For Veterans Day, Help Curb Loans That Harm Military Families

(Help win the war on payday lending, a battle close to our hearts – promoted by Colorado Pols)

bigstock-Neon-Sign-series-payday-loan-259047411-e1363870922652

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, so this is a good time to highlight ongoing action by the Department of Defense that is designed to protect active-duty service members and their families from abusive lending practices.

The DoD has proposed extending restrictions on predatory lending, which traps many service members and their dependents. The proposal would expand the number of lending products covered by the military’s 36 percent interest rate cap, and it would close loopholes that lenders have used to get around the current rate cap.
The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 30. A 60-day comment period ends Nov. 28. (See below how you can help support this rule.)

Colorado has implemented successful payday lending reforms, but the new rule would apply here as well. It would limit the interest and fees that military borrowers could be charged to 36 percent APR. Because loans here have a minimum six-month term, they are currently exempt from the DoD’s 36 percent rate cap. According to data from the attorney general’s office, in 2012, Colorado's payday loans had an average effective rate of 129 percent APR.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau strongly supports the DoD’s proposed rules, as do a wide range of consumer groups, including the Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumer Law Center.

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It’s the Fucking Media’s Fault! Or is it?

(We always blame the media – promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s easy to complain about journalism among friends. But what do you get out of it? Echoes or silence.

Here’s a chance to talk back to the media directly. On Tuesday, a panel of top local journalists will discuss the highs and lows of media coverage of the 2014 election—and take questions from the audience.

The panel features Shaun Boyd, Political Specialist, CBS4, Peter Marcus, Denver Correspondent, Durango Herald, Chuck Plunkett, Politics Editor, The Denver Post, Nicholas Riccardi, Western Political Reporter, Associated Press, and Eli Stokols, Political Reporter, Fox 31 Denver.

Any question about local news coverage of the election is fair game. Why so few stories about Bob Beauprez’s wild birther ideas? Were John Hickenlooper’s gaffes underplayed? Did reporters allow senatorial candidate Cory Gardner to bury his Tea Party past? What about Benghazi, ISIS, and Obama?

The panel will cover the spectrum of opinions in part because moderators come from the left and right on the political spectrum: Kelly Maher is director of the conservative Compass Colorado, and yours truly is a progressive blogger.

The event takes place Tuesday, Nov. 11, from 7:30-9 a.m. at 1380 Lawrence Street in the 2nd-floor Terrace Room.

It’s free, and even includes coffee and continental breakfast. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. and the discussion runs from 7:45 – 9 a.m. Please RSVP to tips @bigmedia.org. You can also email questions, if you don’t want to ask them yourself.

Paul Teske, Dean of University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs, will offer introductory remarks. UCD’s School of Public Affairs is sponsoring the event, along with BigMedia.org and Compass Colorado.

Unpacking “Abortion”: What White Men Don’t Get

Or, “Why Mark Udall and Amendment 67 Both Lost in 2014″

I was sitting in my living room a number of months ago, when a Udall commercial came on television and our wonderful Colorado senior U.S. Senator confidently and clearly articulated the word, “abortion”. “He’s going to lose”, I told my husband, “Mark’s going to lose”.

White men don’t get it — especially the kind of 30 year old, private school-educated, pea-coat-wearing frat boys who run market research firms and conduct polls and fly back and forth between DC and Denver — the kind who show up in every federal election, advising Senate and Congressional candidate campaigns on behalf of the DCCC or the DSCC. Out of touch and clueless about middle-aged or retired suburban women, or people of color of all ages in CO, they brought down Joe Miklosi’s congressional campaign in 2012, and they just brought down one of the best U.S. Senators we’ve ever had, Mark Udall. Udall’s team should have questioned their advice and trusted local grassroots, boots-on-the-ground opinions instead. They can’t say they weren’t warned.

Although the “frat boys” (as I like to call them) are confident in the answers they receive in their polls and surveys, they ask all the wrong questions. Any federal level candidates in CO who continue to run campaigns without having every important CO demographic represented on their strategy teams will lose in the future (are you listening, Senator Bennet?). If they want to understand suburban, middle class mothers or college-aged people of color, or seniors on fixed incomes, they better have them on their steering committees in similar proportions.

The abortion issue is a perfect example. Research shows the vast majority of women want abortion to be legal and safe (this is not a Democratic secret, folks). For some people (including young men), the battle cry “My body, my choice” resonates with an underlying libertarian “don’t tell me what to do” chord. For many women I have spoken with about this issue, either as a women’s leader, or as a former crisis center counselor, or as an activist/organizer who has knocked on thousands of CO doors over many years, abortion is not a black and white, intellectual issue – it is a personal, very private decision which is frequently not discussed in polite company. For some women, it is a painfully emotional subject associated with layers of spiritual, family and financial baggage. For many women, terminating a pregnancy is a tug-of-war with their heart, and certainly not a subject they are comfortable having bantered about ad nauseum on their living room televisions by a bunch of men who have no proverbial clue what it is like to be a woman. For many women, the entire conversation is off-limits, and the frankness of the political ads makes them feel very, very uncomfortable.

Not only are many women uncomfortable hearing abortion debated while they’re helping their eight year old with homework or collapsing into a chair after a long day at work, their motives to have had an abortion are not always what men assume them to be. For a lot of women, abortion is not about “my life” or “my body” or “my choice”. For many women I’ve talked to, choosing to end a pregnancy is motivated by selfless concern and love for the potential life they are considering bringing into the world. Women are motivated to have abortions for the same reasons they are motivated about organics, GMOs, fracking, education, climate change, gun restrictions and punishing pedophiles –- because they love children and want every child to be wanted, so they can have healthy, happy lives. For many women, termination is a decision made early in a pregnancy long before there is significant fetal growth or sensation, to protect a child from a life without adequate resources (parenting, food, clothing, health care, etc.) or because of quality of life issues related to fetal anomalies and genetic disorders. For many women, abortion is an emotionally painful but completely selfless decision, made with the best interests of another potential human being in mind – not something every frat boy understands easily.

If there is one thing women will fiercely protect more than their own bodies, or their own choices, or their own civil rights, its children — even other people’s children. Mike Coffman’s brilliant marketing team (let’s face it – he doesn’t get re-elected every two years because he is a good congressman) understood this well in 2012 when they watched Joe Miklosi take a stand for Choice, and then they socked him with an ad that associated Joe with pedophiles because he voted no on the straw-man “Jessica’s law”. I’ll never forget the women I spoke with at the doors while canvassing for Joe who said, “I can’t decide if I want to vote for the guy who hates women, or the one who hates children”. In the end, they voted against the man they were tricked into thinking “hated children” by Coffman’s brilliant, yet evil henchmen.

Amendment 67 failed because women want to keep politicians out of their doctor’s offices. Senator Udall lost his race because women want to keep politician’s talking about abortion out of their living rooms. If Senator Bennet wants to win re-election in 2016, he needs to listen to CO middle-class moms directly and include them on his steering committees — and skip any advice from frat boys about messaging — unless it is about messaging to other frat boys.

UPDATE: Told Ya So, Part II – more calls for Bennet’s resignation

UPDATE: Another call for Bennet's resignation at DailyKos.

There are other contributing factors, including bright Red districts, but Betsy Markey and John Salazar's short lives as One Term Congresscritters/Congressional Blue Dogs evidently taught Colorado's state-wide electeds nothing. 

Both Michael Bennet and Mark Udall went the Blue Dog route at the start of Obama's presidency, and by doing so aided and abetted Republican Obstructionism and put a choke hold any number of progressive policies that have since been thwarted. I bemoaned their actions in real time at S2. Here, Howie at Down with Tyranny gives a bloody post-mortem:

Of the 6 utterly worthless challengers the Blue Dogs endorsed, 2 were elected: Gwen Graham (FL) and Brad Ashford (NE). Their candidates were heavily supported by "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel, who pushed them on his colleagues and backed them at the DCCC. Below is a list of the 6, including how much the DCCC spent on them directly and what percentage of the vote each wound up with: 

• Gwen Graham (FL)- $3,572,524- 50.44%
• Patrick Henry Hays (AR)- $1,760,339- 43.62%
• Brad Ashford (NE)- $1,432,187- 48.64%
• Nick Casey (WV)- $792,432- 43.88%
• James Lee Witt (AR)- $81,804- 42.59%
• Jennifer Garrison (OH)- $39,310- 38.59

So if everything holds after recounts, etc, the Blue Dogs have gone from 19 to 12– if the two conservatives they helped elect, Graham and Ashford – join the caucus. 

That's the situation in the House, which Howie tracks like a bloodhound. Here's a summary:

Wall Street is howling that they will only accept New Dems Vice Chair Jim Himes as the next DCCC chair. Get ready for an explosion from grassroots activists if Pelosi goes for it. In winning his reelection, staunch progressive champion, Jeff Merkley (D-OR), issued this statement: 

In 2008, we won very narrowly in a great year for Democrats. In 2014, facing millions of dollars of Koch Brothers attack ads, against an opponent heralded by Republicans, and amidst a national tidal wave, things could have gone very wrong.

Instead, we won big… Our victory sends a powerful message: when you stand up for working Americans, when you fight for a fair shot for everyone– a chance to work a good job at a living wage and go to college and retire with dignity– working Americans stand up for you!

We took on the powerful special interests and we won. Because our values are Oregon values and American values.

Bad election for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Generally, not so bad for the Democratic wing.

 

Still waiting for Colorado's Dems to start acting the part and quit being afraid of their shadows. Still waiting for congressional Blue Dogs to go extinct while Colorado's Dems insist on giving them life support.

Part I. Yes, there will probably be a Part III for those of you dying to know the thoughts of Zappatero.

Andrew Romanoff: Not Just Beaten, But Shellacked

Andrew Romanoff.

Andrew Romanoff.

As Colorado Public Radio's Sandra Fish noted yesterday, Democrats substantially outspent Republicans in this year's biggest congressional matchup in Colorado, the CD-6 race–a race that Republican Mike Coffman, as of the latest counts, won by nearly ten points.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman will return to Congress after facing a difficult challenge from former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a race that cost nearly $16.5 million, according to Sunlight.

Romanoff outspent Coffman by more than $1 million through Oct. 15. But Romanoff faced a barrage of attacks ads from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Fish offers this handy graph to show how Democrats outspent the GOP in CD-6 this year:

The final result of the CD-6 race this year contrasts against two years ago, when underfunded underdog Democratic state Rep. Joe Miklosi ran against Coffman and lost by only two points. There is of course the difference in the electorate between 2012 and this year, but not enough to fully account for the difference in the two outcomes. It's clear, based on polling in downballot races in the same district this year in addition to the difference from 2012, that Democrat Andrew Romanoff substantially underperformed in this race.

For us, watching the much better-equipped Romanoff get beaten so handily was akin to the experience of 2011's Proposition 103 versus last year's Amendment 66. Both school finance tax increase measures, Proposition 103 ran a shoestring campaign with almost no money while Amendment 66 had a $10 million war chest. The rest, as our readers know, is history: all the millions spent on Amendment 66 didn't move the needle a bit over Proposition 103's defeat.

The lesson in both? Money has to be there to win, but it can't save you from yourself. Despite Romanoff's surprisingly strong ability to raise money for this race, as a candidate he repeatedly failed to either distinguish himself or capitalize on Coffman's weaknesses. Romanoff's message, like the in-retrospect bad idea to kick off his campaign with a right-leaning "balance the budget" theme, failed to motivate the Democratic base. And as we saw in the U.S. Senate race, Coffman's willingness to audaciously reinvent himself ran laps around Romanoff's capacity to discredit him.

Democrats we've talked to since Tuesday night remain convinced that CD-6 is a pickup opportunity for the right Democratic candidate in the right year. In hindsight, might Karen Middleton have run a better race? In 2016, Democrats get another shot at Coffman–and with Coffman now very much aware of the perennial threat in his swing district, they'll need to make that one count. The more distance Coffman can put between his hard-right conservative past and his new "moderate" image, the harder it will be to ever dislodge him.

Colorado Democrats Ride Out Republican Wave Yet Again

Colorado rides the GOP wave again

Colorado Democrats rode out another national Republican wave and maintained control under the Capitol dome.

Republicans claimed big victories across the country in the infamous Tea Party Wave year of 2010…everywhere, that is, but in Colorado. Democrats lost seats in Congress and in the state legislature that year, but Sen. Michael Bennet was the only Democratic Senate candidate in the country to withstand a strong Republican challenge (from then-Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck), and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper was swept into the Governor's Mansion with relative ease.

While not quite on par with 2010, the 2014 election turned out to be another big national wave year for Republicans…but Colorado Democrats again appear to have bucked the national trends to avoid electoral collapse. Democrats were certainly dealt a blow with Republican Cory Gardner knocking off incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, and Rep. Mike Coffman's re-election victory over Democrat Andrew Romanoff in CD-6; but as the full picture comes into focus on Wednesday, Democrats are finding that the political landscape still looks much better than it does in many other states.

Democrat John Hickenlooper has held off Republican Bob Beauprez to claim a second term as Governor, and it appears likely that Democrats will maintain control of both chambers of the state legislature. In the State Senate, Democrats reclaimed both of the seats lost in the 2013 recall election (SD-3 and SD-11). Votes are still being counted, but if Democrats do indeed maintain control of the legislature, this is a pretty impressive feat considering how the Republican wave decimated Democrats in other states. For example:

In New Mexico, Democrats were beaten soundly throughout the state, losing seats in both chambers of the state legislature (though Mark Udall's cousin, Sen. Tom Udall, won re-election as expected). In Pennsylvania, Democrats picked up the Governor's office, but in a solid-blue state Democrats lost 8 seats in the State House and 3 in the State Senate. In Arizona, Republicans elected a new Governor and picked up seats in both chambers of the state legislature. Florida Democrats lost the Governor's race and dropped seats in both chambers of the legislature. Even Minnesota had mixed results, getting hammered in the state legislature despite holding seats for Governor and U.S. Senate.

As "The Fix" explains today, the national environment for Democrats was really, really, really bad:

Democrats started off the 2014 cycle with a bad national map and it got worse and worse as people like Max Baucus (Mont.), Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Jay Rockefeller (W. Va.) retired.  Democrats were defending seven states where Mitt Romney won in 2012; they lost six with a seventh — Louisiana — headed toward a hard-to-win runoff on Dec. 6.  And, Democrats three best pickup chances were in states that gave Obama 46 percent (Georgia), 38 percent (Kansas) and 38 percent (Kentucky) of the vote in 2012.

It's hard to see what else the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee could have done to hold back the tide — even if Mark Udall won in Colorado and the party won the Iowa open seat they would have still lost the majority — given the states lined up against them. [Pols emphasis]

To be sure, the 2014 election did not turn out exactly like Democrats had hoped it might, but you could say the same thing for Republicans today. With both parties expecting Democrats to have an advantage in 2016, there's more than one silver lining as the final 2014 ballots are counted.

 

Hate to say “I told you so”, but……

I told you so!

Michael Bennet should resign the DSCC chairmanship immediately and figure out how to truly represent Colorado and the Democratic values he ran on (but has not governed on):

This last election saw a stellar set of True Progressive Democrats elected to the US Senate.Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren will join Sherrod BrownBernie Sanders, Tom Harkin and others as key fights over the social safety net and the economy continue into 2013 and beyond.

With this distinctly progressive push voters provided Democrats the political capital to counteract Radical Republican Obstuctionists and Moderate ConservaDem Blue Dogsenators who prevented President Obama from acting fully on his mandate in 2008.

The biggest question for Obama's second term is whether he'll work to protect long-standing Democratic programs and principles and enact the more progressive policies that voters urged with his second resounding electoral mandate:

"If the president stands firm … he will have the overwhelming majority of Americans behind him," Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders says.

"And sooner or later the Republicans will catch on that they are in danger of becoming a marginal, fringe party unless they get along with the program and do what the American people want."

If the president stands firm. And if the United States Senate maintains steady movement towards more progressive policies that are possible with these new and unabashedly progressive senators.

Mark Udall, despite all the "6-year itch" talk and numerous other excuses coming from The Professional Left, could have done much better for Coloradans and Senate Democrats had he taken more substantive stands on the economy and other issues. 

His incessant harping on The Grand Bargain, his Blue Dog affinities (ref. Salazar, Markey), his stupid decision to join Third Way all got him nice little pats on the head from Lawrence Kudlow and his buddies, but were wrong politically and wrong economically. (Go ahead and check how BD/TW candidates did this year…..if you dare.)

At this point I tend to agree with Professional Political Curmudgeon Ralph Nader:

With House Democrats bracing for Election Day losses on Tuesday, Ralph Nader is calling on Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top party leaders to call it quits.

The prominent consumer advocate and perennial presidential candidate says the failure of those leaders to win the House gavel over three straight election cycle should means it's time for a new crop of lawmakers to take control of the party.

"Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Steve Israel  (and MIchael Bennet. -z) should now recognize the wisdom of baseball’s 'three strikes and you’re out' … step down from their posts and invite fresh leadership who can save the country from the ravages of today’s Republican party," Nader said Tuesday in a statement. Hoyer (Md.) is the minority whip, and Israel (N.Y.) is chairman of the party's campaign committee.

Colorado will always be Red, or just Purple, if our elected statewide and national Democrats can't figure out how to support Democratic and Progressive policies without pissing their pants.

And if ColoradoPols (the Proprietors, not the Commenters and Posters) ever figures out that the issues they support actually deserve that support, and not only the fact that a candidate has a (D) after their name, then that would be a big help in the monumental job of rebutting Republican Lies and their Oligarchical policies.

Have a nice day, Polsters! yes

P.S. Don't kill the messenger. Same message here, here, here, here and here. And here. And here. describing Mark Udall to a 't':

Corporate America is not dumb; it's worked hard to sew up both political parties in its nefarious schemes to place their short-term economic interests before the health and well-being of the average American. One major party was more than glad to go along; the other one went along with all this angst and agita in the background perhaps, but it still went along.

And that's what did us in.

And describing DSCC Chair Michael Bennet to a 't'

The Republican corporatists are worse than the Democratic corporatists, but only to a degree. And Republican corporatists are at least true to their principles, however abhorrent those principles might be to some of us. The Democratic corporatists, however, are the real culprits here. Having sucked the soul out of the Democratic party, they have leeched out of it whatever moral authority it had left. Why weren't they able to activate the base?? Because they decimated the base!

And that's what did us in.

And here detailing the need for Dems to provide voters with a compelling reason to vote for them, not just against the other guy.

You don’t win elections with a depressed and discouraged base, and you don’t win elections without a narrative that explains to voters why we you should win. Democrats failed on both scores. What my party needs to learn is that our candidates need to tell voters why they have a D behind their name on the ballot, and our entire party- candidates, top elected officials, Democratically-aligned organizations, the grassroots and Netroots- needs to have a unified story about what the election is about.

P.P.S. Obama's "post-partisan" gambit, abandoning the 50-state strategy and removing Dean as Dem Party Chair also contributed.

P.P.P.S. But hey, maybe I'm just a Cheeto-stained loser and Colorado Pols and Michael Bennet are the geniuses.

They’re Our Opponents, Not Our Enemies

A very important point to keep in mind is we are not fighting an enemy, we are competing with opponents. The Republicans are not evil, they don’t hate America, and they are not out to destroy the middle class. They have a different approach on fundamental questions, but that is why we have elections, to let the voters pick which approach they think will work best.

Some will claim that the Republicans won because they lied, and Cory Gardner in particular did lay out some whoppers. But we dems happily elected Bill Clinton twice and he is a congenital liar. We dems were fine with the “you can keep your insurance” lie as it got the insurance bill passed (and anyone who understood the bill knew at the time that was a lie). Yes politicians lie. On both sides. Always have, always will. That is not what won the election.

We have some fundamental differences. Everyone has an opinion of when a fetus becomes a human being. I think all of us would view aborting a healthy 8-1/2 month fetus to be tantamount to murder. We all have a judgment as to what point in the pregnancy that fetus becomes a person. And there is no science or other means to declare a clear point because it’s fundamentally a personal choice. By that measure, someone who views personhood as occurring at the point of conception has a view as valid as any other. And if you hold that belief, then voting for the person who will stop abortion, regardless of their other beliefs, is a logical choice.

Our culture believes that our country was built almost solely on free enterprise. (It wasn’t, government has been a large part of our success from land grants for railroads to the Internet.) We all see the jobs and growth that come from the private side from a single independent coffee shop to Exxon (Walmart may be mostly part-time minimum wage jobs, but Exxon provides a large number of very well paid jobs.) A booming private sector is the best way, and the only long term sustainable way, to grow the economy. This approach has some major structural issues, those issues also are not fully proven. So taking the view that taxes (and services) should be reduced to leave the private sphere with additional income is again, a reasonable and logical choice.

Our K-12 educational system is a mess, and the money poured in has increased at about double the rate of inflation for the past 30 years. With no measurable increase in outcomes. The educrats have a million rationalizations, some of which are valid. But for many people, when the choice is continue with an approach that clearly does not work and try something else. They will vote to try something else. And again, while the proposals put forward by the right are, in my opinion, unlikely to work better, that doesn’t mean I’m right. I think in this case many voters aren’t in favor of the specifics proposed by the right, but they’re willing to take a chance because they know stay the course will not work. As we don’t know what will happen with these changes, again, it’s a reasonable point of view.

And then we have the giant hit faith in the government has taken. We’ve had 14 years of rank mis-management from the White House. From “heck of a job” Brownie to General “you want to see a doctor now?” Shinseki. An intruder makes it halfway through the white house and we’re supposed to believe the Obama Administration can do anything well? Yes there is great distrust by most voters in the ability of the government to do anything competently. That’s a reasonable conclusion based on what we have seen. Many of us look at the parts that run well (or at least they’ve got their problems well hidden) and are hopeful that the government can effectively address issues. We’re the glass is 1/3 full optimists. But the glass is 2/3 full pessimists have an equally valid viewpoint. And so when they vote for the person who says let’s get government less involved because all it does is fuck things up, that’s a very legitimate point of view.

Then there’s the economy. All the news stories, and the Democratic speeches talk up how we’ve fully recovered. Except we haven’t. The total numbers look good. But the economy has become much more unequal and so for the 98% out there who didn’t gain in the great rebalancing of the economy, things are worse. When people hear that “baby we’re back” and they see that it’s worse for them, for their kids, for their friends, then they see a system that has abandoned them. The Democrats in Washington have spent the last 4 years with a policy of minimize the changes (damage) from Republican proposals. A system that isn’t working for people, and politicians running on a platform of minimal change – again voting for a different approach is a reasonable and logical decision.

This administrative ineptitude and lack of a compelling alternative for the economy is also why, in my opinion, the voters wanted to vote against Obama. Every way they could with every vote they cast. Because not only do we have these problems, he’s not trying to fix them (an occasional speech isn’t trying) and if he did get substantial legislation passed, they don’t believe he could implement it competently or quickly. This is not logical. Mark Udall is not Barak Obama. But it is understandable. It is human nature.

The bottom line is that people who voted for Republicans have a reasonable difference of opinion on what the best approach to our problems is. The Republicans elected will propose solutions we disagree with. That doesn’t mean they’re evil and doesn’t even mean they’re wrong (statistically some of their proposals will work). It means we have a difference of opinion on these issues. And that means they’re an opponent of our ideas, but not an enemy.

Cory Gardner and the Elephant Still in the Room

Gardner redacted

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner waves around his (redacted) health insurance letter while speaking in Congress.

Most media outlets have a policy that prohibits them from doing any hard-hitting news stories about a campaign once we reach the weekend before Election Day [insert obvious joke here]. It is a practice that we don’t disagree with, because it would be unfair to drop a bombshell accusation on a candidate in a news story if they don’t have enough time before Election Day to attempt to refute the claim.

Anything that was going to be reported about the big 2014 races has either been done already or won’t resurface until after Election Day. There are probably plenty of untold campaign stories, but we’re particularly interested in one specific loop that never did get closed by the media – even though numerous reporters poked around the edges. Call it, “The Elephant (Still) In the Room.”

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner had plenty of prepared talking points about why he decided to run for the U.S. Senate when he announced his intentions last February. At the top of that list was Gardner’s very own Obamacare Horror Story — a story that Gardner played up for the national media last fall before balking at answering further questions. Here’s Gardner’s Obamacare story, in his own words, from a speech on the House Floor on September 26, 2013:

The plan that my family had was an affordable plan. We shopped for it. We worked hard to find a plan that met our needs in rural Colorado. We found a plan that is now being cancelled and the plan that replaces it now increases in cost by over 100%. In fact, the plan that is most similar to the one we had is now going up to $1,480 a month — it’s a 100% increase from the plan that we had.

And here’s Gardner one day later, appearing on CNN’s Crossfire:

[Holding up letter.] "I'm going to be paying 100 percent more. A hundred percent more under my plan. Thanks to Obama. I'm choosing the plan that is most similar to the plan that cost me $650 before."

Gardner has repeatedly said that he had a health insurance plan that covered his wife and two children at a monthly cost of just $650 (Gardner claimed to have opted-out of the insurance plan offered to Members of Congress). Gardner then said that the most comparable “replacement” plan offered to his family would cost “$1,480,” which he said would cost his family 100% more money. Gardner even went so far as to say that the “replacement” plans for his family were somehow inferior to the coverage he received when paying just $650 per month.

This story that Gardner told on the House Floor and in a House Committee Hearing (in front of then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius) was repeated in an Op-Ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette, again during his Senate campaign kick-off, throughout his campaign for Senate, and in at least one television advertisement. It was a story that formed the very basis of Gardner’s entire campaign for U.S. Senate.

But is it true?

(more…)

ELECTION EVE UPDATE: Colorado Voter Turnout

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 12.58.02 PM

UPDATE: A final memo from Mark Udall's campaign manager Adam Dunstone, who worked the 2010 Michael Bennet campaign, projects confidence as Democrats continue to chip away at the GOP's early ballot-return lead:

The biggest difference between this year and Sen. Bennet’s race is that Colorado now mails ballots to every registered voter in the state. This will likely increase turnout from 1.8 million to over 2 million — good news for us.

With 1.4 million ballots already processed, that means an estimated 600,000 (at the very least) are still making their way through the mail or have not yet been placed in a ballot drop box. That’s at least 1/3 of the vote that hasn’t yet come in, and as we’ve seen over the past four years, the late vote overwhelmingly benefits Democrats. 

In Colorado’s only other all mail-in ballot election, 2013, more than 39% of the votes came in the final two days of balloting. Those two days saw the disparity between Republican and Democratic votes decrease by more than 2.5 points. We expect a similar proportion of votes to be counted on Monday and Tuesday…

According to our modeling, Latinos already make up the same share of the electorate that they did in 2010 — and their percentage of the electorate will continue to grow. When all is said and done, Latinos will make up an even larger share of the electorate than they did in 2010.

23 percent of the Democrats who have voted thus far did not vote in 2010, including 17 percent who voted in 2012 but not 2010. These are your quintessential drop-off voters who traditionally don’t vote in midterm elections. This is a key number to keep an eye on, and 23% is great news for us.

—–

Alright, Polsters, it's time to dust off those cliches. We're going down to the wire, where we wait for the fat lady to sing about counting your chicks, blah, blah, blah.

Here's the latest update on voter turnout figures. The big question, of course, revolves around final turnout numbers. If turnout is closer to 2010, then counties such as Douglas, El Paso, and Weld, respectively, are getting close to their voter ceiling. But if turnout moves closer to 2012 numbers, then the Big Three of Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson counties aren't even halfway home.

Turnout in Colorado election eve

 

Personhood leader’s Halloween costume shows how Gardner stabbed him in the back

(Ouch! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here's my favorite Halloween costume. I only wish I'd actually seen it.

We all know senatorial candidate Cory Gardner stabbed the personhood movement in the back, but who would think Keith Mason, the co-founder of Personhood USA, would illustrate the point so brilliantly by inserting a Cory-Gardner monographed knife in his own back?

I offered to buy Mason a beer if he'd send me a photo of his costume. Then I realized he'd probably want harder stuff, so I said I'd buy him shots in exchange for the pic. No response yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if he sent me the photo.

Mason hasn't held back expressing his feelings about Gardner, telling Cosmo a few months ago, for example, that “[Cory Gardner has] built his entire political career on support of personhood. I think he’s just listening to some bad advice, and he’s playing politics.”

Or, put another way, Gardner stabbed Mason and his hard-working personhood colleagues in the back, after they stood with Gardner throughout his political career.

Quinnipiac’s Final Poll: 100% “CYA”

Madame Quinnipiac knows all.

Madame Quinnipiac knows all.

Quinnipiac University has featured the wildest swings in their polling of Colorado candidates of any public pollster in 2014 by far–so far away from the trends other polling shows at the same time that they've become something of a running joke among Colorado politicos. Quinnipiac's consistently outlier results have given Republicans lots to crow about, even as smart GOP analysts admit they don't think the numbers are accurate.

One of the things we and others who follow polls have noticed is that some–not all but some–pollsters tend to release results that give them the splashiest headlines early in the election season, only to tighten those numbers to something resembling consensus reality as Election Day approaches. Based on Quinnipiac's final polling of Colorado out today, that appears to be what's happening:

A late surge by Democrats in Colorado leaves the governor's race and the U.S. Senate race too close to call, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. 

In the governor's race, former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger, has 45 percent of likely voters while Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has 43 percent, with 3 percent each for Libertarian candidate Matthew Hess and Green Party candidate Harry Hempy. Six percent remain undecided…

Results in the U.S. Senate race are the same as in the governor's race: 45 percent for the Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, and 43 percent for Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, with 6 percent for independent candidate Steve Shogan and 4 percent undecided. 

An October 30 Quinnipiac University poll showed Gardner up 46 – 39 percent, with 7 percent for Shogan.

The fact is, we still don't know if these numbers can be trusted, even if they are correct in showing a rapid improvement for Sen. Mark Udall as they appear to. The poll only shows Udall leading Cory Gardner by three points with women voters, a figure we believe is substantially lowballed. Because Quinnipiac has been all over the map this election cycle, this result much closer to other polling still has little value to us–the polling equivalent of a lucky guess, or last-minute "CYA" that further underscores suspicions about their previous polling.

If it is the latter, it's a game people are becoming wise to.

Vote Fraud: The Great Nothingburger of 2014

James OKeefe, wearing a Mark Udall sticker.

James O’Keefe, wearing his Mark Udall sticker.

As the Denver Post's Joey Bunch reports:

This campaign season, Colorado's new mail-ballot voter law has drawn the national sideshow attention of cable news and opinion, AM radio and even a sting by conservative provocateur James O'Keefe — all focused on the notion that Tuesday's outcome could be tainted.

But perception hasn't been reality, according to election officials on both sides of the deep political divide who report only a routine percentage of challenged signatures, undeliverable ballots and reports of alleged shenanigans.

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner said the lack of actual trouble is largely because voting by mail is nothing new. It's been an option for Colorado voters since 1992. And in the 2012 general election, 73 percent of Coloradans cast mail ballots.

"What's different is we have a party that's made allegations of fraud part of its platform," Reiner, a Republican who is president of the Colorado County Clerks Association, said of some members of her party. [Pols emphasis]

In addition to the increased overall turnout in this midterm, the apparent success of House Bill 13-1303 is a major blow to perennial Republican allegations of "massive voter fraud" either being planned or perpetrated by Democrats in this state. Ginning up voter fraud fears outside Colorado was the purpose of right-wing provocateur James O'Keefe's "sting" of two low-level third party organization GOTV groups in October.

O'Keefe's video of himself leading a couple of field hands into agreeing with his hamfisted plot to commit voter fraud–a plot that would fail due to verification procedures in place in every county clerk's office–made the rounds within the national right-wing mediasphere, but the story never caught on here in Colorado or with national mainstream media. The reason is simple, as Bunch continues–it's not happening.

[C]lerks note that each ballot is screened to make sure the signatures match voter registration records. And so far the numbers of signatures that have been flagged by election judges as incorrect matches are roughly the same as they were in the 2012 general election in El Paso, Denver, Mesa and Pueblo counties checked by The Denver Post on Friday…

El Paso County's clerk and recorder, Wayne Williams, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, appeared on the Fox News Channel on Tuesday night to talk about his concerns that a ballot in every household, regardless of what the voter prefers, would open the way for undue influence by others in the home.

"We haven't seen any significant issues in this county," he said Friday. [Pols emphasis]

Even outgoing Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who led the fact-challenged assault of House Bill 13-1303 and who has alleged widespread voter fraud throughout his term in office without supporting evidence, has been forced to acknowledge the lack of actual problems with the law as it's been implemented–other than complaining about the "Herculean effort" his office made to develop the statewide electronic pollbook, another key fraud prevention check that appears to be working fine.

This is worth keeping in mind, given the shift in ballot returns that began yesterday to favor Democrats. There is a well-established narrative today that Republican victory is "inevitable," even as the polls tighten and the ballot returns turn against them in the final days. If Democrats emerge victorious, as happened in 2010 and 2012 under very similar conditions, we expect the cries of "vote fraud" to become quite loud and obnoxious. Consumers of conservative media have likely heard about O'Keefe's little sting, but will never read this story or the others that disprove him.

If Democrats do prevail, some conspiracist diehards will never be convinced it wasn't fraud. But should it happen this way as it has before, try to explain this stuff to the reasonable people in your life.

Ballot Return Momentum Swinging–Right Now, Right On Cue

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FOX 31's Eli Stokols has smart analysis up today about what's really going on with ballot returns in Colorado:

Much is being made of the Republicans’ voter registration advantage in Colorado’s early voting, which inched from 104,000 Saturday to 106,000 on Sunday, seemingly a sign of yet another contested U.S. Senate battle tilting toward Republicans.

But election observers from Denver to Washington, DC would be wise to pay attention to another figure: that voter registration margin as a percentage of the overall vote.

As more votes come in, what was a 10-point GOP edge last week has slipped a little bit with each new early voting report from the Secretary of State, down to 9.2 percent Thursday, 9 percent Friday, 8.6 percent Saturday and now 7.9 percent Sunday.

As we’ve seen over several election cycles in Colorado, the early voter registration numbers can be deceiving; and the early Election Night returns often reflect few of the ballots cast over the final days of the race, offering little indication of how a race will end.

The last few elections in Colorado have given us a primer on what to expect this year, which is why Democrats have not seemed as nervous as one might expect as the GOP posted an early lead: Republicans reliably get their mail ballots returned promptly, which makes their numbers look good early. But as we approach Election Day, the pattern switches, and Democrats rapidly close the GOP's lead. By Election Night?

Well, based on 2012 and 2010, we know what's likely to happen on Election Night. Democrats outperform the public polls, and win on the strength of their late-inning ground game. And as the New York Times' Nate Cohn reports, that's exactly what's happening–right before our eyes once again.

Registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by three points over 80,000 received ballots on Saturday. It was the first time that Democrats outpaced Republicans, and it was enough to narrow the Republican advantage to eight points, 40 to 32…

Democratic gains were underpinned by a continuation of the favorable demographic trends that had allowed them to whittle away at the G.O.P.'s percent margin over the last week. Voters under age 45 bumped up to 31 percent of returns.

Voters who didn’t participate in 2010 reached 33 percent of Saturday’s tallies, also a first.

The margin for Democrats to overcome this year is greater these the two previous general elections, but the impact of 100% mail balloting for every registered voter has yet to be fully understood in the context of those prior results. Likewise with same-day voter registration, though that seems very likely to work against Republicans in the same way mail ballots work for the GOP in early returns. The bottom line is that anyone telling you that this election "is over" by any stretch is misleading you for a very specific purpose.

Not only is this election far from over, the same dynamics that brought Democrats victory here in prior years are taking shape as we write this.

Tuesday night, and not a moment before, we'll know if it was enough.