Uh Oh, Betsy DeVos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

As CNN reports, the White House is not at all pleased with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos following a disastrous series of television interviews:

White House officials were alarmed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ struggle to answer basic questions about the nation’s schools and failure to defend the administration’s newly proposed school safety measures during a tour of television interviews Sunday and Monday, according to two sources familiar with their reaction.

Though DeVos was sworn in to her Cabinet position 13 months ago, she stumbled her way through a pointed “60 Minutes” interview with CBS’ Lesley Stahl Sunday night and was unable to defend her belief that public schools can perform better when funding is diverted to the expansion of public charter schools and private school vouchers. At one point, she admitted she hasn’t “intentionally” visited underperforming schools.

“I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them,” DeVos said, as Stahl suggested that DeVos visit those underperforming schools.

Things worsened as DeVos continued her cable television tour Monday morning. The White House released its proposals for school safety measures after a shooting in Florida killed 17 people. Part of the proposal includes a task force to examine ways to prevent future mass shootings, headed by DeVos. Though the proposals don’t include raising the age limit to purchase firearms from 18 to 21 — as President Donald Trump once suggested — DeVos told Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “Today” show that “everything is on the table.”

DeVos is no stranger to mucking up interviews, either with reporters or Members of Congress. DeVos’ confirmation as Secretary of Education was nearly derailed early last year after she appeared to be unable to answer some fairly basic questions and infamously said that guns in schools were a good deterrent for grizzly bears. DeVos ultimately made it through her confirmation hearings thanks in part to the support of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and a tie-breaking vote from the Vice President.

DeVos might have reason to worry about her job if not for the fact that there is already a 43% attrition rate in the Trump administration.

Post Follows Up After Gardner “Doesn’t Deny” Blocking Gun Safety Legislation

(Click here for more on Gardner’s “Face The Nation” interview — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Denver Post took time to extract the actual newsworthy information from Sunday’s Face-the-Nation interview, featuring U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), instead of simply transcribing the main topic of the senator’s appearance on national TV.

The news, which came at the end of an interview focused on North Korea, was, as The Post’s headline stated, “Cory Gardner doesn’t deny blocking a bipartisan effort to improve gun-purchase background checks in TV interview.”

In contrast, CBS4’s news-free headline read, “Gardner on North Korea Relationship: Hold China Responsible.” CBS4’s piece, like the Hill’s and not surprisingly the Washington Times’, failed to mention Gardner’s repeated refusals to answer questions about his alleged decision to block a proposed bipartisan law to help force federal agencies to accurately document the criminal histories of gun buyers.

The Post not only reported Gardner’s newsworthy gun-question dodge, but also tried (and failed) to get a clarification from Gardner, provided background on the issue, and noted Gardner’s recent statements on gun issues (urging a focus on mental health care, not guns).

Related: In radio interview about how to respond to the Florida massacre, Gardner doesn’t utter “gun,” “rifle,” “firearm,” “bump stock,” “magazine,” or any related words

The important interview, illustrating the secretive tactics used to stop gun-safety legislation, was mostly ignored nationally and locally.

The Post reported that Gardner “did not deny that he put a hold” on the gun-safety bill.

From The Post:

The Colorado Republican, interviewed on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said he has concerns about the measure that has broad bipartisan support in the Senate over what he describes as “due process issues.”

“This isn’t a issue of whether you like this or not,” he said. “It’s a question of constitutional rights and protecting the people of this country, protecting them from harm …”

“So, you are blocking the bill for now?” moderator Margaret Brennan interjected.

Gardner continued, “… and, and making sure we’re protecting people from harm and making sure that we get this right, and if there’s a constitutional issue at stake then that should be worked out.”

Harassment Scandal Makes Grantham’s ‘Stache All Droopy

With his one-seat Republican majority in the Colorado Senate receiving daily unwanted attention as the Colorado General Assembly’s sexual harassment scandal continues to escalate, Senate President Kevin Grantham’s Old West pointy mustache–a recent fashion upgrade for the once-frumpy lawmaker–has gotten much more exposure than we expect the honorable Senator from Cañon City ever intended:

The above photo was taken in happier times, before the harassment allegations against numerous sitting lawmakers including at least three Republican Senators began to dominate the headlines from this year’s legislative session. Contrast that to today, in a photo released by Senate Republicans, in which we find President Grantham’s whiskers have gone…for lack of a better word, flaccid:

It would appear that Grantham’s bristles no longer stand erect now that Democrats in the House have expelled one of their own members for harassment and Grantham’s inexplicable running of cover for offenders in his own caucus has worn disastrously threadbare.

Whether the metaphor was intentional or not, it fits perfectly. Let’s all keep our pointy bits safely stowed.

Yes, Hick Might Someday Maybe Wannabe President

President? Yeah sure maybe.

The Denver Post’s politics page reports, and no it’s not the first time you’ve heard it, and no it’s not the last time you’ll hear it either before in the event that it becomes a thing:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking steps toward a presidential run in 2020, holding meetings with veteran political players, ahead of a visit to Iowa next month for an official trip that is sure to draw attention.

The Democrat’s actions in recent months signal to his closest associates and top party strategists that the former Denver mayor and two-term governor is more serious than ever about mounting a White House bid against President Donald Trump.

“John’s sense of timing in politics is his lucky star. It served him well when he ran for mayor and then governor. It may do the same for a run in 2020,” said Alan Salazar, Hickenlooper’s former chief political strategist.

Because we have addressed this possibility for as long as it’s been an item of speculation–in fact long before anybody seriously imagined Donald Trump becoming President of the United States besides Donald Trump–we’ll spare readers another long-winded rundown of the pros and cons of Gov. John Hickenlooper running for President in 2020. The short version is that Hickenlooper has led a relatively charmed political life in Colorado politics as an unconventional and sometimes lovable oddball whose record is fairly moderate but generally pro-Democratic–with a few well-known blind spots.

With that said, whether Hickenlooper has what it takes to become the next Bill Clinton–and we mean that in all the good ways–or is more like the next Martin O’Malley in what we can expect to be a large field of Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, is not at all something we feel comfortable predicting at this point. There is a sense of wide-open opportunity for Democrats after Trump’s chaotic likely-only term in office, but how Hickenlooper’s sometimes clunky “post-partisan” brand fits into this emerging new matrix is anybody’s guess. We’re not ready to buy proverbial stock, but we surely wouldn’t rule him out.

If Hick does pull it off, we’ll be excited to host the first Oval Office edition of The Get More Smarter Show.

Monday Open Thread

“The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

–Marcus Aurelius

WATCH NOW: Cory Gardner Withers Under Gun Questions

A short time ago, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation. Although most of the questions from today’s interview with Margaret Brennan focused on relations with North Korea following President Donald Trump’s confusing foreign policy announcements late last week, at the end of the interview Gardner was asked about his role–not previously reported–in blocking legislation sponsored by GOP Texas Sen. John Cornyn to strengthen background checks for firearms purchases. This is legislation Sen. Cornyn has been working on since the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting last year that killed 26 people.

In the clip below, you can see something fairly amazing and rare: one of the slickest U.S. Senators flopping like a fish:


MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to quickly ask you about guns. Texas Senator John Cornyn has a bill proposing strengthening the background check system. Is it correct that you have put a hold on this? [Pols emphasis]

SEN. CORY GARDNER: I think there are some of us who are talking about due process issues in the bill and legislation. I’ve talked to Senator Cornyn and I hope that Senator Cornyn will realize that we need to work this due process matter out. This isn’t a issue of whether you like this or not, it’s a question of constitutional rights and protecting the people of this country, protecting them from harm —

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you are blocking the bill for now? [Pols emphasis]

SEN. CORY GARDNER: — and, and making sure we’re protecting people from harm and making sure that we get this right and if there’s a constitutional issue at, at stake then that should be worked out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But to clarify from your answer there. [Pols emphasis] Are you blocking this bill from the floor?

SEN. CORY GARDNER: This bill can come to the floor and we will continue to work through an amendment process and I hope that we can fix those amendments.

MARGARET BRENNAN: After you fix this bill you will allow it to go to the floor but not before this? [Pols emphasis]

SEN. CORY GARDNER: Well I think if we can have an, an amendment process that works to fix due process concerns real constitutional issues, then I hope that’s something that we can do. I hope that people who support this bill are interested, like all of us, in making sure we’re protecting the American people from harm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Senator Gardner, thank you very much for joining “Face the Nation.”

SEN. GARDNER: Thanks for having me. Thank you.

It’s technically true that Gardner never answered the question–but by the time it was asked a fourth time, he didn’t have to. Gardner has years of experience sticking to a tight script with the media, but there’s a point at which these repetitious non-answers become worse for Gardner than simply giving the answer everyone knows and he just doesn’t want to say. Yes, Cory Gardner, who has taken almost four million dollars from the National Rifle Association during his career in politics, is the one blocking a fellow Republican’s bill to strengthen gun background checks. A bill that over 90% of Americans want passed.

Gardner was not prepared to answer this question, even though he obviously should have been. This was an absolutely disastrous performance for the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and a rare glimpse into the incredible behind-the-scenes power the NRA wields in Washington through people like Cory Gardner.

We know the answer to a very important question: why does gun safety legislation the public overwhelmingly supports never seem to become law, no matter how grisly the headlines from the latest mass shootings? No matter how unthinkably large the body counts have become at Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs and Parkland? No matter how many politicians in both parties agree it’s time to do something?

Cory Gardner just showed the world.

It’s Official: The “Reed Awards” Are a Bad Joke

In 2016, one of the highest profile Colorado Senate races featured a particularly misleading and race-baiting line of attack against now-Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. Ads targeting Zenzinger’s district falsely accused her of using taxpayer funds for a trip to China when she served on the Arvada City Council. After fact-checkers ripped these ads for their brazenly false claims, the GOP-aligned “independent” group behind them doubled down–sending an actual fortune cookie to thousands of voters in the district. The outcry over this unrepentant campaign of truthless attacks ultimately became its own news story, and it’s the general consensus today that the determination to make this story stick ultimately backfired–and helped Zenzinger win her seat.

So it came as a fairly rude shock in early 2017, when the Zenzinger “fortune cookie” mailer was honored as Best Mail Piece For Independent Expenditure Campaign for the 2016 elections. Campaigns & Elections, the water-cooler politics news outlet who hands out the Reed Awards, apparently didn’t care about, you know, the outcome–just the cleverness of the mail piece, which in this case also had the distinction of being patently false and kind of racist. Yay everybody!

Well folks, as Ernest Luning reports for the former Colorado Statesman, in 2018 they’ve done it again:

The awards, sponsored by Campaigns & Elections magazine and named for the political journal’s founder, Stanley Foster Reed, were handed out at a conference on Feb. 27 in Charleston, South Carolina. They recognized work in a multitude of categories, including direct mail, campaign branding and TV and digital ads.

EIS Solutions and its sister Ascent Media firm won three of the awards, all involving TV ads — one for a an ad slamming U.S. Rep. Jared Polis’ involvement in Greeley City Council elections, another for an ad touting wind power and a third a wind ad that had the best use of drone footage.

Our readers know quite a bit about last year’s Greeley City Council races, and not because Rep. Jared Polis made relatively puny donations that usual-suspect opponents blew out of all earthly proportion. Just before the election, something bad happened to the slate supported by the oil and gas industry and their friends at EIS Solutions:

That’s right! Eddie Mirick, whom the above ad helped elect, was removed from office after his felony conviction was uncovered, violating the city charter, and the City Council seat was handed to his opponent–that is, the candidate this award-winning ad was attacking by proxy. That leaves us really uncertain what was so deserving of an honor in what amounts to a weird inside-baseball bank shot with an outcome that no one should be proud of.

And after two such instances of rewarding frightfully bad behavior from the allegedly prestigious Reed Awards in as many years, we think it’s worth asking the question: are these awards just the masturbatory oohing and ahhing from the political consultant class they appear to be, with no concern about ethics–or even the results?

Because with no offense to other winners, that’s an award we would decline.

Time for Colorado to dig out of budget hole, say progressive fiscal analysts

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Bell Policy Center and the Colorado Fiscal Institute (CFI) are trying to popularize their view that Colorado needs more tax dollars to pay for schools, roads, child care, housing, and other basic community needs.

Look at it this way, say the progressive budget wonks at the Bell and CFI, Colorado is already in a “hole” budget-wise. Now legislators should “stop digging” by providing funds for key programs and by stopping legislation that will make the fiscal hole deeper.

To make the point, the two organizations have launched a multi-faceted campaign to encourage you to tell your state lawmakers to stop digging the budget hole. Among other things, there’s a petition and this video:

The campaign comes as Republican state lawmakers try to slash taxes in Colorado, by cutting state income rates, while simultaneously proposing to spend hundreds of millions on transportation.

Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Colorado Springs) and Tim Neville (R-Littleton) are sponsoring the tax-cut bill, while Sens. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs, John Cooke of Greeley and Rep. Perry Buck of Windsor are proposing to spend nonexistent money on roads.

Colorado’s unfunded priorities, as listed by the Bell and CFI include: $828 million in reductions to K-12 education funding; $55.6 million needed by 2020 to adequately fund Colorado’s housing trust fund; $3 billion in funding shortages for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program; $31.5 million needed to serve all eligible children through the Colorado Preschool Program; $9 billion in funding shortages for the Colorado Department of Transportation over the next decade.

“With every boom comes a bust, and if Colorado is already stuck in a hole when that happens, getting out becomes even harder,” says Carol Hedges, director of the CFI. “It’s hard to ignore the hole we’re in today was caused in part by the tax cuts in 1999 and 2000. What we learned then still holds true: Reductions in tax dollars mean fewer teachers, correctional officers who are stretched too thin, higher student debt, and less community support for hardworking families.”

Republicans, like Patrick Neville, say the state government will have more money this year, due to economic gains from new federal tax guidelines.  This money should be spent on roads, they argue, even as their colleagues propose returning it to tax payers in the form of tax cuts.

Related: Republicans propose taking Colorado’s surprise increase in tax revenue and double spending it.

Neville said back in December.

“Roads are our top priority,” he said in a December statement, “and there is no reason why nearly all of this new revenue should not go to widening highways and expanding primary arteries. I have heard the governor and Democrat leadership say they agree roads are their top priority as well. With all this new revenue for the upcoming budget, it’s time to see if they are willing to walk-the-walk, so that we can relieve our citizens of congestion and truly unleash our economy.”

Republicans reject Mike Coffman in Adams County; Stapleton scores multiple GOP caucus victories

UPDATE: In startling caucus results posted this weekend by the Adams County Republican Party, both U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman were rejected by Adams County GOP voters.

The suburban Denver Republican committee, which held both in-person and online votes, called “straw polls,” selected Mike Coffman’s primary challenger, businessman Roger Edwards, by 51 to 49 percent, in combined (and “weighted”) in-person and online votes. In in-person voting held Tuesday, Edwards defeated Coffman by 69 to 31 percent; online, Coffman defeated Edwards by a 67 to 33 margin.

In gubernatorial voting, former Colorado Trump Campaign Co-Chair Steve Barlock won the combined online and in person voting with 33 percent of the vote, followed by Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s 23 and Greg Lopez’s 16. Cynthia Coffman received 5 percent.

The in-person tally showed 33 percent for Barlock, 25 for Stapleton, 19 for Lopez, and four for Coffman. Online: 27 percent for Barlock, 27 for Lopez, 15 for businessman Victor Mitchell, 12 for Coffman, and four for Stapleton.

“Donald Trump is doing well, and people are excited,” said Barlock. “When there’s only one Donald Trump candidate in the race, Republicans are excited to vote for me. We’re sick and tired of the dynasties and political insiders. We want citizens running citizens’ lives.”

He said the victory is a result of “hard work,” visiting groups across the state, and a reflection of support from a broad range of Republican voters in Adams County, who are dissatisfied with politics-as-usual.

Barlock pointed out that with 30 percent of the vote at the general assembly in April, he’d gain access to the GOP primary ballot.

The Colorado Republican Party did not conduct an official tally of gubernatorial preferences among caucus-goers Tuesday, but some county Republican committees held their own informal votes, and the winner so far is State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, judging from GOP county Facebook posts with the results.

Pueblo County Republicans selected Stapleton with 46 percent, choosing former lawmaker Victor Mitchell second at 24 percent. Next was Greg Lopez at 16 percent.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman finished fourth with 8 percent (And her name was misspelled in the final count as “Kaufman.”).

For Treasurer, State lawmaker Justin Everett won in Pueblo with 40 percent.

Sixty-one percent Boulder County Republicans at their caucus went for Stapleton 61 percent. Coffman finished a distant second with 20 percent, followed by Mitt Romney nephew Doug Robinson at 6 percent. Mitchell was fourth with four percent, tied with former Colorado Trump campaign chair Steve Barlock.

In as straw poll of Douglas County Republicans, with low turnout, Walker Stapleton got all but one vote, according to a Dougco County GOP Facebook post.

On the Democratic side, Cary Kennedy was the choice of 50 percent of the Democratic caucus-goers statewide, while U.S. Rep. Jared Polis took 33 percent, followed by Mike Johnston with nine percent, according to totals released by the Colorado Democratic Party this week. 

Walker Stapleton May Take Assembly Route After All

Walker Stapleton is thinking hard about going the assembly route for ballot access.

As Ernest Luning reported late Thursday for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a front-runner for the Republican nomination for governor, has turned in petitions to qualify for the June primary but is considering also going through the assembly process — a move that could land him top-line designation on the ballot and potentially knock out the only other statewide elected official in the running, Colorado Politics has learned.

As results showing convincing Stapleton wins filter in from unofficial gubernatorial straw polls conducted in some counties at Tuesday night’s GOP precinct caucuses, his supporters have become increasingly convinced Stapleton could come out on top at the April 14 state assembly in Boulder and are urging him to take the plunge.

A source close to the Stapleton campaign said that the more the candidate is being encouraged to add the assembly route, the more he’s considering it.

Frankly, we’ve thought for a long time that this makes a lot of sense for Stapleton. It wouldn’t have been a good idea for Stapleton to contest the nomination at the assembly if Tom Tancredo were still a candidate for Republicans, but things are different now; the only other candidate with any name ID who is seeking to make the ballot through the assembly is Cynthia Coffman, and she is not well-liked among grassroots Republicans.

In fact, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Stapleton could keep Coffman off the ballot altogether with a strong assembly performance (unlike Stapleton, Coffman has abandoned the petition route and is “all in” with the GOP caucus). As Luning notes, this idea that is picking up traction among other Republicans:

“There’s virtually no risk of getting under 10 percent, and I think, based on the polling and what we’re hearing from the counties that conducted straw polls, Walker has strong delegate support,” said Ryan Lynch, who ran George Brauchler’s campaign until shortly before the Arapahoe County prosecutor switched to the attorney general’s race.

“There’s very little risk of not top-lining at assembly, based on the field. You have a lot to gain, too — you could keep Cynthia, the only other candidate with any level of name ID, off the ballot entirely by keeping her under 30 percent,” Lynch said. “This would enable Walker’s campaign to focus on his lesser-known primary opponents who are going the petition route and might even provide them with the ability to shift focus to the general election earlier than they’d anticipated.”

Stapleton has already submitted his petition signatures for ballot access and appears to have a solid lead among likely Republican primary voters. If he could do well enough among caucus-goers to keep Coffman off the ballot, it makes his path to the Republican nomination that much easier.

Attorney Used Trump Email Account for Porn Star Payoff

Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels (CNN)

As NBC News reportsDonald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen made one hell of a stupid mistake:

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney used his Trump Organization email while arranging to transfer money into an account at a Manhattan bank before he wired $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence.

The lawyer, Michael Cohen, also regularly used the same email account during 2016 negotiations with the actress — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — before she signed a nondisclosure agreement, a source familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

And Clifford’s attorney at the time addressed correspondence to Cohen in his capacity at the Trump Organization and as “Special Counsel to Donald J. Trump,” the source said.

Cohen has gone to great effort to try to distance President Trump from an alleged payout to porn star Stormy Daniels to be quiet about a sexual relationship several years ago, but it appears that he may have skipped one very important step:

In a statement last month, Cohen said he used his “personal funds to facilitate a payment” to Clifford (Daniels), who says she had an intimate relationship with Trump a decade ago.

“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Cohen said in that statement.

But an email uncovered in the last 24 hours and provided to NBC News by Clifford’s current attorney, Michael Avenatti, shows First Republic Bank and Cohen communicated about the money using his Trump company email address, not his personal gmail account.

Donald Trump has managed to weather every scandal or accusation that has come his way since he first became a candidate for President in 2015. It would be oddly fitting if this is the thing that finally takes him down.

Florida Governor Signs New Gun Legislation

As CNN reports:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 7026 into law Friday, the first gun control legislation enacted in the state after the Parkland school massacre on February 14.

The new law, known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, tightens gun control in several ways but also allows some teachers to be armed.

“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as governor is try to console a parent who has lost a child,” said Scott, surrounded by families of the victims.

Scott received the bill Thursday following days of impassioned, often contentious debate in the majority-Republican House and Senate.

A controversial part of the new law is known as the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which arms some teachers if both the local school district and local sheriff’s department agree. The provision is named after the coach who shielded students with his own body and died in last month’s shooting.

Scott had been wavering on signing the legislation because of his concern about the provision for arming teachers and other school support staff. In announcing his decision to sign the bill, Scott said that arming teachers will not be mandatory and local school districts will be able to make their own decisions in that regard.

Colorado Week in Review: 3/9/18

Your deliberately oversimplified glance at what happened in Colorado this week.

No Evidence to Support Skepticism of CD-6 Polling

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey, conducted in February, predicts that Democrat Jason Crow would defeat U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora by five percentage points. A December PPP poll showed a unnamed Democrat defeating the incumbent by eight points.

But a PPP poll in October showed Coffman leading Crow by a 43 to 36 margin.

What’s going on in the district?

Coffman’s campaign spokesman, Tyler Sandberg, has called the PPP polls “garbage” multiple times, even though the October survey put Coffman ahead. The December poll, according to Sandberg, as quoted in the Aurora Sentinel, isn’t worth the “paper it’s printed on.”

“Why do you think the PPP polls are ‘garbage?'” I asked Sandberg on Twitter “…Do you have a specific problem with the methodology? Thanks.”

Sandberg, a prolific tweeter, did not respond, though he’s pointed out that these three PPP polls were conducted for progressive organizations. And, to be fair, all three showed undecided voters in the double digits.

PPP Director Tom Jensen Jensen told me his firm “absolutely” used the same polling methodology in the February survey (showing Crow beating Coffman), the December poll (showing a generic Dem beating Coffman), and the October survey (showing Coffman beating Crow).

Jensen defended PPP’s track record in Colorado.

“At various points in 2016, there were polls that had Hillary up by 11 and 14 points in Colorado,” he said. “We consistently had Hillary up by six points, and that’s what she won by. So even if there were a lot of polls that did inflate what Hillary was winning Colorado by, and what Michael Bennet was winning Colorado by, we were pretty much on the mark on those races. In 2014, we had Udall losing, just as he did. In 2012, when most of the polls had Colorado as a tie, we had Obama up by five or six, which is what ended up happening. We’ve had a strong track record in Colorado.”

He said that PPP hasn’t done much polling in Coffman’s district previously, though a PPP poll from Oct. 2013 showed Coffman trailing a generic Democrat 49 to 41, and Coffman went on to win the next year.

Polling aficionados know that a survey or two doesn’t mean all that much.

I asked Jensen for his explanation of the current Democratic advantage in Coffman’s district.

“Clearly there are many polls nationally that have Democrats up by 12 or 14 points on the generic congressional ballot,” Jensen told me. “So it’s safe to say places like Coffman’s district are going to be leaning toward the Democratic side as well. Obviously, there’s a campaign to be conducted and things could shift, but it’s pretty intuitive that in a national political climate like this, that somebody like Mike Coffman in a Clinton-plus-nine district, would be really struggling for re-election.”

“I think Coffman definitely does worse against a generic Democrat than a named Democrat, and that’s not because anything is wrong with Jason Crow,” said Jensen. “It’s just a reflection that Jason Crow isn’t that well known yet. So you expect in these situations that a named Democrat, with low name recognition, wouldn’t be doing quite as well as a generic Democrat who could be anybody. But I do think that part of the reason you had Jason Crow doing better in our recent poll than our poll in October could be increased name recognition over the four months between the two polls, maybe an increased sense that he might be the Democratic candidate.

“But we also have found a worse political climate in the last month for Republicans across the country than we found in early October, when we did that original poll. So I think part of the shift could just be that.

You had Republicans, when we did that earlier poll in October, already hurting because of health care, and now we’ve added to the equation that they are hurting because of tax reform. Those are two big issues now where Republicans have antagonized voters.”

Asked what else might be different about the Coffman race this year, Jensen said: “One dynamic he’s going to have to deal with this year that’s different is you had people who, even if they were voting Democratic, were willing to vote for Coffman as a check, while they simultaneously voted for a Democratic president. And now with a Republican president, people who voted for Clinton but also voted for Coffman–or for Obama and voted for Coffman– they no longer need to vote for Coffman as a check on a Democratic president. They might feel they need to vote for a Democratic candidate as a check on a Republican president.”

Other candidates in the race are businessman Levi Tillemann and attorney David Aarestad. Highlands Ranch Republican Roger Edwards is running against Coffman in the GOP primary.