Thursday, June 30, 2022

Turnout Low and More Votes in Republican Primary

Credit: KOA
As opposed to the 2018 primary when more votes went to the Democratic candidates, the Republicans dominated the turnout in 2022 when they had the competitive primaries. It was also a quieter political year. Turnout dropped from 37 percent to 31 percent.

In 2018, 1.1 million voted, with 637,000 in the Democratic primary for governor (Jared Polis won), the top vote-getting race, and 503,000 voted for the Republican gubernatorial candidates (Walker Stapleton won). Today, the total vote with about 99 percent counted is the nearly the same at 1.2 million in spite of 500,000 more registered voters (3.3 to 3.8 million). The Republican primary attracted more voters (617,000 to 497,000).

High Unaffiliated Voter Turnout in Republican Primary

Unaffiliated voters broke two records – one for total turnout, 100,000 more than 2018, and another for voting in the Republican primary.

In 2018, 290,000 unaffiliated voted, with about two-thirds (200,000) voting in the Democratic primary and 90,000, or one-third of the total voting Republican. This year, 400,000 voted. It was 41 percent voted Republican and 30 percent Democratic.

Closest Race in State

The closest race in the Colorado primary was House District 6 in central Denver, expanding east along Colfax. Progressive Elisabeth Epps has won with 7,460 votes, defeating centrist Katie March with 7,087, with few votes left to count.

The race received extensive coverage as an example of the struggle in the Democratic Party between its progressive wing and more moderate forces. The district contest was also seen as a prelude to next year’s mayor’s race as Mayor Hancock retires.

Read: Crime, A Democratic Party Conflict. Denver Legislative and Mayor’s Races.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Battle for Soul of Party – 2020 Election Deniers Soundly Rejected

Credit: KOA
In a June 22 KOA interview with Marty Lenz, the June 28 Republican primaries were described as a battle for the soul of the party. 

I pointed out that the November election is likely to be a good year for Republican candidates, and primary voters are being asked: Do you want the strongest candidate to appeal to Colorado unaffiliated and swing voters or the loudest candidate to express your grievance with the 2020 election?

In the Senate, gubernatorial, and Secretary of State races, high-profile election denier candidates lost the Republican Party primary after winning the state convention’s top positions: Ron Hanks (Senate), Greg Lopez (Governor) and Tina Peters (Secretary of State). Donald Trump and his 2020 election denial is a losing position among Colorado Republicans. The party will field its establishment-endorsed and supported ticket for November. 

Democrats’ Intervention in Republican Primary Fails

The Democratic Party and associated groups entered the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, governor, Secretary of State and the new 8th Congressional District to promote the most conservative candidate, which they believed would be the easiest to defeat in November. Their advertisement theme was “too conservative to Colorado” in an effort to stir up the Republican base voters. They wasted their money – election deniers lost and the more moderate establishment candidates won.

  • Senate – Ron Hanks lost
  • Governor – Greg Lopez lost
  • Secretary of State – Tina Peters lost
  • 8th Congressional District – Lori Saine lost

In a KOA radio interview with Marty Lenz, I pointed out that the Democrats’ effort came under considerable criticism for being unethical, counterproductive to their values and ineffective. The ads are fundamentally deceptive to the voters; with an attempt to manipulate Republican turnout, they disparaged democratic values the Democrats claim to want to protect; and they were counterproductive in that they gave the non-election denier candidate some additional publicity, a target to attack and a bit of sympathy. The strategy wasted funds and failed across-the-board. Mostly, they embarrassed the party and hurt its reputation.

Ron Hanks, Tina Peters and Greg Lopez

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Late Votes Shift Lead to Bass in LA. Will Progressives Deliver in November?

The early results gave Rick Caruso a 5-point lead on Karen Bass (42% to 37% reported June 8, 2:00 am). The final poll completed on Tuesday, May 31, and published in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, June 5, gave Congressperson Bass a 6-point lead over Caruso. The last IGS poll said 30 percent were undecided and Bass led 38 percent to 32 percent for Caruso.

The results, with just 74,000 votes left to count in California’s very slow system, is now Bass 43 percent to Caruso 36 percent, or a 7-point lead, very near the IGS poll. The late vote across other city races favored the more “progressive” candidates.

The question now becomes: Will the “progressive” vote and viewpoint of the issues remain dominant to November 8?

Karen Bass speaks at her election night party,
June 7, 2022 | Christina House/Los Angeles Times

Read:

LA Mayor’s Race: Does Bass Have Advantage in Runoff?

Caruso Takes the Lead In LA – Race to November: Crime and Homelessness or Abortion and Partisanship?

LA Mayor’s Race Still a Battle between Caruso and Bass

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Colorado Congressional Battlegrounds

Three Colorado congressionals are worth watching in 2022 by University of Virginia Crystal Ball House ratings. Lauren Boebert in the 3rd Congressional District is rated “likely” Republican. But, it is Boebert’s first re-election and she has a primary opponent. She has a flair for conservative grievance politics, a huge war chest and a lot of fight. But, she operates on the edge of norms and attracts controversy, so there could be a surprise. Still, it is very hard to see her losing at this point. As suggested in a previous blog, she should even win old-time Democratic stronghold Pueblo.

A newly configured, but still Democratic-leaning district, the 7th, is now an open seat due to Congressperson Ed Perlmutter’s retirement. Democrats, in their usual fashion for winnable seats, skipped the primary and nominated State Senator Brittany Pettersen. The only drama is in the Republican primary with three candidates, including a collection of election deniers. If the Republicans can nominate a capable candidate, this will likely be a competitive race, especially if the Blue Wave is big enough. It will be an expensive race. Pettersen has as of March 31 raised $565,000. The Republican money frontrunner is Tim Reichert with $539,000, Erik Aadland has $393,000 and Laurel Imer trails with $72,000.

The seat Republicans should win, if they can nominate a strong candidate, is the newly created 8th district. It is rated a “toss-up” by the Crystal Ball. Again, the Democrats nominated without a primary, State Representative Yadira Caraveo. The Republicans have a powerful fight between State Senator and former Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, Weld County Commissioner and former State Representative Lori Saine, and businessperson Tyler Allcorn.

All four candidates have raised more than $200,000 each, with Kulmann $392,000, Allcorn $306,000, Kirkmeyer $248,000 and Saine $243,000 in an end of March finance report.

Monday, June 20, 2022

OC Democrats Are Happy to Split Their Districts Between Counties

South Orange County has a couple of highly contested districts – one congressional, one state assembly – that are split between Orange and San Diego counties. The good news for Democrats is that the San Diego part of their district is much more Democratic in voting preference than the Orange County sections.

A good example is Democratic incumbent Mike Levin’s 49th Congressional District. In the June 6 primary, there were 121,000 votes in San Diego County and Levin received 53 percent, or 63,000. In Orange County, 67,000 voted and he only received 44 percent, or 29,000 votes. San Diego provided the boost that got him to a 50-percent average districtwide. His Republican opponent will be Brian Maryott, who ran against him in 2020.

Democrat Chris Duncan in the 74th Assembly District has a much more difficult path. He only received 42 percent, or 24,000 votes in Orange County (57,000 voted). In the San Diego County part of the district, he won 28,000, or 50 percent out of 55,000 votes. Better, but producing only a districtwide average of 46 percent against his opponent, Laurie Davies, on the primary ballot.

Read: OC Congressional Race Results – The Battlegrounds

Friday, June 17, 2022

Colorado Is a Great State to Watch Politics

Floyd Ciruli with KOA NewsRadio hosts
 April Zesbaugh (L) and Marty Lenz (R)
In 2016, the Denver Press Club inducted me into the Hall of Fame for 35 years of political commentary, analyses and polling for Denver metro area, national and international media outlets. My involvement began at KOA in 1980 doing election night commentary with the legendary Bob Martin and has continued to the present with April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz. Much of the media involvement was a product of Ciruli Associates, a consulting, research and media firm established in the mid-1980s. We especially become known for public opinion polling around elections and ballot issues. A few highlights:

  • The first publicly reported polls were exit polls for KMGH Channel 7 in 1983 for Denver’s mayoral race and election night analysis. We also conducted exit polls for 9KUSA in Denver’s 1987 mayoral race, correctly calling the close election victories of Federico Peña in both races. Election night experience continued with the politically charged 1988 Adams County airport election, which involved on-air commentary and election analyses for 9KUSA with anchors Ed Sardella and Mike Landis. Throughout this 30-year history, I’ve worked with many political reporters, anchors and news directors, including 9KUSA’s longest serving news director, Patti Dennis.
  • In the late 1980s, Ciruli Associates conducted election polling and campaign and election analysis for a consortium of Colorado media outlets: 9KUSA, Rocky Mountain News and KOA. In the mid-1990s, The Denver Post coverage replaced that of the Rocky Mountain News. Nate Silver’s 538 website cited me as among the country’s most accurate pollsters.
  • (L to R) Floyd Ciruli, Amb. Chris Hill, former 9News
    political reporter Brandon Rittiman and
    9News anchor Kyle Clark 
    From 1988 through the 2014 election of U.S. Senate and governor, we’ve provided election night coverage for major national and state elections, and also represented 9KUSA at several national conventions, beginning with the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta and the 2012 presidential debate at the University of Denver.
  • I have served as regular commentator for Colorado print and electronic media since the late 1980s and have been quoted in Colorado media thousands of times regarding political subjects and election analysis since the mid-1980s. Regular guest editorial columns on election results and political topics have been solicited by well-known editors Vince Carroll at the Rocky Mountain News, Sue O’Brien at The Denver Post and Neil Westergaard at the Denver Business Journal.
  • In the early 2000s, Colorado became known nationally as a political swing state. I have commented on Colorado elections and their national implications with national print, television, radio and online media outlets, including FOX News, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS The News Hour, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Economist, as well as on British and Australian national TV and on Al Jazeera.  
  • In 2000, I started one of Colorado’s first political websites, “The Buzz,” and added a blog in 2008 for regular commentary on Colorado, national and international political topics, especially related to public opinion. The site is frequently referenced by local and national media outlets and is a useful database of political facts, polls and opinions.
  • Establishment of the Crossley Center in 2014
    In 2014, I established a graduate center, The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, on the University of Denver campus and taught courses in public opinion and foreign policy. The Crossley Center regularly offers programs for the campus and broader community on timely state, national and international political topics. Previously, I taught courses in media and public opinion at the University of Colorado-Denver’s School of Public Affairs, often with former editorial writer Bob Ewegan of The Denver Post. Additionally, I participated and presented at national and international survey research associations’ conferences in Nice, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Buenos Aires, Argentina, on topics of media, politics, foreign policy and public opinion. 

A record crowd of more than 250 people attend Amb. Chris Hill and Floyd Ciruli
presentation after the surprise 2016 election to review the polling and
forecasting of the national and international fallout.

See:

OC Congressional Race Results – The Battlegrounds

Only one Orange County Congressional seat is rated a “toss-up” in the latest University of Virginia Crystal Ball House ratingMichelle Steel (CA-45). The Republican incumbent won the June 6 primary with 49 percent against Democrat Jay Chen (42%).

The other Republican on the list, incumbent Young Kim (CA-40), did not beat her Democratic opponent, Asif Mahmood, but a quarter of the vote was divided with a Trump-like Republican candidate (24%). The seat leans Republican in terms of registration.

Katie Porter (CA-47) beat her expected Republican challenger, Scott Baugh, by 20 points. Her war chest and high-profile in national and California politics gives her the advantage, but this will be a difficult Democratic year and her 52 percent win suggests a close race. It’s rated “lean” Democratic.

Also rated “lean” Democratic is Democrat Mike Levin’s (CA-49) seat, who received 50 percent in the primary against Republican Brian Maryott (19%). The good news for Levin is that more of the district’s voters (63%) are in Democratic leaning San Diego than Orange County. He won 53 percent in San Diego and 44 percent in Orange.

The Crystal Ball lists 21 “toss-up” and 16 “lean” Democratic seats. If Democrats lose 40 seats (1994 – 54 seats lost, 2010 – 64, 2018 – 42), Porter and Levin are likely to be among them.

The four districts were redrawn and have new voters for the incumbent candidates. The figures presented are from county election results as of June 9, 2022.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Hageman Not Happy to Hear Aaron Million Is Back

Aaron Million, the Fort Collins water promoter known for a failed water scheme in the early to mid-2000s, is back with a new investor, but the same promotion of bringing water from Wyoming’s Flaming Gorge Reservoir 550 miles across the state and down to the Denver area. Few in the water community give it any credibility.

Harriet Hageman, water lobbyist and attorney in Wyoming, now the leading Trump-endorsed candidate against Liz Cheney, can’t be pleased to see Million back in the news. She was the prime lobbyist for a competing, if slightly more realistic project promoted by Parker Water & Sanitation District at the same time. Both efforts were challenged by a lack of high level political and financial support.

Hageman is unlikely to be highlighting her lobbying skills in helping the Denver metro area pull water across Wyoming to provide it to Colorado residents.

Aaron Million and Harriet Hageman

Sharp Rise in LGBT Identity, Mostly Driven by Millennials and Gen Zs

Americans have become more accepting of gay marriage and gay sex. Since 2015 and the Supreme Court legalization, gay marriage has gained about two-thirds of the public’s support. Most recently, Gallup asked about the moral acceptance of gay or lesbian relations and found it exceeded 70 percent (71%).

Also, new studies show a rise in Americans identifying as LGBT. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention report 1.6 million people identify as transgender, of which nearly half (43%) are 25 years old or younger.

Gallup highlights that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other than heterosexual identifications have all increased since measurements started in 2012. About 4 percent of American adults identified as LGBT in 2012, which has double to 8 percent today.

Hispanics identify as LGBT is now 11 percent compared to about 6 percent for White (6.2% non-Hispanic) and Black (6.6%) adults. Differences in racial and ethnic groups are explained by the larger percentages of younger people among populations of color, especially the Hispanic population.

Millennials and Generation Z are driving much of the overall increase. About 20 percent of Generation Z (18-24 years old) and 10 percent of Millennials (25-40 years old) identify as LGBT, but less than 5 percent among older generations.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Should Biden Run in 2024?

Democrats are beginning to panic about the 8.6 percent inflation, Joe Biden’s approval rating, the looming midterm shellacking and the continued Trump domination of the Republican Party. A few are speculating on and looking for a new and hopefully stronger candidate for 2024.

Inflation, recession, poor approval and age were all factors in the 1980s. Inflation hasn’t been this high since 1981 – Ronald Reagan’s first term when Republicans lost 26 seats in the ’82 midterms, yet Reagan went on to a landslide 49-state victory over Walter Mondale in 1984. Fighting inflation led to the 1981-1982 recession, but Reagan was able to claim, as the economy picked up in late 1982, that he had overcome stagflation. Reagan’s Gallup average approval rating in 1982 (Jan. 1982 to Jan. 1983) was 43 percent (Biden’s has now drooped to below 40%). Recall, Reagan at 73 years old was the oldest president nominated or to win (Biden was 77 in 2020 and will be 81 in 2024).

The Democratic scan for a 2024 alternative is not unexpected, but it is still early and the effort spreads even more gloom.

Denver Culture Celebrates

The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) prepares to celebrate its 34th year of operation. Approved by Denver metro voters by 75 percent in 1988, the tax collection began in 1989. The one-tenth-of-a-cent sales tax (one penny on a $10 purchase) produced $14 million for distribution to 134 organizations. Today, 250 organizations benefit from $75 million, which has climbed steadily since the Great Recession of 2008-2009, except for 2020. Denver metro sales tax revenue grew more than 15 percent in 2021 and so far in 2020. 

Although the latest economic development study shows a huge drop in attendance, employment and economic activities of the cultural community in 2020, people are back out and the area’s cultural facilities and programs are welcoming them with an active summer of programming and refreshed facilities. After 2 years, the SCFD is holding a block party on June 22, 2021 to welcome the summer cultural season and recognize its outstanding volunteers and supporters.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Crime, A Democratic Party Conflict. Denver Legislative and Mayor’s Races

Dem. candidate for HD6 Katie March
Photo courtesy her twitter account
The June 6 California primary placed in dramatic relief the Democratic Party conflict between its criminal justice reform activists and constituents and its more moderate wing that sees policy failures and a likely political disaster in November from the rise in crime. Colorado Democrats have mostly avoided loud primaries in recent years, but the debate they had on law, order and fentanyl in the legislature is now in a competitive legislative primary and the knives are out.

San Francisco’s high-profile criminal justice reformer DA was recalled in an election that simply asked if San Francisco was safer today than when Chesa Boudin was elected. In Los Angeles, the law and order candidate, Rick Caruso, battled to a draw in a primary with Karen Bass, the establishment liberal candidate who had a police plan, but was seen as less oriented to the public’s security concerns.

Dem. candidate for HD6 Elisabeth
Photo curtesy of Elisabeth Epps
Marianne Goodland in Colorado Politics reported on House District 6 in central Denver running east through the city. The race pits an establishment leadership candidate against a high-profile Black criminal justice advocate who was active in the recent legislative fentanyl battle.

I was quoted as saying many of the leaders endorsing in the race and the issue is likely to be significant in next year’s Denver mayor’s race. 

Pollster Floyd Ciruli said the race is shaping up as a warm-up to the mayoral contest for next year.

Ciruli said the battle in HD6 stems from a "combination of the issues splitting" the candidates, such as on fentanyl, which he said is a perfect example of the lines being drawn among Democrats. He added the feud shows how difficult it is for Democrats to work through their progressive agenda but also adopt pragmatic responses to issues, such as crime.

"Crime will likely be one of the big issues in the mayoral race, along with homelessness," he said, adding the intensity and positions taken by candidates in the race reflect the intra-party divisions on these issues.  "There are no compromise positions."

LA Mayor’s Race: Does Bass Have Advantage in Runoff?

On Wednesday, about half the Los Angeles mayor’s vote was reported (a very slow system) and 317,000 votes were counted, with a 42 percent to 37 percent split between Rick Caruso and Karen Bass. Hence, the final vote should be near 600,000, up from 379,000 in 2013 (20% turnout) and 419,000 (23%)  in 2017 (Eric Garcetti’s primary election).

With the mayor’s race runoff on election day, November 8, 20022, does Democratic Congressperson Bass have the advantage in the expected higher Democratic turnout vote from 600,000 in the primary to a likely more than 1.2 million votes, or double the primary? In gubernatorial and presidential races, it normally votes 70 percent for the Democrat.

But, both candidates are dealing with some weaknesses. Polls show Caruso lost the women voters, did better with men. Every picture on election night had his wife if it. Expect to see more of Tina. The November election will likely see a “shellacking” of Democrats – Clinton lost 53 House seats (1994), W. Bush 32 (2006), Obama 64 the “shellacking” (2010) and Trump 41 (2018). Bass represents the Washington establishment as a congressperson and will be dealing with an electorate very unhappy with D.C.


Rick Caruso and wife Tina share a laugh on election night 
at the Grove, June 7, 2022 | Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times


Karen Bass speaks at her election night party, 
June 7, 2022 | Christina House/Los Angeles Times

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Caruso Takes the Lead In LA – Race to November: Crime and Homelessness or Abortion and Partisanship?

Rick Caruso, on a promise to disrupt the status quo, grabbed a 5-point early lead on Democratic establishment candidate, Karen Bass (42% to 37% reported June 8, 2:00 am). Polls had said they were headed to a runoff, and Bass appeared to have some late momentum. But in a low turnout election featuring crime and homelessness, Caruso, with a $40 million campaign, grabbed the top spot. Now, the challenge of getting to 50 percent on November 8 is on.

The final poll completed on Tuesday, May 31, and published in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, June 5, gave Congressperson Bass a 6-point lead over Caruso. Among other recent polls, Bass has been either 1st or 2nd and they have been only about 2 points apart. Kevin de León had 6 percent, as he did in the April 4 poll (he received 7%), and other candidates 4 percent and undecided 15 percent, down from 39 percent.

Looking at a larger electorate for the November general election, the latest IGS poll said 30 percent were undecided and Bass led 37 percent to 33 percent for Caruso – very close.

Rick Caruso and wife Tina share a laugh on election night
at the Grove, June 7, 2022 | Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times

Karen Bass speaks at her election night party,
June 7, 2022 | Christina House/Los Angeles Times

Crime is Dominant Issue, But There Were Limits

In San Francisco, aggressive-progressive reformer, DA Chesa Boudin, was swept out of office by 60-40 vote. But in Los Angeles, hardline County Sheriff Alex Villanueva only gathered a weak 34 percent to make a runoff. Law and order, yes, but not language or swagger of Mayor Bill Daily in Chicago in 1968 or former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva meets with supporters at
 an election night, June 7, 2022 | Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times

LA City College Welcomes Jill Biden at Commencement

At one of the City’s great assets, First Lady Jill Biden praised the graduates of Los Angeles City College. This two-year class started in the pandemic (Zoom University) and graduated on Election Day 2022, into another round of changes and challenges.

As I drove into LA in 1965, LA City was an early stop – what a wild, wonderful spot. Tuition was $6.50 a semester, teachers were excellent and they welcomed the new and the diverse. Without a LA City, there could have been no UCLA.

Read: “Never forget where you came from,” Jill Biden tells graduates of Los Angeles City College

First Lady Jill Biden (R) and LA City College President Mary Gallagher
wave to graduates during the commencement ceremony, June 7, 2022
Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Jim Harrington Wins the Rex Morgan Award for Service to the SCFD

CATZ President Jim Harrington speaks at the
 Mayor’s Launch SCFD GOTV, Oct. 4, 2016
Jim Harrington will receive the Rex Morgan Award for exemplary service to the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) on June 22. Along with six years of serving as chair on the SCFD board from 2005 to 2011, he then chaired the Citizens for Arts to Zoo (CATZ), which supports the SCFD. The political action committee, which provides ongoing advice and support, especially during the periodic voter reauthorization, is made up of a board of regional cultural leaders and citizens. Harrington helped direct the effort during the 2016 renewal. He is still the volunteer chair of the committee.

The SCFD’s statement of Lifetime Achievement award:

Jim Harrington’s service over many decades as treasurer and chairman of the SCFD Board of Directors, as well as his instrumental work in securing reauthorization of the district across multiple elections demonstrates his deep commitment to culture in our metro area. His tireless service has ensured the continued vibrancy of our cultural landscape for generations to come.

Read about the SCFD, CATZ and the 2016 campaign:
SCFD – An Economic Powerhouse

Friday, June 3, 2022

How Will Unaffiliated Voters Affect the June 28 Colorado Primary?

Colorado’s June 28th primary will likely be a low turnout affair, with only high-profile primaries in Republican races. In the 2018 primary, about 400,000 Republicans and 100,000 unaffiliated voted in the governor’s race, giving Walker Stapleton the win. Greg Lopez, who’s on the ballot again, came in a weak third with only 66,000 votes.

This year, the two highest-profile Republican statewide primaries are for U.S. Senate and Secretary of State, both of which have Donald Trump-aligned election deniers at the top of their respective ballots. Also, three congressional races will generate higher interest – the 3rd with Lauren Boebert challenged by Don Coram, the 7th open seat with the retirement of Ed Perlmutter, and the newly created 8th Congressional District in the north Denver metro area extending up to Greeley.

About 100,000 unaffiliated voters participated in the Republican primary in 2018. How many will vote in 2022 is undetermined, but unaffiliated voters are by far the largest bloc, with 44 percent of registered voters – 1.7 million out of nearly 3.8 million total. They grew by 460,000 members since 2018. Republicans (25%) have fallen to a weak third place since 2018 and now trail Democrats (28%) by over 110,000 members (Democrats 1,069,000; Republicans 956,000).

In Colorado’s universal mail-back voting, all 1.7 million unaffiliated voters will get a ballot. About 290,000 voted in 2018. Will some more liberal members vote in the Republican primaries to oppose Trump-like election deniers (or less likely, to vote for the weakest Republican candidate)? Unaffiliated voters in the 3rd district are being solicited to vote for Coram and defeat Boebert, the high-profile controversial candidate.

Strategic Ambiguity is Being Redefined

Strategic ambiguity, which defined the U.S. position toward Taiwan and China’s claim on the island since the 1970s, is being redefined due to the changed circumstance of 2022. President Biden has been making clear on numerous occasions that the U.S. would defend Taiwan if China uses force against it. He is clearly presenting a more aggressive formulation of the commitment. And, Biden is not alone in recognizing Taiwan’s heightened importance as a central element in a free and open Indo-Pacific region and the impact of the Ukraine crisis in Asia. He was joined by his fellow Quad members – Japan, Australia and India. In a statement just issued after the latest Quad meeting, they said:

“In unprecedentedly strong language, the leaders of the Quad expressed opposition to coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific.” (Reuters) Japan’s new Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, offered: “Attempts to change the status quo by force, like Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, should never be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific, above all, in East Asia.” More specifically: “We will dramatically strengthen our military.”

The changed conditions are the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which shattered post-WWII norms of sovereignty, and the failure of Western deterrence. Arguably, Russian action in Georgia, Crimea and the Donbas were earlier indications that expectations and Western deterrence had already failed.

More importantly is China’s statements and behavior in the Indo-Pacific and specifically against the Western alliance. The Russia-China accord was a specific warning against any country or group of countries effort to resist China’s aggressive tactics. Very specifically, President Xi has stated that Taiwan’s independence must end soon. He has been backing that up with regular violations of Taiwan’s airspace with Chinese fighter jets and a massive build-up of military capability. U.S. defense officials believe the U.S. and its Pacific allies have 5 years or less to prepare.

From left, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, U.S. President Joe
Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister
Fumio Kishida arrive at the Quad leaders summit, May 24, 2022 | AP

Replacement Theory in Colorado

At a recent Colorado business conference, a participant from an agricultural community along the South Platte River expressed her dismay with Biden and Democrats for “paying immigrants to cross the southern border to vote in our elections.” A frequently discussed variation of the so-called replacement theory in conservative and rightwing media. A recent national poll shows it’s not a fringe view of just a handful of extremists. Six out of 10 Donald Trump voters (61%) agree that a “group of people in this country are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants and people of color who share their political views.” (Yahoo News, 5-24-22).

The Colorado speaker had a number of other speakers who agreed.

Migrants walk near the border wall after crossing the Rio Bravo,
 in El Paso, Texas, April 6, 2022 | Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Boebert Heading to Reelection?

After the first debate with her most serious opponent in the election cycle, Lauren Boebert made her points against fellow Republican Don Coram and no apparent damage was done to either. Her advantage is overwhelming in finances ($4 million to $55,000), in passionate supporters and dominance of rightwing media, including g social. Coram has one advantage in the primary. Many liberal unaffiliated voters may vote for him just to oppose Boebert. (Some Democrats are registering unaffiliated for that purpose.)

The district is rated as having a 9 percent Republican advantage. None of the Democrats running in the June 28 primary appear to have any district-wide potential. I would predict, regardless of the Democratic nominee, unless there is a political earthquake, she will carry the district, including Pueblo County.

Since 2010, Republicans have held a consistent advantage in the 3rd Congressional District, winning the congressional and presidential elections by an average of 6 points. The longtime Democratic stronghold of Pueblo is no more. Donald Trump won the county in 2016 by 390 votes, and only lost it by 2 points (1,500 votes) in 2020, whereas a 14-point Republican loss or more occurred in 2012 and 2008.

Scott Tipton, the Republican congressperson who first won in 2010, carried Pueblo in 2016 by 9,000 votes over the Democrat. In 2020, Lauren Boebert, who beat Tipton, won the district by 6 points and lost Pueblo by only 214 votes.

Colorado State Senator Don Coram (L) and Republican Congresswoman
Lauren Boebert debate at the Sky Ute Resort and Casino in Ignacio, Colo.,
May 26, 2022 | William Woody, Special to The Denver Post

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Both Parties Have Become More Extreme

Elon Musk recently tweeted a cartoon that received millions of likes. The cartoonist is Colin Wright, who is in university research and dealing with the left-wing university policy. He states he was a center-left liberal and now feels like a center-right conservative. Many people offered their own paths of alienation from their parties, including from the far-right.

Another way to consider Wright’s observation is to examine ideology within the two political parties and independents. Democrats have indeed become more liberal during the Obama and Trump eras, moving from 39 percent liberal to 57 percent. Barely 10 percent of Democrats now claim to be conservative, down from 21 percent in 2010, but a third of the party (35%) still describe themselves as moderate. 

Republicans are more uniformly conservative and have been so at the 70 percent level for the entire decade, which includes the Tea Party movement after 2009 and MAGA after 2017. In 2020, 75 percent of Republicans said they were conservative with 30 percent moderate and only 4 percent claiming to be liberal.

Nearly half of independents claim to be moderate with 20 percent liberal and 29 percent conservative (conservative declined by 7 percent over the decade).

Wright’s cartoon captures the movement of the Democratic Party in the last 10 years, but not the uniformity of the Republican Party’s conservative ideology. What he’s mostly reflecting is the social media and online niche platforms that reinforce the most extremes of the parties’ activists.

Inflation and Economy Top Issues. Fed Late to the Game.

Polls show that inflation and the economy are now the top issues for voters. The Federal Reserve and many major financial analysts were clearly taken by surprise at the surge of inflation later in 2021 and its tenacity into 2022.



By March, inflation reached above 8 percent, breaking 30-plus year records. The Fed’s belated response has been to speed up tapering of quarantine easing (purchasing securities in open market), and finally in April, raising interest rates 0.25 percent and 0.5 percent in May. Expect 3 to 5 more increases this year.

It is undetermined how high rates (measured by 10-year bond) must go to bring down inflation to reach the Fed goal of 2 percent, but many observers believe it will require at least 5 percent. They are also skeptical that interest rates will get below 4 percent at the end of this year.

“You are doing nothing”

Beto O’Rourke crashed Governor Greg Abbott’s press conference of Wednesday, May 25, one day after the Uvalde school shooting. O’Rourke shouted out: “You are doing nothing” and “This was totally predictable.”

Bigger news than O’Rourke’s remarks was Abbott’s completely false narrative of the Tuesday police response. In an obvious effort to look in charge, Abbott related a crime timeline shown on Thursday to be inaccurate as police waited nearly an hour as children were being shot. The Governor later claimed he was misled by police. In fact, he used unverified, incomplete and preliminary reports.

Abbott is likely to survive the disaster, but his national reputation is now badly damaged.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference at Uvalde High School,
May 25, 2022 | Sergio Flores/The Texas Tribune

LA Mayor’s Race Still a Battle between Caruso and Bass

Twelve names will be on the June 7 Los Angeles mayor’s race list, and two have been leading the field since April when Rick Caruso, developer and civic leader, began spending advertising money and quickly tied the establishment Democrats’ candidate, Congressperson Karen Bass.

The latest polls show that about 70 percent of the electorate has closely divided their vote between Caruso and Bass, with about 15 percent undecided. City Councilperson Kevin de León has been in a consistent 3rd place with about 6 to 8 percent of the vote. People are already voting by mail and drop-off voting.

It is unlikely one of the candidates can get to 50 percent on June 7 and avoid the November 8 run-off. It is assumed Bass has the advantage in the run-off due to the larger and more partisan (Democratic) general electorate. One recent poll did a head-to-head with Bass and Caruso and she had a 9-point lead, 48 percent to 39 percent.

Photo: Carolyn Kaster/Damian Dovarganes/AP

Read:

Thursday, May 26, 2022

U.S. and Japan Diplomacy Program: Webinars Posted

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research’s Discussions in Diplomacy webinar series on the tensions and challenges in the Indo-Pacific is now available for viewing online. The three March webinars, a joint program with the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver, brought together eight professors from Japan and the Korbel School. The program was highly impacted by the Beijing Winter Olympics accord between Russia and China and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

“Japan and U.S. Relations in Light of New Administrations and Challenges in the Indo-Pacific.” What adjustments can be expected in the U.S. and Japan alliance in light of the China-Russia accord and the invasion of Ukraine? Participants: Prof. Akiko Fukushima, Senior Fellow Tsuneo Watanabe, Prof. Suisheng Zhao and Prof. Floyd Ciruli (moderator). March 10, 2022


“U.S., Japan and South Korea’s Roles in Maintaining a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Will new governments in Japan and South Korea be able to work together on national security in the region? Participants: Senior Advisor Nobukatsu Kanehara, Prof. Junya Nishino, Amb. Christopher Hill and Prof. Floyd Ciruli (moderator). March 16, 2022


“Position of Taiwan in U.S., Japan and China Relations.” How has the invasion of Ukraine changed the concept of how to deter China in its bid for Taiwan? Participants: Prof. Koji Murata, Prof. Suisheng Zhao and Prof. Floyd Ciruli. March 23, 2022


WATCH ALL JAPAN DIPLOMACY PROGRAM WEBINARS HERE

Also, Professor Floyd Ciruli presented a PowerPoint with commentary describing the major issues that represented the geopolitical backdrop for our 2022 program. 

Click Here for Commentary

IN THE FORUM

Read the latest postings for Crossley Center events and Colorado, national and world public opinion analyses on our website.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Can Colorado Republicans Shake Off 2020 and Take Advantage of the Democrats’ Midterm Blues?

Floyd Ciruli, Professor and Director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, will present a discussion on Thursday, May 26th, concerning the June 28th Colorado primary and the Republican challenge to nominate winning candidates for November. 

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters
Photo: Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Colorado Cooperation Conference in Pueblo, Colorado, May 26th will host Ciruli’s talk titled, “Can Colorado Republicans Shake Off 2020 for the Midterm Advantage?” 

Ciruli will address the key June 28 primary fights in the Republican Party (governor, senate, secretary of state) and how each is framed in a battle between the party’s most passionate believers in former President Donald Trump’s stolen election and those who either don’t ascribe to it or try to avoid talking about it.

U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks
Photo: Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun
Observes Ciruli: “It is ironic that in a year in which many pundits believe Republicans will win the U.S. House of Representatives and very possibly the Senate that Colorado Republicans are mired in a battle over the 2020 election and not the opportunities of 2022.”

For more information on the conference, contact Christian Reece, Executive Director, Club 20, christian@club20.org, 970-242-3264.  

Professor Floyd Ciruli is available at fciruli@aol.com or 303-263-1059.





Third-Party Candidate Hurts Republican Nominee for Governor

Photo: Colorado Times Recorder
Danielle Neuschwanger, a Republican from Elbert County who missed the nomination for governor at the recent state convention, has announced she will run as a third-party candidate for governor on the American Constitution Party ballot. The consensus view is that she will hurt the Republican nominee to be decided at the primary on June 28.

The leading candidate, Regent Heidi Ganahl, said she hopes Danielle will join her to beat Jared Polis, but that “running on a third-party isn’t going to help.”

In a Sean Price article in the Colorado Times Recorder, I said:

“We assume that Polis is ahead in a head-to-head with either of the two potential Republican nominees, and obviously if there is a conservative candidate out there she will draw votes on the Republican side of this,” Ciruli said. “Whether it is a modest amount or a greater amount there will be some level of conservative votes diverted to this third-party candidate. No doubt about it.”

Floyd Ciruli, who founded Ciruli Associates, a research and consulting firm, brought up the 2010 Governor’s race in Colorado when asked about Neuschwanger’s impact.

In 2010, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) ran for Governor as a member of the American Constitution Party, drawing support away from Dan Maes, the Republican nominee. That year current U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) won the election with 51% of the vote. Tancredo received 36% while Maes won just 11%.

“It has the potential to be like the 2010 gubernatorial election,” Ciruli said, “I’m not sure she’s a Tancredo but I understand she’s pretty wild. She knows how to get attention and as you know the party has an angry sense about it. A sense of grievance.”

Ciruli clarified that Neuschwanger likely won’t have as much of an impact as Tancredo did in 2010, but her presence will definitely hurt Republicans if she stays in the race.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Toshi Nakayama, Japan’s Top Political Analyst and Crossley Center Presenter, Passes Away

Toshi Nakayama
I’m sad to announce that frequent visitor, presenter and friend to the Crossley Center, Toshihiro Nakayama (“Toshi” to friends) passed away May 1.

Professor Nakayama taught at one of Japan’s finest universities, Keio. His last presentation at the Korbel School was November 2020 after the presidential election with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill. Toshi was a regular TV analyst in Japan and covered the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections for Japanese audiences.

He was a wonderful cultural ambassador for Japan and will be greatly missed.

Polls Support Both Sides of Abortion Fight

Abortion wars have broken out around the country with the leaking of Justice Alito’s draft opinion. Our blog of May 6 was used in a story in the Washington Times by reporter Valerie Richardson on the span of public opinion, from wanting to maintain Roe v. Wade and not criminalizing abortion to being willing to accept some very onerous restrictions. Both sides and parties accuse the other of extremism. My comments were:

Such positions run counter to the Democratic Party line, which explains why pro-choice lawmakers don’t go there, said Floyd Ciruli, director of the University of Denver’s Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research.

“As soon as you start talking about restrictions, Democrats are playing defense, which is why they’re focused almost entirely on Roe and criminalization. They want to keep that the focus as much as possible,” said Mr. Ciruli. “That’s their best argument.”

“That’s what you end up with: Keep it legal, don’t criminalize it, but on the other hand, well, you can certainly restrict it,” said Mr. Ciruli. “What they’re really saying is that ‘I accept some restrictions.’ And frankly, the Democrats may have to argue that ‘this restriction is, in fact, a ban,’ and I don’t think they’re going to win with that because a lot of this is pure politics.”

Democrats are having to play defense, given the Supreme Court’s majority has at a minimum a very strictive view of abortion, if not acceptance of overturning Roe v. Wade, and allowing states to implement outright bans. Clearly, the Democrats’ best case at the moment is turning a couple votes for the least restrictive result possible, so expect the political maneuvering to continue.

Abortion-rights protester Alex Cascio holds a flag during a demonstration
outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, May 8, 2022
Photo: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/AP

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Property Tax Relief Moves Forward

All the major interests appear to have compromised on a property tax scheme engineered by legislative leaders, the Governor and the business group Colorado Concern. Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain reports, as we blogged last week, the legislature can act fast when an election provides motivation. Chris Hansen, representative from Denver, will get considerable credit as he contemplates a run for Denver mayor, a seat up a year from now.

A real estate company sign marks a home for sale in
Harmony, Pa. | Keith Srakocic/AP

See:

Friday, May 6, 2022

Colorado Concern Help Forge a Tax Compromise

Colorado State Capitol
Colorado property taxes are rising rapidly, along with property valuations. Major powers in state government, the governor, both parties and numerous special interests know it could affect the midterm elections. Tax policy changes are inclined toward gridlock. Democrats control the legislature and prefer protecting programs, especially school funding, but the Democratic governor is prone to tax reductions and the interest groups are balanced on taxes between the K-12 education and its allies and the business community representing commercial and residential property owners.

Enter Colorado Concern using a fourth branch of Colorado government – the initiative. The group drafted a ballot initiative to lower property taxes for both residential and commercial owners and got onto the signature phase providing both motivation for action from the other branches and a seat at the table.

The process is working. The Colorado legislature, in a bipartisan fashion, is moving a property tax cut the governor will apparently sign. Gridlock was broken with threat of voter action at the ballot box and a lot of effort in and around the Capitol.

Read The Colorado Sun: Colorado governor, lawmakers unveil plan to slash property taxes by $700M to head off business group’s ballot measure