Why “Overreach” Is The Dumbest Word In Colorado Politics

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

A new poll from Republican David Flaherty’s Magellan Strategies, who since last year’s landslide election for Democrats has been increasingly frank about the bleak future of the Colorado Republican Party given the state’s demographic and electoral trajectory, is prompting much discussion today in the local political chattering class. The poll offers quotable quotes to both sides, but ends in a conclusion you already know: Republicans are in serious trouble in this state going into next year’s election, and there’s no authentic appetite for recalling either Gov. Jared Polis or Democrats in the legislature. The Colorado Sun’s John Frank:

President Donald Trump gets low marks. Gov. Jared Polis is popular. And people lean toward thinking that the state is headed in the right direction…

“I think having President Trump at the top of the ticket is not good for any Republican running,” said Ryan Winger at Magellan Strategies, which released its poll numbers Thursday.

…In its new poll, Magellan forecasted that 36% of 2020 voters would be unaffiliated with a political party, 33% will be Democrats, 30% would be Republicans and 1% would be from other parties. So it showed a 3-point advantage to Democrats.

The Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reports beneath the obligatory headline “Democrats overreached but…”

Asked if Democrats “went too far and were out of touch with everyday Coloradans,” 45% agreed. Meanwhile, 40% of voters said Democrats did not overreach.

Despite those feelings, most voters — 47% — said they’re not interested in efforts to recall Polis or state lawmakers, according to the poll conducted by Magellan Strategies, a Republican Colorado-based firm…

The survey results, released Thursday morning, mirror earlier findings: Coloradans are generally pleased with Polis, split on the direction state is going and unhappy with President Donald Trump.

And 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger:

Based on the 500 survey responses, 45% felt that Polis and the legislature overreached this past session, compared to 40% who did not think so…

Unaffiliated voters are the largest bloc in Colorado, and 50% of unaffiliateds support not recalling Polis, compared to 32% who would recall him. Of the Republicans surveyed, 62% said yes compared to 24% saying no. The Democrats responded 66% no and 21% yes to a Polis recall.

The survey also showed Polis had a job approval rating of 49%, 12 points higher than those who felt he was not doing a good job. [Pols emphasis]

Practically from the moment that Colorado Democrats won in a landslide in last year’s elections, Republicans have employed the word “overreach” to describe the Democratic agenda for 2019. The theory was that Colorado voters weren’t upset with local Republicans and Republican policies so much as they were lashing out against President Donald Trump–and that despite the clear mandate for Democrats won in the 2018 elections, they would “go too far” and provoke a “grassroots backlash.”

After relentlessly beating this word into the heads of reporters, the Republican base, and as far as their message penetrates into the plurality of unaffiliated voters in Colorado who decide elections, it’s not at all surprising to see the spurious notion of “overreach” echoed back in poll numbers, much like the polling on the Affordable Care Act that consistently showed voters hated “Obamacare” but loved what the law actually did. And yes, we’ll concede that 45% of respondents agreeing Democrats “overreached” is a message win for the GOP.

But it’s a hollow victory. Even if Republicans are correct that 2018 was a referendum against Trump, dislike for the sitting Republican President greatly exceeds voter concerns about Colorado Democrats “overreaching” according to these poll numbers. Democrats ran on and were elected to pass a Democratic agenda, and Polis’ enduring high favorability is proof that staying the course was the right decision in the face of over-the-top Republican obstruction this year.

In the end, Democrats keeping their promises will never be as offensive to a majority of Colorado voters as Trump’s chaotic Presidency and the Colorado Republicans who have enabled it. That’s what this poll says most clearly, and it’s not even close.

11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. 2Jung2Die says:

    If the overreach question really used this wording: Ds "went too far and were out of touch with everyday Coloradans," that's a pretty loaded question and probably two questions in one. Plus, it seems to have a suggestion built in that a whole bunch of fairly ordinary people are not everyday Coloradans. My question – does anyone remember a similar polling question about Senate Republicans who held the majority 2014-18 and passed some pretty out-of-the-mainstream bills in their chamber?

    • Pseudonymous says:

      Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Governor Polis and the Democratic state legislature overreached during this past legislative session and passed bills that went too far and were out of touch with everyday Coloradans.

      Unsurprising since Magellan is a Republican firm, but this is a dogshit survey question if you're actually trying to measure anything. It's definitely a double-barreled question that leads to spurious responses, and a big no-no in well-designed surveys.  Well, actually there are half a dozen or so barrels, but the principle still applies.

      What are they agreeing with?  That Polis overreached?  That the state legislature did?  That only the Democrats in the state legislature did?  What do people agreeing with overreach even mean by that?  Wait, did they overreach, or pass bills that went to far?  Both?  Neither, and they're just out of touch?  Uh, all bills, one?  Hold on a sec, who's out of touch?  With whom?

      The question is designed to get everyone with any grievance against the state government to agree, and anyone with a grievance against Dems generally to agree (that's why they're called out).  And yet, with all that, they could only get 45%?  They must be shitting themselves.

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        Polis and the legislature did not do a single thing that they failed to disclose when they ran and were elected. They did what they said they would do and that is apparently very distressing to the state GOP.

        I imagine if they failed to do any of this stuff, we would be hearing about how they under achieved…..

        BTW, do they have a recall candidate to put up against Polis in the extremely unlikely event that get their 612,000 valid signatures?

        • Colorado Pols says:

          His name rhymes with "Rob Schmolfrae."

        • JohnInDenver says:

          Colorado recalls would have the recall Polis question, and an election item — with Polis ineligible for nomination.  As there is no time for a primary, I think everyone presenting enough signatures gets on the ballot, which could mean MULTIPLE party candidates. 

          I know governors face a term limit of 2 consecutive terms — but don't know if a prior office holder could come back to contest the election after someone else held the office (like Terry Branstad in Iowa).

      • 2Jung2Die says:

        Glad to see the Colorado Sun reporting about the wording:

        "But one part of the new Magellan survey needs a cautionary asterisk. Toward the end of the poll, the Republican firm tried to gauge voters’ opinions on the 2019 legislative session — one in which Democrats celebrated huge successes but Republicans complained about political overreach.

        The problem is the question’s wording was not even-handed, and Democrats argue it was intended to slant respondents a certain direction."

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    Magellan Strategies has "likely voters" in this poll as

    For statistical purposes only what is your race? Are you white, Hispanic or Latino, black or African American, or do you belong to some other racial group?

    White…..80%, Hispanic or Latino…..13%, Black or African American…..2%, Other…..5%, Refused…..0%

    Census Bureau says the population as a whole (in rounded numbers) is

    White…..68%, Hispanic or Latino…..22%, Black or African American…..5%, Other…..5%,

    Does someone know if the "likely voters" skew so far off because of ages and voter registration?

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