“SLICK SALESMAN”: Democratic Focus Group In Colorado Gets Ugly For Obama

Last night in Colorado a focus group conducted by a veteran Democratic pollster got ugly for Obama. The group, made up of twelve undecided voters, expressed their decidedly sour view of President Obama, which National Journal summed up in saying "the prevailing sentiment was that the president was a slick salesman, but his words didn't match his actions."

Ten of the twelve participants voted for Obama in 2008, but only three said they leaned toward supporting him this time around. Reading some of the reactions to Obama you would think you were reading a right wing talk radio transcript. Nope, that's just the "prevailing sentiment" these days according to a publication not known for its conservative tendencies. 

Reports National Journal:

Listening to the feedback from the group, it was striking how many of them have grown disillusioned from their own expectations set by Obama's soaring rhetoric from 2008, and the less-inspiring reality that transpired.  

After being shown footage of a campaign speech by Obama, the prevailing sentiment was that the president was a slick salesman, but his words didn't match his actions.  

"I got duped. I fell under his spell. What he's done with the car industry is the only real success," said Patrick Allen, a 27-year-old health care consultant, who voted for Obama in 2008. "I feel like I was somewhat lied to."

Just brutal.

The most tasty part of this focus group treat is the finding that Obama's personal likability is going to mean all of jack and squat when it comes to peoples’ votes:

Almost unanimously, the participants said they'd prefer to hang out with Obama over Romney, but no one said that would shape their vote in November. It's a sign that even if Obama holds a significant edge on personal likability, it's unlikely to translate into many votes if they view his job performance unfavorably.

We guess stiff and smart is more appealing to voters than cool and clueless. 


Dougco Union Power Not Worth Sticking Out a Neck?

Published on June 13, 2012 by

In a superb column today, the Denver Post's Vincent Carroll raises a question that not long ago would have stretched the bounds of reason: Are these the final days for the Douglas County Federation of Teachers? With June 30 looming as the current collective bargaining agreement's expiration date, however, it is now a very real possibility that the state of labor relations in Colorado's third-largest school district soon could make a major change.

While a move on such scale appears to be without precedent, it stands as a legitimate and appropriate use of power. Colorado is one of 9 states where school boards retain the discretion concerning whether, and what sort of, labor relations to have. A full 137 of the state's 178 school districts live without an exclusive collective bargaining agreement. Douglas County would become the largest of the lot. As I noted in a 2011 Independence Institute brief, Tiny Park County Re-2 was the most recent to revoke an existing agreement:

A former teachers union president cast the deciding vote to cancel the exclusive representative status [the South Park Education Association] had enjoyed for nearly a decade.

For every full-time teacher once represented by SPEA, DCFT's bargaining power currently covers nearly 70. So in terms of scale, a change in Douglas County would be significant. And as Carroll notes, with the district's bold proposals to advance performance and market pay, as well as other innovative delivery models, they “will no doubt find the transition easier without a reactionary union habitually digging in its heels.”

In making classroom policy decisions, a wise school board still will heed the voices of its best instructors and those committed to promoting excellence within the profession (in addition to parents, who too often are overlooked). Further, as I have compiled in an unofficial list, Colorado law contains a substantial number of protections for teachers — whether they be union or non-union. And starting next month, Douglas County teachers may have more options for representation, in addition to membership. No matter what happens, teachers still will be (and should be) able to continue paying voluntary dues to DCFT.

While DCFT officials would not back down on demanding they retain their exclusive privileged power to represent teachers, they did indicate at last Friday's final scheduled open negotiation session that it would be okay to end the unethical practice of the school district collecting union dues. The Board has good reason to pursue the change, seeing as how government-collected union funds finance not only school board campaigns but also partisan state races (most Colorado AFT money comes from Douglas County) and a national political agenda that sometimes collides and conflicts with the Board's community-supported vision.

Interestingly, though, DCFT president Brenda Smith also publicly stated that the union reserves the right to sue the district over the dues collection issue. If the union is looking for a way to ensure the collective bargaining agreement lives on, threatening legal action (along with repeatedly disseminating misleading budget information) does not give the Board many good reasons to do so. One has to wonder what officials at the Colorado Education Association, which oversees the state's 40 other teacher bargaining units, think about this development: How many other school boards will get this same idea, and how can we persuade them not to?

Teachers in Dougco may demonstrate that, from most teachers' perspective, the union's heft through its exclusive bargaining status has been exaggerated. Back in May, during one of the more heated bargaining sessions, DCFT negotiators complained about continuing employment contracts the district sent out by email. Nearly 3,000 certified employees were each given 30 days to declare their intention to return or risk losing their job assignment. Thereafter DCFT officials have declared on several occasions that many educators were holding out to make certain a collective bargaining agreement would be ratified.

The deadline to return the contracts is Friday. As the Post's Karen Auge reports, 2,238 of 2,980 teachers (75 percent) had returned signed contracts as of yesterday. My own information request to Douglas County not only confirms these numbers but also indicates that

…at least 2 of the union's at least 2 of the teachers involved in the union negotiations have signed their contract (there were several of the union members, like Brenda Smith, that are not receiving a contract because they do not have an assignment for next year).

After all, the district no longer is paying for union officials to do union business with taxpayer money, another positive development out of this whole exchange.  

Anyway, a former teachers union president in Park County, two union negotiators in Dougco. In the end, the union's power and prestige — embodied in local collective bargaining power — may not prove a worthwhile cause for which to stick out one's neck. And Douglas County students will do just fine, or even all the better, for the change.


SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS: Mr. President, The Private Sector is Not Fine

No, Mr. President, the private sector is not fine, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses’ monthly Small Business Optimism Index, which surveyed 671 NFIB members throughout the month of May.

The findings, released yesterday, indicate that confidence in the economy has stalled out, and point to the poor GDP and employment growth. NFIB Chief Economist, William Dunkelberg, unpacks the May report:

“In the last year, small-business optimism has limped along, and today the sector is no better off than it was just over a year ago. The lack of progress is discouraging, producing no signs that economic activity will pick up this year at all. The calculus of spending decisions requires an estimate of future sales, tax rates, interest rates and credit availability, labor costs, health-care costs, regulatory compliance costs, all of which are very uncertain. Most of this uncertainty is the result of what is happening—and not happening—in Washington. Investments in jobs or plant and equipment are not the priority while people are still bracing for the worst.”

The findings of this index are particularly troubling for a state like Colorado, which is home to over 500,000 small businesses. Even more disturbing is President Obama’s refusal to acknowledge his administration’s role in thwarting small business.

During an interview yesterday, Obama insisted that Obamacare has no impact on small business, only healthcare companies.

From an interview with a local station in Iowa:

Funny, the people who actually own small businesses in Colorado beg to differ.


NRCC RESERVES $18M IN AIR TIME: Denver Media Market Third Largest Recipient Of Massive Ad Buy

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) independent expenditure arm has reserved over $18 million for advertising after Labor Day, according to Roll Call, with the Denver media market the third largest recipient of NRCC cash. In total $1.64 million has been put down for ads in the Denver market, which reaches into the three most competitive Congressional races in Colorado — Congressional districts 3, 6 and 7.

The Denver media market only reaches part of the 3rd Congressional District, where Congressman Scott Tipton is facing a challenge from State Rep. Sal Pace (D-Urination), meaning the bulk of the ad buys are likely targeted at the 6th and 7th Congressional districts. We won't know what races are getting what part of the ad buy until the spots themselves are created later on this year. 

CD6 should technically be a competitive district based on voter registration alone after redistricting, but Democrat challenger Joe Miklosi has been a weak candidate, raising less money per quarter than any other targeted race in the country. His campaign thus far has been pathetic, taking weeks to capitalize on Coffman's Obama comments and facing a back pay complaint from the campaign's former finance director. Due to that, we're betting a good portion of the NRCC money will be spent on taking down Ed Perlmutter in CD7. 

In CD7, Congressman Ed Perlmutter is facing a stiffer than expected challenge from former CoorsTek CEO Joe Coors Jr. Coors's campaign has already dropped $400,000 on two introductory ads. Perlmutter has yet to go up on TV. The Roll Call article says the CD7 race is "less competitive" at this point, most likely due to the conventional wisdom about Perlmutter's relative political safety after his 11-point trouncing of Ryan Frazier in 2010. But the district became much more Republican after redistricting. Additionally, Coors reached the highest level of the NRCC's candidate support program, Young Guns, three months before Frazier did, leading some observers (like us) to believe the CD7 race will be much more competitive this time around.

In April, the NRCC's Democrat counterpart, the DCCC, reserved $2.5 million in ad time in the Denver media market. The DCCC's deputy executive director told The Colorado Observer that some of the money is likely to go into defending Perlmutter's seat. 

The NRCC's ad reservations continue a trend begun by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which reserved $25 million in ad time for the fall back in early April. Party committees have been reserving large blocks of ad time this early on to get better rates. With the expected competition of Super PACs and the presidential campaigns, the cost of advertising is likely to skyrocket in the fall, leading the parties to lock in better rates now.

This latest news only confirms what we already knew — this fall your TV (and YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) will be blanketed with political ads. It's shaping up to be the most expensive election in state and national history. 


RECALL REVERBERATIONS: Romney Beating Obama In Wisconsin, Rasmussen Poll Finds

The failed union assault on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is still reverberating throughout the Badger State. The state's swing voters have swung away hard from the public sector union goons and towards fiscal conservatism, resulting in a three point lead for Mitt Romney, with Rasmussen Reports finding Romney beating Obama 47-44 in their latest poll.

The poll was conducted on June 12, a week after the recall election, with 500 Likely Voters and a margin of error of 4.5%. 

Just like Rasmussen found in Colorado, people who are voting for the lesser of two evils, who tend to be swing voters, vastly prefer Romney over Obama:

The president is ahead 54% to 45% among voters who are excited about the 2012 matchup. Romney leads 48% to 33% among those who are just choosing the lesser of two evils.  

Among voters not affiliated with either major political party in the Badger State, Romney draws 43% support to Obama’s 38%.

A Republican presidential candidate hasn't won Wisconsin since 1984, but then again, it's been much longer than that since the economy was this bad during an election year.

If Romney is able to breach the Wisconsin/Pennsylvania/Michigan firewall, then Colorado might not even matter. Electorally, it would be all over for Obama at that point. 


STAKED HIS CLAIM: Tony Exum Doesn’t Need Your Vote

On April 4, 2012, Colorado State House District 17 candidate Tony Exum announced his candidacy via a press release (see below). From the way it’s written, it seems that Mr. Exum thinks he’s already been elected. Can you find the flaw in the writing?  

For those who are not eating, living, sleeping and breathing politics, one doesn’t usually use the affiliation and location designation until after being elected.

This is a pretty bold statement from someone running as a Democrat in Colorado Springs, especially after having lost an election in the area already last year when he ran for Colorado Springs City Council At-Large.

We have to give the guy credit for staking his claim, despite the fact that it’s pretty presumptuous. As he did in the last election, we bet he’ll dismiss the error as the mistake of a political neophyte.  Remember, Mr. Exum, that only works once in an election, so choose wisely.


COLORADANS TO OBAMA: We’re Just Not That Into You Anymore

A report by Buzzfeed this morning found that Colorado is among the top states in the nation where donations to Obama's campaign have drastically dropped since 2008. It seems Colorado Democrats just aren't that into Obama anymore.

Reports Buzzfeed:

As Mitt Romney's campaign fundraising gathers steam, boosted by huge contributions to allied groups, President Barack Obama is unexpectedly struggling to keep pace — and he may be having the hardest time in the mountainous west, where moderate Democrats have made deep inroads in recent years.  

As BuzzFeed reported last week, 88% of donors who gave $200 or more to Obama in 2008 have yet to give that amount to his campaign this cycle.  

A deeper analysis of campaign finance data shows that the west has seen an especially high level of drop off in Obama donors. Oregon topped the list with a 91% decrease in donors giving at least $200—the amount required for contributions to be individually reported—and Colorado, Nevada, and Idaho were close behind. [Peak emphasis]

Those are some striking statistics. Buzzfeed even has a county-by-county breakdown of the liberal love lost:

The darkness of the shading represents the degree of donation drop-off. Looking at the pivotal Denver metro area, it's looking pretty grim. Particularly interesting is the degree of drop-off in the swingiest of swing counties — Jefferson and Arapahoe. If you can't win JeffCo, you can't win Colorado. 

At this point in the campaign, people vote with their wallets. By that measure, Obama is losing in a landslide. 

(Photo Credit: Buzzfeed)


SILENCE ON THE LEFT: When A Republican Legislator Won A Hole In One, Liberals Went Nuts

Over the weekend, Henry Sobanet, the Governor’s budget director, scooped up a Ford Taurus as a prize after sinking the golfer’s white whale — a hole-in-one. Back in 2006, Republican legislator Bill Berens accomplished the same feat, winning a $20,000 prize from an insurance company, only that time the left in Colorado went nuts. Why the sudden silence this go 'round?

It's not that Sobanet or Berens don't deserve to keep their prizes — they earned them after all — only that the left has a selective attack disorder, wherein something is only bad if a Republican does it. 

When Berens won the jackpot at a golf tournament, Democrats and liberal front groups like Common Cause were beside themselves with manufactured outrage. While it was deemed legal for Berens to keep the prize, Democrats didn't hesitate to make it look extremely bad for Berens. 

Jenny Flanagan of Common Cause said “It is over the top for any legislator to receive that kind of money.”

Democrat Assistant Majority Leader Mike Garcia said "Is this a prize? Common Cause is saying its questionable whether this is a gift or not. That’s a really great line."

Senator Ron Tupa (D-Boulder) claimed "Campaign finance laws say that you can’t take a donation that large. You have my bill that says you can’t take cash as a gift at all. So he must be taking it as another type of gift but since it’s cash, it still violates the law."

Then-House Majority Leader Alice Madden (D-Boulder) had this to say about Berens’ winnings: "I'm shocked that Mr. Berens would even accept this gift. Not only does it look bad, it violates the spirit of the law."

The attacks from the left ended up defeating Berens, helping elect Dianne Primavera, who has now become famous this election cycle for her own ethical issues in having a registered lobbyist host a fundraiser for her during the legislative session. 

We have yet to see Common Cause, ProgressNow or a single Democrat feel the need to comment about the propriety of Sobanet accepting his new car.

News of Sobanet’s impressive achievement found its way to The Denver Post Spot blog where veteran political reporter Lynn Bartels clarified the law for folks who might be inclined to wonder whether the prize was legal for Sobanet to accept:

“BTW, in case you were wondering how the car impacts Amendment 41, the 2006 ballot measure that limits gifts to public employees to less than $50, there is an exemption for prizes. And Sobanet paid his own entry fee.”  

Bartels also noted that Sobanet has to look at the tax implications regarding whether he would take the car or the cash payout, but thanks to Bill Berens, we don’t have to wonder whether he is allowed to accept the prize.  

It’s too bad that in the process of the left's smears on Bill Berens the State lost a legislator familiar with the needs of small businesses when we’re in an economic tailspin. Instead we sent Primavera, who never saw a regulation she didn’t like, to the State Capitol. Well, there’s always November.

(Berens Photo Credit: State Bill)


“PRIVATE SECTOR DOING FINE” REPEAT: Obama Says CO’s Economy To “Continue To Grow” While It Shrinks

UPDATE: The RNC is out with a Tumblr for Obama and Colorado’s economy:


President Obama doubled down on his “the private sector is doing fine” gaffe in an interview with Southern Colorado’s KKTV yesterday, declaring that Colorado’s economy was growing even though it isn’t. Those who follow the newspapers (and those in Colorado’s expanding unemployment line) will recall news from earlier this month that it is the unemployment rate in Colorado, and not the economy, that is growing. Colorado’s unemployment rate actually rose in April to 7.9%.

No, Mr. President, the private sector in Colorado is not doing fine.

From the transcript:

KKTV’s DON WARD: “Mr. President, Colorado is a battleground state, it was in 2008, it is now. You had 54% in '08 and you won. Latest polling shows you and Romney at about 45% right now. Some of the support you had then you don't have now, what happened?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Well, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and we're digging our way out. I think people, understandably, want to make sure that going forward over the next four years, we continue to make progress, that's why we announced, for example, the investments we've been making in rural economies and small businesses because we want to see Colorado's economy continue to grow and the country's economy to continue to grow. But, when we've gone through what we've gone through, nobody's going to be completely satisfied, least of all me.”

Excuse us, Mr. President — continue to grow? In April, unemployment in Colorado shot up to 7.9%. That's not growing. Even worse, 4,000 people gave up looking for work entirely at the same time. That's definitely not a sign of economic progress. 

Since Obama claims all we need to do to get the economy going again is hire more government employees, let's test that theory here in Colorado. In April, 1,200 jobs were created in Colorado — and 1,100 of them were in government.

It would seem Colorado is a perfect example of Obama's flawed economic theory. In a month that saw nearly 92% of the new jobs created in the public sector, unemployment rose and 4,000 people quit looking for work. 

More than just a failed economic theory, Obama's insistence on talking about economic "progress" is destined for political failure as well. According to Bill Clinton's political guru, James Carville, and a slew of Democrat pollsters, voters see right through Obama’s “progress” talk — and aren’t buying his Orwellian Newspeak.

Per Politico's Alexander Burns:

President Barack Obama and his party may face an “impossible headwind in November” unless it shifts to a more forward-looking economic message aimed squarely at the middle class, three Democratic strategists warn in a memo out this week.  

Pollsters Stan Greenberg and Erica Seifert, of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, and Democratic strategist James Carville write in a research document for Democracy Corps that their party’s current frame for the 2012 race is not effective. Based on focus groups in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the strategists argue that voters are simply not convinced that the economy is on the move and it’s a mistake to try and tell them otherwise.

Voters aren't stupid — and they’re not blind — they feel the economic pain personally. There is no economic progress for Obama to brag about, the private sector is not "doing fine" and unless Obama figures out some way to explain away his failed policies, he will find himself right alongside the 23 million unemployed Americans come November.


STOP DIGGING: When You Have To Say You Were Perfectly Clear, You Weren’t

Last week President Obama made a game-changing gaffe in declaring “the private sector is doing fine.” This came as quite a surprise to those actually in the private sector – including our country’s job creators, small business owners – who continue to struggle under the weight of government regulation and taxation.  

Following his initial declaration on Friday morning, Obama tried to wash away the “out of touch” stink left on him, but seemed to insert his foot farther into his mouth, saying in a follow up media availability later that day:

“The folks who are hurting, where we have problems and where we can do even better, is small businesses that are having a tough time getting financing; we’ve seen teachers and police officers and firefighters who’ve been laid off — all of which, by the way, when they get laid off spend less money buying goods and going to restaurants and contributing to additional economic growth. The construction industry is still very weak, and that’s one of the areas where we’ve still seen job losses instead of job gains.”  

As we noted on Friday, the greatest hindrance to the private sector is the regulatory environment enacted by President Obama. Sadly, our Peter Pan President, who won’t grow up and take responsibility for his economy, points – as usual – to the public union employees who have been laid off, as if to say, “if only the federal, state, and local governments had been given more money.”  

Dana Perino, former Bush press secretary, perhaps summed it up best when she said on Fox News:  

“When you are hanging out with celebrities and hedge fund managers who are getting millions and millions over the past few months, you do think they’re doing fine.  If a President of the United States three hours later has to say, ‘I was perfectly clear,’ you’re not perfectly clear.’”  

What is perfectly clear is that Obama’s true opinion of the private sector keeps peeking out from under his skirt hem. Like McCain in 2008, will this economic gaffe (after a week of gaffes on the economy) be President Obama’s Waterloo?

(Photo Credit: Tessa Tessa)

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