Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Denver Mayor’s Race Wide Open: Eight Weeks to Go

The April Denver mayoral election has only 7 more weeks of active campaigning for the 17 candidates.

One released poll and the fundraising reports of January 31 show the top 5 candidates with 4 percent or more of the voters saying they support them. (See table below).

Meanwhile, not surprising, 47 percent say they don’t know. Finance reports show six out of the 17 have collected $250,000 or more.

Denver Mayor Fundraising Poll

The early polling report is mostly name identification, which is beneficial at the start of a campaign but doesn’t mean much once the active campaign begins with debates, endorsements, advertising, and the inevitable attacks. Later, money and momentum can shift very quickly.

The poll was released by Debbie Ortega’s campaign and conducted January 11 to 14, 2023, with 500 likely voters. It attempted to model the Denver electorate with 48 percent Democrats, 43 percent Unaffiliated, and 10 percent Republican. Ortega is ahead of a list with mostly single digit support. Officeholders dominated the field along with candidates in previous races and ethnic identifies.

Early fundraising gets some attention and can attract more contributions, but the campaigns will quickly burn through prodigious amounts of money primarily for advertising. Mr. Rougeot is a self-funding Republican who may add more money. Also, there is likely to be independent funds from state and national political action committees.

Denver's City and County Building Denver's City and County Building. Aug. 10, 2021. Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Denver Mayor’s Race Could Be Won by 28% in the First Round

In the last two Denver mayor elections, Hickenlooper in 2003 and Hancock in 2011, about 113,000 voted, with the front runners not getting 50 percent, forcing a runoff between the top two candidates.

In 2003, four candidates out of eight received double digit votes and John Hickenlooper lead with 43 percent.

Denver Mayor Candidates 2003 and 2011

The 2011 open seat first round election saw Michael Hancock come in second with 27 percent just beaten by Chris Romer with 28 percent. Hancock went on to win. Out of ten candidates, three recorded double-digit wins, with James Mejia in third at 26 percent.

In the 2023 election with 4 or 5 top contenders out of 17 candidates 25 to 30 percent could win first and second positions and compete in the runoff.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Denver Mayor’s Race Turnout Could Double Since 2011 Election

Denver's City and County Building Denver's City and County Building, Aug. 10, 2021. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

In the 2011 mayoral election, 113,000 voters participated in the first round, which sent Michael Hancock and Chris Romer to the runoff. It was the most recent open seat election for mayor and the turnout was 49 percent of 231,000 registered voters. The 2003 election in which John Hickenlooper beat Don Mares had a similar 113,000 turnout of 246,000 active voters, a 46 percent.

Turnout, if similar, in the April 4 the first round vote this year, could produce a doubling of voter turnout to about 200,000 based on the much higher numbers of active voters in 2023 (446,972).

Denver Mayor Turnout Table 2003 v 2011

Monday, January 23, 2023

California Senate Primary Has Started

Dianne Feinstein, the oldest US senator and member of Congress elected in 1992 and up for reelection in 2024, is expected to announce her retirement. Katie Porter calculated getting a jump on the competition was worth irritating Feinstein and some of the old Democratic establishment. The Orange County congressperson announced on January 10th and is positioning herself as a fighter and outsider.

Other potential candidates and also congresspersons are Adam Schiff of the L.A. Valley, Barbara Lee from Oakland, and Ro Khanna from Silicon Valley. An early private poll circulated showing Schiff was the frontrunner, with Porter in a distant second along with Lee. Porter rapidly released a statewide poll she had done in November 2022 showing she and Schiff would win the California open primary, but she would win the November runoff by 11 points.

Expect this to be an expensive race and both primary and general will be an all-Democratic affair. The politician who could upset the early predictions is Gavin Newsom but he’s not indicated an interest.

2024 Primary and General Election

The poll shows Schiff and Porter run neck and neck among Democrats but Schiff’s reputation as Trump’s nemesis costs him among Republicans (25% to 5%). His partisan edge may also be a burden among independents (41% to 20%).

Of course a voter simulation 2 years ahead of an election is highly speculative but still begins to provide political pundits their base for commentary.

CA Senators Clockwise: California Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Ro Khanna, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff - credit NPR

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Crisis of the Republican Party

Colorado began the century with two competitive political parties, but after two decades the Republican Party lacks a significant statewide office holder. The defeat of Senator Cory Gardner in 2020 marked the last Republican holding statewide federal office. Since 2018, the losses are now moving to state constitutional positions with all four offices, from governor to treasurer, being controlled by Democrats. The entire slate was just reelected by 10 points or more. Republicans are also falling behind in congressional seats (5 to 3), and they now lack a county commissioner in six of the seven Denver metro counties.

The direction of the presidential elections tracks Colorado’s evolution from a swing state to deep, deep blue with George W. Bush winning in 2000 by 8 points and Joe Biden’s 2020 victory of 13 points.

Colorado Federal Elections President and Senate

One of the most important factors to the Republican collapse was a group of wealthy liberals deciding to create a modern political organization with huge amounts of money, top tier consultants and political tools, and a strategy of partnership with allied groups. As cultural liberals highly interested in gay rights, they became the engine of a rebooted Democratic Party. The highest profile member of the group was Jared Polis, who was then a Congressman and is now the Governor.

The Democratic Party continues to be the better funded and organized. And of course, success breeds more success with control of issues, receiving more media coverage, a deeper bench, and more interest groups willing to donate. They regularly exceed Republican campaign expenditures two to one, including in 2022.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Year of the Indo-Pacific

Policy and politics shifted dramatically in 2022 in the Indo-Pacific region. From the rise of and cooperation between the authoritarian super-states of China and Russia to the impact in Asia of the war in Europe, the assassination of Shinzo Abe, and direct military threats of China and North Korea against democratic states, the Indo-Pacific became a world theater under stress. The year’s dramatic events foreshadowed significant changes in the domestic politics and foreign policy of Indo-Pacific democratic states.

The new year recalls the mid-1930’s moment in Europe – quiet before a great storm. Military investment are in a hurry-up mode to hopefully deter war or if deterrence fails, counter the initial onslaught.

The following is a brief review of 2022 events in the northern Indo-Pacific:

  • Russia launched a war against Ukraine (February) and China showed affinity toward Russia’s aggression to secure it so-called territories and in its confrontation with the West. This alliance is accompanied by China’s increased authority over Hong Kong and hostility toward Taiwan.
  • Japan follows Germany in shedding its WWII foreign policy of low defense budgets and non-international foreign policy. Under a new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, Japan has made overtures to South Korea, begun defense talks with Australia, shown expressions of support for Taiwan’s sovereignty and initiated closer integration into the US deterrent.
  • The Korean peninsula shifts its politics with new a South Korean leader, Yoon Suk- yeol, looking to be more engaged in the Indo Pacific, resolve disagreements with Japan, strengthen security arrangements with the U.S., and react aggressively to North Korea’s missile program.
  • Taiwan steps up its defense preparations and welcomed a host of high level visits from European and American leaders.

Highlighting the dangers in the Indo-Pacific was the tragic loss of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose signature policy initiative was defending a free and open Indo Pacific. Simply avoiding an incident in 2023 that leads to conflict will be considered a success.

Kishida G7AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Joe Biden meets with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Akasaka Palace on May 23, 2022, in Tokyo.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Denver Gazette Warns Democrats

The Gazette

In a Denver Gazette editorial, the online and more conservative alternative to the Denver Post, quoted its in-depth news article on the influence of left wing forces in the new Democratic legislative majority. The article by reporter Hannah Metzger in a sister publication, Colorado Politics quoted a number of Democratic legislators and activists, advocating a host of new liberal policies and programs. However many suggested state budget constraints and political blow back will be a restraint.

I weighed in that the political environment recommended caution and, not surprisingly, the Gazette agreed with me.

"(Democrats) won a great victory here, but it was a surprise. While it’s a welcome surprise for them, I think they recognized that it wasn’t because the Democratic brand was completely adopted by everyone. Rather, there was a sense that the Republicans collapsed," Ciruli told Colorado Politics.

"There’s going to be a sense, particularly among the leadership, that they were pulled in by this wave and they could be pulled out by a new wave."

Even in a state as blue as Colorado now is, legislative Democrats – and the rest of the party’s political luminaries – would be wise to keep that wisdom top of mind - The Gazette editorial board. READ ARTICLE

RELATED: How Far Left Will the Colorado Legislature Move?

Friday, January 6, 2023

California’s Losing Population and Power

California’s population dropped more than 200,000 primarily from people leaving the state. U.S. Census data shows California joining Illinois and New York with the largest population losses (California 218,000, New York 222,000, Illinois 110,000) from July 2021 to June 2022. The two biggest winners of domestic migrants are Florida and Texas.

The decline in California’s population will mean less political power. The state is already losing seniority with the retirement of Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein. But beyond the change in personnel will be:

  • If the pace of loss keeps up, the state will lose another Congressional seat (or even two) in 2030. The out migration could accelerate.
  • The big winners are the two most influential Republican states of Florida and Texas, second and third largest Congressional delegations and electoral vote counts.
  • Florida is the home of a leading Republican candidate for president in 2024, Governor Ron DeSantis. California’s potential Democratic candidate, Governor Gavin Newsom (claiming no interest in 2024), has a major handicap in leading a state that hundreds of thousands are leaving every year.
Gavin and DeSantis Creator: Mark J. Terrill | Credit: AP

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Colorado’s Changing Politics

Not only has Colorado shifted to the sapphire “Blue” side of the spectrum, but its counties are being rearranged politically.

The chart below which compares the 15 percent margin in the November election between Michael Bennet and Joe O’Dea in Colorado’s largest counties, shows El Paso and Douglas are becoming more like swing Republican counties providing only modest Republican margins. They are now similar to the formerly strong Democratic Pueblo County, which regularly offers only small Democratic margins.

Denver delivers the biggest statewide vote, even in a lower turnout (67% in 2022 vs 76% in 2018) off-year election ahead of liberal Boulder and the new Democratic strongholds of Arapahoe and Jefferson counties. Among larger counties Republicans still win Mesa on the Western Slope and Weld in the North Front Range.

Eleven Largest Counties – U.S. Senate Margin

Among the biggest factors shifting Colorado’s voting patterns were the rapid growth of voters during the last decade (about 1 million voters). They largely settled in the Denver metro area with some overflow in Larimer and Weld in the North Front Range and El Paso in the south. They also primarily registered as unaffiliated. In 2012, unaffiliated voters were 37% or 900,000 voters. In 2022, they were 46%, and 1,734,000 voters. Since 2016, they have been primarily voting for Democratic Party candidates.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Political Landscape - Colorado Water Congress Panel

Politics in 2023 will be the topic in a January 25 panel of Colorado political pundits at the annual Colorado Water Congress conference. Republican Dick Wadhams, Democrat Mike Dino, and pollster Floyd Ciruli will visit the hot Colorado topics in 2023 and heading into the 2024 presidential election.

Colorado Water Congress

Among the topics are:

  • Congressmen Boebert and Caraveo were in the five closest elections in the country in 2022. Will they have difficult 2024 reelections?
  • Will the large Democratic legislative majority affect the ideological/partisan shape of legislation in 2023? Are there any restraints on Democratic legislative priorities, especially of the far left? Can Republicans have influence?
  • Colorado’s Independent voters (46% of electorate, 40% of 2022 voters) are center stage. How are they changing the state’s politics? Can Democrats lose them, can Republicans reach them?
  • Can the current Colorado political distribution of power address the urban-rural divide (agriculture, endangered species, water, oil & gas)?
  • Does the changing political leadership (mostly Democrats) among Colorado River states affect the possibility for new agreements on saving or sharing water?
  • Will Joe Biden and Donald Trump be the two presidential nominees in 2024? If not, who? Will Governor Polis be a factor in the 2024 national race? Hickenlooper, Bennet?
Dino Wadhams Ciruli

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

How Far Left Will the Colorado Legislature Move?

In a new Colorado Politics article, reporter Hannah Metzger described the strong left-wing current running in the new Democratic majority in the Colorado state legislature. Liberal legislators and community organizers made it clear they intended to push a strong legislative agenda reflecting their view the electorate endorsed them and their views.

I suggested that Democratic legislative leaders would provide restraint, that the electorate could turn against them and voters mostly rejected the Republican brand not endorsed liberal Democratic proposals.

Colorado Politics Logo

Floyd Ciruli, founder of the public policy research and consulting firm Ciruli Associates, said this will be one of the main challenges facing the progressive agenda, as moderate Democrats, such as House Speaker-designee Julie McCluskie, take the reins of the legislative session.

“It’s extremely important as to who the leadership is,” Ciruli said. “The new speaker from Dillon is pretty moderate. The chairmen and the vice chairmen have a lot of power. There’s a lot of new people, but they’re not necessarily in the position to dominate or set the agenda. My sense is that there will be at least some pressure from the opposite direction. They will be restrained by folks with more experience and leadership.”

Ciruli said longer-standing centrist Democrats may fear political backlash for pursuing progressive policies. He pointed to the 2013 recall of two Democratic senators in Colorado for supporting gun control legislation as evidence of what can happen when voters feel a party has overreached.

“We have moved much more progressive than that 2013 era, but that was a very liberal group and the backlash took place very quickly,” Ciruli said. “That made Democrats extremely, extremely cautious.”

Even with their massive majority, Democratic leadership, indeed, appears to be moving cautiously.

Floyd Ciruli

* * * * *

Pollster Ciruli suggested that voters may have not been choosing Democrats as much as they were rejecting Republicans, an opinion he thinks some moderate members of the Democratic Party share.

“My thought is that new leadership in general is going to be very cautious of it. They won a great victory here, but it was a surprise. While it’s a welcome surprise for them, I think they recognized that it wasn’t because the Democratic brand was completely adopted by everyone. Rather, there was a sense that the Republicans collapsed,” Ciruli said. “There’s going to be a sense, particularly among the leadership, that they were pulled in by this wave and they could be pulled out by a new wave.”

While Ciruli and Democrat leaders will likely be cautious in picking their battles regarding progressive policies—rallying around crowd favorite issues, such as affordable housing—the weakened state of the Republican Party will make it difficult for voters to hold Democrats accountable, regardless of whether they under or over perform this session.

Protestors pack onto the west steps during an abortion rights protest outside the Colorado State Capitol Building in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Denver, Colo.

photo: Timothy Hurst/The Denver Gazette

Colorado lawmakers move further left, but will the laws follow suit?

Democratic candidates dominated Colorado’s November election, creating perhaps the most liberal-leaning legislature in state history. But that doesn’t mean the fight for progressive policies has been won.

https://www.coloradopolitics.com/legislature/colorado-lawmakers-move-further-left-but-will-the-laws- follow-suit-cover-story/article_29ff8712-8019-11ed-993b-33a105b117bd.html