October 20, 2007

Colorado By The Numbers

An interesting survey conducted by Ciruli Associates for the Economic Development Council of Colorado in mid September revealed these results (more at the link):
*About two-thirds say both the state and their local area are "going in the right direction," with 63 percent agreeing with that assessment for the state and 66 percent for their local area. Those percentages are higher than in the 2006 survey, when 51 percent said things were going well statewide and 60 percent said so for their local area.
. . .
*Asked what the top issue is for the governor and state Legislature to address, 26 percent said immigration. Ranked No. 2 (chosen by 15 percent) was "health care price/accessibility," up from fourth place in 2004. Education was No. 3 with 11 percent, down from second place the year before; transportation was No. 4 (7 percent), and the economy and tax burdens tied for fifth place (6 percent each).
. . .
*Fifty-one percent said they wouldn't vote to extend the five-year "TABOR time out" passed by voters in 2005 as Referendum C. The measure allows the state to keep all tax dollars it collects until 2010 for use in education, transportation and health care, excusing it from key requirements of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
. . .
*Asked about the 2008 U.S. Senate race, 36 percent said they would vote for Democrat Mark Udall and 35 percent supported Republican Bob Schaffer; the rest chose another candidate or said they didn't know who they would support. Yet 40 percent said they would support the Republican candidate for Congress in their district; 37 percent would favor the Democrat.
. . .
*Forty-four percent called themselves conservative, 26 percent liberal and 28 percent "middle of the road."

Coloradans feel good about themselves and the state, but less optimistic about the nation as a whole. Optimistic voters are less likely to vote for radical change--the "throw the bums out" negativity falls flat--helping incumbents. This is not a positive for any potential GOP challengers for the Democratically-held congressional seats, but also means that GOP incumbents in Colorado (Tom Tancredo if he runs, whoever the GOP candidate is in the 5th, and Marilyn Musgrave) won't see as much of the negativity as they faced last year when the sour mood of Coloradans helped secure Democratic gains statewide.

Such a statewide economic "feeling" index will be interesting to watch as the 2008 election approaches, and when combined with the Democratically controlled congressional approval rating of just 11%, accounts for Coloradans favoring the generic Republican candidate over the Democrat. The survey points out the close nature of the Bob Schaffer/Mark Udall Senate contest, supporting Kos' surprising admission that the Colorado Senate seat is "not in the bag", and contradicts The Fix's assertion that Colorado's seat is more likely than not a Democratic pick-up.

There should be no surprise that self-identified conservatives lead liberals 44-26%, with 28% in the "middle of the road" category--the GOP leads in party registration but unaffiliated/independent voters constitute 1/3 of the Colorado electorate. The 2008 election will hinge (as it always does) on how the independents break for either party, but also in how successful Republicans are in translating self-identified conservatives back into solid GOP voters. The conservative/Republican split has probably accounted as much for Democratic gains (and Republican losses) statewide in the past few cycles as the independent swing bloc.

Finally, Referendum C garners less than majority support for extension, most likely as a result of it being nothing more than empty promises.

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