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.

Best Local Journalism of the Election Cycle

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here's my list of top election-season journalism by local reporters:

Fox 31 Denver's Eli Stokols didn't take Cory Gardner's falsehood for an answer on personhood. And, and in the same five-star interview, he tried harder than any other journalist to get a straight answer from Gardner on the details of his health insurance plan.

Only the Colorado Independent's Susan Greene offered a comprehensive look (with Mike Keefe cartoon) at the extreme right-wing comments of gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. See Bob Beauprez's Last Eight Years: Conservatism at its Extremes.

The Associated Press' Nick Riccardi explains why senatorial candidate Cory Gardner says he favors immigration reform. And he points out that that Gardner's actual support for reform proposals is limited and illusive.

Corey Hutchins, who writes for a variety of outlets, broke the shocking story on Medium about Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) urging a military revolt against Obama. (Reminder: Our country is at war.)

9News' Brandon Rittiman was the first local journalist to press senatorial candidate Cory Gardner on the hypocrisy of his withdrawing support for state personhood measures but remaining a co-sponsor of a federal personhood bill. Other journalists, besides Stokols and Rittiman, deserve credit for challenging Gardner on this: 9News' Kyle ClarkThe Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby, The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels, and The Durango Herald's Peter Marcus.

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“Liberal” NPR goes with Gardner’s lies about Personhood and Women’s health

I truly believe NPR's Mara LIasson has Stockholm Syndrome from being a Fox News Analyst for many years. That's exactly what Roger Ailes wanted by hiring her and Juan Williams way back when, and when she clearly spouts Republican rhetoric over the People's airwaves on all those "liberal" NPR stations it becomes quite clear:

 

 

Morning Edition: Liasson Spins Gardner's Record To Paint Him As A Prime Example Of GOP Outreach To Women. On October 30, NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson appeared on Morning Editionto discuss the importance of the women's vote in the 2014 midterms. Liasson claimed that Republicans like Senate candidate Cory Gardner disprove Democrats' narrative that GOP policies hurt women, misrepresenting his policy positions in order to claim the Republican is "affirmatively going after the women's vote this year by changing their positions." [NPR, Morning Edition10/30/14]

There's more. And it's sad, though not unexpected, that the Liberal NPR has such a right-wing bias in their political coverage.

Did Democrats or Republicans Guess Wrong on Spanish-Language TV?

SEIU Colorado TV ad

Somebody guessed wrong on Spanish-language television buys in Colorado. Was it Democrats…or Republicans?

 

We haven't seen the hard numbers on this yet, but as it has been explained to us, 2014 has seen considerably more money spent on Spanish-language media buys than any other mid-term election (anecdotally, of course, it makes perfect sense). In fact, spending on Spanish-language media is at a level comparable to the 2012 Presidential election. That spending has not been equal among Democrats and Republicans, however, and on Tuesday evening we will have a pretty good idea of which Party made the wrong decision. Democrats have spent much more money on Spanish-language television than Republicans; media buys for Democratic Sen. Mark Udall alone have dominated the airwaves on Univision in Colorado.

Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner launched his first Spanish-language TV ad in Colorado today, the same day in which the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was promoting another new Spanish-language ad in a media campaign that has been underway for months (check out the SEIU press release from Oct. 7 after the jump). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has run a Spanish-language TV ad with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorsing Gardner, but the Gardner campaign itself had not ventured into the medium until today. Coincidentally, NBC News reports on the attraction for politicos of Spanish-language media around the country:

That means in places like Colorado, there are many more Spanish-language ads than in previous elections, the sort of “wall-to-wall coverage” that non-Latino white voters have long been accustomed to seeing in elections, Chambers said. On top of that, Hispanic advocacy and other groups are doing field work, knocking on doors to register and turn out Latino voters and making sure those who can get their ballots mailed in…

…An ad titled “Tu Poder” running in Colorado – paid for by People for the American Way and NexGen Climate and done by Chambers – hits several themes at once to reach Latinos. It shows a mailbox to explain the new Colorado voting law in which every registered voter gets a mail-in ballot that has to be mailed back by Oct. 31 and it also touches on issues of the environment and health.

The ad for Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Mark Udall opens with several official ballot packets landing on a table and a narrator saying “Este es tu poder. (This is your power.)" That line is repeated later and followed by “úselo (use it.)”

The ad is part of a multiyear effort People for the American Way (PFAW) designed to reach Latino voters. Randy Borntrager, political director of the liberal group, said in 2014 Latinos “could be kingmaker” in several of the close 10 Senate races.

What's so fascinating about this disparity with Spanish-language media buys is that it offers a unique opportunity to examine different strategies in play. Just like any other big-money industry, politics is a copycat business. Everybody does TV and mail. Everybody does online advertising. Everybody has some sort of field campaign. But in this particular case, only one Party can be correct about their decision on how to allocate money for Spanish-language media (and TV specifically).

The relative importance of Spanish-language media to each Party is pretty clear in 2014, but by 2016 lessons will have been learned and cats copied.

If the Latino vote in Colorado does prove to be the final arbiter in many of these races, we can guess which side will be doing the copying in two years.

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PPP: Udall, Gardner Tied at 48%, Hickenlooper, Beauprez at 47%

UPDATE: SurveyUSA released its final poll of 2014 today for the Denver Post, showing the gubernatorial race tied and the Senate race within two points:

A poll conducted this week shows Gardner at 46 percent and Udall at 44 percent — a narrow edge within the four-percentage-point margin-of-error. The poll surveyed those who are likely to vote and those who returned ballots in Colorado's first all-mail election…

This SurveyUSA poll appears to have the same problem their director candidly admitted to, crosstabs for Latino voters and women that don't make much sense:

The poll shows Udall's advantage among Latino voters is only three points and only six points among women. Based on past elections, Democrats expect both margins to grow significantly.

In 2010 and 2012, for instance, more than 80 percent of Latino voters supported the Democratic candidates…

Either way, here are two polls that strongly counter the prevalent spin about Garner's "momentum." This race is right where it's been for months–and we're bracing for a photo finish that no one has any real ability to predict today.

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Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

The latest survey from Public Policy Polling for the League of Conservation Voters finds both the Colorado U.S. Senate race and gubernatorial races at a perfect deadlock:  48% each for Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Cory Gardner, and a 47% tie between Gov. John Hickenlooper and his Republican opponent Bob Beauprez. From PPP's memo this morning:

-Mark Udall and Cory Gardner are both getting 48% of the vote, with just 4% of voters remaining undecided. Gardner had led by small margins on each of PPP’s previous two polls of the race.

* Udall has notably improved his standing with independents and now leads 59/38 with them. He is also tied based on his strength with the core Democratic constituencies that have helped the party be so successful in Colorado in recent years- he’s up 53/42 with women, 63/27 with Hispanics, and 53/40 with voters under 45.

-John Hickenlooper and Bob Beauprez are each getting 47% in the race for Governor. Hickenlooper has a 55/38 advantage with independents, and similarly to Udall is doing very well with women (51/42), Hispanics (55/27), and younger voters (50/39).

Here's the full memo and crosstabs.

The trajectory between polls from PPP in the Senate race is good news for Udall–their last survey in mid-October showed Gardner leading by three points, and another poll by PPP for Americans for Tax Fairness had Gardner up by two. In the mid-October poll, Hickenlooper led Beauprez by one statistically insignificant point, and the lack of movement there makes a hell of a lot more sense than Quinnipiac's wild swings over the course of too few days.

These numbers say what you already know: this election is going down to the wire.

S360: Udall 45% Gardner 44%, Hickenlooper 46% Beauprez 43%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

A new poll from local consultant outfit Strategies 360 offers a different look at the Colorado U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, with a polling sample they consider to be more representative of the 2014 electorate in Colorado than most public polling we've seen–in particular, a more accurate sample of Latino voters. From their memo today:

Strategies 360 conducted a telephone survey of Colorado voters who are likely to vote in the 2014 General Election. Respondents were randomly chosen from a list of registered voters and interviews were conducted by trained interviewers in both English and Spanish. Interviews were conducted October 20-25, 2014. A combination of landline and mobile phones were called to ensure greater coverage of the population sampled.

A total of 760 interviews were completed. 604 interviews were conducted among a representative sample of likely voters statewide. An additional 156 oversample interviews were conducted among Hispanic likely voters. The sample was weighted to ensure a proportional demographic representation of the likely 2014 electorate. The topline margin of error is ±4.0 and the margin of error for Hispanic voters is ±6.7%.

Currently, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall (45%) and Republican Rep. Cory Gardner (44%) are locked in a statistical tie, with another 8% undecided and 4% supporting a third-party candidate. Several factors contribute to the stalemate:

A massive gender gap. Udall currently holds the same 17-point lead among women that exit polls showed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet holding in 2010. Meanwhile, Gardner leads among men by a similar 17-point margin. Additionally, Udall leadsamong white women by an 11-point margin and Hispanic women by a 37-point margin. In contrast, Gardner leads among white men by a huge 23-point margin but is currently losing Hispanic men by 29% to 57%. 

Unaffiliated voters. While partisans on both sides are similarly united around their party’s nominee (83% of Democrats back Udall, while 80% of Republicans support Gardner), Udall has more effectively consolidated Unaffiliated voters, which helps negate an expected GOP turnout advantage this year. Today, Unaffiliated Coloradans prefer Udall to Gardner 48% to 37%. 

Hispanics. Much of the media coverage of the U.S. Senate race has centered on Colorado’s Hispanic vote, and for good reason. This race may very well hinge on Hispanic turnout. Currently, Gardner edges Udall among white voters 47% to 43%. In most of the other key U.S. Senate races in 2014, that might be enough for the Republican to secure a win. However, Colorado features the highest proportion of Hispanic voters of any targeted U.S. Senate race this year, and Udall holds a commanding lead among this critical voting bloc: 58% of Hispanic likely voters favor Udall while just 26% favor Gardner. 

Young voters. This race remains close in part because older and middle-aged voters have yet to offer a real edge to either candidate (voters 55 and older split 46% to 46%; voters 35 to 54 lean toward Gardner 42% to 44%). Meanwhile, Udall has built a 10-point lead among voters under 35 (46% to 36%). Furthermore, young voters are disproportionately undecided compared to the older age cohorts. Turnout among this group will be key to any Democratic chances of holding Colorado.

Here's the full memo from Strategies 360. In the gubernatorial race, Gov. John Hickenlooper's somewhat larger lead is attributable to both a large gender gap and a sizable lead among unaffiliated voters–52-35%.

If this poll more accurate than others we're seeing? We do think that Strategies 360's attempt to factor Latino voters gives them a qualitative edge over a lot of the public pollsters–some of whom admit candidly that they have no idea how to account for this pivotal bloc of voters in their surveys. Also, back in 2010, Kevin Ingham, longtime Colorado pollster now with Strategies 360, released a poll on that year's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races that turned out to be dead-on. So yes, we're inclined to trust these numbers a little more.

At the very least, throw this poll into your averages, and note the conscientious attempt to get it right.

The Year of the Lie

CoryGardner-Teeth

Republican Cory Gardner’s campaign for Senate often refers to 2014 as an “historic” election year, for reasons that are as vague as Gardner’s policy positions. Normally I might scoff at the very idea of ascribing such a lofty adjective to this election cycle – after all, 2014 will not be the first year that the United States re-arranges its makeup of white dudes in Congress – but the more I consider the label, the more considerable I find the history. I believe Gardner is correct when he says this is an historic election, but not for reasons that have anything to do with Senate majorities and minorities.

Anyone who engages in politics as career or hobby is destined to feel cynical about the whole process at some point; I recognize this, but it's not cynicism that has skewed my perception of this election. No, this is about deception. This is dishonesty, fraud, and sham on a level I have personally never encountered before – and from what I read and hear, I am not alone.

I cannot recall another time when candidates so brazenly dismissed their own past and bulldozed their own words with such disregard. I hate to use the word, “lie,” because it has become so cliché to declare that our politicians are a bunch of fibbers, but there’s no other word that is more appropriate here. The lies have been suffocating in their consistency, from candidates who will lie about anything, to anyone, at any time.
 

GEORGE WASHINGTON HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, saying stuff.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, saying stuff.

The United States Congress is already the most disliked and distrusted organization that has ever been measured by public surveys. The current Congress has worked less and achieved less than any prior body before. The 2014 election has helped illustrate the problem: How could anyone expect to negotiate with the likes of Gardner when you quite literally have no idea in what he actually believes? You can only guess at the real answer on any subject other than the career ascendency of Cory Gardner. Yet now, here we are, potentially sending a man to the U.S. Senate to represent Colorado even though we really haven’t a clue what he’ll do.  

I like to think of myself as a generally optimistic person, yet I am confronted with a magnitude of lies that I hadn’t though possible outside of novels and North Korea. I take some relief, I suppose, in knowing that I’m not alone. Kansas City Star columnist Barbara Shelly recently wrote a blistering rebuke of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who is seeking re-election by any means necessary. Here's the lede to that column:

All politicians spin. They exaggerate and make selective use of facts and data. These are the tricks of the trade.

But I have never seen a public official lie as easily and as relentlessly as Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. [emphasis mine] 

That sounds harsh, and it is possible that Brownback actually believes his own mythology. But much of what he has told the citizens of Kansas is flat out wrong.

Shelly continues by listing a page of whoppers that Brownback repeats as gospel. It doesn’t matter that most of Brownback’s lies have been debunked a dozen times over—he keeps repeating them, because he knows that there are still plenty of people who want to believe that their elected officials are guided by an actual belief in something.

It’s important to remember that these aren’t opinions we’re discussing. Gardner and Brownback lie confidently about established facts – the kind that Siri or Google could answer in about 20 seconds. Brownback likes to say that there was just $876 in the state treasury when he took over as Governor in 2011. In fact, he has repeated this line in three different state-of-the-state addresses. Shelly says that the story is “complete hokum,” and that Kansas had $251 million in its bank account when Brownback took charge. This information is public record – anybody can look it up. 

This is not to discredit politicians in general. I know many elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, who are genuine people with examined positions on important issues. But increasingly we are seeing elected officials the likes of Brownback and Gardner, for whom words are merely a vessel to deliver them to their chosen destinations. These are men who solve a Rubik’s Cube by removing the stickers. They don’t seek the satisfaction of solving a difficult puzzle; their just want you to believe that they solved it.
 

(more…)

Rocky Mountain Heist–So Bad It’s…Well, See For Yourself

UPDATE: Luis Toro of Colorado Ethics Watch makes an astute point:

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citizensunited

The controversial right-wing filmmaking crew Citizens United released their much-anticipated movie about the "Democratic takeover" of Colorado titled Rocky Mountain Heist last week, now available on DVD as well as streaming free on conservative website Newsmax.com. Overall, the video appears to be a overheated version of Adam Schrager's Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado, with some misleading anecdotes backdropped against the effective (and perfectly legal) Democratic infrastructure generally given credit for turning Colorado blue for the past decade.

Rocky Mountain Heist draws viewers in with references to a memo, purportedly from the Colorado Democracy Alliance in 2006, that refers to a campaign to "educate the idiots"–obviously an incendiary choice of words for any election strategy document. What Citizens United doesn't mention is that the "educate the idiots" memo was an obvious forgery, using bizarre language and bad grammar that nobody on the Democratic side could even recognize.

And that's just the beginning. The movie references the case of Jack Phillips, the bakery owner who was found to be in violation of the state's public accommodation law, claiming Phillips "faced jail time" for his refusal to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The truth is, the Colorado General Assembly repealed the criminal penalties for public accommodation in 2013, the same year they passed the civil unions bill. To imply in the fall of 2014 that refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado could result in jail time is just one example of the way this movie blatantly misleads its audience.

Seth Masket, a DU professor, relates his experience of being duped into an interview for Rocky Mountain Heist in a Washington Post blog last week:

At one point in the film, I claim the following:

Latinos have not only been increasing in their potential to vote, but they’ve been voting increasingly Democratic over the last 10 years in Colorado.

By itself, this is not a particularly controversial statement. It is empirically verifiable that the number of Latino voters has increased substantially in Colorado over the past decade and that those voters are more likely to vote Democratic than they used to be. But this quote is inserted in between some footage purportedly showing that Democrats are trying to encourage illegal immigration, an insinuation by Tom Tancredo that the Obama administration is essentially recruiting Democratic voters via undocumented Mexican immigration, and a paean by Michelle Malkin to her Filipino parents who “immigrated here legally. It wasn’t easy. They learned English, they learned our history, they followed our rules.”

So now my uncontroversial quote is helping to legitimize an argument that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are invading our country, affecting our elections and undermining our culture.

For us, perhaps the most egregious lie in the whole film–the one that proves Citizens United is purposefully out to mislead you–is this frame:

udalltomfreespeech

This is the point late in the film where Citizens United declares their court case invalidating campaign finance laws is the reason why the "gun control revolt" in Colorado was successful–enough that "Sen. Udall" is proposing to "roll back free speech rights across the country."

But if you look closely, you can see they're not even attacking the right Sen. Udall.

tomudall

Bottom line: since the release of Rocky Mountain Heist, we've honestly been surprised by how little attention it's received in the mainstream press, and how little buzz among voters on either side of the political spectrum it seems to be generating. That's partly because the material is really quite weak, relying more on breathless reporting of uncontroversial politics than findings of real nefarious fact. And at key moments, the whole production is pasted together with rank deceptions like what you see above: maybe enough fool the most uncritical and most committed partisan Republicans, but laughable to anyone who stops even for a moment to think about what they're being presented with. As a tool for persuading undecided voters, Rocky Mountain Heist is just plain bunk.

Given the splash they made with the court battle just to set up shop in Colorado, we expected better.

NBC/Marist: Gardner 46%, Udall 45%, Hickenlooper Up 5

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

New polling from NBC/Marist College shows…you guessed it, a continuing nail-biter in Colorado's U.S. Senate race:

In the race for U.S. Senate in Colorado, Republican Cory Gardner, 46%, and Democratic incumbent Mark Udall, 45%, are in a virtual tie among likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate or have voted early. Five percent of Colorado likely voters are undecided, and 2% of those with a candidate preference say they might vote differently. Among likely voters in NBC News/Marist’s September poll, Gardner trailed Udall by 6 percentage points.

Independents likely to vote and gender play a role in how the race has changed. Udall’s once 15 point lead among independents has shrunk to just 3 points. And, the gender gap has widened with men as the driving force behind the gains for Gardner. He now leads Udall among men by 15 points, up from 5 points.

Looking at the governor’s race in Colorado, Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper, 46%, is ahead of GOP challenger Bob Beauprez, 41%, by 5 points among Colorado likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate and those who have already voted. Six percent are undecided, and 6% say they may vote differently.

“To seal up the potential crack in the Democratic firewall for the U.S. Senate, Udall needs a big ground game,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “He trails among those who have already voted by 12 points.”

Most all of the numbers in this poll have tightened from the last NBC/Marist poll in early September, which showed Sen. Mark Udall with a 6-point lead. While Udall's lead has shrunk to the same statistical dead heat most other polling in this race shows, Gov. John Hickenlooper's lead over Republican challenger Bob Beauprez has grown slightly compared to early September's Marist/NBC poll. In both cases, the movement is consistent with what we're seeing in most recent polling.

It's interesting to note that Marist shows a large lead for Republican Cory Gardner among those who have already voted–an important question to ask in our newly 100% mail ballot state. Given the early lead Republicans have posted in ballot returns, that makes sense–and this poll points the path to victory for Democrats in the ground game to play out over the next eight days.

Because, and we know you're sick of hearing it, there's only one "polling sample" that matters.

Infighting and Petty Posturing in Beauprez Camp

Dustin Olson, via Glamour Shots

Dustin Olson, via Glamour Shots

When Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez was putting his campaign together last spring, he made a point of trying to include top staffers from other flailing or near-dead Republican campaigns. This was easier said than done, according to Republican insiders, who say that Beauprez thought he could make a nice stew with a bunch of mismatched ingredients.

What might have seemed a good idea to Beauprez at the time has resulted primarily in infighting, petty posturing, and silly turf wars that are straining the seams of a campaign desperately trying to find some sort of momentum in the closing weeks of the election…and threatening to poison other GOP campaigns along the way.

As Coloradans count down the last two weeks of the 2014 election cycle, rumors of trouble inside the Beauprez campaign have seeped outside of Republican circles. From what we hear, problems that were simmering over paychecks and grievances about who really represented the "top of the ticket" (Beauprez or GOP Senate nominee Cory Gardner) have grown more heated in recent weeks as Beauprez has failed to gain any real traction in his bid to unseat Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Bob Beauprez for Governor

Bob Beauprez’s Oct. 14th campaign finance report.

It's no secret that the Republican Party in Colorado has been scattered in every direction in recent years. The emergence of the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party in 2009 significantly altered the GOP power structure, but upheaval within Colorado Republican circles actually dates back to the bitter 2006 gubernatorial primary between Beauprez and Marc Holtzman.

Beauprez thought he could find some measure of Kumbaya by recruiting a top Holtzman staffer — Ryan Lynch — to join his campaign after State Sen. Greg Brophy ended his campaign and took Beauprez's side during the "Dear God, anybody but Scott Gessler" phase of the GOP Primary (Lynch had been working on Brophy's sputtering campaign for governor).

But Beauprez already had Republican strategist Dustin Olson at the top of his campaign hierarchy, in addition to Communications Director (and son-in-law) Allen Fuller. From what we understand, Beauprez probably screwed up by approving a huge disparity in salaries for the three men. Courting Lynch so insistently probably didn't make the Alpha Males of Team Beauprez feel much better, either.

Campaign finance reports (at left) show that Olson alone collects nearly double the monthly salary of Lynch and Fuller combined. Olson was paid $12,000 at the beginning of October, with Lynch and Fuller each taking home $6,500. Interestingly, Beauprez's reports are careful to note that Olson and Lynch hold similar titles with the campaign; both Olson and Lynch are listed as "Manager and Deputy Managers," a title share that surely makes Lynch feel much better about his bank account.

Bob's Beard

Allen Fuller still has the best beard of the Beauprez staffers.

Adding to the drama has been Beauprez's Lt. Governor running mate Jill Repella (remember her? No?) Repella has made it a point in her "public" appearances with Republican Party faithful to talk about how "proud" she is to be "representing the top of the Republican ticket in Colorado." You could argue whether Beauprez or Gardner truly maintains the "top spot" in Colorado GOP campaign circles, though on a broader scale, the implications of a Gardner victory are much more important for Republicans. This has become a regular source of irritation for Republicans in Colorado, many of whom would probably side with Gardner if they had to choose one or the other.

We don't want to overstate the importance of any of this, but it should not be ignored, either.

You can often tell a great deal about the direction of a campaign based on the mood of the core people involved. This kind of infighting can, and does, happen from time to time, but you usually see it when a campaign has reached its conclusion and the great Monday-morning quarterbacking begins. The fact that these rumors are spilling out now is a bad omen in general for Beauprez's campaign.

Pollsters (Still) Getting Latino Vote Wrong in Colorado

The rollercoaster of polling results in Colorado has been of the more prominent stories of the 2014 election cycle, and it is a story we would expect to see many media outlets revisit once Election Day has finally come and gone. Polling results for various races have been all over the map in the last two months — some more obviously ridiculous than others (we're looking at you, Quinnipiac) — and politicos on both sides of the aisle have been scratching their heads at the mix of numbers. 

One of the more consistent inconsistencies, however, appears to be a result of errors trying to survey Latino Voters. We mentioned this last week as well, but here's more from Buzzfeed News:

In 2010, Sen. Harry Reid was engaged in a bitter battle with Sharron Angle. He was headed for a loss, polls said.

Despite polls showing him down about 3% on average, he won by 5.6%. The surprise was largely attributed to Latino voters being polled incorrectly. Nate Silver wrote about this after hearing from Matt Barreto, of Latino Decisions, a polling firm focused on the Latino vote.

Now with the 2014 midterm election looming, Barreto argues to BuzzFeed News that it’s happening again, this time in Colorado where polls show Republican Rep. Cory Gardner leading Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

“Even if you give other polls the benefit of the doubt and assume the rest of their statewide numbers are correct — if you pull their Latino numbers out and put ours in — instead of Udall being down by 3, he’s up 3 to 4,” Barreto said. [Pols emphasis]

That's a pretty significant swing that is beyond the margin of error in most polls. So how does it happen?

Latino Decisions says that mainstream polls fail in capturing the nuance of the Latino vote because many only poll in English, with small samples of Latinos somewhere in the 40-60 range, whereas they survey 400-600 bilingually. Cell-phone only, Spanish-speaking, lower socio-economic status Latinos are the most Democratic of all Latino voters, they argue, and are the most difficult and costly voters to include in a poll, according to a recent blog post. Polls in English, on the other hand, oversample higher income Latinos who are more likely to lean Republican, according to Barreto.

A recent Latino Decisions/NCLR Action Fund poll found that 66% of Latinos say they will or are likely to vote for Udall, while only 17% said they would definitely or are likely to vote for Gardner. But of those who were interviewed in Spanish, 76% said they will vote for or are likely to vote for Udall.

Interesting food for thought as field operations take over the spotlight.

Field Campaigns Win Elections

votebutton

AP's Nicholas Riccardi has an insightful story about the storied Democratic combined field campaign effort, swinging into action again this year as the polls in Colorado's marquee U.S Senate race look a lot like they did in 2010:

The relentless ground game to inspire voters to cast ballots has helped Democrats dominate Colorado under even the most difficult political circumstances. Four years ago, the strategy helped Sen. Michael Bennet’s come from behind to win re-election. Now Bennet is directing the Senate Democrats’ national campaign arm, testing whether a $60 million get-out-the-vote effort — named, “The Bannock Street Project,” for his old Denver campaign office — can do the same for Udall and other Democrats defending their Senate majority…

Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner has led Udall in recent public polls. Bennet didn’t lead in a single public poll in 2010. [Pols emphasis] Udall’s campaign is modeled on Bennet’s — but with a get-out-the-vote operation three times larger. The incumbent may also benefit from Colorado’s new elections law, passed last year by its Democratic-controlled legislature over Republican objections, that sends mail-in ballots to all voters and allows citizens to register until Election Day.

There’s no guarantee Democrats will dominate on the ground this year. Republicans in Colorado and elsewhere in the nation have upped their focus on getting out the vote. But GOP and conservative opponents know the ground game remains a potent Democratic weapon.

In 2012, the Republican coordinated campaign had serious problems with a new integrated field campaign system called "ORCA," which resulted in widespread breakdowns in their get-out-the-vote operation. We've heard that at least some of the lessons from that failure have been learned by the GOP in time for 2014, but the fact remains that Democratic field campaign efforts have done this successfully over and over in Colorado. Democrats have a degree of experience with getting out the vote in Colorado that the right simply has no analog for in recent elections.

One big variable this year is the impact of the 2013 election modernization legislation, House Bill 13-1303, which resulted in both mail ballots being delivered to every registered voter and the ability to register and vote through Election Day. Consistent with past elections, Republicans are leading the early mail ballot returns. Democratic ballots will come in as they're canvassed, and historically Democrats dominate early voting. 

Just like in 2010, it's going to be very close. But Cory Gardner's steady three-point October lead in the U.S. Senate race, given 2010's experience, is nothing for Republicans to feel good about.

At Least It Wasn’t Your Midnight Robocall

Banana phone, ring ring ring.

Banana phone, ring ring ring.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on a weekend political "robocall" with high dirty-tricks potential that failed rather spectacularly:

Numerous robocalls purporting to support U.S. Senate candidate Gaylon Kent went out to voters late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, but the Libertarian candidate says his campaign was not behind them…

The calls seem to be intended to hurt Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who is locked in a tight race with GOP Congressman Cory Gardner that is likely to determine which party controls the Senate next year.

Via e-mail and social media, multiple people complained of being awoken by the calls. Kent’s campaign said they received reports of calls going out between 10:40 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday.

“Most of the contacts came from Denver-area supporters of (Mark) Udall,” Kent said. “But one gentleman from Philadelphia called me to complain, and I got a Facebook message from a lady in Virginia, too.”

Here's a rough transcript of said midnight robocall:

"Since Mark Udall was elected to the US Senate in 2008, the United States has bombed seven countries. We bombed Iraq, we bombed Afghanistan, we bombed Pakistan, we bombed Libya, we bombed Yemen, we bombed Somalia. And now, we're bombing Syria.

In fact, with Mark Udall in the Senate, the US has bombed more countries than it did under George Bush. Not only has Mark Udall not done anything to stop this, Mark Udall has been leading the charge to bomb Syria for years and to continue the carnage that we're inflicting on the world. It's right there on his website.

There's only one true anti-war candidate in this year's Senate election: Gaylon Kent. So grab your ballot right now and vote for Gaylon Kent, and tell Washington: 'No more war!' This message brought to you by the Libertas Institute."

By all accounts, this call went out to younger, "high propensity" Democratic voters–that is, safe and core constituency voters for Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. It's not hard to imagine why Udall's opponents would try just about anything to confound and depress these key voters. Suspicion focused early on an organization called the Libertas Institute based in Utah. That group, however, claims no affiliation with the "Libertas Institute" identified in the robocall. A website for the "Libertas Institute of Colorado," however, displays this message:

Normally calls are restricted to reasonable hours, however, due to a programming error calls continued through the late night hours. It was not the intent to call people in the middle of the night, or to cause Mr. Kent any negative effect.

We deeply regret the intrusive effect of these calls and also the embarrassment they caused Mr. Kent.

Sources tell us a "Libertas Institute" also called active Democrats in 2012, with a similarly-themed call urging Colorado Democratic voters to support Gary Johnson over Barack Obama–with a message that began, "Greetings fellow Democrat!" There's no registration for this group that we can find in Colorado, so it's anybody's guess who they really represent or what their real agenda is. All of which would have probably stayed nicely under the radar had their robocall not gone out in the middle of the night, thus making it an embarrassing news story. Once it's a story, people can easily corroborate basic details like the fact that it was aimed entirely at high propensity Democratic voters.

Once those voters realize they are being played, their reaction is likely to be…other than intended.

2010 Redux? Two D-Leaning Polls Give Udall Small Lead

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

The question of whether or not polling of Colorado voters is accurately sampling the 2014 electorate is perhaps the biggest unknown in the current election cycle. In Colorado's U.S. Senate race, polling has shown Republican Cory Gardner with a small but consistent lead since the beginning of October. The Real Clear Politics average of polling in the race as of now shows Gardner ahead by three points.

But is that really what's going on? History says very likely not. Almost exactly four years ago today in October of 2010, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed then-GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck leading appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by three points. In fact, every poll taken entirely in the month of October of 2010 showed Ken Buck leading or the race tied. At the end of the race, the RCP average predicted that Ken Buck would win by three points.

Michael Bennet is our junior U.S. Senator. So obviously, the polls were wrong. In the 2010 U.S. Senate race, the polling consistently got the sample of "likely voters" wrong, which proved to be their undoing. Polling underestimated the role of women voters in particular, who went for Bennet by a 17-point margin and in so doing decided the race.

Is it going to happen again? Democrats not prone to spin tell us there's a good chance.

benensoncrosstabs

Two Democratic internal polls made public this weekend, one from the Mellman Group and another from the Benenson Group, both show Udall with a three-point lead over Gardner. Mellman has the race at 44-41%, and Benenson has Udall up 47-44%. Both samples are similar on party breakdown: 38% GOP, 32.5% Democrats, and 29.5% unaffiliated/third party in the Mellman poll, and 38% R, 33% D, 29% U in the Benenson Group poll. The Mellman poll release included no crosstabs, but in the Benenson poll we can see a 17-point lead for Udall with women voters (sound familiar?) and a whopping 22-point lead with Latino voters.

Last week, we discussed the results of a survey of Latino Colorado voters that showed Gardner distantly underwater, by an even greater margin than is shown in this polling. That came just after the lead pollster at SurveyUSA very candidly admitted that his organization and most other pollsters don't know how to properly sample for Latino voters–a critical defect in a state where 21% of the population is Latino. If 2010's experience is any guide, the recent polls showing a paltry lead for Udall with women can straightforwardly be questioned.

Bottom line: these variables are enough to flip the race. Just like 2010. Right out from under the pollsters.

If that doesn't happen, we'll take our lumps. If it does, though, we expect the pollsters to take theirs.