REPUBLICANS ON TOP: Dems to Rely Heavily on Weakened Top of the Ticket in 2014

When Public Policy Polling released its “Polling Miscellany” odds and ends post, Colorado media was a-blaze with news that Republicans are leading in the Colorado statewide generic legislative ballot 47-42.  Especially noteworthy was Republicans’ nine-point advantage with independents.  But, don’t worry, PPP, a liberal polling outfit, found a way to spin the numbers by saying that Democrats would be in trouble, except that Republicans’ top of the ticket isn’t as strong as that of Democrats:

“Those numbers are perhaps also indicative of how much trouble Democrats would be in at the top of the ticket next year if the GOP candidate fields were a little bit stronger.”

There’s just one problem with PPP’s assertion – the Dems’ top of the ticket isn’t looking particularly strong in 2014. Hick is in trouble according to last month’s Quinnipiac poll: continue…


P-P-PRETTY BAD NUMBERS: Even Liberal Pollster PPP Can’t Polish The Obamacare Turd

Obamacare is so loathed in Colorado, even liberal pollster Public Policy Polling (PPP) can’t polish that turd. In a poll released today, continued and widespread dissatisfaction was found with President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.

When asked about the implementation of Obamacare, 70% of voters thought it was somewhat or very unsuccessful. As for the 4% who said it was “very successful” – we’d sure love to get our hands on whatever they’re smoking.

Where PPP’s numbers differ is on Obamacare approval itself. According to PPP’s survey, Obamacare has a 49% disapproval rating to 41% approval. Like everyone else polling the state they find the law is highly unpopular, but perhaps unsurprisingly they show it loathed less than every other recent poll.

Maybe that’s why they decided to actually release their poll this time — after all PPP has a history of hiding polling results in Colorado it doesn’t like.

In September, prior to the disastrous roll out of the law, USA Today found that Coloradans disapproved of Obamacare 52%-33%.

In late November, Quinnipiac found that Coloradans disapproved 56%-40%, with independents disapproving 59%-35%.

No matter how much you spin it, the bill that has come to define Barack Obama’s legacy and the future political careers of Democrats in 2014 has become a serious political liability.


POLLING PROBLEMS FOR THE GUV: Former Democratic Party Chairman Asks If Hickenlooper Is In Trouble

Former Colorado Democratic Party Chairman and pollster Floyd Ciruli picks up on the big question in Colorado politics on his blog today — is Governor Hickenlooper in trouble?

Noting the shocking transition Hickenlooper’s reputation has undergone — from moderate to “leader of a very socially liberal, anti-business state government” — Ciruli points out how much Hick has lost control of his own image:

Hickenlooper tried to frame the session as simply addressing major needs in a moderate fashion with a minimalist state-of-state address advocating gun registration and civil unions. But, he lost control of the messaging as national interest in the issues overwhelmed local positioning and, for example, made Colorado a gun control success story for embattle [sic] advocates…

The sheer volume of Democratic proposals on guns, gays, drugs, taxes, death penalty, spending and regulation took over and altered Hickenlooper’s moderate image to that of a leader of very socially liberal, anti-business state government. As of today, gun control, the legislature’s signature issue, is not very popular in Colorado, with only 49 percent of the public supporting either stricter laws in general or an assault weapons ban specifically.

The effect of this strong shift to the left on Hick’s part — something also noted in The New Yorker profile of Hick today — is to submerge his approval rating under water with independents.

As the chart created by Ciruli highlights (see below), Hick’s approval among indies has gone from a positive 59-21 approve/disapprove last November to an upside down 40-48 in the April Public Policy Polling statewide survey.



#WINNING: Gessler’s Electoral Strength Unreported By CO Press

The Colorado Press never misses a chance to report on the head-line grabbing ongoings of Secretary of State Scott Gessler. 

And the Colorado Press loves to report the findings of notoriously left leaning PPP polls as if they were from the mouth of the Lord.

So why didn’t the Colorado Press report the recent findings of the PPP poll as they pertain to Scott Gessler’s re-election?

Maybe it is because the press no-like Gessler, and no want anyone to know that Honey Badger is #winning.

From PPP:

Voters are closely divided on Michael Bennet- 34/35 approval- and narrowly support incumbent Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler for reelection over Democratic challenger Ken Gordon 42/38.

We admit to being mildly surprised at Gessler’s electoral strength after a 3-year barrage of attacks by libs and the press. We are not surprised, though, that the press ignored this development. 

That does not mean there isn’t a headline here…Gessler is #winning, even if the press does not want you to know.


GLASS JAW GOVERNOR? Hickenlooper’s Ability To Withstand A Political Punch Relatively Untested

Governor Hickenlooper has been the recipient of a hard-hitting, professional attack ad campaign by Republicans just once in his political career. Once. And then Dan Maes took the GOP nomination and every outside player fled the state.

With Hickenlooper taking a 20-point hit in favorability in the latest PPP poll, it’s instructive to look back at that brief moment of political peril for the governor for what it says about his ability to take a political punch.

The assault by the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) in early May 2010 focused heavily on his raising taxes as Denver Mayor and the job losses at Frontier Airlines that happened as a result, and tied him to unpopular one-term Governor Ritter.

The smartly produced, memorable spot had a little over half a million behind it over a one-month period — a not insignificant, nor exceptionally huge, budget.

As a result, Hickenlooper’s numbers went into freefall.

Less than two weeks after the assault on the airwaves began, a PPP poll found Hick had gone from an 11-point lead over Scott McInnis in the previous PPP poll to being tied.

It was a crushing blow that reshaped the race dramatically.

Unfortunately, soon thereafter everything fell apart. The plagiarism scandal consumed McInnis’s campaign and paved the way for the most disastrous major party nomination in modern history in Dan Maes. 

But it’s that ever-so-brief moment that makes some wonder whether Hickenlooper is as politically invincible as conventional wisdom would suggest.

The second sustained assault Hickenlooper has faced from Republicans in his career, though with virtually no paid media, was over gun control.

And just like after the RGA attack, Hickenlooper’s polling numbers plummeted like a cartoon anvil.

Two assaults, two big poll hits.

Does Governor Hickenlooper have a glass jaw?


MOST LIBERAL LEGISLATURE IN HISTORY: The Consequences Of Democrats Radical Redirect To The Left

Yesterday’s Public Policy Polling survey of Colorado that found that Governor Hickenlooper had taken a 20 point nosedive among voters revealed one of the major consequences to come out of a legislative session dubbed by The Durango Herald‘s Joe Hanel as “one of the most liberal ever.”

A flashback to that Durango Herald piece from April 8:

DENVER – Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Colorado legislators have done a lot this year. 

If the session ended today, it would go down as one of the most productive and liberal ever, with new laws allowing civil unions, in-state tuition for children who lack citizenship and some of the only new gun control bills in the country this year, and they are on their way to expanding eligibility for Medicaid.

But with 30 days left in their annual session, Democrats are just getting warmed up.

KDVR’s Eli Stokols predicted this would happen in a 5280 Magazine piece in March, suggesting Democrats could be confronted with a case of “whiplash” from their over-reaching legislative agenda. (The article is offline right now, but we’ll link if/when it goes back up It’s been reposted here). Eli’s inner-Swami proved quite prescient.

The consensus among the Colorado press corps seems to be coalescing around the idea that this legislative session has been on the radical side of liberal…sorry, progressive…much to the chagrin of Democratic leaders like House Speaker Mark Ferrandino who promised to focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

From gun control to Hitler’s dog to sex ed for 1st graders, the topic of discussion under the Gold Dome has been everything but economics so far this year.

Hick’s twenty point hit since Christmas, almost entirely in the form of moderate Republicans and independents fleeing his ship, is nothing to sneeze at. That fundamentally reshapes Hickenlooper’s political standing in the state.

Hick’s slide likely isn’t over yet, either. The Progressive Leap Forward still has many miles to go.

There is still a slate of horrible bills yet to reach the Guv’s desk — like driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, a Common Cause-drafted election bill and a slew of anti-business legislation.

Not to mention the coming billion dollar tax increase campaign.

There is a reason the last tax hike campaign, Prop 103 in 2011, lost everywhere in Colorado but Boulder, Aspen and Telluride. Tax increases are like Democrats in Douglas County — a guaranteed loser.

While Hickenlooper managed to evade a public position on Prop 103, both the media and liberals are not likely to give him a free pass this time around. He’ll have to take a position. Coming out against it would enrage the left, and considering the pressure liberals were able to exact on him during the gun debate, we can’t be sure Hickenlooper won’t dive down the tax hike rabbit hole.

Suffice it to say supporting a tax hike in this economy won’t help improve his numbers.

The political blowback for legislative Democrats has only just begun, with a number of them having to fend off recall campaigns that will prove costly, both in time and treasure.

Such are the consequences for the most liberal legislature ever.


POLLING PRIMER: Hey John Ingold, You Forgot Something About That PPP Poll

The Denver Post's John Ingold reports that Romney is gaining on Obama in Colorado in the latest poll (PDF) by Democrat polling firm PPP, yet he leaves out one glaring issue — the sample. We honestly don't understand how reporters can cover a poll without disclosing who was actually polled.

PPP's poll has Obama over Romney 49-46, up from Obama's 49-43 lead last time PPP polled Colorado. But if you were to weight the poll properly, according to a polling source of ours, Romney would actually be beating Obama by a point

Why is that? PPP's sample of 37% Democrat, 37% Republican and 27% Unaffiliated/Other is not in line with what every other pollster who has looked at Colorado assumes will happen. That sample assumes a higher percentage of Democrats will turn out than Republicans. If you have been sticking your head in the sand since 2008 you might believe that, but everyone else knows better.

Ingold also reports that Obama is "cleaning up with women" based on a 52-44 lead. Here he is forgetting to add some context — namely that this represents the smallest lead Obama has had among women all cycle in Colorado.

For some context about the actual Colorado electorate, the active registration totals in Colorado are, as of August 1, 31.5% Democrat / 36.5% Republican / 32% Unaffiliated/Other. Secondly, 2008 was the only time in Colorado history that we can remember where more Democrats voted than Republicans, and in that wave year it was by barely less than a point more, according to Secretary of State records. In 2010, the electorate was 6 points more Republican than Democratic.

Most pollsters assume turnout will be somewhere between 2008 and 2010 — but we haven't heard from any legitimate source that Democrats will repeat anything close to 2008 turnout. PPP's sample suggests they believe something no respected observer in Colorado believes.

PPP's struggles with sampling an accurate representation of the Colorado electorate have been long documented by us at Colorado Peak Politics. A number of reporters, like Eli Stokols, usually include the requisite disclaimers about PPP's issues when covering their polls, but other reporters have not been quite so good. 

Even The New York Times polling expert, Nate Silver, has found that PPP has shown a three-point oversampling of Democrats on average this year. 

Next time you read a poll on Colorado, the first question you should ask is: who was polled? It matters.  


CONFLICTING ASSESSMENTS: Rasmussen Has Presidential Race Tied In CO, PPP Peddles BS Outlier

Competing polls on the Presidential race in Colorado were released today, with Rasmussen Reports showing the race tied at 47% and Democrat pollster Public Policy Polling (PPP) continuing to peddle their BS outlier results, showing Obama up 49%-43% over Governor Romney.

Both polls show basically no movement in the race from their earlier surveys, despite the nearly $30 million that has been spent on advertising already in Colorado this cycle.

In June, Rasmussen had the race tied at 45%, while PPP had Obama up 49%-42% at the same time.

What's important to look at when analyzing these polls, especially with the race so tight, is not the top line numbers that make the headlines, but the trends and crosstabs. In that sense, both PPP and Rasmussen agree — the race is virtually unchanged since June. 

What they seem to disagree on is how much support Romney has among Republicans.

Rasmussen has Obama and Romney garnering equal support from their own parties at 91%, while PPP shows Romney getting only 85% support among Republicans while Obama pulls in 92% support from Democrats. 

Both pollsters also disagree on how unaffiliated voters are viewing the race, with Rasmussen showing Obama and Romney get 44% of that segment's vote. PPP's poll has Obama over Romney with unaffiliateds 49%-38%. 

Other pollsters who have done surveys in Colorado, and who have better reputations than PPP or Rasmussen, see the race tied. In July, Purple Strategies had the race Obama 45% to Romney 44%, with Romney up with independents by 6 points.

What this all means is that PPP continues to paint what Fox31's Eli Stokols has called a "rosy picture" for Obama in Colorado. The real truth is the race is tight and no one is breaking out ahead. If anyone tells you otherwise, tell them we have a nice bridge we want to sell them in Alaska Jefferson County.  


SHOCK: New York Times Finds Democrat Pollster PPP Oversamples Democrats Badly

We've been saying for the last year that Democrat polling firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) has a sampling problem — they oversample Democrats and undersample Republicans in their Colorado polls, delivering skewed results. Now The New York Times polling expert, Nate Silver, finds that PPP, on average, has a "house effect" that leans to the Democrats by 3.1 points. Rasmussen, by comparison, only shows a 1.3 point Republican lean.

Here's the NYT's finding, visually:

This means PPP's results are showing Obama doing three points better than the NYT's "consensus of surveys." Without diving into the statistical weeds, what this basically does is create results that paint a rosier reality for Obama and Democrats than actually exists according to a roundup of the best publicly available polling.

The Grey Lady endorsement of a point we've been making for some time now is especially painful for PPP, who in their April Colorado poll ended the press release with this sentence:

PPP is a Democratic polling company, but polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times found that its surveys in 2010 actually exhibited a slight bias toward Republican candidates.

No one noted it at the time, but this sentence was conspicuously absent from their last press release on Colorado poll results. Maybe PPP should update their press release template with this:

PPP is a Democratic polling company, and polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times found that its surveys in 2012 have exhibited a strong bias toward Democratic candidates. 

This is a fact we hope reporters covering future PPP polls note in their coverage, as PPP's previous New York Times spin has ended up in print (cough*Tim Hoover*cough).

(Graph Credit: FiveThirtyEight)


SANTORUM SHOCKER: 7 Takeaways From Last Night’s Three-State Sweep

Last night's three state Santorum sweep was a shocker to say the least. While his wins in Minnesota and Missouri were somewhat expected based on prior published polling, Santorum's out-of-nowhere victory in Colorado stunned pundits and politicos across the board.

We had been predicting for a few days that Santorum would have a strong finish at the caucuses, stronger than many in the chattering class had accounted for in their analysis. Yet even we didn't see the win coming.

He worked the state harder than anyone, positioned himself as the true Romney alternative and rode a last minute wave of momentum into a momentous victory. 

Here are 7 takeaways we took from last night's Santorum shocker.

1. Colorado conservatives' independence: Just as Colorado conservatives sent a clear message to John McCain in 2008 that they weren't willing to sign on to his inevitable candidacy, overwhelmingly voting for Romney, in 2012 they reminded the country of their rugged Western independence, giving the race to 2012's version of 2008 Romney, Rick Santorum. Romney did not work the state hard enough giving voters a reason to support him, but rather was trying to ride the wave of inevitability. That doesn't fly here.

2. Endorsements matter, just not from politicians: While Romney had all of the statewide elected officials, 16 state legislators and the full stable of former elected officials like Hank Brown and Bill Owens, Santorum had the folks that conservatives really care about. In 2012, Michelle Malkin's endorsement matters far more to conservatives than Mark Waller's or Larry Liston's. Malkin, who has twice as many Twitter followers as Santorum's Presidential campaign, and has been ranked the most influential blogger in politics, was an enormously powerful force in branding Santorum as the leading anti-Romney. In the future, we suggest candidates spend less time seeking John Suthers' endorsement and more trying to convince those that the grassroots listens to.

3. Newt Gingrich is dead in the water: Just as we predicted the day of the caucus, perhaps the most significant long-term impact of last night's results is that Gingrich has lost the mantle of the conservative alternative to Romney. He wasn't on the ballot in Missouri, finished a distant fourth in Minnesota and was a complete non-factor in Colorado's race. With $600,000 in debt, his campaign will watch in agony as Santorum sucks up millions in grassroots fundraising over the next couple of weeks that they direly need to run ads in the expensive media markets of Super Tuesday. Santorum now has the Mo', the money and the mantle. And Gingrich won't even have a debate to shine in for another two weeks. 

4. PPP sucks at polling Colorado: Democrat polling firm, Public Policy Polling (PPP), has an atrocious track record in Colorado. Last fall they polled the state but oversampled Democrats by 8-points, rendering their results meaningless. The night before Colorado Republicans went to their precinct cacucus, PPP released a Colorado poll with Romney at 37, Santorum 27, Gingrich 21, and Paul at 13. The real results? Santorum 40, Romney 35, Gingrich 13, Paul 12. PPP got it embarrassingly wrong. Note this for when they show polls with Obama leading in Colorado in the next couple of months. 

5. Ron Paul's supporters aren't voting Republicans. As AP reporter Kristen Wyatt noted on Twitter, Ron Paul's rallies had more people than he got votes last night. As we've seen in other states that have elections closed to only registered Republicans, Ron Paul vastly underperformed expectations. That seems to be because his support comes from a young demographic that doesn't tend to be registered as Republican. While he surpassed his showing of 8.4% in 2008, he still came in a distant fourth place. As voters had to be registered as Republicans since December, they had to prepare months in advance, something not conducive to the younger demographic. In Iowa, voters could change their registration the day of the caucus, which likely boosted Paul's finish there significantly. In Colorado, he had no such luck. 

6. Romney can't mail it in anywhere. With no TV ads, little direct mail, and only a modest ground effort, Romney thought he could win with a light Colorado foot print and he was so very wrong. Some pundits have said that he can only win with negative TV blitzes, forgetting that Presidential elections are almost entirely defined by negative ads on TV. Even the supposed positive campaign of Obama ran more negative ads than any Presidential campaign in history. Santorum is certainly going to see his fair share of attack ads in the coming weeks, but Romney will need to not forget the lesson he keeps learning, which is that he can't take anything for granted. 

7. This race still has some juice left in it. While Romney was hoping February would be a coronation, it instead is shaping up to be a hard fought slog. Romney is still the nearly prohibitive favorite to be the nominee, but last night put a serious chink in his armor of inevitability. He has not closed the deal with the base by a long shot. Conservatives have not been convinced that he can champion their cause in his campaign. After his gaffe on the 'very poor,' even establishment Republicans began to doubt his image as the more professional disciplined candidate to take on Barack Obama. Between needing to prove his conservative bona fides and demonstrate his superiority as a candidate through message discipline and campaign organization, Romney has some serious challenges ahead of him before he can claim the nomination. 

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