SurveyUSA/Denver Post: Udall 46%, Gardner 42%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

New polling out today from SurveyUSA conducted for the Denver Post shows incumbent Sen. Mark Udall with a steady four-point lead over GOP challenger Cory Gardner. Lynn Bartels reports:

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall leads Republican challenger Cory Gardner by 4 percentage points in a new Denver Post poll that shows the Democratic incumbent is ahead among unaffiliated and female voters…

The race "could go either way" at this point, according to SurveyUSA, which conducted the poll this week for The Post. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Udall received 46 percent support to Gardner's 42 percent in their high-stakes, high-dollar race that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate after the Nov. 4 election.

The polling memo isn't available either at the Denver Post or SurveyUSA yet, but we'll provide a link once we see it. Udall's principal strength in this poll is no surprise, reports the Post, leading with women voters by some 13 points over Gardner. The poll indicates a much smaller lead for Udall among Hispanic voters, only showing him up by two points–a number we suspect is lowballed in Gardner's favor, or at least will be once the dust settles from President Barack Obama's recent announcement that no executive action on immigration would occur before the election. We tend to agree with analysis that suggests Obama's announcement, while upsetting to Hispanic voters, isn't enough to drive them into the arms of the GOP.

Bottom line: while nobody should get comfortable, this poll underscores a reassuring trend for Democrats in this marquee race.

We're headed down the stretch, and Mark Udall is holding his own.

Throwback Thursday: Jon Caldara and the Flood

One year ago today, the state of Colorado was besieged by massive flooding that impacted the Front Range after several weather fronts converged and trapped moisture over the area. Mountain towns were cut off from civilization as roads and bridges failed, forcing an historic helicopter airlift to evacuate stranded residents. After inundating most of the Front Range, floodwaters made their way out across the Eastern Plains, doing tremendous further damage to low-lying areas, infrastructure, and oil and gas drilling sites in Weld County.

As the drama of the 2013 Colorado floods played out, Boulder resident and Independence Institute head Jon Caldara had his own problems. Caldara had made headlines just before the floods when he registered as a Colorado Springs resident in order to vote in the SD-11 recall election. Caldara did this to make a supposed point about the new same-day voter registration law, part of election modernization legislation passed by the Democratic-led General Assembly that year. Far from demonstrating ease of voter fraud, however, Caldara had come up with an elaborate ruse to "prove" Colorado Springs residency, including a lease of a room in ex-GOP Rep. Mark Barker's house. It was clear from the start that Caldara did not and never intended to live in Colorado Springs, but his elaborate preparations for the stunt–which would make it prohibitively difficult to replicate–helped Caldara escape prosecution.

Without a doubt the 2013 floods were a tragedy, and even today political battles that invoke them are controversial. With that said, every time we hear an accusation that the floods are being "politicized," which we've heard a lot recently as the related issues of the flood and subsequent shutdown of the federal government have come up in the U.S. Senate race, our first thought is of Jon Caldara. And this is why:

Via his friend Wayne Laugesen of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Caldara invoked the floods as the "reason" why he was not moving to Colorado Springs to live in Mark Barker's guest bedroom. It was obvious a year ago this weekend, when we originally posted this item, that Caldara had never intended to live in Colorado Springs. But at the time of last year's floods, the investigation of Caldara for vote fraud was well underway. Although Caldara makes no pretenses now that he's not under investigation, at the time, this might well have fit into a legal strategy should he have needed to maintain his original pretense in court.

Really, folks, if you're in this guy's fan club, don't ever complain about "politicizing the floods" again.

Cosmo Endorses Mark Udall, Thanks to Personhood

Cory Gardner's Personhood twist

Cory Gardner does the Personhood Pretzel.

"Cosmopolitan" magazine on Tuesday announced that the magazine is endorsing Democratic Sen. Mark Udall for re-election to the U.S. Senate instead of Republican challenger Cory Gardner. The editors of Cosmo write that "Colorado's Senate race is crucial for women's health:"

One of the most important races for women's rights is happening in Colorado this year, between Senate incumbent Mark Udall and challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. Colorado is ground zero for anti-choice "personhood" laws, which seek to define fertilized eggs only a few cells large as people with rights equal to, and sometimes greater than, those of actual, born people. The laws wouldn't just outlaw abortion, but many forms of birth control and fertility treatments as well. While personhood initiatives have failed twice in Colorado and Gardner claims his views have changed, his name still appears on a proposed federal personhood law, [Pols emphasis] and even the president of Personhood USA says Gardner is just "playing politics" in this election, because he has "built his entire political career on support of personhood."…

…Mark Udall is a leader who stands up for Coloradans' rights and their health, not a reactionary who puts the rights of a fertilized egg over the rights of women. We are proud to endorse his candidacy.

This is the second time in two months that we have written about "Cosmopolitan" magazine and Colorado's Senate race. Critics can try to dismiss "Cosmopolitan's" endorsement and the effect it might have on the outcome of the race in November, but it's a stupid argument to attempt; Udall and his supporters will make sure that women see this endorsement, and in a state where female voters are critical, getting the approval of one of America's most iconic women's magazines is a big help indeed.

But here's the bigger point about this endorsement: Gardner's Personhood flip-flop is a mistake from which his campaign may never recover. One of the first major moves that Gardner made in his Senate campaign — which helped him earn the nickname "Con Man Cory" — was to publicly attempt to change his position on the Personhood issue. We thought this flip-flop was a terrible decision when Gardner made the move back in March, and as we sit here in mid-September, it is clear that he's never going to be able to get this particular albatross from around his neck. In fact, Gardner's own maneuvers on Personhood have done more to keep the issue at the top of voters' minds than anything Udall could have done himself. By flip-flopping on Personhood, Gardner made this into a bigger issue than it would have been.

If Gardner was never going to drop his name from a federal Personhood bill — of which he is a co-sponsor — then he should have just maintained his long-held support for the idea. It has not been lost on the media that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of the federal Personhood bill, even as he has made one ludicrous attempt after another to change the subject or to flat-out lie about it altogether. Gardner tried, for awhile, to claim that Colorado's Personhood ballot measures were different than the federal Personhood bill that carries his name, and when that didn't work, he changed tactics to just outright lying through his teeth. Witness 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman, who is not amused by Gardner's ridiculous claim last week that "there is no federal Personhood bill," or the Washington Post's Jaime Fuller, who wrote that Gardner "doesn't support his former self on this issue, either."

Over the course of his Senate campaign, the only thing that Gardner has truly shed in trying to ditch Personhood is his credibility — and that's a tough thing to get back once it's gone. After all, it's hard to support a candidate who doesn't support himself.

Udall Presses Attack On Gardner Over Floods, Shutdown

Image via Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden)

Image via Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden)

A press release from Sen. Mark Udall's campaign on their new TV spot hitting GOP challenger Cory Gardner over last year's shutdown of the federal government–which occurred just after major flooding along the Front Range of Colorado, requiring an emergency federal response. After several weeks of skirmishes on the issue, Udall takes the proverbial gloves off:

“Congressman Gardner would like us all to forget that he chose to shut down the government while thousands of Coloradans were struggling to put their lives back together after last year’s flood,” said Udall for Colorado spokesperson Kristin Lynch. “Gardner’s reckless shutdown delayed Colorado’s flood recovery and hurt our small businesses and local economies when they were at their most vulnerable. Congressman Gardner let us down when he decided to make a political point at the expense of Colorado flood victims.”

Despite Colorado’s clear need for disaster assistance from the federal government, Gardner voted along with Sen. Ted Cruz and the Tea Party to shut down the government just to prove a political point about the health care law. This delayed our flood recovery and forced Colorado to pick up the tab for National Guard personnel who were performing essential flood recovery work.

But Gardner’s reckless move hurt more than just flood victims. As the government shutdown continued for weeks and 40,000 Coloradans were furloughed, middle class families across the state felt the effect of Gardner’s shutdown on their pocketbooks. Shuttered national parks robbed small businesses of the tourism they depend on, veterans’ disability claims were delayed, and 2 million acres of public lands were closed to sportsmen from around the country during the busy fall season.

There are two parts to the story of the shutdown of the federal government in terms of consequences for Coloradans digging out from the massive floods that hit the Front Range just about exactly one year ago. First and most obvious is the delay in federal response to the flooding, which included delays in National Guard response from neighboring states. The second consequence was the effect the shutdown of Colorado's national parks and monuments had on local communities dependent on tourism. Estes Park, the gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park, had already seen bookings cut by 50 percent after the floods, and the closure of the park drained millions more from the local economy.

Still another issue is the blowback against Colorado as a whole from East Coast politicians in both parties, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who branded Gardner a "hypocrite" for seeking disaster relief money for Colorado after voting against the second Hurricane Sandy relief bill. It was negotiations by Sen. Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet that were able in the end to mollify New Jersey's anger and secure the relief funds needed.

The harm done to Colorado by the post-flooding shutdown of the federal government is a matter of record. With that established, the question becomes, who was responsible for the shutdown? This is a point that Republicans refuse to concede a year later, even though the public overwhelmingly blamed the GOP in contemporary polling for forcing the shutdown in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. In the months since the shutdown, Republicans hoped to mitigate their culpability in that unpopular action by mercilessly attacking Obamacare–a strategy that is increasingly a failure as Obamacare continues to produce positive outcomes and the health insurance marketplace's startup problems fade from memory.

It's important to remember that until the polls started clearly showing that the GOP had lost the battle for public support, Gardner and the rest of the Colorado GOP delegation were solid backers of the confrontational strategy that ended in the shutdown. The AP's Nick Riccardi cut through the spin last month:

Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano contended that congressman never supported the shutdown. However, Gardner, who is close to House Republican leadership, voted with other House Republicans to shoot down Democratic efforts to reopen government and for spending bills designed to be rejected by the U.S. Senate during the 16-day standoff. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner may not have been the most enthusiastic Republican as the shutdown loomed just before the beginning of October last year, perhaps sensing the danger–but the record is full of examples of Gardner defending the overall strategy. And as Riccardi notes, none of Gardner's supposed trepidation before the shutdown manifested in the form of votes.

With all of this in mind, it will be up to Colorado voters to decide whether the shutdown, and Gardner's role as a House Republican in causing it, are deciding factors in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. But what's not up for debate, as the polls demonstrate, is that the shutdown has gone down in history as a Republican gambit that failed. The old saying is that success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan. Had the shutdown succeeded in forcing concessions from the President over Obamacare, Gardner would almost certainly be singing a different tune. But it didn't succeed. It was a disaster–in Colorado a disaster compounded on another.

And Gardner, whether he likes it or not, was on the wrong side.

Live Blog (Sort Of): Mark Udall vs. Cory Gardner, U.S. Senate Debate

GardnerStache

Perhaps Cory Gardner could have formed a better connection with the Western Slope by borrowing Randy Baumgardner’s mustache.

It’s time to fire up the Colorado Pols Debate Diary once again. That's right, friends: It's live-blog time!

It has become something of a tradition here at Colorado Pols for us to give you, our loyal readers, a live blog, play-by-play of political debates in Colorado. This afternoon we are live-blogging a video replay of Saturday's first U.S. Senate debate between Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Cory Gardner. You've seen some clips from Saturday's Club 20 debate in Grand Junction, and you may have followed some of the action on Twitter.

We didn't go to Grand Junction on Saturday evening, but we were able to get our hands on a full recording of the Udall/Gardner debate. Since this is the first time we are watching the debate as it unfolds, this really is live in one sense of the word; we'll be updating the diary below in real time as we watch the video. In other words, the debate isn't "live," but our "live blog" is "live." Whatever — you get the point.

We will provide a link to the full debate video as soon as a public version becomes available (we don't want to download and host the entire video ourselves because of space limitations).

*NOTE: The most current update appears at the top of the page. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time.

 

FINAL IMPRESSIONS
While neither Mark Udall nor Cory Gardner was particularly impressive during their first debate, there were clear contrasts drawn on Saturday. Gardner seemed to stick to a pre-debate strategy that revolved around saying "Obama" as many times as possible and otherwise dancing around any specific question. Udall was not as commanding as he has been in the past, but he was devastatingly effective when he calmly pointed out inconsistencies in Gardner's record or his refusal to answer direct questions. Gardner clearly wants to stay out of the weeds on specific policy questions, and that's a reasonable strategy, but he needs to recognize when his "strategy" is starting to backfire; Gardner is painting himself into a corner by repeatedly offering up answers of little substance, because it doesn't take long before it becomes more theme than strategy. This was also — theoretically, at least — friendly territory for Gardner, but he failed to take advantage of that atmosphere by not adjusting and adapting his strategy during the debate. Gardner needed a 'Win" here; there was less at stake for Udall, but he pulled out the victory anyway. We're very interested to see how each candidate changes their approach heading into the next big debate.

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New Marist, Rasmussen Polls Show Enduring Udall Lead

UPDATE: Another poll this weekend from CBS/New York Times: Mark Udall 46%, Cory Gardner 43%.

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Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Noting two polls that came out over the weekend in the Colorado U.S. Senate race, the first polls in several weeks. First, from Marist College Institute for Public Opinion for NBC News, showing incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall up six points over GOP challenger Cory Gardner:

In the contest for U.S. Senate in Colorado, Democratic incumbent Mark Udall leads his Republican challenger, Cory Gardner, by six points among likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Udall’s advantage is due to his support among Latinos, independents, women, and young voters…

“Right now, Udall is disrupting GOP plans to add Colorado to its victory column as they seek a Senate majority,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “To seal the deal, Udall needs to mobilize young voters and Latinos who boosted Barack Obama in his presidential wins.”

…A plurality of Colorado likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, 48%, supports Udall in the race for U.S. Senate in Colorado.  Gardner garners 42%.  Nine percent are undecided. Udall is bolstered by Latinos likely to participate.  He receives 60% compared with 27% for Gardner. 91% of Democrats likely to vote are for Udall while 87% of Republicans favor Gardner.  Among likely independent voters, Udall has 49% to 34% for Gardner. Udall is strongest among single women where he outpaces Gardner by 29 points, 56% to 27%.  Udall has a 16 point lead among single men. Udall and Gardner are competitive among married women, 46% to 45%.  Gardner has a strong lead against Udall among married men, 55% to 36%.

Here's the full memo on the Marist poll. It's worth noting that Marist showed Udall with a bigger lead in the last round of polling back in July–we'll want to see more polls to know if this is an outlier, or a sign that Udall is starting to pull away. Another poll from historically conservative Rasmussen Reports out Friday has Udall with a much smaller two-point lead over Gardner, 44% to 42%–still ahead after millions in negative advertising dollars expended, but remaining a tight race (and frankly closer to our gut feeling). In the gubernatorial race, Marist has incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper leading GOP challenger Bob Beauprez 43% to 39%, while Rasmussen has the race in a dead heat–with Beauprez up 45% to Hickenlooper's 44%.

After a curious dearth of polling during the month of August, we expect a flurry of results in the coming days to give us a clearer picture of where these two races are headed.

Video: Cory Gardner’s Epic Abortion Pivot Fail

We've got several clips of video from yesterday's debates in Grand Junction hosted by civic engagement group Club 20 to share, but one particularly noteworthy exchange between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and GOP challenger Cory Gardner last night needed to get in the record right away. In this truly remarkable clip of video, Udall hammers Gardner over his longstanding support for banning abortion, including making abortion a class 3 felony–which could result in health care providers receiving harsher prison sentences for performing abortions than persons found guilty of rape.

Gardner's attempt to pivot away from this issue, as you'll see, did not go well:

UDALL: Congressman. When it comes to a woman's reproductive rights and women's health, how can women and families trust you? You voted for a class 3 felony bill that would punish doctors more than rapists, you voted against providing emergency contraception to rape victims, you supported a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. After you told the, uh, Colorado, the Fort Collins newspaper that you would not do anything of that sort. How can families and how can women trust you when it comes to staying out of their personal health care decisions?

GARDNER: Senator Udall, I look forward to growing an economy that makes sure that women have jobs in this country, the kind of jobs that they are lacking right now. I look forward to putting economic policies together that keep women in this country from struggling to make ends meet as they are under Barack Obama's failed economy. And look, I understand, I understand that you have a concern with my position, I'm pro life, and I believe every life is precious, and I understand that you do not support that policy…

UDALL: Congressman, you didn't answer my question.

GARDNER: But what I think we ought to do is recognize that women around this country deserve a growing economy.

MODERATOR: You should answer his question.

UDALL: Would you answer my question? Would you answer my question?

GARDNER: I answered your question about…

UDALL: How can women and families trust you?

GARDNER: Because I…

(Applause grows)

UDALL: Why are you getting between women and their doctors? Why are you asking, women… (unintelligible) …why should just Washington businessmen, Washington congressmen tell women what they should do?

Sen. Udall's words at the very end of the clip are tougher to understand, mostly because the raucous applause from the audience was drowning him out–please help us correct this transcript if you find any errors. But by that time, Gardner's attempt to pivot off the issue had done more than just fallen flat. Gardner revealed himself as totally unprepared to answer questions about his record on reproductive choice. Gardner's answers up to now to straightforward questions about his record are simply not backed by the facts, and Udall would have been ready for any of them.

So the only choice Gardner has is to pivot to something else. Even when doing so is disastrous all by itself.

AFL-CIO LAUNCHES KOCH SISTERS CAMPAIGN

This morning the AFL-CIO launched a campaign to target the Koch brothers called the Koch Sisters. The campaign features the Koch sisters, two middle class women from union families who are a stark contrast to the right wing Koch brothers. The ads highlight the conversation around how these billionaires are influencing our politics for the worse.

The AFL-CIO would like to encourage you to check out the website and ads as well as to share news stories via social media.  

Website: http://www.kochsisters.org

30-second ad, which will begin airing today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7BbC5V8BAU

Link to the 60-second spot featured on the website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DXCAsqkecs

CD3, CD4, Governor, US Senate, Pueblo Candidate Debates Scheduled

Action-22 is partnering with news and political organizations to sponsor debates between the Republican and Democratic candidates for CD3 and for CD4. More debates, including those for Attorney General and  Board of Education candidates,  are in the process of being confirmed.  Pueblo Candidates will debate in Pueblo from September 9 to September 11. The forums will be telecast live.  All forums will be rebroadcast on Comcast Channel 19 in October. Watch this post for updates. 

CD4  (Vic Meyers vs. Ken Buck) debate will be held September 13, 2014, 1 pm in McBride Hall at Otero Junior College in La Junta. More information, and a map for the location can be accessed with this link.  Steve Henson, Managing Editor of the Pueblo Chieftain, will moderate.

CD3 candidates (Abel Tapia and Scott Tipton) are scheduled to debate on October 7 at Pueblo Memorial Hall, 1 City Hall Place, Pueblo, CO 81003 Ph: 719-542-1100.

UPDATE: Abel Tapia  and Scott Tipton will also debate in Grand Junction for the  2014 CLUB 20 Fall Meeting and Candidtate Debates September 5th and 6th.

When: Friday, September 5th and Saturday, September 6th

Where: Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main St. Grand Junction, CO 81501 Call 970-242-3264

UPDATE II At the same Grand Junction Club 20 venue, AARP is  sponsoring evening debates between the Gubernatorial candidates, John Hickenlooper and Bob Beauprez, as well as Udall and Gardner for US Senate. 

Complete agenda with schedule for all Club 20 / AARP debates is here.

 

Pueblo Candidate Debates sponsored by Action22 and the Pueblo Chieftain, and are also publicized by League of Women Voters (Vote411)

All of the Pueblo debates will be held at the Pueblo Memorial Hall, 1 City Hall Pl,  Pueblo  Colorado  81003 Tuesday, 9/9 /14 through Thursday, 9/11/14

9/9: Pueblo County Coroner  and Sheriff Candidates will debate at 6:00 pm.

9/10: Pueblo County Commissioner candidates  Sal Pace and Thomas Ready will debate at 6:00 pm. 

9/10: Pueblo Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz will debate Victor Head at 7:00 – 7:55 pm.

9/11: House District 47 (Lucretia Robinson vs. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff) will be held from 6:00- 6:55 

9/11: House District 46 (Daneya Esgar vs. Brian Mater) will be held from 7:00- 7:55 

9/11: Senate District 3 (Leroy Garcia vs. George Rivera) will be held from 8:00- 8:55 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Klingenschmitt : ENDA Allows Bathroom-lurking Demons to Rape Females

(The "Dr. Chaps" crazy train rolls on – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most people do not go into a public bathroom worrying about the history or habits of the person in the next stall. Most people use bathrooms for the usual purposes, and move on with their lives. Not Gordon Klingenschmitt, House District 15 candidate. Mr. Klingenschmitt seems to be obsessed with the demons lurking in bathrooms.

In yet another of Klingenschmitt's jaw-dropping videos, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Republican candidate for House District 15 in El Paso County, Colorado, claimed that ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) will provide an opportunity for demonic aliens to sexually assault females in bathrooms nationwide.

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Cory Gardner Loves Him Some Koch Brothers

Koch Brothers and Cory Gardner

Cory Gardner is a big fan of David and Charles Koch…though he’d prefer to keep that quiet.

UPDATE: This story is being picked up everywhere, from Time magazine to NBC News and everywhere in between.

—–

It's no secret that the billionaire Koch Brothers (David and Charles) are the proud parents of the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, and major contributors to all things Republican. It's also no secret that Democrats have been raising significant amounts of money using the Koch Brothers as Bogeymen, so Republican politicians have been careful about associating themselves too closely with the Koch family. A new audio recording has emerged in which Republican Senate candidates such as Cory Gardner heap praise on the Kochs during a super-secret conference in California this summer.

As the Huffington Post reports:

Three top Republican Senate candidates heaped praise on the political network built by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch during a secretive conference held by the brothers this past summer, according to audio of the event.

Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst and Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton directly credited donors present at the June 16 retreat in Dana Point, California, for propelling them forward. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner told attendees that his race would likely be decided by the presence of "third party" money — an obvious pitch for generosity from the well-heeled crowd…

…Audio of the event, held at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort, was obtained by The Undercurrent and shared exclusively with The Huffington Post. In it, the three Republican candidates, appearing on a panel titled "The Senate: A Window of Policy Opportunity for Principled Leaders," speak for several minutes each about the state of their respective races. Because the discussion took place in mid-June, some of the comments are dated. In addition, some of the audio was redacted to preserve the anonymity of the individual who provided it — "a source who was present at the event," per an official with The Undercurrent — and to remove sections with too much cross-talk. A separate source, who helped organize the retreat, confirmed each candidate's participation.

Getting exposed for loving up the Koch Brothers isn't a critical wound for Gardner, of course, but it will hurt his chances of beating Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in November–not to mention making hypocrites of anyone who brings up, for example, big Democratic funder Tom Steyer. As we've said over and over again in this space, Colorado voters have shown that they are more interested in supporting the statewide candidate who appears to be closest to the political center, and Gardner absolutely can't afford to appear any more partisan than he is already viewed. And while close ties to the Koch Brothers may not be a deciding factor for Unaffiliated voters, Gardner's cozy relationship with the coal barons will be incredibly helpful for Democrats as they try to motivate the base to get out the vote.

2014 Will Not Be a “Wave Election”

Bush wave

No, not that kind of wave.

Our friends at "The Fix" produced an interesting list today titled, "The 10 Things We Know 10 Weeks Before Election Day." While there are several interesting points on the list, the one that stood out most to us is #2:

This isn't a wave election. Yet.  The last two midterm elections — 2006 and 2010 — were waves, elections totally dominated by the national issue environment to the detriment of individual candidates trying to swim against the tide. (Terrible water metaphor alert!) That doesn't look like it's happening just yet.  The generic Congressional ballot — "if the election were held today would you prefer a Republican or Democratic controlled Congress?" — shows Democrats with a narrow one-point edge, a far cry from the five point (and building) margin that Republicans had at this time in the 2010 election. And, in Senate races, candidates like Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Mark Begich (Alaska) are hanging in races that, if the national environment was worse, would already be lost.

It has been awhile since we heard much talk about another midterm "wave election" similar to the 2010 version that gave Republicans control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Earlier this year, Republicans were giddy about the prospect of another wave that could enable them to pick up the Senate in 2014, but this election cycle looks and feels much different than 2010. Remember how much media coverage was given to Congressional town hall meetings in August of that year? Republicans may be more excited about the election than Democrats in general, but 2014 definitely does not have the same political fervor that enveloped 2010.

It's also worth noting that the 2010 national wave was significantly less impactful for Republicans here in Colorado. While Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton did capture seats held by Democrats (Rep. Betsy Markey and Rep. John Salazar, respectively), both CD-4 and CD-3 were not what any political handicapper would have called Democratic seats; Gardner and Tipton essentially won back seats that the GOP should have held anyway. In the 2010 Senate race, first-time candidate Michael Bennet defeated Republican Ken Buck in a race that Buck could have — and some say should have — won for Republicans. In CD-7, incumbent Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter absolutely destroyed GOP challenger Ryan Frazier, winning re-election by a 12-point margin.

"The Fix" hedges their bet about 2014 by saying that this "not yet" a wave election, but the "not yet" is unnecessary. If 2014 was indeed shaping up to be a "wave election," we would already be feeling it by now.

Big Line Updates; Now, with Percentages!

We have occasionally changed the appearance of The Big Line from representing fractional odds to presenting percentages. It's a matter of preference, of course, but as Election Day nears and Colorado Pols attracts more and new readers, we figured now would be a good time to switch again to percentages.

Here's what we're currently thinking as to the main movers in the top races in Colorado. For the first time this cycle, we've also added Lines for State Senate and State House majorities, respectively.

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (65%)
Cory Gardner (35%)

Gardner has been throwing multiple messages at the wall of late, which is typically the sign of a campaign that doesn't feel confident in the direction it is headed. There's a saying in football that if you are rotating more than one quarterback into the game, then you don't really have a quarterback. If you're a Gardner fan, this is a very difficult question to answer: What is his path to victory here?

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (68%)
Bob Beauprez (32%)

While there has never been a point in this race where it really felt like Gov. Hickenlooper was in trouble, Hick has made enough errors that it has provided Beauprez with an opportunity. Still, Beauprez can't win just by running a decent race; if Hick stops his stumble, there's not enough room for Beauprez to squeeze past in November.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE TREASURER, SECRETARY OF STATE
With so much money going into races for the U.S. Senate and CD-6, there will be little oxygen left in the room for candidates in the other statewide races after Governor. It's difficult to tell at this stage whether any of the candidates will be able to do enough to make their own luck.
 

CD-6 (Aurora-ish)
Andrew Romanoff (54%)
Mike Coffman (46%)

We wrote earlier about our belief that Countdown Coffman is underway following incumbent Rep. Coffman's boorish behavior in last week's debates. We've been hearing consistent buzz that Romanoff is now rising steadily while Coffman seeks the momentum he needs to prevent a complete collapse.
 

STATE SENATE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (55%)
REPUBLICANS (45%)

We usually wait until this point in the cycle to attempt handicapping state legislative outcomes, but our analysis is similar to what we anticipated in the aftermath of the June Primary. Tea Party victories in two key Senate districts (SD-19 and SD-22) make winning the majority an uphill battle for Republicans.


STATE HOUSE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (75%)
REPUBLICANS (25%)

The ballot wasn't even completely settled until recently, but the direction of this battle has been clear for some time. Republicans have had difficulty even finding candidates for 2014; the GOP will be lucky not to lose a seat or two at this point.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

Obamacare “Cancellation” Carping Gets Dumber By The Day

As the Denver Post's Electra Draper reports, Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado have taken to regularly updating the number of health insurance "cancellations" in Colorado, so as to pronounce each new one a cataclysmic failure of President Barack Obama, Senator Mark Udall, and everybody else all the way down the line–presumably not Republicans who supported Colorado's health insurance exchange, but everybody else:

The Colorado Division of Insurance has reported that there were about 2,100 health-plan cancellations in the state over the past two months, bringing this year's total to more than 6,150.

The division reported the figures for June 15-Aug. 15 to Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman last week. Senate Republicans have requested monthly on the numbers…

Since 2013, there have been about 340,000 policy cancelations in Colorado. Many customers received notices last fall as the Affordable Care Act was rolling out.

Policies that did not meet the act's minimum standards were canceled, though customers were offered replacement policies. Other cancellations were the result of business decisions by the insurers as part of normal operations. The insurance division did not track cancelation numbers in the same way before the act.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act cite the cancelations as proof that it is hurting consumers more than helping.

The conservative Daily Caller portrays these new "cancellations" as further proof of Obamacare's utter failure:

More than 2,000 more Coloradans had their health insurance plans cancelled as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a letter from the state regulatory agency to state Senate Republicans.

Following a dust-up earlier this year between Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and the Division of Insurance, Republicans have requested regular updates on policies that are cancelled because they don’t conform to Obamacare or because companies are getting out of the individual insurance market…

State Senate Republicans have requested regular updates from the insurance commission about continuing cancellations. In March, the commission reported 1,755 cancellations and in June another 2,320. Last week’s total was 2,105.

In all, nearly 340,000 Coloradans received cancellation notices, although not all are because they don’t conform to the ACA; some carriers are leaving the individual insurance market altogether.

The "335,000 cancellations" figure is one we've been talking about in this space for many months, mostly in an effort to debunk highly misleading characterizations of the issue. As we've noted repeatedly, over 90% of these "cancellations" were in fact renewal notices for existing policies, as state health insurance officials had determined this was permissible even before President Obama did the same thing for health plans across the nation. We're honestly surprised to still be seeing this talking point at all, after studies showing the rate of uninsured in Colorado has plunged arithmetically disproved it.

But setting aside the "cancellations" that occurred after the rollout of the ACA versus subsequent total numbers of insured, there's a much more basic reason this claim is just getting silly. Even before Obamacare, insurance plans in the individual and small group markets were routinely cancelled and modified by insurance companies. There is nothing to indicate that we are seeing a higher rate of cancellations today, now that the initial changeover due to ACA mandates is past, than before the ACA was implemented. Insurance companies used to cancel plans for all kinds of financial reasons, many of which have been outlawed by the ACA's tight restrictions on the rescission of policies. Consumers in the individual market were well accustomed to this. But for the things that actually matter, like getting sick, cancellations are no longer a threat as they were before the ACA.

Bottom line: there's a reason why attacks on Obamacare like the "cancellations" canard are widely believed to be running out of stream. It's because voters can see for themselves now that the horror stories promised by Republicans once the ACA went into effect have not come to pass. If the millions of Americans the GOP insists "lost their health insurance" actually had, there would be riots in the streets. Instead, we now know that the rate of uninsured both nationally and in Colorado has plummeted since the ACA went into effect. Republicans continue to pump more and more money into ads demonizing Obamacare, but the point of diminishing return has already been hit.

To quote Gertrude Stein, "there is no there there."

Oppo Dump: Cory Gardner Co-Wrote “Disastrous” Amendment 52

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

A lengthy press release and “research dump” this week from Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign highlights an issue that could prove damaging to GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner with otherwise conservative-leaning constituencies–his co-authorship of 2008′s failed Amendment 52, which would have diverted mineral severance tax funding revenues away from water projects to road construction.

Amendment 52 was described by co-author Josh Penry as a retaliatory ballot measure, intended to complicate the implementation of Amendment 58–a measure from then Gov. Bill Ritter to increase mineral severance taxes to fund education. As the Denver Post’s Mark Jaffe reported then:

“This is all about politics,” said Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, a sponsor of Amendment 52. [Pols emphasis]

Penry said that when Gov. Bill Ritter chose to seek the severance-tax change through the ballot rather than the legislature, those seeking more money for highways “were forced to put our own proposal to the voters.”

Amendment 52, which would become part of the state constitution, would cap tax revenues for water projects and could provide $90 million next year for highway projects and $1 billion over the next decade, supporters say.

While Amendment 58 failed at the polls in 2008, Gardner and Penry’s Amendment 52 went down by a much wider margin. Just about every local government representation group, the state’s Department of Natural Resources, conservationists, and most importantly, water rights stakeholders from across the state came out against Amendment 52.

“We know that we are facing a growing population and a need for water projects,” said Chris Treese, a spokesman for the Colorado River District. “This just hurts.”

We’ve reprinted the Udall campaign’s detailed press release on this subject after the jump. This is just one of a number of stories from Gardner’s long career in politics that warrants close scrutiny by the press between now and Election Day. The negative takeaways for Gardner from the Amendment 52 story are significant: from inappropriate tit-for-tat using our state’s constitution as his chessboard to a callous disregard for vital stakeholders in Colorado’s economy, for the purpose of protecting a couple of percentage points for his benefactors in oil and gas industry.

And there’s absolutely nothing about this story that makes Cory Gardner look good.

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