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?


POLL WARS: Coors Releases Poll Showing Him Up 9, Perlmutter Whines But Won’t Release Own Poll

UPDATE: The Colorado Observer‘s Tyler Sandberg has more on the poll. Ed Perlmutter, over to you to release something, anything about your poll.

According to Anderson, the sample of the survey was 39% Democrat / 37% Republican / 24% Unaffiliated/Other. That appears to comport with current voter registration statistics in the district.

…Addressing another criticism of the poll, Anderson told The Observer that the “ballot test” question – who will you vote for – was asked before any information was conveyed to respondents about either candidate. Polls often test positive and negative messages about each candidate, with ballot test questions both before and after the messages, to see how well each one works.

In the case of the ballot test question of Coors vs. Perlmutter, the 9-point Coors lead was found from a question asked at the beginning of the poll.

Conservative website Colorado Peak Politics has called on both campaigns to release their full surveys. With the Coors campaign releasing more information, the pressure will now be on the Perlmutter campaign to divulge more about their own poll.


The Joe Coors for Congress campaign released an internal poll today showing the challenger beating incumbent Congressman Edwin Permutter by 9 points. Perlmutter's campaign complained immediately that their internal poll showed different results…but refused to release it.

Does anyone else find that a bit strange?  What is Perlmutter hiding?

We'll be the first to say the Coors campaign poll is incomplete as it doesn't release crosstabs or any data to help determine if the poll is an accurate reflection of the 7th Congressional District. It also comes after Coors has been up on TV for months with large ad buys and Coors has yet to take a serious shellacking in negative attacks from the left. 

That said, the Perlmutter camp doesn't have much to stand on if they're complaining about Coors' incomplete release with a total and non-existent release of their own. 

How about the media calls on both sides to release their internals, crosstabs and all?

Just as ProgressNow Colorado called on Coors to release his tax returns, but not Perlmutter, how about both sides pony up?

How about it, boys?

Let's see tax returns and internal polls. Lay it all on the table. 

(Photos via Facebook)


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)


MEDIA POLLING #FAIL: PPP Puts Out Bogus Poll, Media Bites Without Reading Sample

Polling is about determining a population's belief by asking a representative sample, so polls that don't accurately represent the population they are polling shouldn't be counted as accurate representations of that population's sentiment. Case in point (again): PPP's latest poll of Colorado.

The PPP poll out today claims Obama is beating Romney in Colorado, 49-42, but that's when they oversample Democrats by 7.3%, undersample Republicans by 2% and undersample unaffiliateds by 4.4% compared to the active voter registration totals in Colorado as of June 1. 

Every other recent poll — Rasmussen, Purple Strategies, NBCNews/Marist — has had the race tied or within the margin of error. Yet somehow, after weeks of bad press, and Colorado's unemployment rising in April and May, Obama is up 7 in the PPP poll?

The Democrat flacks over at PPP must also have missed veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart's focus group in Colorado last week where Obama was dubbed a "slick salesman, but his words didn't match his actions" by a group of undecided voters, 10 of 12 whom voted for Obama in 2008. 

And for some godforsaken reason the media is reporting the poll without any mention of the serious sampling flaws. 

For example, Alicia Caldwell at The Denver Post blindly wrote up the results without bothering to mention the fact that it polled a Colorado electorate that doesn't exist. Do they teach statistics in J-School? Did she not scroll down her own blog to read Curtis Hubbard's coverage of the brutal Denver focus group? Didn't that make her wonder about such a wildly divergent result in the PPP poll versus the focus group?

Even the normally solid reporter at Politico, Alexander Burns, reports the poll without even mentioning the enormous statistical problem it has. 

It may be an easy post and click generator to write up poll results, but reporters should at least know what they're reporting before they click the publish button. 


PRESIDENTIAL POLLING: Two New Colorado Surveys Show A Tight Race

Two Colorado polls on the Presidential election released today — Rasmussen Reports and Purple Poll — show the race for President to be exactly as the pundits predict, extremely close. Rasmussen has Romney and Obama tied at 45%, while the Purple Poll has Obama up two.

The Rasmussen poll was conducted on June 6 with 500 Likely Voters, with a margin of error of 4.5%. Sample was 32R/27D/41U.

The Purple Poll, conducted by the bipartisan public affairs firm Purple Strategies, was conducted May 31 – June 5 with 600 Likely Voters, with a 4% margin of error. No sample data was given. 

With the race staying pretty much the same in the ballot test numbers, you have to look beneath to see the important trends identified. 

A couple key findings:

  • Rasmussen: 44% of respondents said their finances were getting worse, to only 25% who report improvement.
  • Rasmussen: Fifty-two percent (52%) of Colorado voters say the choice between Obama and Romney is one they are excited about, while 39% say they’ll simply be voting for the lesser of two evils this election.
  • Rasmussen: Obama holds a very slight 49% to 47% edge over Romney among voters who are excited about the choice of candidates. Romney leads 48% to 39% among those who will be voting for the lesser of two evils.
  • Purple Poll: 57 Percent Of Colorado Voters Think The Country Is On The Wrong Track, While 37 Percent Think It Is On The Right Track. 
  • Purple Poll: Mitt Romney is closing the gap with President Obama across Purple States, as Republicans consolidate and independents lean toward Romney.

Colorado is likely to be one of the tightest finishes in the country, both polls find. No news there.

As analysts keep repeating, what is key to Colorado is swing, Unaffiliated voters. Those folks don't tend to get excited about candidates, which is why they swing back and forth, but instead vote for the lesser of two evils — which is why negative advertising works so well.

With that in mind, both Rasmussen and the Purple Poll have positive findings for Romney. Voters are seeing things get worse, not better, in the four years Obama has been in office. 

As Rasmussen finds, Romney leads among voters who will decide among the lesser of two evils, 48% to 39%. As Rasmussen oversampled Unaffiliateds that would seem to be a striking finding.

With an economy of 40+ months of unemployment over 8%, and Colorado's unemployment rising last month, it seems a safe bet that at this point in the race, Obama is not in an enviable place. 


UDALL IN TROUBLE? PPP Poll That Oversamples Liberals Finds Mark Udall’s Approval Rating Plummeting

We meant to hit this last week. In a Colorado poll by the Democrat firm Public Policy Polling (PPP), Senator Mark Udall is not doing well, with a lowly 40% approval rating. It appears Washington, DC's taint has splashed back on the formerly beloved Udall.

That is especially troubling for Udall considering how much the poll oversamples liberals and Democrats.

Peak news contributor Dave Diepenbrock recently pointed out that the PPP poll oversampled liberals by 12.5% and undersampled moderates by 6.5% and conservatives by 4%. 

When Diepenbrock recalculated the PPP results for President based on the correct ideological sample, using Gallup's numbers, President Obama's supposed 13-point lead over Romney turned into a one-point Romney lead. Imagine what Udall's approval rating might look like if the approval rating was calculated based on a proper ideological sample of Colorado's electorate. 

With Udall's re-elect only two and a half years away, will the DC-stink get worse? We don't suppose he'll end up smelling like outsider roses come 2014.

If a poll designed to make Democrats look good has Udall this low, we wonder how much panic is going on in Udall's world right now. 


WORTH NOTING: Gas Prices Have Now Officially Doubled Under Obama

There are plenty of similarities between Presidents Obama and Carter, but today there is one in particular worth noting. As of today, gas prices have officially doubled under Obama. The only other President to have that occur in their first term? Carter. We all remember how well that re-election campaign worked out.

Reports US News and World Report:

Obama has hit one more Carter benchmark – both saw gas prices double in their first term of office.

In fact, while just barely, Obama has seen an even higher gas price increase than Carter dealt with under his administration.  

Under the Carter administration, gas prices increased by 103.77 percent. Gas prices since Obama took office have risen by 103.79 percent. [Peak emphasis[

The Obama campaign is frightened of the damage that high gas prices are doing to Obama. The best proof of that?

The last two ads run by Obama and the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA not only mentioned gas prices but both ads begin by pushing back against ads targeting Obama on gas prices. 

Other proof high gas prices are gouging Obama's support? A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll that shows 2/3 of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of high gas prices. 

With Obama's Energy Secretary on record saying he wanted gas prices to reach European levels, which have surpassed $8/gallon, we honestly don't know how Obama's campaign expects to deflect blame. 

If the person you put in charge of your energy policy says he wants to raise gas prices, and then gas prices double under your tenure, how in the world are you going to convince people it's not your fault?

Image: Salvatore Vuono /


Public Policy Polling

Published on April 2, 2012 by

Hey everyone!  Make sure to go to to vote for Colorado!  The winning state gets a new poll done by Public Policy Polling!


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. 


WHO WILL WIN COLORADO? Romney And Santorum Duel For Centennial State Prize

With little available public polling we don't have a compelling statistical basis on which to make this prediction, but we believe the Colorado caucuses are shaping up to be a duel between Governor Mitt Romney, who won a sweeping victory here in 2008, and Senator Rick Santorum, the surging conservative who has nailed down key endorsements from key conservatives across the state. 

Romney, no surprise, has the superior organization here in Colorado. He's worked hard to cultivate support and that promises real dividends on Tuesday night, but Santorum, more so than Gingrich, has capitalized on Romney's inability to close the deal with the base.

In garnering the endorsements of grassroots favorites like Tom Tancredo and Bob Schaffer, Santorum has positioned himself to soak up much of the anti-Romney vote. His endorsements are heavy on a Northern Colorado contingent, including CD4 CU Regent Sue Sharkey and Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, and he spent most of Saturday campaigning in Loveland and Greeley. Those endorsements and time spent could hint at a strong base of support in Northern Colorado, tapping into the section of the state where Ken Buck ran up the biggest margins of victory in the 2010 US Senate primary.

Santorum has crisscrossed the state hitting small communities and hot pockets of conservative voters in the same way he did in Iowa. At eight events by Sunday, Santorum leads all other candidates for Colorado campaign visits, combined. And we believe that the results of that effort will be a strong showing on Tuesday.

Newt Gingrich was leading the Colorado polls when Democrat pollster Public Policy Polling (PPP) surveyed the state in early December, whooping Romney by 19 points. PPP's most recent poll — just the results from the first day were released yesterday — show Gingrich slipping to third at 18%, Santorum surging into second at 28% and Romney atop the field with 40%. 

Gingrich's campaign has been trying to downplay the results in Colorado, with Gingrich CO spokesman Tom Lucero calling the caucuses a “dog and pony show” that doesn't directly impact delegate selection, which Gingrich has said is his main focus now. 

Ron Paul's campaign has been the only one to open a formal office in the state, which has been operating since November in the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver. While expectations were initially high for Paul, he has underperformed recently in caucus states, especially ones that are closed to non-GOP voters, like Colorado.

As Michael Sandoval of Peoples Press Collective notes, PPP's first day results show 33% of Colorado voters saying they could still change their mind before Tuesday's caucus. That large chunk of undecideds will mean campaign organization is even more important, as last minute contacts from campaign volunteers and the candidates themselves can still swing large amounts of votes.

Santorum's sudden rise is giving credence to his argument that it is he, and not Gingrich, who is best suited to be the conservative alternative to Romney. PPP's poll shows Santorum with the highest favorability with 68% of voters seeing him favorably to 21% with a negative opinion. He is also polling strongly in Minnesota and Missouri, the other two states voting on Tuesday.  

As Newt Gingrich isn't on the ballot in Missouri, Santorum will get his shot there to take on Romney, one-on-one.

Romney's campaign recognizes the sudden threat of Santorum, holding their first press call hit on Santorum this morning for his earmarking habit while in the US Senate. 

For Romney, a big win in Colorado will bolster his argument that he is strongest in states that are key in November. His ability to deliver a substantial margin of victory will also further enhance his frontrunner profile and deafen arguments that voters are still searching for a Romney alternative.

Romney is not taking Colorado for granted, holding a campaign rally in Centennial tonight and one in Loveland tomorrow morning, as well as visited the state on Saturday in Colorado Springs for a quick event before shuffling back to Nevada for his Silver State victory speech.  

While we are not prepared to make any specific predictions on the final results, we do feel comfortable saying one thing: Colorado precinct caucuses are finally going to count, so get out and vote.  

Check back at the Peak for the latest Colorado caucus results as they come in on Tuesday.

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