Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Ambassador Christopher Hill Joins Columbia University Faculty

Chris Hill was just appointed the George W. Ball Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. The announcement from SIPA Dean Merit Janow follows:

I am also pleased to share that Ambassador Christopher Hill will serve as the George W. Ball Adjunct Professor at SIPA in Spring 2021. As the George W. Ball Adjunct Professor, Ambassador Hill will teach a course on diplomacy and also deliver the annual George W. Ball lecture, among other activities. His extraordinary foreign policy experience will be of tremendous benefit to our students and intellectual community, and we look forward to welcoming him to SIPA this spring.

Chris was the Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies for 7 years, professor of diplomacy and head of a DU Center of Global Engagement. Chris and I frequently presented on politics, elections and foreign policy.

Congratulations Chris on your Columbia appointment.

Floyd Ciruli and Chris Hill present a post-election event,
Nov. 2016 | University of Denver photo

Monday, September 21, 2020

Crossley Center Fall Election Program

The Fall Election Program has begun with virtual presentations, which started with pre-Labor Day Zoom update on the status of the election and a podcast commentary on the accuracy of polling. China and its impact on the election is the first virtual conversation. A panel of Colorado election experts is next in October and November 3 results discussed post-Election Day. YouTube, podcasts and virtual events are adjusting to the pandemic. Join us for the most important election in the century.

Election Central: Pre-Labor Day Update
The recording of the “Election Central: Pre-Labor Day” session is available. Join with the 140 Friends of the Crossley Center who participated in a review of the major issues, such as the pandemic, race relations and the economy, and the position of the campaigns on September 1, the major questions related to polls and forecasts, and what Election Night will look like.

Podcast: Political Polls: Can We Trust Them? 
For those of you who want to know more about what happened with the 2016 presidential polls and if it could happen again, tune into a DU RadioEd podcast I did on the subject. LISTEN HERE

The U.S. and China in the 2020 Election: A New Cold War?
On September 30, our opening program “The U.S. and China in the 2020 Election – A New Cold War?” brings together Professor Sam Zhao of the Center for China-US Cooperation and Professor Floyd Ciruli of the Crossley Center in a conversation addressing the questions around the U.S.-China relationship’s effect on the election and whether the campaigns are ensuring a new Cold War regardless of who wins. Plan to join the program on Zoom at 3:00 pm on September 30. REGISTER HERE

Colorado Political Experts Election Panel: Presidential, Senate and Third Congressional
Some of Colorado’s best political minds will share their assessments of the major races and ballot issues as early voting starts. They will also discuss Election Night and what to expect as the returns roll in. Zoom, October 21 at 3:00 pm. REGISTER HERE

Election 2020: What Happened? Why?
On November 4, Dean Fritz Mayer and Professor Floyd Ciruli will discuss the available results and lead a conversation of what happened and why. Zoom, 3:00 pm, November 4. SAVE THE DATE

Thursday, September 17, 2020

National Dashboard: 50 Days Out – Little Movement

With less than 50 days to November 3 and only a few weeks until ballots arrive in Colorado (October 9), the National Dashboard of Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s positions have not moved significantly since mid-April. Biden still leads in the head-to-head and Trump still maintains his mid to low 40s approval rating as he has for most of his term.

As of September 15, post the two conventions and more than a week after Labor Day, polls continue to range around the same averages in spite of a variety of astounding news with The Atlantic article accusing the President of denigrating the war dead, the Bob Woodward book accompanied by tapes of interviews with Trump, and more protests and violence in American cities. Also, both candidates are now going into battleground states – the President with his raucous rallies and Biden with masks, small groups and Zoom.

The President’s current disapproval at 54 percent and a negative 9 points is slightly better than two weeks ago, but the head-to-head spread remains a similar 7 points, down from 8 to 10 during the summer, but still substantial.

Trump is betting, as the virus recedes in the news and some level of normalcy gains traction, that his law and order theme and the economy will work with swing voters and late deciders for the final advantage. The numbers remain close enough to make the theory plausible, but early voting is starting and the numbers have been stubborn.

From Left to Right, Social Issues to Taxes, Colorado Voters Face Eleven Ballot Issues

In a Colorado Politics report. Marianne Goodland (9-8-20) describes the impact, sponsors and opponents of the 11 ballot issues Colorado voters will sort through this election.

I predict massive turnout because of the presidential race. I did not believe the ballot issues would influence it, but will have to deal with it.

As University of Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said recently, there’s something on the ballot for everybody this year.

The 11 measures approved for the Nov. 3 ballot touch on social, fiscal and electoral issues and represent diverse political views, Ciruli told Colorado Politics.

As a result, it's a wash for either side to think a particular ballot question would drive turnout in their candidates' favor. Voter turnout in Colorado is likely to be record-setting, regardless, Ciruli said.

The major protagonists include: environmental groups interested in introducing grey wolves and the farm and ranch community in opposition; long-time opponents engaged in an abortion limit; conservative tax groups are active for tax reduction and the placement of fees under TABOR; and liberal interests are backing paid leave with business interests in opposition. More than $10 million has already been raised, mostly from out-of-state funders. 

As Vaccine Becomes Politicized, a Majority Won’t Take It

 Preparation, introduction and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine have become politicized, and now two-thirds of the public say they won’t take it. Another blow to President Trump, who saw it as a game changer for his come from behind Election Day strategy.

With Trump’s frequent insistencies that the vaccine would be ready before the end of the year and the recent order from the CDC that local distribution sites be ready before Election Day, the vaccine is now part of the political landscape and its utility to containing the virus is compromised.

A new poll shows that only a fifth of the public (21%) would get vaccinated as soon as possible. The majority (58%) would wait to see what happens. Two-thirds (65%) say “if there is a vaccine this year” their “first thought would be” it was “rushed through.” The YouGov panel poll was conducted September 2-4, 2020 for CBS News.

In another indicator of the politicization of the vaccine: in March, 86 percent of voters trusted information from the CDC. Today, only 54 percent.

In fact, there is an across-the-board decline in the credibility of authorities and sources of information about the virus, but the CDC took the brunt of the loss.

The More Trump Campaigns, the More Democrats Benefit

Joe Biden’s supporters are more likely to say their support is based on dislike of Donald Trump than support for Biden. A majority of Democrats (56%) say dislike of Trump is the main reason for their support of Biden. Only 19% of Trump supporters say their main motivation is dislike of Biden.

Observers have suggested that this is one of the origins of the enthusiasm gap between Biden and Trump (20% difference between “strong support” for Trump – 66% over Biden – 46%). But, it also reflects the contradiction in Trump’s basic strategy. The more he campaigns, especially on his instinct and with his aggressive rhetoric, the more he strengthens Biden’s base and alienates independent voters.

For example, the thrust of the Trump convention and post-convention strategy is law and order. And indeed, Americans oppose the violence they see and read about on the news and newsfeeds. But, when asked if what the candidates are saying about protests is making the “situation better, worse or doesn’t have much of an affect,” 55 percent say Trump makes it worse, including 26 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of Democrats, and importantly, 53 percent of independents. Only 13 percent of the public believes he’s helping.

In a follow-up question, Trump lost out to Biden by nearly two-to-one on questions of uniting vs. dividing America (64% Biden vs. 33% Trump), doing a better job of handling race discrimination (64% Biden vs. 34% Trump), or doing a better job handling protests (59% Biden vs. 39% Trump).

Gardner Hits the Final Run Still Off the Pace

The August 30 poll from Morning Consult, the second in the last six weeks, brought bad news for Cory Gardner. He was 9 percentage points behind his Democratic challenger, John Hickenlooper, just as the race led into the final 60 days. An even more recent poll from AARP offered better news, but still showed Gardner down 5 points (51% to 46%) (9-5-20).

Gardner’s campaign and financial allies have been pouring money into advertising, much of it negative, in the hope of realigning the race. It has had a mixed result. In the Morning Consult’s July poll (7-12-26), the race had tightened to 6 points from a presumed 10 or more points in several previous polls before and after the June 30 primary. But then, they reported it as 9 points just before Labor Day.

As I commented recently, Gardner needs to show the race is closing or the party may begin to shift support to Republican incumbents in closer races, such as Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Steve Daines in Montana and Joni Ernst in Iowa.

The collective problem the entire Republican senate field faces is that the presidential campaign is stalled and 6 to 7 points behind nationally. Both of the latest Colorado polls have Donald Trump 10 points behind Joe Biden.

All the commentators on the poll mention that a Republican must win the unaffiliated voters to survive a statewide race in Colorado, and in the Morning Consult poll, Gardner is 23 points behind Hickenlooper by self-declared independent voters. He was 13 points behind in the earlier poll. The AARP poll reported voters 50 years old and older were 2 points in favor of Gardner (49% to 47%), a good, but not unexpected figure. However, it’s not good enough to make up for the difference among under 50 years old voters (52% Hickenlooper, 44% Gardner).

Read blogs:

Election Central: Conversation on Election 2020

 Is there a Silent Majority? Will the polls tighten? Where’s the Colorado senate race now?

Watch the Crossley Center video, “Election Central,” which reviews the candidate polls and the major election questions, including Election Night, as the campaigns go into their final runs.

August Economic Report Shows Slow Recovery. Bipartisan Public Support for More Stimulus Payments.

 The Senate defeated an economic stimulus proposal just as the American people reported it as their top priority and as the August economic report showed the pace of the recovery has slowed. In its top political issues for voting, Pew reported on August 13 that the economy was the most important issue for voters it tested, attracting 79 percent.

Although the overall unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent from 10.2 percent in July, the biggest news was an increase in reported layoffs and furloughs becoming permanent. Announcements of planned corporate layoffs has mounted with United Airlines – 16,000, American Airlines – 19,000, MGM – 18,000, Coca-Cola – 4,000, Marriott Hotels – 100,000 and Boeing – 6,000. The Federal Reserve confirmed the need for more stimuli, from Chairman Jerome Powell, to numerous board members, such as Charles Evans, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, who said: “Partisan politics threatens to endanger additional fiscal relief…a very significant downside risk to the economy today.”

Gallup reports a bipartisan majority support more stimulus. Seventy percent of U.S. adults support more federal stimulus payments, including 82 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans.

Both parties need to find a compromise. The public was also generous on the size of the payment, with majorities of both parties supporting payments of at least $600 per week.

Courts and Judges are Important to Both Parties

 President Trump in his long interview with Bob Woodward revealed the names of people on his shortlist of possible Supreme Court nominees. It included conservative Republican Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and Josh Hawley (Missouri).

In a recent poll on the most important issues in the election, Supreme Court appointees were third on a list of 12 items asked of voters in early August 2020, with 68 percent of voters making it a “very important” issue. It ranked ahead of the coronavirus and violent crime, but behind the economy and health care. Both Democrats (61%) and Republicans (66%) believe it is very important, each from their own perspectives. 

Early Polls – Still Biden Advantage

 Donald Trump needed a bounce from his convention. In fact, he needed a leap. He was losing on average 7.4 points before the event and is losing this week by 7.2 points according to the RealClearPolitics average posted yesterday, Wednesday, September 2.

Today’s results aren’t much better in the battleground states. A new Fox News poll conducted in Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin through September 1 shows Trump losing to Biden by an average of 7 points. All three Republican senate candidates are also on the defensive.

Political Polls: Can we trust them?

I just did a political podcast for the University of Denver online radio on the accuracy of polls:

  • What happened to the polls in 2016?
  • Are they better today?
  • Biden’s ahead, but Trump has strengths
  • Is there a Silent Majority being missed in the polls?

Listen to the podcast here

Are National Republicans Giving Up on Gardner?

 In the online paper, the Colorado Times Recorder, reporter Sean Price puts together a story on speculation that since Donald Trump’s campaign hasn’t targeted Colorado, the national Republicans funding sources may be walking away from incumbent Senator Cory Gardner.
Sen. Cory Gardner | Getty Images

I doubted it, although I agreed it doesn’t appear Trump’s chances in Colorado, as of now, are very good.

Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado pollster and political analyst, does not believe Republican donors are going to back away from Gardner. He argues that Gardner is too close to leadership to forsake, but Ciruli can’t ignore the difficulties that Garner will face in his campaign.

“If you look at Arizona, the presidential race is close,” Ciruli said. “Same with Montana. The president may well carry North Carolina. It will be close in Maine. Nobody thinks Colorado is going to be close at the moment. There’s no way the Trump campaign is going to spend big in Colorado because you can’t find a poll that has Trump within ten points. And that is Cory’s problem.”

If Trump was investing in Colorado, it might help, but Gardner’s challenge is to be ahead of Trump by sufficient votes to defeat John Hickenlooper – today, polls have that number at least six points. Trump may lose by twice that amount. Finally, I argued that in late September/early October, the D.C. Republican funders of campaigns will make a decision as to where to put their final money.

Not until mid-September or early October will national Republican groups, like the NRSC, decide whether to desert Gardner, according to both Welchert and Ciruli “It’s important to note that McConnell’s PAC is pulling away,” Ciruli said. “That’s an important factor. But there is still quite a lot of other dark money in this race. Maybe on October 1, if Gardner is down 6-8 points, you’ll start to see them give up on him, but not yet.”

Could Hickenlooper Lose?

 As of mid-August, polls and political prognosticators suggest that Democratic Senate candidate, John Hickenlooper, will have to work very hard to lose to incumbent Senator Cory Gardner. But, if anxious Democratic activists are any indication, it could happen. Hickenlooper’s campaign is judged as weak and his strategy overly dependent on Donald Trump.

Polls suggest he’s at least 6 points ahead of Gardner and President Trump’s down at least ten to Joe Biden. Political science suggests the linkage between voters’ preferences for president and senate is very strong in the age of polarization.

But, the feedback from many media observers, political consultants and just activist Democrats desperate to win the senate is that Hickenlooper’s campaign is disorganized and losing ground. He appears to be trying to avoid engagement with Gardner and it’s creating an issue. He is also not interacting with local media, which wants calls answered. According to numerous activists, the campaign is depending purely on online and media advertising, but many are criticizing the ads as poorly produced and boring, which reflects the opposite of many of his previous campaigns. Hickenlooper appears remote and still without a short, clear message as to why he is running. Maybe it won’t matter – his handlers seem to think so. But, the negative feedback is loud.

Democratic senate candidate John Hickenlooper | AP photo

Friday, September 11, 2020

Ciruli: Podcast – Are the Polls Accurate?

Poll Skeptic
“I’ll bet $100 that the polls on 1 October will be off by MORE than the margin of error from the results of the presidential election in early November. I’m interested to see if indeed polling has improved in the past 4 years from the dumpster fire it was in 2016.”

I pointed out that polls on October 1 will describe the election on that day within the margin of error, not the result on November 3. Polls in 2016 weren’t a “dumpster fire.” Tune into my DU podcast to get the full discussion.

Political Polls: Can we trust them?

Since Donald Trump's upset victory in the 2016 election, skepticism of political polls has grown steadily. After all, the numbers showed Hillary Clinton in the lead from start to finish. Pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli talks to us about what happened four years ago, the likelihood of the president eking out a similar victory on Nov. 3, and what it all says about the state of the country and democracy worldwide. Listen here 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The U.S. and China in the 2020 Election – A New Cold War?

China is a topic in the U.S. presidential election. President Trump and the administration regularly speak of it in disparaging terms. Public sentiment and many members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment have turned against it decisively. Does the next U.S. administration inherit a new Cold War with all of its costs and dangers?

Professors Suisheng (Sam) Zhao and Floyd Ciruli will lead a conversation on China as a presidential election issue and the alternatives for China policy in the next administration.

Join the talk on September 30 at 3:00 pm MT