Gardner’s Hail Mary: Please, Colorado, Start Liking Trump

(Not a great plan — promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has one dim path to retaining his seat in next year’s election: Hope like heck that President Trump becomes popular in Colorado.

Oh, there’s another way too: if Trump isn’t on the 2020 ballot, but let’s just call that impossible.

But who would deny that there’s a chance, even if it’s minuscule, that Trump’s fortunes could start to rise? It could happen.

And Gardner knows it.

That’s why he was on KNUS radio last week saying:

Gardner: “We’ve got to make sure we have an opportunity for the American people to get to like the president. And I think they like his policies. I think they do.”

People like Trump’s policies? On Healthcare? Taxes? Environment? Mostly not, actually.

But in some of the most depressing news in months, polls showed more people thought favorably of Trump after his State of the Union Address speech Feb. 5.

And 57 percent of independent voters who watched the speech had a very positive view of it—along with 87 percent of Republicans.

Speech watchers tilted conservative but still.

And what if Trump took the hint and started acting like someone more people could actually like?

Gardner’s not waiting for Trump to change. The Colorado Republican has already made it clear how much he likes the president.

Immediately after November’s election, Gardner said he’d “like to see the president come to Colorado.”

Then last month, Gardner endorsed Trump’s 2020 re-election bid.

Some political observers were so stunned by Gardner’s endorsement of Trump that they speculated Gardner might be setting himself up to drop out of the race for a “high dollar” private-sector job.

But if Gardner has shown Colorado one thing, it is that he’s as savvy as it gets when it comes to supporting personhood, I mean, when it comes to winning elections.

And he knows our state’s simple electoral math, which starts with the fact that the electorate is still divided about equally between Republicans, Democrats, and Unaffiliated voters.

Gardner’s I-Like-Trump strategy speaks to Republicans, who’ve built a big wall around themselves, but it’s repelling Democrats and large swaths of Unaffiliated voters alike.

The only way this could change is if some Unaffiliated voters turn toward Trump and their eclipsing anger at Republicans subsides a bit. 

So, if you’re Gardner, you have one prayer, and you express like a desperate teenager wishing for unrequited love.

Please, please, Colorado, just give yourself an “opportunity” to get to know and like Trump and his policies. I know you’ll like him! Look at me!

It’s far-fetched, but it’s Gardner’s best option.

If our junior senator were to turn against Trump, and the president remains unpopular, Gardner would still lose, just like U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) did.

Coffman sounded like a raging Democrat at the end, probably depressing the Republican turnout in the process and ultimately blaming Trump for his loss.

And the Coffman race showed that, unless hostility toward Trump diminishes, ticket splitting–which worked so well for Coffman previously–ain’t gonna happen.

So Gardner has decided to hitch his future to the same strategy used by last year’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, Walker Stapleton.

Stapleton also welcomed Trump’s endorsement, invited him to Colorado to campaign together, and, like Gardner, has said he’d criticize Trump if he needed to.

Stapleton lost badly, with Trump’s unpopularity clearly pulling him down further than he fell due to his own ineptitude.

Stapleton’s past is Gardner’s future, unless Trump can somehow pull Gardner in the other direction.

“I’m going to be about optimism,” Gardner told KNUS last week when asked about his 2020 race, his forced smile clearly visible in the sound waves emerging from the speaker beside my computer.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. davebarnes says:

    Cory’s optimal path: The Dumpster® announces in June 2020 that he is not running. That leaves Pence as the contender.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      Trump SOTU speech was extraordinarily partisan — polling following it said 60% of the watchers approved of Trump, which means there was a 15-20 point lean from the general population.  The "Independents" watching were something like 65% favorable to begin.

      If that level of independent favorable is accurate, that is about a 30% swing away from how they voted in the 2018 election here in Colorado.

      Cory is going to try to skate the slalom course of maintaining enough Trump-ite support, picking up all the Republicans and conservatives he can find, and hoping the Independents will somehow be swayed by something he's done.

      I'm with Salzman — it may look more like Stapleton's attempt, only  with more even division of money for the campaign.  I'm thinking the more precise comparison is going to be the AG race, as Cory is the generation ahead of George Brauchler for Colorado Republicans. And they each have such nice smiles for the campaign materials. 

      Here's hoping there won't be a dour, anti-Gardner campaign by the Democratic candidate.  That could well be the only way Gardner finds a way to win.

      • unnamed says:

        Here's hoping there won't be a dour, anti-Gardner campaign by the Democratic candidate.  That could well be the only way Gardner finds a way to win.

        Ironically, this is how he won in 2014.

      • gertie97 says:

        Trump's speech was viewed favorably only because he'd set such a low bar. He didn't unzip and piss on Pelosi, for example, which for Trump was enough to make his performance favorable.

      • Agreed on the skew of the SOTU. The audience for the 2019 SOTU was overwhelmingly conservative, which skews the poll results considerably. I don't think you can draw any conclusions about that. Polls since then show a slow return to the normal national 53/42 disapprove/approve ratio that Trump has retained for many months (including during the midterms).

        From (emphasis added):

        A total of 584 adults were interviewed by telephone nationwide by live interviewers calling both landline and cell phones. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Interviews were conducted February 05, 2019. Among the entire sample, 22% described themselves as Democrats, 42% described themselves as Republicans, and 35% described themselves as independents or members of another party.


  2. Lucy Montrose says:

    I'll like St. Albray cheese before I'll like 45. And St. Albray cheese tastes like coyotes' anal glands.

  3. Davie says:

    The only thing I like for Trump is a 10 to 20 year stretch at Club Fed with tens of millions in personal fines and restitution.

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