September 14, 2006

Beauprez Sinking Fast

Just three days ago, Zogby/WSJ had Bob Beauprez down against Bill Ritter by approximately 9 points in a straight up match (h/t ToTheRight). Today's RMN/CBS4 poll has Beauprez down a staggering 17 points with less than two months until the election. Ten points, taking into account the poll's margin of error, could be a daunting yet recoverable deficit. Wading into the high teens, Beauprez has fallen into the nearly insurmountable category, barring some extremely damaging gaffe/personal shortcoming by the Ritter campaign between now and November.

In reacting to this week's earlier poll results, Beauprez's campaign manager John Marshall claimed that the Beauprez campaign was where it expected to be at this point, and that Ritter's rising poll numbers would eventually fall.

More from the RMN:
Fifty percent of voters surveyed said they were likely to vote for Ritter, versus 33 percent for Beauprez. Eleven percent said they were undecided.

The poll, conducted earlier this week, showed Ritter with a huge lead in metro Denver, earning 56 percent support to Beauprez’s 32 percent.

Even more surprising, Ritter is leading in some of the state’s most conservative areas. He holds a 22-point lead over Beauprez on the Eastern Plains and a five point lead in the Colorado Springs/Pueblo area.

Pollster Lori Weigel said a wave of anti-Iraq war and anti-Washington sentiment is making things difficult for Beauprez, who has represented a suburban Denver district since 2002.

"The mood of the country is really driven by Iraq," said Weigel. "It’s a toxic stew for Republicans."

Ritter now has huge leads over Beauprez among Colorado’s most important swing voters: political independents and women in the Denver suburbs.

"What you’ve got is a textbook case for how you win an election in Colorado," said Weigel. "You need independents, but only 16 percent of independents are choosing Beauprez."
Unfortunately for the Democrats, and for pollsters like Lori Weigel, the real issue is not primarily an anti-Republican backlash against the Iraq war, given Beauprez's potential strength on the immigration issue, which crosses Republicans, independents and even Democrats in terms of popularity, and importance on the state level. The greater factors are Beauprez's high negative ratings from his own party (only 65% of Republicans) and an incompetently run campaign taken straight from Pete Coors--how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by failing to wage a vigorous campaign. Ask Sen. Wayne Allard just how important and successful a Republican campaign with a clear message and plan of attack can be ("lawyer-lobbyist" anyone?). Beauprez is rewriting the book for hemorrhaging independent voters by staging a nearly complete disappearance. If he were younger, they'd issue an Amber Alert for his campaign.

The new campaign ads, released just this week, are quite pathetic. They do nothing to counter the clever campaign moniker given to him by his primary opponent, Marc Holtzman. "Both Ways Bob" has quickly turned into "No Way, Bob" among those polled. Even the "Colorado Accountability Pledge" seems to be a lame attempt at asserting a campaign platform. Packaging is key; politics is about marketing the message, and campaigns can become insulated and deaf to change. Until this week, not only was there no clear message, but an almost complete lack of campaign visibility. Getting pasted 3-1 in fundraising in August, and having escaped a potentially even nastier primary, Beauprez's campaign fell off the face of the Earth.

Bush's approval ratings are rising, steadily, to the higher 40s. Gasoline prices, while still high in Colorado, are falling rapidly nationwide. Independents may find a conservative Democrat, free from even the slightest backlash that has hit Republicans, a palatable candidate. Independents want attention, and so far the only campaign reaching out--to anyone for that matter--is Ritter's.

Beauprez can not recover if his campaign continues to be timid and lukewarm in its message. Beauprez could not control his primary adversary Holtzman--who gave Ritter the best gift he could get in "Both Ways Bob"--but he did have control over the pick of a running-mate, Janet Rowland, who brought no upside potential and indeed presented Beauprez with a damaged good politically right from the start. He also can stop shooting himself in the foot with off-the-cuff remarks. Giving Ritter cover simply by failing to address his heretofore relatively unknown positions certainly does not help. "Silent" Bill Ritter has not had to say much in the campaign so far, and not having to say much speaks volumes about Beauprez's campaign failure. You can not beat an opponent in a close match who has not been forced to present and support his views. At this point, Ritter could simply coast to victory given the past performance of the Republican candidate to this point.

Perhaps Beauprez, like Coors, is hoping for a last minute miracle in the form of a frantic get-out-the-vote effort leading into the final weekend. Don't bank on it Bob. If the Republicans don't know you now, and haven't given to a feeble campaign now heading into the final month, it is extremely doubtful that legions of volunteers will show up to walk the streets and call registered voters those last few days. Independents, fickle and sensitive, won't show either. There's not much left in the way of potential voters that Beauprez can seize upon to turn around the deficit he finds himself in now. Barring a catastrophic gaffe from Ritter or his campaign the next few weeks to turn around the election, or a vigorous reassertment and comeback for the ages by Beauprez, Beauprez will only have himself and his campaign staffers to blame for being unemployed after Nov. 7.



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