March 26, 2007

Musings: Colorado Political Trends, Senate Speculation

One liberal suggests that Bill Owens is the only candidate that won't cause another GOP self-destruct. Why? He is not a "rightwingnut" conservative like Bob Schaffer.

Political Pale Horse, on the other hand, argues that a Bob Schaffer/Mark Udall showdown will offer Colorado the clear choice between a conservative and a liberal--with the conservative earning the victory. The editorial staff at the Grand Junction Sentinel, however, thinks Scott McInnis was typical of "centrist, Main Street Republicanism" that the GOP needed against the "formidable" Mark Udall. They put in another nod for former Gov. Bill Owens.

An interesting 2007 survey suggests that Colorado's ideological divide along party lines is actually quite stark--conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats--and might explain the tendency for the 2nd largest segment of Colorado's voting population to be unaffiliated independents who might have voting tendencies, but are otherwise estranged from both parties. The most recent numbers for voter registration by party (Feb. 2007):
In fact, in many of the largest counties the unaffiliated bloc constitutes a larger number than at least one of the two parties, and in a place like Boulder County, actually outnumbers registered members of both parties!

Citing the LATimes, one liberal writer notes that the nationwide shift toward the Democratic party signals the death knell for what he dubs "traditional" (fiscal) conservatives, leaving the GOP a party made up of only social conservatives. This ignores the vast majority of Republicans, libertarians and others committed to fiscal conservatism that are horrified by the Bush administration's spending, and would like to see a return to Reagan-era calls for lower taxes and restrained spending policies. An explanation for some Republicans jumping off the GOP bandwagon (and not necessarily switching over to the Democratic side) comes from this perception of fiscal irresponsibility.

The nationwide trend to Democrats could be explained by voter weariness of a Republican majority and President, backlash against the war by unaffiliated independents who at first rallied to the GOP after 9/11, or any other number of causes. The thought that what remains of the GOP is nothing but a socially conservative group of profligate spenders is quite a stretch.


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