This weeks polling: Udall/Gardner

There’s some new polls on our senate race, and the news leans towards Gardner, but only a little. Quinnipac has Udall up by only a point, and a Politico story has a Chamber of Commerce poll putting Gardner up by a point. Obama’s approval fell, with 59% “disapproving”, a continuation of the trend. Because senate races like this tend to be pretty tied to presidential approval ratings, that might be the most significant number in these polls. This is especially true in CO, where the economy was the #1 issue on respondents minds, and Obama’s approval numbers are even lower. With Obama at an all time low in Colorado, Gardner is neck-and-neck. If President Obama’s approval numbers start turning back the other way (as many DEMs hope/expect), then expect things to get worse for Gardner- but if Obama’s approval keeps falling, then there’s nothing Udall can do to save himself.


previously. previously-er.


Udall/Gardner – new polls!

Of course, a couple days after I gripe about no new info. So Karl Rove’s Super Pac did some polling in Colorado on Udall/Gardner. And, pretty much nothing’s changed. 45% said they’d vote Udall, and Gardner was just a whisker behind at 43%. Considering the margin of error in this poll is 4.35%, and I’d call that neck and neck. The interesting part is that the poll also asked about generic vote, where 47% said GOP, and only 43% said DEM. So Udall’s a little ahead of a generic DEM candidate, and Gardner’s a little back. Once again, this is all super close, and the margin of error makes reading too much into numbers this close just a waste of time.


Udall/Gardner: Everything’s Changed! Nothing’s Changed!

There’s been some news and events in our senate race here, but the facts are still harder to come by than opinions. I’m gonna be a bit sad if CO moves out of the “swing state” national spotlight that we’ve held for quite a while, I really am. Anyhow, Gardner and Udall locked down their party’s nominations, and the news people started talking about the 2013 Dem overreach in the state gov’t.  NPR has a big story on us today, saying “Backlash Over State Party’s Progressive Agenda May Hobble Udall”- but I don’t think the evidence supports their claim. The real problem with the story is that we currently don’t have much in the way of evidence. There’s some anecdotal evidence that people are excited by Gardner, and that it’s gonna be a tight race, but anecdotal evidence had Romney doing well, too. In the generic congressional ballot (a ballot of just GOP/DEM, not actual personalities), the Democrats still hold a slight lead nationwide, and in local polling, Udall still has about the same lead he did before Gardner was in the race. The most interesting claim of the NPR article was made by Floyd Ciruli, the pollster from Denver. He

predicts that voter turnout this fall will be about 30 percent less than it was two years ago, when Obama won the state and Democrats took over the Legislature. 

I couldn’t find any evidence on the Ciruli website for this claim, so I don’t really know where he’s coming up with that guess. If voter turnout dropped by 30% from the 2012 election, that would be a drop from 2.495 million voters to 1.746 million. That’s pretty large. By comparison, 1.82 million voters came out in 2010, the last non-presidential election cycle. If Ciruli is right, that would be the smallest turnout since 2006 (which seems really unlikely). I wrote down my estimates of demographic/voting patterns in the upcoming senate election, and I’d still say they’re fairly good guesses (for being guesses). I’d like to see some new polling numbers statewide, but until that comes, we’re just have to tolerate more factless opinionating. Oh well, worse things have happened.


TL;DR: no news is no news.


Does anyone else have some baseless speculation to throw in? C’mon, you have as much info as the talking heads on the TeeVee.

What do people want?

from ben heine on deviantart


For a while now we’ve heard stories like this one which indicate that some percent of Obamacare opponents wish it was *more* liberal (single payer, etc), and I’ve believed it. Heck, that’s probably the category I’d put myself in. 538 looks at the numbers around Obamacare, and concludes that the “people who dislike Obamacare because it isn’t liberal enough” group is much smaller than supposed. According to the data, the biggest group of people who say Obamacare isn’t liberal enough is…republicans. And the people who say Obamacare isn’t liberal enough don’t necessarily want it to be more liberal. WTF?


Basically, there’s a group of people in this country, large enough to show up in national polling data for years on end, who both think Obamacare isn’t liberal enough, and that it’s too liberal. This chunk of the population is large enough to put either the pro- or anti- Obamacare side in the majority, depending on how you divvy em up, and we’ve been misinterpreting them. This is just the latest seeming paradox in ACA polling- for years now (years!) Obamacare has polled worse than the Affordable Care Act (even though they are synonyms), and Obamacare is less popular than all of its individual provisions.


Fanette Guilloud

it just doesn’t make sense


I honestly don’t know what conclusions to draw from all this. It all feels a bit like Poe’s Law, which is the idea that satire is impossible to distinguish from actual extremism unless you know the authors intent. I’m not saying that anyone is being disingenuous in the way they respond to pollsters, rather that simply seeing respondents say they want Obamacare to be “more liberal” in no way actually means they want it “more liberal”. In other words, a desire for “more liberal” Obamacare might come from a person at any point on the political spectrum, and might reflect a desire for healthcare policy to move more to the left, or more to the right. Without prior knowledge, that statement can be interpreted in myriad ways.


To me, this almost feels like one of those “political discourse is dead and impossible” kinda moments. We’ve been arguing about Obamacare for years now, and we still can’t even find common ground on what basic terms mean in the discussion. That’s depressing.


Does anyone have any thoughts about this? Is political conversation dead?

What’s the conservative’s dream for the future?

So Matt Walsh‘s blog is “top post” on wordpress at the moment, and I must confess to being a little confused. As far as I can tell, his advice is basically: “Ladies, don’t be in the situation you’re in”, which is unhelpful at best. He spends a lot of time being upset that someone might have to pay for a product or a service for a third party- let’s all agree to never tell him what taxes or insurance are (i don’t think he could handle the strain).


In all honesty, his post really did make me ponder: what will a “conservative”s issues be in the 2020 elections? I’d bet solid money that a “liberal” will still identify with some sort of “equality” focussed agenda. Most people I know that identify as liberal/progressive/lefty talk about most social/political issues from a fairly simple value set; “equality” is the key idea, or perhaps it’s phrased as “equal opportunity”. Schools, Gay Marriage, Immigration, Obamacare- they’re all different facets of the same “equal access to opportunity” kind of idea. But what is someone like Matt Walsh’s underlying idea?

I hear a lot about liberty and tyranny, but I honestly can’t make the connection to policy and argument. “Don’t tread on me” is a common rallying cry, but is it the core value of a conservative? Consider the Hobby Lobby court case: it isn’t at all obvious that one side or the other is on the side of “Liberty”. Both sides are arguing that certain people should be allowed to make certain choices, even though these choices will limit other people’s behavior. Looking just at the structure of the Hobby Lobby corporation, we can see that (statistically)there should be several hundred employees of HL who want access the IUDs as part of their health plan, and there is a family that feels very very strongly that for these women to get access IUDs would be morally wrong. On the one side, we have hundreds of women being told that they aren’t allowed to buy certain health plans, on the other side we have about a dozen people being told that they can’t control their employees sex lives. I’d bet that the religious family fees more strongly per member, but that’s not the same as saying that their choices are more important than their employees. The conservative value of “liberty” doesn’t really help us make a decision in this case, because we still have to wrestle with the questions of whose liberty do we prioritize, and how?

So where is Matt Walsh coming from? Where is the conservative’s point of view in this? Is there a “conservative” set of values that is both applicable now and in the future, or is the conservative perspective just anti-progressive? Because the progressives can say they are coming from an “equality” sort of position, does this mean that the only value open to conservatives is some sort of anti-equality? I can imagine a party and a pundit/media class that continues to fight against the progressives for a long time, and it’s not hard to imagine one that is fairly successful. What I can’t wrap my head around is the values that a normal person would need to have in order to follow this hypothetical party.




Colorado Senate Roundup

I love FiveThirtyEight- I’m a numbers kinda guy, and they bring the numbers. Their recent Senate Roundup says that overall Senate control is looking more and more to go GOP, and that sounds sensible to me. Obama’s hurting, and the senators up for re-election last had to compete in 2008, when voter mobilization and turnout were much more DEM than they are now. In 538’s analysis, Udall has about a 60% chance of beating Gardner, and that seems like a tolerably vague estimate given how few polls we have so far.

The only new poll in the last few weeks l is coming out of the (left-leaning) PPP, who surveyed 568 registered voters last week. Udall still leads, although Gardner is doing better than the previous GOP batch. The issues at hand haven’t changed in years (Obama! Obamacare! Guns!), and even though 17% of voters say they’re undecided, I doubt that that many people are actually on the fence about who they line up with- it’s more likely that they’re not actually passionate in either direction about either candidate.


Finally, PPP also polled the state on the 2016 race, and I love that Rand Paul is the GOP frontrunner here- he’s only 3 points behind Hillary Clinton. I wonder if we’re actually shifting towards a sort of  left-libertarian mentality here in the Centennial State. I guess we’ll find out when we get there.

Some Numbers

Given the ongoing demographic shift in Colorado, the current GOP is position to lose a lot of ground for the next few elections. The traditional GOP voting block (white evangelicals) is shrinking in proportion to the current DEM coalition of young people and minorities. The state has shifted from strongly red to blue, and much of that shift is explicable through pure demographics. I used some charts from the Census bureau to look into Colorado’s demographic shift, and it doesn’t look good for the GOP. Here’s a look at the biggest shift happening in CO these days, the decline of (as labelled on Census data) “White (non-Hispanic)” voters, and the rise of “Hispanic (of any race)”.

In 2010, people who identified as “White (Non-Hispanic)” made up 79.7% of the CO population, and cast 86.37% of the votes. Voters identifying as “Hispanic (of any race)” made up 13.10% of the CO population, but cast only 7.9% of the vote. The DEMs did pretty well in CO that year, especially compared to the GOP swing nationally. Hickenlooper won his race, as did Michael Bennet (this despite the race being called a tossup, or even favorably GOP).

In 2012, “White (Non-Hispanic)” came in at 79.01% of the population, and accounted for 84.39% of the vote- a drop of almost exactly 2 percentage points. “Hispanic (of any race)”, on the other hand, had risen to 14.02% of the population, and had climbed to 10.38% of the vote- a gain of 2.48 pp. Nationally, Hispanic/Latino voters went for Obama at about 71%– so I’d reckon it that the DEMs picked up roughly 1.75 pp from 2010 to 2012.

We can only estimate the 2014 data, but the general patterns shouldn’t change too much. If we assume the same population shift from 2010-2012 will carry through to 2014 (as most people I’ve found do), then 2014 should see the “White (non-hispanic)” voting population at about 75%, and the “Hispanic (of any race)” voting population at about 19%. The Secretary of State’s office has put out it’s own projections, which indicate an even bigger shift (White <70%, Hispanic ~20%).

Rates of voter participation are a little easier to estimate, because they’re a bit more stable. Going off the last non-presidential cycle (2010), we can guess that the “White (non-hispanic)” share of the vote will be  ~80%, while the “Hispanic (of any race)” vote should make up about 11.5% of total votes cast. If we use Gessler’s population estimates, then the White vote will be down around 75%, while Hispanic votes rise to about 12.5% of the total votes cast. If we assume that this election really brings out the voters, and rates are closer to 2012, then the Hispanic vote could rise up to about 15% of the total electorate.

Even in the conservative estimates, the GOP loses over a percentage point every election, about 2.5 points every 4 year cycle. This is only true, of course, if the states demographic groups continue to vote the way they do. But the current crop of GOP candidates and ideas don’t show much in the way of change, and so I can’t imagine the voting patterns will, either.