Senator-elect Cory Gardner is turning conventional wisdom on its head left and right. Yesterday, an article by The Denver Post talked about how the long-held conventional wisdom in Colorado politics (wonder where they got that idea…), that one could not win a state-wide election without winning Jefferson County, was demolished by Gardner’s victory over Sen. Mark Udall. Today, Sean Trende over at Real Clear Politics dives deep into the numbers to show even if the same number of voters as 2012 showed up in 2014, Gardner still would have won. As Trende writes:
A congealing conventional wisdom surrounding the 2014 elections is that Democrats had a long night because of an unfavorable Senate map and because Democratic constituencies failed to show up.
…This isn’t entirely correct.
…If we estimate the Republican share of the non-white vote in states that don’t have full demographic crosstabs, we find, for example, that Cory Gardner probably lost non-white voters by about 28 points (while winning whites by 10). Applying the demographic splits from the 2012 election in Colorado only moves the results about 0.4 points to the left, resulting in another Gardner win. [the Peak’s emphasis]
Many around Colorado have stated that should Gardner have lost, with being such a strong candidate in such a strong year, Colorado Republicans could have written themselves off for at least a generation. One heavy, unsaid, assumption in there is that even as good of a candidate as Gardner was, he couldn’t have won in a Presidential-year electorate. Trende flips this narrative and shows Gardner was such a strong candidate that even if the same voters from 2012 or 2008 turned out in 2014, Gardner still would have won.
Not only is this an indication of Gardner’s strength, but this also serves as a warning to all Colorado Democrats out there self-soothing themselves with thoughts of a Presidential-year electorate in 2016. Many on the Left are assuming you give them a Presidential-year electorate and they can win whatever they want. But, as Trende shows, their logical fallacy is believing demographics is destiny. As Trende writes:
The major difference was that in 2012 Barack Obama was a moderately popular president. In 2014, he is an unpopular president. If this does not change between now and 2016, demographic shifts alone will not save the Democratic nominee. [the Peak’s emphasis]
We all remember the hoops Udall jumped through to avoid being seen with President Obama. If Obama’s popularity doesn’t increase in the next two years, we’ll get to see a whole host of Colorado Democrats learn to dance the Udall two-step.