This was a good map for incumbents—no one looks like they’re in trouble,” said Floyd Ciruli, political science professor at the University of Denver. “It’s a lot better map for the Republicans than they thought they were going to get.”

Lauren Boebert

Freshman Lauren Boebert (R) is among the incumbents given friendly territory.

“She still has a five-point advantage,” Ciruli said. “In 2020, she lost Pueblo just slightly to a Democrat, and Pueblo isn’t the sure thing for Democrats it used to be.” [Her advantage is plus 9 points]


Ed Perlmutter
Eight-term Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) ended up with a revised 7th District with more rural areas than in his current district, though the constituency would still have a Democratic lean.

“Assume it’s not a good Democratic year, he’s a senior congressman facing an incredible amount of driving and travel,” the professor said. “He’s done well where he is known, but those people to the south and west will not be familiar to him.”