Friday, December 7, 2018

Gay Rights, Millennials and Changing Public Opinion – Korbel School Class Blogs on Policy and Public Opinion

In my class on American Public Opinion and Foreign Policy, students produced blogs on public policy topics. Communicating online is an essential skill for today’s public policy professions. Student Brittney Lewis submitted the following blog, titled “Gay Rights, Millennials and Changing Public Opinion,” which I believe is an excellent example of policy and opinion analysis.

Gay Rights, Millennials and Changing Public Opinion
By Brittney Lewis

Views on same-sex marriage have changed drastically over the last few years. In 2004, gay marriage was legal in only one state: Massachusetts. By 2015, marriage equality was the law of the land. Today, it has the support of over two-thirds of Americans, with 83 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of independents and 44 percent of Republicans supporting.1 Only eight years earlier, a majority opposed it 48 percent to 42 percent.

This vast increase in support is attributed to several key factors. The first explanation is a generational change. Polls show 74 percent of millennials back gay marriage, including 60 percent of Republican millennials. 2 Second, more individuals are identifying as LGBT accounting for 4.5 percent of the current population, up from 3.5 percent in 2012, meaning more Americans personally know someone who is LGBT. This socialization, in addition to exposure through media, Hollywood representation, and elite discussion has nudged the public toward greater support. 3 Education is another contributing factor to the growing acceptance of gay rights. When people are well educated, they tend to be more tolerant of different lifestyles. Here too, millennials are a driving force in the acceptance; they are the largest voting bloc, the most well educated, and they are changing public opinion. Finally, in 2012, Obama formally announced his support for gay marriage. Having a sitting president’s endorsement was, of course, a monumental event, and it cemented one of the nation’s major political party’s approval of gay rights.

Acceptance of the LGBT community manifested itself in the 2018 midterms, which many pundits called “a rainbow wave.” A record 399 LGBTQ candidates ran for office this year, and 164 candidates won, providing history-making government representation for the community.4 Colorado elected the nation’s first gay governor and Kansas elected Sharice Davids, the state’s first lesbian congresswoman. Equality is winning and Americans are proud of it.

1Gallup, Inc. "Two in Three Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage." May 23, 2018. Accessed November 15, 2018.
2Fingerhut, Hannah. "Support for Same-Sex Marriage Grows, Even Among Groups That Had Been Skeptical." Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. September 24, 2018. Accessed November 15, 2018. ; Erikson, Robert S., and Kent L. Tedin. American Public Opinion. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2016. p.106
3Ayoub, Phillip M. "How the Media Has Helped Change Public Views about Lesbian and Gay People." Scholars Strategy Network. Accessed November 16, 2018.
4McDermott, Matt. "There Was A Rainbow Wave In The Midterms, And It Will Change Our Politics." BuzzFeed News. November 15, 2018. Accessed November 16, 2018.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

DU Hosts the Secretaries of State

Kerry and Albright Concerned About the State of Democracy, But Optimistic About Next Generation

The University of Denver hosted Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry at their annual Korbel School dinner on November 29.

(L to R) DU Chancellor Chopp, Floyd Ciruli,
Madeleine Albright and John Kerry
In a conversation I moderated, Albright, who just published a book on the history of fascism (“Fascism: A Warning”), bemoaned the rise of authoritarian leaders in Eastern Europe and most recently in Brazil, at the very moment America was abandoning its historic leadership of democracy. Kerry said “Our democracy is troubled and that the norms and values that we as a people were raised with are being violated.” He offered three needed remedies for American democracy related to limiting money in politics, ending gerrymandering and securing voter access.

In the nearly hour-long discussion, they both emphasized the need for women and young people to participate in politics and policymaking. They were optimistic the recent midterm elections reflected a revival of the activism of previous youth movements for the environment and against the Vietnam War. I pointed out that the Colorado midterm elections saw a record level of turnout and participation by women and Millennial voters and a result that mirrored the 1974 Watergate election.

The dinner attracted 500 and included former Senators Gary Hart and Hank Brown. Senator Michael Bennet gave John Kerry the Korbel School’s International Bridge Builder Award.

(L to R) Floyd Ciruli, John Kerry and Madeleine Albright

Denver Post: John Kerry, Madeleine Albright slam Donald Trump’s foreign policy at Denver event
DU: John Kerry and Madeleine Albright share messages of optimism at 20th Korbel Dinner

Friday, November 30, 2018

DU Post-Election Event Draws Crowd to Discussion of Midterm Election and What it Means

The Korbel School hosted a post-midterm presentation with Ambassador Christopher Hill and Professor Floyd Ciruli to update their analyses after the 2016 election. The presentation described the mixed national results, the end of one-party government in Washington and the extraordinary sweep of Colorado offices by the Democrats.

The event, which attracted 150 students, alumni and metro residents, was co-sponsored by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research and the Office of Global Engagement. The impact on the administration’s ability to conduct foreign policy due to a Democratic House of Representatives was a focus of discussion. Hill described the Congressional hearing process for a foreign services officer. I suggested that House Democrats now have a mandate to restrain the President and will have to implement it in a fashion that is seen as reasonable by the public.

With the conclusion of the midterms, we both expected the presidential election will now accelerate and controversies surrounding American foreign policy will be one of the issues candidates will have viewpoints on and electorates will expect to hear.

Read The Buzz: Korbel School Post-Election Event Attracts More than 250 Alumni, Professors and Students

NBC News: Colorado No Longer a Swing State – It’s Democratic

Chuck Todd } NBC News photo
Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and network researchers announced the obvious, but with clarifying summary charts. Ohio appears a much more Republican state having elected a Republican governor to replaced John Kasich and holding a couple of Republican congressional seats.

Colorado, on the other hand, gave Hillary Clinton a 5-point win in 2016, and this year, defeated a Republican incumbent congressperson by 11 points and elected a Democratic governor by 10 points.

NBC also pointed out that Colorado has a surfeit of metrics that suggest Democrats will be in power for at least as long as President Trump is the leader of the Republican Party. For example, 39 percent of Coloradans have a four-year college degree, reflecting it being the second highest educated state in the country. College educated voters prefer Democrats by 20 percentage points.

Missing may be the most important factor in Colorado’s recent high turnout election – Millennials. Ballot returns reported they were 32 percent of the electorate and polls showed they voted for Democrats by 20 points (pre-election and national exit polls). Colorado also has a surfeit of independents. They were 34 percent of the electorate and polls showed they favored Democrats nationally be 12 points and in Colorado by more than 20 points.

Arizona appears now to be a swing state for the 2020 election. The point was one we’ve made in numerous articles and op eds that there wasn’t so much of a wave, but a realignment of our deep divisions.

DU and the Korbel School Host Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright at Annual Dinner

Chancellor Rebeca Chopp announced the 20th annual Korbel Dinner will feature Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright. The annual event is a fundraiser for the school’s graduate programs.

Secretary Kerry will receive the International Bridge Builder Award. I will moderate a discussion between Kerry and Secretary Albright of their unique perspectives and current international politics.

The Josef Korbel School of International Studies is one of the nation’s most respected schools of international relations and one of DU’s largest graduate and undergraduate programs.

The event will be a dinner and program on November 29, 2018 at the Denver Hyatt Regency. For more information, click here 

U.S. Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright,
Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2013 | State Department photo

Record Turnout: Unaffiliated Voters Beat Partisans

I appreciate those occasions a prediction hits the mark. We projected record turnout of 2.5 million in an October 22 blog post, and the most recent count from the Secretary of State reports 2,581,426 midterm votes cast. Nationally, with 61.9 percent turnout compared to eligible voters, Colorado was the second highest state in voter turnout just behind Minnesota. That represents a 76 percent turnout of 3,379,992 active registered voters and 64 percent of total active and inactive registrations.

Historically, slightly more than 2 million voters turned out for the 2014 midterm election (71 percent), which had a U.S. Senate race accompanying the usual governor and state constitutional office races. It was a very successful year for Republicans. Republican Cory Gardner won the senate race against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall and Republicans won the three constitutional offices of Attorney General, Treasurer and Secretary of State. They also won one seat in the State Senate and gained control. They lost the governorship with the re-election of John Hickenlooper.

But in this year’s high turnout, Democrats dominated Republicans. Thirty-six thousand more Democrats voted than Republicans, but the surprise was the 878,360 unaffiliated voters, which exceeded Democrats by 29,000 voters. High turnout among Democrats, and exceptional unaffiliated turnout, contributed to the Democratic sweep. Colorado’s massive turnout reflected the strong desire among many voters to send a message to President Trump and Washington; the Democratic Party’s well-funded push for voters, especially the unaffiliated and new voters; and a surfeit of competitive, high-profile statewide and legislative races.

Read The Buzz: Midterm voting starts, record turnout expected

New House Leadership Will Make a Difference

In an opening interview, Representative Adam Smith of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services, makes clear he holds dramatically different views from the current chair, Mac Thornberry of Texas, and in opposition to much of the President’s and the Pentagon’s actions and plans.
Rep. Adam Smith | Twitter photo

More Information

“On issue after issue, they have made conspicuous decisions to roll back transparency and public accountability precisely when we need it most. Remedying this imbalance by bringing back oversight and accountability should be one of Congress’s major defense priorities.”

Leaner Budgets

“…Democrats will cut defense spending if they took power.” “In April, he warned Defense Secretary James Mattis that the Pentagon needed to plan for a lean future.”

Out of Yemen

End U.S. participation in the war in Yemen.

No New Nukes

“The biggest thing for me is I do not agree with diving into a nuclear arms race with Russia and China. The amount of money that we’re proposing to spend on nukes, I think, is both excessive and the wrong policy, without question.”

No Space Force

“What is the most cost-effective way to give space the emphasis it deserves? I know it is not a Space Force.”