The regular nationwide “Governor’s Line” from Washington Post blog “The Fix” is out today, and the big news is no news: Colorado is no longer listed as one of the 15 states where the Governor’s mansion is most likely to switch parties.
Why the change? Well, as we have written before, there are a couple of reasons:
1. Democrat John Hickenlooper is really popular. For whatever reason (we could name many reasons, but this isn’t the space for that), voters across Colorado really like the Denver Mayor. Elections are often popularity contests, because most voters do not educate themselves enough to know much of a difference between the candidates. It’s more important for voters to like you than to agree with you on policy. Look at the 2004 Presidential election: A lot of voters knew that George W. Bush had not done a very good job in his first term, but they just didn’t like Democrat John Kerry (and who could blame them?)
2. Republican Scott McInnis lost his best narrative for winning when Gov. Bill Ritter announced he would not run for re-election. Incumbents are not polling well nationwide, and it’s a lot easier to compare yourself to the guy in office now. McInnis’ entire strategy rested on trying to convince voters that Ritter had wrecked the economy, and so they should give McInnis a shot instead. That’s why GOP State Chair Dick Wadhams is trying so hard to get the silly “Hickenritter” nickname to stick on Hickenlooper — they desperately need those voters who aren’t happy with Ritter.
3. Hickenlooper is naturally better suited to the image that McInnis wants (and needs) to carve out for himself. McInnis wants to portray himself as the “business friendly/job creation” candidate. Unfortunately, Hickenlooper is already better at that. McInnis can talk about building business and growing jobs, but Hickenlooper has actually done it in the private sector. Repeatedly.
4. An incredible 37 Governors are up for re-election in 2010, including 22 that are open seats. Hick is going to raise as much (and likely more) money than McInnis, and given all the points above, it’s hard to see how McInnis is going to convince big national GOP interests that his race is worthy of top-tier consideration. You really can’t look at the other 21 open seats and say that McInnis has a better shot than most of them. And that opinion is starting to take hold even in his own backyard.
McInnis may still win the race for Governor, but it’s hard for any objective observer to envision a likely scenario where that would happen.