By Dave Diepenbrock

Whether it's Colorado or the entire United States, respected analysts say we have looming problems:      

  • not enough money” in revenue to pay for mandated state spending says the Center for Colorado's Economic Future at DU;
  • We face staggering deficits [with]…federal spending projected to increase faster than revenues” says the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Both groups offer solutions, but voters reject both higher taxes and reduced services when those changes hit them personally, according to  

Colorado's off-year tax hike election may be a test run, both for how to solve these problems and for the 2012 election. Can Democrats push tax hikes while soft pedaling the cost to families and touting spending benefits to a select audience? Will moderates and conservatives here in Colorado buy this?  

Fiscal tightwads have reason to oppose Proposition 103. The total five-year cost per Colorado household will be $1,346 (based on Blue Book and 2010 Census data).  
So far at least proponents have a grassroots, no-TV effort. They're following, it seems, one part of the Bennet winning strategy of 2010 (targeted door-to-door personal visits with voters) as their single strategy. Prop 103 opponent Jeff Crank told the CS Indy he wagers proponents "are hoping that it's a very low-turnout election….”  

Hoping for low turnout is the opposite of Obama's 2008 push in Colorado to expand his voting base. Perhaps it's because Public Policy Polling found Colorado Independent voters' support for Obama had dropped from 60% (in their final 2008 poll) to an awful 38% job approval this past August.  

And the Democrat's low turnout plan has a problem. Conservatives are more juiced about voting than the liberals.  

Nationally, Gallup reports only 45% of Democrats and leaners are “more enthusiastic about voting than usual,” but 58% of Republicans say they are more enthusiastic. This enthusiasm gap shows in turnout in Colorado's mail-in election. The October 19 Secretary of State's report of returned ballots shows that 18% of active Republicans have voted, but only 15.5% of Democrats have returned their voted ballots. A 2.5% advantage for Republicans, if maintained in 2011 (and 2012) will make things difficult for Democrats in Colorado. Adding insult to injury, by 2% Libertarians are voting more heavily than Green Party members…which suggests that this really is a time when conservatives are more likely to vote than liberals. Not a pretty picture for the Democrats!  

Even a determined ballot suppression effort by Democrats in 2012, in the “too extreme for Colorado” mode, may not be able to overcome current psychological and economic realities.

Image: taoty /