What’s the Matter With Colorado?

Mark UdallEarlier this week, I woke up with a thought in my mind, “I can’t believe Colorado is going Republican!” I wasn’t really thinking about Governor John Hickenlooper, who has been running neck-and-neck with Bob Beauprez the whole campaign. That’s bad enough. But Mark Udall has been losing to Cory Gardner. That’s right, extremist Cory Gardner! And he isn’t losing by a little. Daily Kos currently has him down by four percentage points.

It isn’t that I had been thinking much about it before. In general, I haven’t focused on specific races. But it clearly had been eating away in the back of my mind. My subconscious was screaming at me, “How can this be?!” This, after all, is Colorado: the Amsterdam of America! But you know, maybe that isn’t really the issue. I’m sure that I was effected by a great Jason Jones’ segment on The Daily Show last year, Not-So-Angry Voters.

In the segment, Jones went to Colorado to talk to John Morse, the former state senator who got recalled for his support of incredibly minor gun control legislation. The joke (in more ways than one) is that the legislation was super popular. Morse lost his seat anyway. It’s a funny and anger inspiring segment:

It still isn’t clear why Gardner should be leading Udall by an increasing margin. Is it just that only the right wing freaks have gotten the message and that, like all the people Jason Jones interviewed on streets, the reasonable majority just isn’t engaged? Earlier today, Martin Longman at Political Animal tried to answer this question, A Look at the Colorado Senate Race. He discussed a number of issues, but the most relevant is that Udall has been saving his advertising muscle for the end of the campaign as Jerry Brown did here in California so successfully back in 2010:

The best and most hopeful argument in Udall’s favor that I have heard is that he held his fire on his advertising campaign, allowing Gardner to dominate the airwaves in September in order to have an advantage down the stretch. Reports from Colorado are that Udall ads (from both the campaign and from outside groups) have saturated the markets in recent weeks and are currently ubiquitous. If progressive explanations for Udall’s deficit are accurate, that he hasn’t painted Gardner as the radical that he really is, that has changed now.

We can hope. There are only ten days left until election day. And the strategy doesn’t make that much sense. When Brown used it, he was forced to. He was running against a billionaire who simply could not be outspent. I would think that Udall, being an incumbent, would have had no problem with money. And if he were going to start hammering on Gardner, he would have done it earlier. But what do I know? Really.

There are other reasons to feel hopeful. There is, of course, the fact that midterm polling tends to be pretty far off. But again, Udall is down by four percentage points — that’s a lot. There is also the thought that maybe the Bannock Street Project — the Democrats’ increased get-out-the-vote effort — will help, as may be Colorado’s new all-mail voting system. But as Longman noted, “If the Bannock Street Project is working as anticipated, it should be at least partially evident in the current polls.” That may or may not be true; I’ve always had big questions about the polling outfits’ “likely voter” screens.

If Udall’s ad campaign is going to work, we should start to see it. And there is a tiny data point that does indicate this. The most recent poll shows Udall up by one percentage point. It is a Udall campaign internal poll and those tend to be heavily skewed toward whomever pays for them. (This doesn’t mean the poll itself is bad; but campaigns are unlikely to release bad poll results.) But looking inside the poll, it looks reasonable. For example, Udall is winning the Latino vote 57-30%. That actually seems low to me — indicating that maybe even it is underestimating Udall’s strength.

We will know what’s going on soon enough. It will all come down to who votes. The only thing necessary for the triumph of crazy is for good men to do nothing. “Vote you a**holes!”

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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