If Only “Generic Republican” Were Real

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on undeniably tough numbers for Colorado Democrats, in a poll released yesterday from Democratic-aligned (but considered highly accurate) pollster Public Policy Polling:

Republicans hold a five-point edge over Democrats on a generic ballot heading into state legislative races next year.

According to PPP, a typically Democrat-friendly polling outfit, voters across the state would prefer a generic Republican candidate for legislative seats over a generic Democrat by a 47-42 percent margin.

With independents, the third of Colorado’s electorate that typically decides statewide races and other toss-up elections, the Republicans’ generic ballot edge is even larger, 41-30 percent…

“In just one year, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Democrats in the statehouse lost the trust of their constituents by forcing through a radical agenda that is hurting working families, job creators and senior citizens,” Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call told FOX31 Denver.

Without any doubt, these are sobering results for Democrats, whose biggest consolation is that nearly a year–and a whole legislative session–lies between these numbers and the next general election. We've been talking about the roots of this steep plunge in Democratic popularity at the state level all spring and summer. Republicans, with much help from a conflict-loving press, have done a good job spinning this years legislative session as an "overreach" by Democrats. We've always rejected this label for the 2013 session, because when you look at the actual legislation passed and signed into law, it really wasn't all that controversial. Many bills, like civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, enjoyed overwhelming support, and had been pent up for years by the GOP-controlled Colorado House. In 2012, the House GOP leadership's actions to kill civil unions despite the bill having majority support resulted in major scandal–generally believed to have improved performance for Colorado Democrats in the 2012 elections.

So, what is going on then? Why this apparent turnaround in so little time?

We find at least part of the answer in recent polling that shows the voting public in Colorado despises the concept of "gun control," the issue that dominated the headlines for most of this year's legislative session, but supports the gun safety legislation actually passed by Democrats. In this space, we have documented repeated instances of not only full-scale lying by Republicans about these bills, but those lies being uncritically reported in multiple local news outlets including the state's newspaper of record. In this case, we don't think the public is stupid: the public has been deliberately misinformed, and their seeming disconnect between perception and reality over what was actually passed this year is a direct result. The rest of the pile-on to create this sense of "overreach" consists mostly of opportunistic lobbyist-driven axe-grinding over renewable energy and consumer protection bills–also relatively uncontroversial and broadly supported. Individually, the "backlash" against legislation passed this year looks like garden-variety sour grapes. In aggregate, and will the help of accommodating local media, Republicans and their allies are enjoying success at hyping their usual grousing into something more.

Will it succeed? Will these forecasts for the "generic ballot" in 2014 translate into electoral results? As much as Ryan Call hopes so, that's far from certain. If the work of Democrats in this year's legislative session had been done next year, with only a few months to correct the record with voters before the election, this poll might well portend disaster. As it is, the nutty predictions made by Republicans on the gun bills have already been largely debunked. Republicans can't run a "generic" candidate, they have to run the people they have–warts and all. The time between now and the election, if used properly by Democrats, is enough to dispel the myths about the 2013 session. Also factoring into present weakness for Democrats is the disastrous initial launch of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces. Whatever happens between now and next November to change that story, as is slowly but surely happening, will directly affect Democratic candidates at all levels.

A lot of work (and a bit of luck) for Democrats before next November can turn this around. But they'll need both.

44 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. gumshoe says:

    Sombering. Yet, what do you expect from a constant re-active communications message by Democrats? It's time to go on the offense and stay on message. Coloradoan's are not single issue voters — and the media outlets that attempt to portray that are doing a huge disservice to the public. 

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      It's not just about single issues. Dems have to do an aggressive job of explaining controversial single issues, like gun control, instead of running away from them and hoping people will forget about it and look at a range of issues instead. 

      The fact that people don't know that what's actually in the gun legislation is what most of them support is proof that cowardice doesn't work on controversial issues. When Dems are afraid to talk about these things aggressively Rs can market whatever lies they choose with no significant push back. 


      And it shouldn't be confined to push back either. The more potentially controversial an issue, the more important it is for Dems to seize the opportunity to define it first instead of waiting until Rs force them onto the defensive. It shouldn't always be "this is why fill in the blank isn't as bad as the GOTP says it is". It should be "This is why it's great and the GOTP position is terrible."


  2. itlduso says:

    I'm tired of reporters referring to PPP as a "typically Democrat-friendly polling outfit."

    Here's the truth:  For the 2012 Presidential election, PPP had a +1.6 Republican bias according to Nate Silver.  http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/which-polls-fared-best-and-worst-in-the-2012-presidential-race/

    (It would be fair to call Rasmussen a Republican friendly pollster since it had a +3.7 Republican bias in 2012.) 

    So, Mr. Stokols, what pray tell did you base your slander of PPP?


    • Well, PPP is "Democrat-friendly" in that it is often commissioned by Democratic outfits and their allies. For example, DailyKos uses them almost exclusively (in the past they've used a second outfit to do tracking polls during Presidential election cycles…).

      But you're right – although it has friends on the Democratic side of the aisle, it has a slight Republican bias in its results – and that bias has been pretty consistent.

  3. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    You can sum up the entire diary above as "listen to dwyer."

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      I guess, Dave, the thing that makes the constant negativism from our beloved dwyer a little irritating sometimes is …when you have an angry bear on your ass, you don't need someone running alongside of you constantly wanting to show you a photo of the fucking bear.  We know we are up against a powerful opponent. To suggest that the majority of us don't take this seriously is almost insulting.

      It's OK, though. She condenses many minutes of ignorant bullshit into a few lines of ignorant bullshit so, as mama (I think) suggests…we don't have to listen to it. It is a valuable service…but it would be nice to hear an optimistic word…once.

      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        It's very insulting and completely unsupported by the actual comments that actually appear hear. Mindless, clueless optimism doesn't make it into very many of the comments here, outside of the comments of rightie trolls, and I get really sick of being treated to the public service of being told the same straw man tale, over and over, about what hopeless cheerleaders we are and how we'd better watch out and wise up. Most of us, clueless as we are, have a better record of predicting actual electoral outcomes than our self appointed public service Cassandra does. 

        Of course any Dem or progressive with more brains than a piece of toast is concerned but I don't think we need several times daily updates on what Boyles is saying every minute to a) have enough sense to be concerned about what we're up against or b) know that Boyles is trashing Dems and every Dem policy.

        This is not a wildly optimistic diary. It simply points out various factors that should all be taken into consideration. Nowhere does it say, hey, this doesn't mean a thing. Don't worry. Be happy. It simply proposes that doom isn't certain based on this alone. Maybe we're all not going to die after all is a far cry from we don't have a thing to worry about. And most of us are smart enough to see the difference.

      • Ralphie says:

        You can get the same ignorant bullshit by going to Townhall.com and subscribing to their newsletter.  Then it can sit in your inbox until you feel like reading it, instead of having to scroll past it on the way to the good stuff.

        It doesn't matter which medium you choose, the talking points are the same.

  4. nikswhite7 says:

    Whichever way it leans, the latest polls spell trouble for the Dems.  As long as the Republicans don't overplay their hand and run a Tancredo or some other nut, they will take down Hick in November.

    • Early WormEarly Worm says:

      So, the republicans can win if they run someone that is not a "nut." Who is that going to be, and how are they going to survive the primary? 

    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

      Fortunately for Democrats, we can always count on Republicans to take the slightest advantage and go just that much too far. And because their friendly polling outfit gives them a tiny lead, they may see no problem with running another Dan Maes. The death throes of the teapublicans could easily push them into it. Better would be if Tancredo could, once again, not restrain himself and threw his hat into the ring. This ain't over yet. Not even close.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Well then too bad for Rs the whole group of GOTPers competing with Tanc are quite the clown car full. Hick wins again. You head it here first, niks.

      • nikswhite7 says:

        IF Tancredo, THEN Hickenlooper.  I will give you that BlueCat.  But if we find a more moderate candidate to grab some independents it will be interesting.  I think there are a couple good GOP candidates in there that will make some noise soon.  The latest polls give us some hope.

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          You can't get a moderate through your primaries.Maybe what the GOTP calls moderate which is far right, just not a completely hopeless foot in mouth wacko. All the true moderates in office or running for office are Dems.

          I'm not making any predictions abou Dems keeping both houses of the legislature but I don't see any R even being seriously discussed who's going to beat Hick who is, by the way, well liked by plenty of true moderates, including a nice chunk of old fashioned Main St pro-business Rs.

          I say this not as a big Hick fan but as Dem who knows that this time around, he's the best we're going to do. We can do this all day. By this time next year we'll know which off us is right. I say, your party's got nothing that gets through the primary and beats Hick in 2014. He won't win big but it won't be close to recount margin either.

          • nikswhite7 says:

            We're not all Ted Nugents and Tom Tancredos.  We'll have a clearer picture of where we stand once the endorsements start falling into place.  The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is big, especially this time around.  There are one or two darkhorse candidates that could shine IF given the opportunity.

              • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                yeah, really…got names?

                • nikswhite7 says:

                  They're out there 🙂  Give it a month or two and we'll see where we're at.  The primary is still months away.

                  • BlueCatBlueCat says:

                    Whoever they are they must be either too reasonable or too lacking in name rec to make it through a primary. I live on a street where my once majority truly moderate Republican neighbors started deserting the party during the second Bush administration.  Two couples changed to unaffiliated and one went right through unaffiliated to Dem. Those are the kind of Rs no longer voting in your primaries.

            • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

              It's really easy to see who RMGO is supporting with campaign cash – go to the Sec of State website, go to committee search, type in Rocky Mountain Gun Owners PAC, click on the most recent (Oct 15) report of contributions and expenditures, click on "view filed report" which will open a printable or saveable popup window (you can also export to word or excel).

              October 15 report lists 15,000 contributions, including to Chris Holbert for Senate, COMMITTEE TO ELECT COOKE FOR COLORADO SD13, COMMITTEE TO ELECT JARED WRIGHT, COMMITTEE TO ELECT LORI SAINE TO HD 63, GREG FOR GOVERNOR (Greg Brophy), Neville for Colorado (Tim Neville for SD16), on impact strategies (for direct mail and robocalls – probably recall related), STEVE HUMPHREY FOR HOUSE (District 48 – Windsor), THE COMMITTEE FOR THE ELECTION OF ISAIA (Isaia Aricayos for HD 50, Tony for Colorado (Tony Sanchez for SD22).

              This is just the 3 months from August – October 2013. This also doesn't include what Dudley Brown's national "charity" group, National Association for Gun Owners is spending, mostly on national candidates, but some on State legislators in Colorado and other states. I remember seeing Vicki Marble , Owen Hill, and Randy Baumgardner receiving RMGO $$ in 2012 and early 2013, most of the other far rightie types we've seen cavorting around the Colorado stage.

              There are a couple of moderate Republican women whom Brown is actively trying to oppose – Cheri Gerou and one other I can't remember right now.

              So yeah, RMGO is a big player, but there isn't any such thing as a "dark horse" while there is at least some campaign finance transparency.

  5. JDuncs283 says:

    I hear you BlueCat and agree with you on some things, but we will see what happens.  I still hold out hope for a moderate to get in there.  I believe a vulnerable Hick can be beaten by a moderate Republican, if one should emerge.  We want to win and hopefully we won't throw the nomination away on someone who will run the same old playbook and lose.  I'm not making predictions, just exchanging ideas.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      I think your parties' challenge, JDunc, is that the Republican party has become a powerfully narcissistic group. No one is for the "team" because the "team" isn't their team. Not until the power center of the Republican party realizes that their problem is the actual message and not just in the way you say it.

      A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…and a turd by any other name…well…you know.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      What moderate Republicans? If there are any potential Republican candidates who could possibly be defined as moderate instead very conservative I don't know who they are. Once again, the only true moderates are to be found in the Dem party unless you define "moderate" as being just as far right but knowing how not to behave like totally wacko fringe loons. 

  6. JDuncs283 says:

    I will give you that Duke. The Republicans struggle with their messaging. It's not focused and the latest "Great Opportunity Party" line by the Colorado establishment was a huge swing and a miss. The Hick hasn't been much better lately though, staggering from one defeat to the next. There are chinks in the Democrat armor.

  7. gertie97 says:

    Hick will muddle through, JDunc, because no semi-moderate Republican can make it through a GOP primary. The problem isn't the GOP messaging, the problem is the message is crazy. Until the GOP loses another election or two, saner heads have to stay in their foxholes.


  8. ModeratusModeratus says:

    On the day after the election near year, you'll be saying "with a lot of work, Democrats can get it together by 2016."

    Hope springs eternal.

  9. JDuncs283 says:

    The message isn't crazy.  We just haven't had the right messenger.  Conservative philosophies are harder to articulate than the generic liberal ideology that gets thrown around in the media these days.

    • DavieDavie says:

      Welcome JDunc.  BTW, you need to hit the "Reply" button if you wish to respond to a particular post, otherwise, your standalone comments will get pushed down farther away from whomever you were responding to.

      That said, I am still waiting to hear any Conservative Philosophies expounded here, or for that matter from any Republicans for the last several years.  The "Messaging" and the "Messengers" have only been pitching New Gilded Age Philosophies —

      • Deficits are good as long as the money is going to big business and wealthy contributors
      • Deficits are bad if they support the poor, elderly, sick or unemployed. 
      • Discrimination is justified if you aren't white, straight and male
      • The powerless deserve to be ignored
      • The powerful should have every wish catered to by government
      • Science is wrong when it gets in our way
      • Christian religion should trump all others and be indistinguishable from our Constitution
      • The Constitution says what I want it to say, not what the Founders said

      Definitely a tough message for anyone to deliver.  Jesus would have a tough time delivering thatmessage too.  But, if you read his words, you'd realize he doesn't buy GOP crap either.

      • JDuncs283 says:

        Dave, we don't need to get into a tit for tat on this.  You know the argument I'm making.  The liberal ideology is easier to market, or message.  Your attempt to describe conservative ideas is humorous, but not helpful to any sort of discussion.  I certainly struck a chord here didn't I?

    • Early WormEarly Worm says:

      I agree, the "generic liberal ideology" is much easier to articlate: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  The current "conservative philosophy" is much harder to pin down, but I will try:  "Government is evil and should be destroyed, except when it is needed to police people's sex lives, women's bodies, people's religious beliefs, and to forcibly protect corporate interest's (read: oil)  in other coutries."  I agree, that is a hard sell.

    • Miss Jane says:

      Exactly which "generic liberal ideology" is that?  You do know that the Constitution is a liberal document rising from liberal, enlightenment thought, strongly influenced by Roman and Greek philosophers.  Of course you do.  But today's gop can't admit to that. 

      The populist nonsence that passes for conservative thought today is not in the tradition of American conservatism in the historic sense.  There is very little reason in it.  The very idea that a corporation is a person would be unthinkable to the founders.  They were battling against the power and influence of the first international corporation, the East India Trading Company.  The concept of a standing army was anathema to them.  That is why we have the 2nd Amendment.  The well organized militias were to defend the country and the government against enemies both foreign and domestic. Then, they would disperse and go home. 

      I respect genuine conservative thought.  We just don't have much of that.  It tends to devolve into protecting monied interests and fomenting fear and prejudice among the ignorant.  Real conservatives are few and far between, or they are now democrats. 

      A big problem is understanding the diversity in the American people and in understanding modern economics.  This is not a "normal, white", agrarian country any more, if we ever were.  We are struggling with many of the same cultural and economic problems that came with the formation of the colonies.   

      If the gop doesn't figure out that "trickle down" is silly, "personal responsibility" applies to everyone, and that some people need more help or better help, this country will go into further decline and unrest.  Figure out what led us into and out of the Great Depression and you will have a starting point.  Psuedo-utopian Libertarian thinking does not serve the gop well at all.  If we lose the middle class we lose the country. 

      The democrats are closer to understanding this, but conservative input is crucial. The pablum that passes for conservative input is more than useless, it is destructive.  I know that there are republicans who want the middle class to thrive, they just don't have a clue how to do that. They are blinded by moribund ideology and an outdated world view.

      Having said all that, welcome to  the group.  Duke Cox did issue a warning about defending what currently passes as gop thought, but I think you can handle it.  We are here to learn, well, most of us anyway.   smiley 

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      What Davie said. Your conservative policies have had decades to work and they have all been completely discredited, demonstrated failures. It very much is the message.

      Your policies are what destroyed the greatest middle class the world has ever known, and left us with crumbling infrastructure, the widest gap between an elite minority and the vast majority in our history,  less upward moblity than in the average western European nation, less reliable, dependable access to quality health care and education for average citizens than in any other modern industrialized nation in the 21st century and turned our living wage middle class workers into workers making such low wages they need government subsidies to eat. No wonder you can't find the right messenger. Conservative policy stinks. It's a tough sell.

    • MADCO says:

      "Conservative philosophies are harder to articulate …"


      Care to try?

      Fair warning to go with this …challenge: if you don't, I will.

      Mine will go sometihng like…."if you aint rich, balme yourself….don't get sick or die fast…. it's that there's anything wrong with some people, <_________> (insert outlandish slur of choice. Chicken dinner optional)

      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        The cornerstones of conservative policy are big tax breaks and subsidies for the rich that are supposed to trickle down (but never have yet) and austerity and race to the bottom wages for the little people in the economic sphere. In the social sphere, the cornerstones are so backward none of their presidential candidates dares to admit to accepting the science of evolution or the right of a rape victim to choose not to go through an entire pregnancy as a result.  Toss in a refusal to give an inch on immigration policy even though Latinos are the the fastest growing demo. What messenger is going to be able to sell this load of crap? 

  10. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    You realize, I hope, you just asked for it.

    Gotta run. Have fun with the response to this really, truly dumb thing to say. I'll be back in a while to survey the wreckage.

  11. The diary title sums it up. If only it were "Generic Republican". The problem is, there's this campaigning thing, and people get asked questions about issues, and then people start going "oh – no, I really don't want that…".

    Democrats trail on a generic ballot right now because they've been hammered by millions of dollars in misleading smear ads. They'll continue to trail on a generic ballot unless someone gets out there with a similar ad buy and either drags Republicans down to the same level, or promotes Democratic values on issues that aren't so clouded by shit from the other side that it would be wasted cash. (At this point, gun safety has to be a side issue for Dems – find a simple answer to the questions, repeat it whenever asked or wherever appropriate, but don't bother spending money trying to clarify it; that ship has sailed, and it will only be rehabilitated by long-term repetition, not by ad blitzes…)

    But Democrats will be running against real candidates in 2014, not Joe Generic.

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