Bizarre Crosstabs Undermine Latest SurveyUSA Poll

Reading tea leaves.

Reading tea leaves.

The Denver Post released new SurveyUSA polling on the Colorado gubernatorial and Senate races yesterday that are raising eyebrows–not so much for the bottom line results, which show both races very close, but the numbers under the proverbial hood. As the Post's John Frank reports on the Senate results:

Gardner and Udall remain in a tight race, 45 percent to 43 percent, according to a SurveyUSA poll of likely voters released Monday.

Gardner's lead is within the margin of error, making the race a statistical tie, but it represents a reversal from a month ago when Udall held a 4-point edge.

The Post poll — conducted Thursday through Sunday — had a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4.1 percentage points.

"There has been movement to Gardner that is unmistakable and what had been nominal advantage for Udall has been erased," said Jay Leve at SurveyUSA.

Gardner's momentum is evident in the underlying numbers…

But when local polling expert Kevin Ingham of Strategies 360 started looking at those underlying numbers, he found some things that honestly don't make sense:

We make no claims to be polling experts, but the idea that Cory Gardner is leading with Hispanic voters and Mark Udall is ahead with white voters most certainly defies conventional wisdom–and quite honestly makes us wonder if those numbers got flipped somewhere. Obviously, that would have big implications for this poll result if such an error got factored into the overall results.

Ordinarily we try not to get overly picky about methodology with polling, and to rely more on multiple poll averages than the results of any one poll. But in this case, there's pretty obviously some things messed up–either in the sample or the computation of the demographic results.

So…maybe take this poll with an extra grain of salt.

Big Line Updated

We've updated The Big Line 2014, so head on over and take a look.

From where we're sitting, things don't look a whole lot different than they did when we last updated the Big Line. The Senate race is still close, though we maintain that Sen. Mark Udall will ultimately prevail over Congressman Cory Gardner as Democrats outperform Republicans in the ground game and the antics of the right-wing Jefferson County School Board convince more voters to oppose Republicans in general.

As for the other two marquee races in Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper seems to be steadily pulling further ahead from Republican Bob Beauprez, and the battle in CD-6 between Congressman Mike Coffman and Democrat Andrew Romanoff is a true toss-up at this stage.

What say you, Polsters? Let us know in the comments below.

Let’s Just Let Faye Griffin Choose All of Our Elected Officials

The Jeffco Shuffle: Government by Vacancy Committee

The Jeffco Shuffle: Government by Vacancy Committee

Jefferson County voters may be familiar with the name Faye Griffin, in large part because her name has been on a Jeffco ballot since the dawn of time. The 75-year-old Griffin is both allergic to the concept of "term limits" and more than willing to let the rest of the GOP county government trade on her name ID in order to retain any elected position for as long as possible.

As we first noted last November ("Finish Your Damn Job, Faye Griffin"), Griffin is a serial office jumper. Currently in the middle of her second term as Jefferson County Commissioner, Griffin is running (again) for County Clerk & Recorder; if she is successful in November, she will have held 4 separate elected positions in one 8-year span, and failed to finish her elected term for the second time in five years. More importantly for Republicans, Griffin's constant movement should allow two other term-limited Republicans a chance at holding a new office without having to go through an actual election – a pretty sneaky way to get around those pesky "voters" in Jeffco.

If Griffin is elected Clerk & Recorder (which is likely because of her high name ID that plays a major role in a countywide vote), that will create an immediate opening for a spot on the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners. The term-limited Treasurer Tim Kauffman would then likely be appointed by a Republican vacancy committee…which would leave Kauffman's Treasurer seat open for another GOP vacancy committee selection (likely to be the term-limited County Assessor Jim Everson).

And thus, with the election of Faye Griffin, Jeffco Republicans can avoid open-seat election battles for two other county jobs. Furthermore, Griffin has indicated that she may retire soon, which would open a vacancy for Clerk & Recorder that would be filled via…a Republican vacancy committee!

You can see Griffin's many moves over the years in the list below (after the jump). This is frequent occurrence in Jefferson County — Kauffman himself was appointed Treasurer when Griffin left that office to run for County Commissioner in 2008. But as Republican control over countywide elections continues to fade in Jeffco, the powers behind the curtain are doing everything they can to hold on to any office at the "Taj Mahal."


Chuck Plunkett Defends Hack Masquerading As “Journalist”

Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.

Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.

A very strange story written by Denver Post political editor Chuck Plunkett last Friday could result in even more credibility damage to the state's biggest newspaper. As our readers will recall, a freelance local reporter named Art Kane had a contract to write stories about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado for the Denver Post earlier this year. As we covered in detail, those stories were replete with factual errors, necessitating repeated corrections by the Denver Post. Kane's grant from Kaiser Health News was not renewed, and he subsequently went to work for a conservative "news" site called–writing much more straightforward political hit pieces for an outlet not concerned with things like accuracy.

And that's where, as Plunkett picks up the story Friday, things get stupid:

Arthur Kane, an award-winning journalist, posted a first-person account Friday of an encounter with the Hickenlooper campaign in which he says he was threatened with arrest.

Kane is a former Denver Post reporter and former Channel 7 investigative executive producer whose new gig is with the libertarian-leaning

Full stop. "Libertarian-leaning?" This is something we've noticed with Plunkett: the words "libertarian" or "liberty movement" are frequent code words for conservative political groups he likes–as opposed to the much more appropriate descriptor "Republican-leaning," which would be accurate even if it turns off half his readers. But that's not the worst part: as we suspect Plunkett knows very well, can be traced directly back to allies of Gov. John Hickenlooper's Republican opponent Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez. is operated by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a conservative nonprofit group. The Denver Post reported in their own profile of Beauprez that he was paid over $100,000 by a group called the John Hancock Commttee for the States since 2009 to advocate for the Tea Party and conservative causes. Therein lies the connection: The John Hancock Committee for the States and the Franklin Center were both launched in 2009 by another conservative group called the Sam Adams Alliance, which supplied millions of dollars in funding for each group. The organizations have many individuals in common, including board members and employees.

In short, a "media outlet," created by the same organization that also started and funded the group that paid Bob Beauprez to advocate for them, is now attacking Beauprez's opponent in the gubernatorial race. And the political editor of the Denver Post is openly running cover for their actions, omitting crucial details about the clear connections between these groups.

Kane told me that after seeing the governor at the public event Friday he stopped by the campaign’s headquarters and talked to spokesman Eddie Stern.

Ultimately, Kane reports, Stern asked him to leave, and when he did not, Stern began calling the police. At that point, Kane, who recorded the encounter, left.

“It’s just a ridiculous way to handle the press,” Kane told me Friday.

The answer, if you know all the details that Plunkett omitted, is simple: Art Kane is not "the press." Kane is a paid political operative on the same level as a campaign tracker, working in the service of Hickenlooper's opponents. We have no idea why Plunkett would try to blow up this story into a "journalism" issue, but it's just silly: Hickenlooper's campaign office is located on private property. If employees in that office ask for someone to leave said private property and that person refuses, as Plunkett describes having happened here, the appropriate thing to do is call the police. We would say call the police even if it's a reporter–and definitely if it's just a discredited hack working for a right-wing blog.

By putting his credibility on the line in defense of Art Kane, Plunkett debased the real journalism his newspaper is responsible for providing their readers. This may not be the first such incident for Plunkett, but it's one of the most egregious. And as we've said before, the people of Colorado deserve better from our newspaper of record.

Post Slammed For “Preposterous” Gardner Endorsement

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Friday's endorsement by the Denver Post of GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner unleashed a fairly predictable wave of anger against the paper from local Democrats, incensed that the paper's editorial board had ignored its own rationale, as well as a mountain of fact in both its endorsement of Gardner and its harsh criticism of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall's focus on abortion rights as a major campaign theme. We don't mean "predictable" in a negative sense, since we agree the logical inconsistences are quite glaring: but it's reasonable to assume that Democrats would have been upset with the Post's endorsement of Gardner no matter how it was rationalized by the editorial board.

Since then, however, criticism of the Post's endorsement has become unusually strong from other media outlets–who looked at the Post's logic in endorsing Gardner and found it…well, inexplicable. The New Republic's Danny Vinik writes today:

The paper's editorial board credits Udall for his work on spying and NSA issues and admits "we strongly disagree with [Gardner] on same-sex marriage and abortion rights," then waves away those disagreements by saying Gardner isn't a culture warrior and that same-sex marriage's recent string of court victories has made his position "irrelevant." The board also criticizes Udall for running an "obnoxious one-issue campaign"—"trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives"—and naively argues that a Republican Senate could revive bipartisanship in Washington.

But the Post board errs the greatest in claiming that its position on major issues is closer to Gardner's platform than Udall's. [Pols emphasis] A cursory review of editorials published over the last few years shows that the board broadly agrees with Udall and the Democratic Party instead. "Gardner has sound ideas on tax reform that could help the economy take off and has expressed willingness to compromise on immigration despite a fairly hard line over the years," the Gardner endorsement reads…on comprehensive tax reform, Gardner has signed Grover Norquist's pledge never to vote for legislation that raises revenue. The paper, on the other hand, has repeatedly called for a grand bargain to reduce the deficit that includes spending cuts and more revenue. That's awfully close to Udall's position.

In October 2013, the paper chastised the GOP for using the debt ceiling as a hostage-taking device and proposed giving the president the unilateral authority to lift it. In February, Gardner voted against lifting the debt ceiling. He also supported the party's foolish strategy of shutting down the government in the hopes of defunding Obamacare, which the Denver Post called a "hopeless quest" by "Republican hardliners."

Meanwhile, Esquire's Charles Pierce calls the Post's endorsement "the most singularly box-of-rocks dumb rationale I ever read in my life."

The reason government is dysfunctional, and the reason nothing gets done, is because the Republican party, of which Gardner is a "rising star," and the Republican leadership in  the Congress, of which Gardner is a "go-to" member, resolved from the start not to allow a Democratic president to govern as such. So, here, the Post is arguing that the only solution to that kind of vandalism is to elect enough vandals that it succeeds. [Pols emphasis]

As for the Post's wholesale dismissal of abortion rights as a legitimate point of debate, claiming with absolutely no justification that "Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights?"

Nothing says "inspirational" like pitching the privacy rights of 51 percent of the population overboard.

MSNBC's Steve Benen says the Post's endorsement of Gardner "is among the strangest pieces of political analysis published in 2014."

The paper’s editorial board included sloppy factual errors; it glossed over the issues on which the editors are convinced the congressman is wrong; it lamented Washington gridlock while choosing to ignore Gardner’s role in making matters worse; and it complained about Sen. Mark Udall (D) pointing to aspects of Gardner’s record that happen to be true…

The basis for the Post’s endorsement seems to be a curious theory: giving Gardner a promotion will cause a dramatic shift in how he approaches his responsibilities. The Republican congressman hasn’t compromised with rivals on any issue, but, the paper’s editorial board suggests, once he’s rewarded for his failures, maybe he’ll start being more responsible.
Indeed, the Post extrapolates to apply this line of thought to Republicans in general. For four years, GOP lawmakers have refused to govern, even going so far as to shut down the government and hold the debt ceiling hostage, threatening to crash the global economy on purpose unless their demands were met. Every worthwhile legislative initiative has been killed, regardless of merit or popularity. Cory Gardner has gone along with his party every step of the way. [Pols emphasis]
But, the Post believes all of that might change if only voters agreed to give Republicans more power, not less…

On Friday, Salon's Luke Brinker was one of the first to weigh in, calling the endorsement the "most asinine of the 2014 cycle." The factual error referred to by MSNBC's Benen above is also pretty embarrassing. The original version of the endorsement invoked praise for Gardner allegedly from ABC News:

ABC News, for example, singled out Gardner a year ago — before he declared for the Senate — as one of the party’s “rising stars” who represented “a new generation of talent” and who had become a “go-to” member of leadership.

Sometime afterwards, the endorsement was quietly edited on the Post's website to read:

An analysis  on [Pols emphasis] ABC News' website, for example, singled out Gardner a year ago — before he declared for the Senate — as one of the party's “rising stars” who represented “a new generation of talent” and who had become a “go-to” member of leadership.

The reason for the change? ABC News didn't "single out" Gardner for anything. The piece in question is a guest opinion column written by Joe Brettell, a GOP strategist and former spokesman for Rep. Marilyn MusgraveGardner's predecessor in CD-4.


Bottom line: we've been critical of the Denver Post's frequently misleading news reports for some years now, especially the last couple of years under the leadership of avowed conservative political news editor Chuck Plunkett as the problem has demonstrably worsened. This endorsement by the editorial board, validating Gardner's historically duplicitous campaign while making presumptions and sweeping judgments that no one can explain, could represent a breach with the interests of the community they purport to serve that the Denver Post will never recover from.

Jefferson County: The Key to the State, Now More Than Ever

Jefferson County key to Colorado elections

This kid can’t vote. But his parents, relatives, and neighbors have a new reason to get involved.

We've seen plenty of stories both locally and nationally about the continuing controversy with the Jefferson County School Board — a controversy that will almost certainly impact the outcome of several key races in November, as we pointed out early and often.

Today the Denver Post takes a deeper look — on the front page of the paper, no less — into the political consequences of a right-wing school board angering a community that is always paying attention to education issues. As John Frank writes for the Post, the crossover into the 2014 election is impossible to ignore:

It's dark and a moth circles the halo of a porch light as state lawmaker Brittany Pettersen knocks on the door of a potential swing voter in this all-important Denver suburb. Hours of canvassing ended at the home of Brian Leffler, a 36-year-old independent voter. Pettersen, a first-term Democratic House member, asks him what issue is foremost in his mind this election year. A chorus of insects fills the silence as Leffler thinks. It doesn't take him more than a moment to name a top issue. "The whole schools thing going on in Jefferson County — that's the main thing right now," Leffler said. "I know that has very little to do with you, but they are talking about taking things out of the curriculum."

Door after door, the same refrain. The turmoil at the Jefferson County school board regarding the conservative majority's plans to revamp teacher pay and curriculum is emerging as a key issue in the November elections.

"The fact it comes up naturally in conversations is really reflective of what's happening," Pettersen said. [Pols emphasis]

In an election season with no single national issue dominating the conversation, Jefferson County's vote is a volatile political cocktail that proves all politics is local.

Education. The Democratic Party enthusiasm gap. Abortion. Marijuana. The Republican Party rift. Guns. The economy.

And the stakes couldn't get much higher: The county is likely to decide which party controls the state Senate, the governor's mansion and the U.S. Senate, a combination with far-reaching implications in Colorado and Washington.

Both Democrats and Republicans have figured out that the 2014 elections may hinge on the actions of Jeffco's screwy school board, though Democrats were much quicker to respond. Republicans have tried to push back with a ridiculous message accusing the teacher's union of, well, everything, but that attempted pivot isn't going to work in a county where students, parents, and teachers have taken to the streets in protest for more than a month now. As Frank astutely points out in his story above, this is an issue that is moving along under its own power — which is going to make it awfully difficult for Republicans to redirect as ballots start landing in mailboxes this week.


Smart Money: Don’t Believe The Hype In CD-6

Andrew Romanoff (D).

Andrew Romanoff (D).

Late Friday, a story went up at Politico that suggested national Democrats are "pulling out" of the Colorado CD-6 race, the marquee battleground matchup between Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman and Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had reserved $1.4 million for TV spending to boost Romanoff in the final two weeks of his race against Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. But a DCCC aide said Friday that those funds would be distributed to other races…

Romanoff, a former state House speaker and unsuccessful 2010 Senate candidate, was once regarded as one of his party’s top 2014 hopefuls. But, with Republicans benefiting from a favorable national environment and Coffman running an energetic reelection campaign, Romanoff has seen his prospects dim.

As reports at Politico often do at election time, Alex Isenstadt's brief story is pretty slanted–reflecting spin that was clearly imparted to him as he prepared to write this story. On the other hand, the Denver Post's Jon Murray has a much more balanced look at these developments, with an understanding of how elections work in Colorado today that Politico's reporter evidently lacks.

[T]he DCCC is focusing its money on Democratic incumbents newly under attack by outside Republican groups, which sunk $4.2 million on new ad buys Thursday. But the DCCC still is supporting Romanoff’s challenge of U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman next week by chipping in money to expand the campaign’s own ad buy, the DCCC and Romanoff’s campaign say, and by supporting its field operations… [Pols emphasis]

“National Democrats have clearly given up on Andrew Romanoff,” suggested Tyler Q. Houlton, a spokesman for the DCCC’s counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committeee.

Well, not entirely.

DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner countered: “This is still a very winnable race, and Romanoff is well-funded and in a competitive position to bring it across the finish line.” In fundraising announcements this week, Romanoff announced a third-quarter haul of $1.1 million, besting Coffman’s $855,000 in contributions.

There's no question that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) making last-minute redirections of money provides useful "horse race" message opportunities for Republicans. Much like reports last month that the Republican Governors Association (RGA) had ended buys in the Colorado gubernatorial race, which proved to be a short pause in the action when a subsequent round of polls gave Bob Beauprez's campaign a shot in the arm, of course the other side is going to spin these things to their advantage. If they're not, they're not doing their jobs. 

In the case of Romanoff's CD-6 bid, though, the situation really isn't so simple. For starters, Romanoff has consistently outraised the Republican incumbent in this race, including the most recent results announced last week as Murray reports. This isn't a situation where the candidate is flagging at the close–Romanoff's unexpected fundraising ability has been an important theme in the race all along. Romanoff's ability to bring in the funds he needed to compete in this race himself has silenced many critics, including this blog, who were concerned that Romanoff would self-limit his ability to compete by swearing off various kinds of money. This fact alone strongly works against any Republican spin that Romanoff is "losing momentum."

Another thing to keep in mind is that, especially in Colorado, expensive TV advertising hit a point of diminishing return some time ago–weeks, months? We'll leave that to readers to determine. But because in Colorado every registered voter will receive a mail ballot this week, the last few weeks of TV ad time just aren't as critical as they are in other states where most voters cast ballots on Election Day. At this point, investing in the coordinated Democratic field campaign to get those mail ballots in is far more important to victory than shoveling more money into ads that the voters are already sick of.

Everything we hear today is consistent with Murray's reporting–the DCCC remains committed to CD-6 in the ways that matter. And in Colorado, what wins elections is three focused weeks of getting out the vote.

Sunday Flashback: Cory Gardner and Benghazi


The September 2012 attack by Islamist militants on the United States' consulate in Benghazi, Libya, has been absolutely milked by the Republican Party for every last ounce of political harm to inflict on President Barack Obama's administration. In the wake of the attacks, which killed the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Republicans have convened multiple congressional investigations, and conservative media has followed every "new development" in the story with a presumptuous zeal that would make Kenneth Starr blush. From the outset, the GOP was desperate to prove what they already believed: that the Obama administration was somehow negligent (or even complicit, if you believe the crazier stuff)–either during the incident, or at least in explaining the facts of what had happened to the public afterwards.

The political need to pin the Benghazi attacks on political targets like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has outlasted the facts as they've come out. Today, after the House GOP's own investigation has cleared high-level officials, and even the tell-all book by operatives on the ground insists the decision not to send forces to save Ambassador Stevens was made on the ground in Libya, myths about the Benghazi attacks are a significant underpinning of the hatred–and that really is the proper word to employ–on the hard right of President Obama.

One of the central criticisms of the Obama administration in the days following the Benghazi attacks is the assertion, later discredited, that the attacks were in response to the release of a slanderously anti-Muslim short film called Innocence of Muslims. Some protest activity surrounding the release of this video clip at the time of the Benghazi attacks led to this mistaken impression, and since then, Republicans have seized on the administration's initial linking of the attack in Benghazi to the Innocence of Muslims movie as evidence of "incompetence at the highest levels."

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

The problem with that theory? The Obama administration wasn't the only one blaming this movie. Here is Rep. Cory Gardner's original statement on the Benghazi attacks–you know, before it got all political:

Congressman Gardner released the following statement condemning the attacks at U.S. Embassies in Libya and Egypt:

"I am filled with sadness and outrage by the death of Ambassador Stevens and the three other embassy staff that were killed in Benghazi last night. This was a senseless act of terrorism and a disproportionate response by a terrorist mob that had taken offense to nothing more than an online movie trailer." [Pols emphasis]

Wait, what?

Now folks, there's two ways you can interpret this. One explanation is much more sensible in our minds, that in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack the motives of the attackers were not known–and the protests against the movie clip in question had indeed been making news globally. Cory Gardner, like the Obama administration, was simply stating the consensus view at the time–a view that was found to be erroneous as the "fog of war" lifted.

It's either that, or Republican Cory Gardner was in on the "Benghazi coverup" from Day One. Right?

To be clear, we're certainly inclined to believe the former explanation, which doesn't really reflect all that badly on either Gardner or President Obama. The problem is, as soon as you accept that, a whole chapter of right wing Obama-hating apocrypha goes up in smoke. And it's safe to say that even a small reduction in intensity of the right's antipathy for the President would be bad for Gardner's Senate bid.

All told, this is a lesson in why foreign policy is best left to grownups.

Weekend Open Thread

"Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds."

–Franklin D. Roosevelt

Denver Post Splits Ticket With Gardner Endorsement

UPDATE #2: Ouch–Salon's Luke Brinker proclaims this the "most asinine endorsement of [the] 2014 cycle."

“Congress is hardly functioning these days,” the Post laments, right before it proceeds to endorse the government shutdown-supporting Tea Partier. The paper’s editorial board has decided that Gardner is somehow the answer to this dysfunction, because incumbent Sen. Mark Udall is an incumbent and “is not perceived as a leader,” they guess. So maybe “the time has come for change.”

And what of Gardner’s hard-right positions? There is that inconvenient bit about his support for “personhood” legislation, but, the paper writes, now he wants to make birth control available over the counter. (Never mind those poor women who can’t afford it and require insurance coverage for their contraceptives.)

Moreover, the paper writes, Gardner actually “has sound ideas on tax reform that could help the economy take off.” How? Just trust them, it will. Plus, he’s “expressed willingness to compromise on immigration despite a fairly hard line over the years.” How Gardner could actually convince fellow Republicans to cease their obstructionism on the issue – and whether his newfound “willingness to compromise” is genuine or election-year pandering – doesn’t much concern the Post…

The notion that this right-wing congressman could help usher in a new era of bipartisan goodwill and policy innovation seems far-fetched, but the Post begs to differ. Citing Gerald Seib’s absurd Wall Street Journal column this week, the editors speculate that a unified GOP Congress, together with President Obama, could actually be more productive than one-party government would be. Try not to think too much about the past four years, lest you disabuse yourself of this comforting thought.


UPDATE: Worth adding to this discussion are the words of Denver Post political news editor Chuck Plunkett, responding in Tuesday's debate to Cory Gardner's stunning refusal to answer key questions about his health insurance:

Sometimes if a candidate doesn't answer a question, that also tells you something about the candidate that voters can know. [Pols emphasis]

The editorial board must have missed that part.


Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Colorado political social media is alight this afternoon after the Denver Post editorial board published their endorsement of Republican Cory Gardner in the Colorado U.S. Senate race. In some respects, the Post's endorsement of Gardner isn't surprising–after endorsing Gov. John Hickenlooper in the gubernatorial race, the possibility that the paper would "split the ticket" and endorse the Republican in the Senate race grew on general principles. It's important to remember that the Denver Post is presently for sale, and it's easy to imagine them avoiding upsetting potential buyers by not endorsing the same party in the state's two top races.

With that said, some parts of today's endorsement are justifiably infuriating Democrats today, who rightly wonder if the Post's editorial board has been reading the news they're opining on:

Rather than run on his record, Udall's campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince…

[Gardner's] past views on same-sex marriage are becoming irrelevant now that the Supreme Court has let appeals court rulings stand and marriage equality appears unstoppable. And contrary to Udall's tedious refrain, Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights. [Pols emphasis]

The idea that Udall invented the abortion issue against Gardner is of course ridiculous, since it was Gardner's choice to bring this issue to the fore with his clumsy attempt to reverse himself on the state Personhood abortion ban initiatives right after getting into the race. Gardner's messy backpedal on the issue, combined with his continued sponsorship of equivalent federal legislation, is what opened him to attack–and the lead that Udall has maintained with women voters shows that it's working.

As for the blanket assertion that Gardner "would pose no threat to abortion rights," this is so plainly contradicted by Gardner's record, and every fact-checker who has examined the issue, that it's simply laughable. We don't even think Gardner himself would agree, let alone his pro-life supporters. What could this statement possibly be based on? Because it's not based on reality.

On most other issues, the Post tends to ignore them–or ignorantly carry water for Gardner. There's nothing whatsoever about Gardner's 50+ votes to repeal Obamacare, or his inability to back up assertions about his own health insurance. The editorial board takes Gardner at his word that he would "compromise" on immigration reform "despite a fairly hard line over the years." And inexplicably, they call Gardner an "early supporter" of renewable energy, despite the fact that the legislation he touts from 2007 "to launch Colorado's renewable energy industry" was repealed having never funded a single project.

Bottom line: for anybody who knows the underlying facts, this endorsement really is a joke. It stands in marked contrast to the conclusions of other editorial boards around the state, some of whom have been very pointed in calling out Gardner's deceptions.

That the Denver Post bought those deceptions hook, line and sinker says more about them than it does about this race.

Not Even Trying To Be Truthful–Isn’t There A Law?


The Colorado Independent's Tessa Cheek reports on an ad running against SD-19 Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger from the Republican group Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government that is so totally false, even by political advertising standards, that it's kind of ridiculous:

Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, a conservative politics organization, is back, spending heavily in state elections this cycle. And some of the rough $200,000 they’ve poured into the messaging market so far is behind a false attack advertisement directed at state Senator Rachel Zenzinger, a Democrat from a swing district based around Arvada.

The ad, “China Girl,” alleges that while serving as Arvada city councilwoman, Zenzinger voted to use taxpayer money to fund a visit to sister city Jinzhou, China…

To backup the claim that Zenzinger spent or even tried to spend taxpayer dollars for an international junket, the ad sites Arvada City Council minutes from April of 2013, as well as an article by The Colorado Independent.

The problem is,

Not only does neither source support the claim — our article, for example, only reports Zenzinger’s appointment to the state Senate — the council minutes themselves expose the ad as blatantly false.

Zenzinger never went to China and she herself filed a motion in that city council meeting requiring that private funds available through nonprofit group Sister Cities of Arvada, not public dollars, must be used if either elected officials or staff were to go on the trip. [Pols emphasis]

In short, now-Sen. Zenzinger did the exact opposite of what this ad suggests. Not only did she insist that taxpayer funds not be used on the trip, she didn't even go. It's frequently alleged/presumed in these situations that "both sides do it," but this ad goes beyond just about anything we've seen this year in terms of making stuff up–and given the wildly inaccurate ads from Americans For Prosperity on Obamacare as just one of so many examples, that is no small statement.

In Colorado, there is a law on the books against knowingly making false statements in political ads. Zenzinger's campaign reportedly has not yet gone to the Jefferson County DA for a criminal investigation, thus far hoping a cease-and-desist letter to Comcast, combined with the clear evidence that the spot is knowingly false, will be enough to get it pulled. There is debate as to whether or not the law against lying in political communications in Colorado is enforceable, or should be, but it does put some theoretical teeth into these requests.

We will say that in this case, the ad is so inexcusably false that it morally does not deserve airtime.

CBS/NYT: Hickenlooper 47%, Beauprez 43%

The second half of the New York Times/CBS poll of Colorado was released today, showing Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper with a four-point lead over GOP challenger Bob Beauprez–as with this poll's showing earlier in the week of a three-point lead for Sen. Mark Udall over Cory Gardner, a good sign for Hickenlooper but still well within the poll's margin of error. Here are the toplines:


As with the Senate poll, significant leads for Hickenlooper among both women and self-described moderates are underlying trends that bode well for the incumbent. Also, we don't see third-party candidates factoring to any significant degree, which the consensus view this year agrees helps Hickenlooper. A month ago, NYT/CBS found the gubernatorial race tied up at 43% each–so the trajectory is entirely in Hickenlooper's favor.

With three weeks to go, that's what Hickenlooper supporters want to see.