The “Carroll Surge”–Why It’s Happening, What It Means

UPDATE: A statement from Morgan Carroll’s campaign today celebrates more than doubling Mike Coffman’s fundraising in the first two weeks of October:

Yesterday, Mike Coffman released his pre-general fundraising numbers – the final filing of the cycle. In the first two weeks of October, Mike Coffman raised $211,583 – the most he’s ever raised in the pre-general filing period. However, that still means that he raised less than half of what Morgan Carroll raised in the pre-general period – $423,600.73. While most of Mike Coffman’s money came from large-dollar donors and corporate interests, 99% of Morgan Carroll contributions were $100 or less – with nearly 37,000 individuals contributing over the pre-general period, for an average donation of $11.54. Carroll for Colorado spokesman Drew Godinich released the following statement:

“Even with the backing of wealthy corporate interests like the Koch brothers, Mike Coffman’s campaign is struggling to keep up in the crucial last leg of this race. Meanwhile, Morgan Carroll is smashing fundraising records with the backing of tens of thousands of grassroots donors who believe that the Trump/Coffman agenda – mass deportations, racist birther allegations, and attacks on women – have no place in Colorado or in Washington.”


With eleven days remaining until Election Day 2016, Republicans are privately expressing great dismay that one of their most-cherished incumbents in Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman, has failed to do what he needs to do to hold off the challenge from state Sen. Morgan Carroll. Earlier this week, Carroll posted a huge fundraising total (with some help from Sen. Bernie Sanders), easily topping Coffman’s haul for the October 1-19 reporting period.

And it’s not just in fundraising: Ernest Luning notes again today that Democratic ballot returns are pulling ahead of Republicans in CD-6, in marked contrast to previous elections:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D) .

Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D).

These ballot return numbers are highly significant given Coffman’s much-balleyhooed history of outperforming Republicans at the top of the ticket in CD-6 elections. In 2012 and especially in 2014, Coffman strongly outperformed Mitt Romney and Cory Gardner in this district.

Not so in 2016, and that is very, very ominous.

So what’s happening in CD-6 that’s different from previous elections? For starters, there’s Donald Trump–as Elise Foley at the Huffington Post reported this week:

For all of his disavowals of the GOP nominee, Coffman has given Democrats plenty of ammunition to tie him to Trump. Last week, in a debate with Carroll hosted by 9News, Coffman fielded a question about his 2012 comments on Obama’s birthplace ― relevant because of Trump’s long history of birtherism.

Coffman said at a private fundraiser that year that he didn’t “know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America … in his heart, he’s not an American.” Coffman apologized for the comments, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has packaged the tape into a commercial suggesting Coffman is no different than Trump.

Coffman acknowledged at the debate that he made the statement “at one time.”

“Assumed it wasn’t public,” Coffman said. “I was wrong for making the statement, I said so. But to somehow infer in any way that it had an influence on Donald Trump is absolutely ridiculous.”

Last week, Coffman withered under questions about his past statements regarding Barack Obama’s citizenship in an interview with 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark–and then failed again to satisfactorily answer the question in a much-watched 9NEWS debate a couple of days later. Arguably an even bigger failure for Coffman came in this debate when he responded “I don’t know” to a question about whether Trump’s comments about grabbing women by the genitals make Trump a “sexual predator”–a question Carroll had no trouble answering. Coffman’s non-answer is now playing in a TV spot. And in a CBS4 debate on October 12th, Carroll tore into Coffman’s long record of ethics troubles, in contrast to the fiction cited in ads against Carroll:

“I have never had a single ethics complaint filed against me in my career,” Carroll said. “One of us on this stage has had ethics violations, one after the other, not me but you.” [Pols emphasis]

Unlike Team Coffman’s gaffes earlier in the election season, like when a campaign spokesperson assured reporters that Coffman would support the GOP nominee, this is happening when voters are paying attention. The fact is that Coffman’s ability to deflect from his own and his party’s record has always been skin-deep; dependent on an overworked media either not having the resources to question him, or thrown off by his campaign’s intensive “working the refs” to blunt negative coverage.

Any way you look at this campaign today, Coffman has failed to replicate his past successes in 2016. He’s not outraising his opponent. The press is not giving him a pass on questions he doesn’t want to answer. And for the first time since this district was reshaped into a competitive battleground in 2011, Coffman is behind in early vote returns.

It’s time to say it: the conventional wisdom that has made Mike Coffman appear invincible all these years is coming apart.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. itlduso says:

    Let's see.  Morgan Carroll brings to this race:

    1) Two term state representative, two term state senator and state senate president from the district.

    2) Excellent constituent service record.

    3) Proven bipartisan accomplishments in the CO Legislature.

    Who else has run for this seat since its redistricting that has a resume like that?  Oh, and they did a great job of tying Coffman = Trump. 

    I'm worried about holding her seat in 2018 which can be done if she repeats items 2 and 3 above, and also raises a ton of money.

    Go Morgan!!


  2. BlueCat says:

    Back when I was a very minor party official (HD level) I could often find out from various campaigns what internal polling was showing and such pols often turned out to be pretty accurate. No longer in that loop. Can anyone provide any gossip on any Carroll campaign internal polling that may have been done?

    • TobiasFunke says:

      I did some canvassing for Carroll in Greenwood Village a few weeks back, and they told us about internal polling that had Carroll up 5 across the entire CD. 

      A lot could have changed since then, but they've been nailing Coffman on a bunch of stuff, so… 

      She's so well liked in Aurora, I have a hard time believing that she's not going to beat him. 

  3. FrankUnderwood says:

    What is the correlation between money raised and votes cast?

  4. FrankUnderwood says:

    The returned Dem ballots are almost 3,000 more than returned Repub ballots which is nice but what were the numbers in CO 6 like in 2014 at this point? Just trying to get a frame of reference.

  5. DawnPatrol says:

    Coffman's been a bumbler, a two-faced fraud and an inveterate liar his entire career.

    As for his racist birther remarks, his only regret is that he got caught spewing them. It's what is and always has been in his precious little teabagger heart. So wonderful to know that with a little luck, he will finally be getting his just deserts.

    He failed to keep in mind the old Fred Sanford pearl of wisdom: "He who liveth by the sword, shall be stucketh."

  6. davebarnes says:

    @ Pols.
    Can you use a better photo of Carroll?
    It is not her best.

  7. Gadfly says:

    Morgan is headed to Congress

  8. Gadfly says:

    Mike Coffman ran brilliant campaigns in 2012 & 2014 — not this year — he may lose big

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