The Skinny on Redistricting

It will be impossible to predict exactly how the legislature will chop up Colorado until sometime as late as Jan. 25 2011. But there are some requirements on how to do so set forth in the state constitution, namely Article V. Sections 45, 46, 47, and 48, but especially 47 and 48.


Section 45. Representatives in congress. The general assembly shall devide the state into as many congressional districts as there are representatives in congress apportioned to the state by the congress of United States for the election of one representative to congress for each district.  When a new apportionment shall be made by congress, the general assembly shall divide the state into congressional districts accordingly.

Amended 1974, S.C.R. 1, sect. 1, effective Jan. 1, 1975

In other words we cannot have multi-member districts in Colorado, elect a representative at large, or anything else. Exactly as many congressional districts as the number of representatives we’re entitled to.

Section 45. General assembly. The general assembly shall consist of not more than thirty­-five members of the senate and of not more than sixty­-five members of the house of representatives, one to be elected from each senatorial and each representative district, respectively.

As amended November 8, 1966. (See Laws 1967, chapter 456.)

So the last time we upped the number of Reps. and Senators was in 1966, effective the next year.

Section 46. Senatorial and representative districts. The state shall be divided into as many senatorial and representative districts as there are members of the senate and house of representatives respectively, each district in each house having a population as nearly equal as may be, as required by the constitution of the United States, but in no event shall there be more than five percent deviation between the most populous and the least populous district in each house.

As amended by the People, November 5, 1974 ­ Effective upon proclamation of the Governor, December 20, 1974.

Same deal as with the congressional districts, but it also adds the interesting twist of an actual specific percentage that districts and deviate by. While it is not explicitly incumbent upon the creation of congressional districts a court may very well find such a deviation to be unconstitutional. Usually the courts have to decide on precedent how much is too much or too little deviation. Note that unless the lines are drawn on county or other political subdivision lines the courts will generally rule that even 1% of deviation from the ideal number is too much. No, really. The reasoning being if you’re already drawing the lines where ever you please you better damn well make them equal in population while you’re gerrymandering.

Section 47. Composition of districts. (1) Each district shall be as compact in area as possible and the aggregate linear distance of all district boundaries shall be as short as possible. Each district shall consist of contiguous whole general election precincts. Districts of the same house shall not overlap.

(2) Except when necessary to meet the equal population requirements of section 46, no part of one county shall be added to all or part of another county in forming districts. Within counties whose territory is contained in more than one district of the same house, the number of cities and towns whose territory is contained in more than one district of the same house shall be as small as possible. When county, city, or town boundaries are changed, adjustments, if any, in legislative districts shall be as prescribed by law.

(3) Consistent with the provisions of this section and section 46 of this article, communities of interest, including ethnic, cultural, economic, trade area, geographic, and demographic factors, shall be preserved within a single district wherever possible.

As amended by the People, November 5, 1974 ­ Effective upon proclamation of the Governor, December 20, 1974.

And here is where it finally gets really interesting. Especially that second provision prohibiting adding chunks of one county to another to form a district unless absolutely necessary. Likewise the third provision makes things very interesting indeed for any court hearing a challenge to a legislatively drawn redistricting map.

In 2002 when the Democrats were trying to cut Denver (City and County of, not the metro area) in half to give them more seats Wellington Webb was going to challenge the move on the “communities of interest” provision of this section. Would the courts have upheld or dismissed his challenge? We don’t know for sure, but unless the map otherwise makes sense it is likely to be greeted with skepticism.

Section 48. Revision and alteration of districts ­ reapportionment commission. (1) (a) After each federal census of the United States, the senatorial districts and representative districts shall be established, revised, or altered, and the members of the senate and the house of representatives apportioned among them, by a Colorado reapportionment commission consisting of eleven members, to be appointed and having the qualifications as prescribed in this section. Of such members, four shall be appointed by the legislative department, three by the executive department, and four by the judicial department of the state.

(b) The four legislative members shall be the speaker of the house of representatives, the minority leader of the house of representatives, and the majority and minority leaders of the senate, or the designee of any such officer to serve in his stead, which acceptance of service or designation shall be made no later than July 1 of the year following that in which the federal census is taken. The three executive members shall be appointed by the governor between July 1 and July 10 of such year, and the four judicial members shall be appointed by the chief justice of the Colorado supreme court between July 10 and July 20 of such year.

(c) Commission members shall be qualified electors of the state of Colorado. No more than four commission members shall be members of the general assembly. No more than six commission members shall be affiliated with the same political party. No more than four commission members shall be residents of the same congressional district, and each congressional district shall have at least one resident as a commission member. At least one commission member shall reside west of the continental divide.

(d) Any vacancy created by the death or resignation of a member, or otherwise, shall be filled by the respective appointing authority. Members of the commission shall hold office until their reapportionment and redistricting plan is implemented. No later than August 1 of the year of their appointment, the governor shall convene the commission and appoint a temporary chairman who shall preside until the commission elects its own officers.

(e) Within ninety days after the commission has been convened or the necessary census data are available, whichever is later, the commission shall publish a preliminary plan for reapportionment of the members of the general assembly and shall hold public hearings thereon in several places throughout the state within forty­five days after the date of such publication. Within forty­five days after the completion of such hearings, the commission shall finalize its plan and submit the same to the Colorado supreme court for review and determination as to compliance with sections 46 and 47 of this article. Such review and determination shall take precedence over other matters before the court. The supreme court shall adopt rules for such proceedings and for the production and presentation of supportive evidence for such plan. The supreme court shall either approve the plan or return the plan and the court’s reasons for disapproval to the commission. If the plan is returned, the commission shall revise and modify it to conform to the court’s requirements and resubmit the plan to the court within twenty days. If the plan is approved by the court, it shall be filed with the secretary of state for implementation no later than March 15 of the second year following the year in which the census was taken. The commission shall keep a public record of all the proceedings of the commission and shall be responsible for the publication and distribution of copies of each plan.

(f) The general assembly shall appropriate sufficient funds for the compensation and payment of the expenses of the commission members and any staff employed by it. The commission shall have access to statistical information compiled by the state or its political subdivisions and necessary for its reapportionment duties.

And the niggling details of this part is where the Republicans got into trouble in 2004 when they tried to replace the map drawn by the courts for 2002 when there was a failure to agree. Eventually the court ruled that the legislature had a chance to draw the map just once and if it failed the courts would do it with no more redrawing after that. This probably served to both help Democrats and make redistricting less of a partisan football.

Also the provisions of no more than six members being from the same political party means that unless someone gets creative and appoints some Libertarians, Greens,other party members, or unaffiliated voters it is virtually guaranteed to be 6 of one party and five of the other.

And, of course, no one knows what will happen and it is too soon to start speculating because we don’t know who will win the 2010 elections.


Tim Gill’s Most Interesting Federal Candidate Donations

At least the ones from and the Center for Responsive Politics. I bet I could find a lot of other interesting ones combing through state records, but this is a lot easier.

He’s not just for Democrats:

6/10/08 $2,300 Collins, Susan M (R)

Susan Collins is one of the few Senate Republicans who is supportive of gay rights and was a Lead Co-Sponsor of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

6/30/08 $2,300 Smith, Gordon H (R)

The other gay supportive Republican up for reelection. He was ultimately unsuccessful in his reelection campaign, but Tim was showing his willingness to support Republicans or Democrats if they’re voting for his issues.

8/6/08 $1,000 Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R)

A doctrinaire Republican on every issue except gay rights, she’s the Representative of Florida’s 18th district.

Helping gay candidates:

1/14/08 $2,300 Ketner, Linda (D)

6/27/08 $2,300 Ketner, Linda (D)

Openly gay candidate in South Carolina. She was not successful in trying to unseat her opponent.

4/9/08 $2,300 Baldwin, Tammy (D)

The first openly gay candidate to win office, Tammy Baldwin is the sitting representative for Wisconsin’s 2nd congressional district and was successful in her reelection campaign.

Did this one help or hurt?

3/31/08 $2,300 Lujan, Ben R (D)

Ben R. Lujan was later accused of being gay by a primary opponent, but he was still elected to New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district succeeding Tom Udall. Could the donation have anything to do with the accusation?

Also interesting was the lack of direct donations to either Jared Polis or Betsey Markey. I would guess that he probably gave money to some of the 527s that went after Musgrave, but Open Secrets does not have that information.


Straight to the Senate

The first qualification for Senator is the ability to win office. It does not matter how qualified a person might be in other ways, he or she has to win a statewide race even if first appointed to the office. Usually the method of becoming Senator is to first win some other office and prove effective and/or to have the right positions for the state. And the 2008 elections make it pretty clear that it is a hard to make it in as unless Al Franken wins the recount none of the 14 candidates without a previous elective office under their belts will have made it in.

There are, however, 13 sitting Senators who never held elective office before being elected to the Senate. (If someone can think of a good way to phrase that in a less wordy way it would be quite helpful.) Let’s see what they have in common.

Robert Foster Bennett- A millionaire Republican from Utah, the second most Republican state, his election was all but assured once he narrowly won the primary against another Republican with no political experience.

Susan Collins- Republican from Maine is one of the few clear cut examples of someone never having held elective office before being elected Senator. She was chair of the Maine commission on financial regulation and was well connected having worked for Senator William Cohen and run for Governor of Maine. She won her first election with a plurality of 49% to the Democratic candidate’s 44%.

Hillary Clinton- A Democrat in heavily Democratic New York and the former first lady of the United States. Her fame and heavy support from a network of national donors helped get her past the first hurdle.

Elizabeth Dole- Heavily connected Republican who was appointed Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Labor in addition to being president of the Red Cross. When the was first elected in North Carolina it was considered a Republican leaning state as well.

Chuck Hagel- Is a twofer on the other qualifications. He was involved in Republican political organizing and then became rich after leaving Washington life. In addition he is a Republican in heavily Republican Nebraska and he was first elected in 1996 near the height of Republican anger against President Clinton.

Ted Kennedy- Democrat from staunchly Democratic Massachusetts, he won the seat vacated by his older brother after a short interregnum where it was held by an appointee due to his not yet being old enough. Plus his family is quite rich and that rarely hurts when campaigning.

Herb Kohl- Possibly the richest man in the Senate he was Democratic Party Chair in Wisconsin before being elected to the Senate, but had not held elective office.

Frank Lautenberg- Rich Democrat from New Jersey, one of the more Democratic states, he first won election in 1982, but only by 50% to 48%.

Mel Martinez- Former Secretary of HUD and part of a critical special interest group, Cuban exiles, who are critical to election in the State of Florida.

Lisa Murkowski- Appointed by her dad before she was elected again as a Republican in Alaska. There was virtually no chance that she would lose.

Orrin Hatch- Is a perfect example of an outsider elected directly to the Senate. He did have the advantage of being a Republican in what was already the second most Republican state running against a Democrat, though. Frank Moss had been very lucky up to the 1976 election in his opponents or he certainly would not have been able to survive as a Democrat from Utah.

John Warner- Former Secretary of the Navy who narrowly won election as Senator from Virginia, this might make you confuse him with Jim Webb, but Warner is a Republican and has been serving longer.

Jim Webb- He had the narrowest win of any campaign in 2006, but won none the less. Previously he had been Secretary of the Navy. Interesting that Virginia had two former Navy Secretaries as Senator for the 110th congress.

The 2008 Candidates

Looking up information on the 14 failed candidates who’d never held elective office prior to their Senate runs it seems all but one them were sacrificial candidates. None of the other 13 were well connected, rich, or had some Federal office in their resume.

Christine O’Donnell- Delaware

Steve Sauerberg- Illinois

Christopher Reed- Iowa

Bruce Lunsford- Kentucky

Jeff Beatty- Massachusetts

Al Franken- Minnesota

Robert Kelleher- Montana

Scott Kleeb- Nebraska

Robert Tingle- Rhode Island

Bob Conley- South Carolina

Bob Tuke- Tennessee

Jay Wolfe- West Virginia

Chris Rothfuss- Wyoming

Nick Carter- Wyoming


The Presidential Race in Colorado by County

(We’ve said it over and over, but can we please stop saying that “you need the Western Slope to win a statewide election?” Because you don’t. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

It is interesting (at least to me) to see how close or lopsided the vote was in various Colorado counties in the presidential election.

The five most Republican counties by percentage of the vote are not huge surprises. They’re all rural with a voting turn out of under 4,000 in total. And all but one, Rio Blanco, is on the eastern plains.

Cheyenne 80.11% (890)

Washington 77.77% (1935)

Rio Blanco 77.38% (2425)

Kiowa 76.27% (630)

Lincoln 74.27% (1683)

The five most Democratic counties by percentage of the presidential vote are a little more surprising. Tiny San Miguel County was the most Democratic in the state with 77.06% of its votes going to Obama. Then Denver, a usual suspect, but then two more smallish counties. And then the one that people might have picked out as number one, Boulder.

San Miguel 77.06% (3,345)

Denver 75.29% (195,499)

Costilla 73.40% (1,236)

Pitkin 73.74% (7,260)

Boulder 72.33% (115,339)

But, wait, I have more.

The two closest counties by percentage were both won by McCain. Chaffee County, a mountain county southwest of Park County, went for him by 49.09% to 49.04%, or just 5 votes out of 9,483. Likewise Garfield County north of Grand Junction wanted McCain, but only by 85 votes out of 22123, 49.41% to 49.03%.

The five counties with the fewest votes all went to the Republican, except for the very smallest in turn out San Juan County.

San Juan 496 votes 53.23% Obama

Hinsdale 613 55.95% McCain

Mineral 622 53.70% McCain

Kiowa 826 76.27% McCain

Jackson 914 68.27% McCain

There are no surprises in the five largest counties by voter turn out, all but El Paso went for the Democratic candidate. I am not sure why Denver is not the largest, but I suspect it would be the higher percentage of residents who are not US citizens as well as poor neighborhoods that did not turn out. But it is interesting to note that by this metric both Denver and Boulder are much more Democratic than El Paso County is Republican.

Jefferson 283,468 votes 54.69% Obama

El Paso 264,407 votes 58.97% McCain

Denver 259,647 votes 75.29% Obama

Arapahoe 232,167 55.29% Obama

Boulder 159,469 72.33% Obama

Next Five Largest Counties

Larimer 156,085 54.11% Obama

Adams 155,406 57.99% Obama

Douglas 126,377 57.94% McCain

Weld 104,584 53.46% McCain

Mesa 68,165 64.06% McCain

The five more Democratic counties in terms of how many more voters went for the Democratic Candidate than the Republican are:

Denver 135,233

Boulder 73,695

Jefferson 31,729

Arapahoe 27,957

Adams 27,792

The converse five Republican counties are:

El Paso 51,244

Douglas 21,412

Mesa 20,199

Weld 9,269

Fremont 5,794

Third Party Candidates did best in:

Hinsdale 5.06% (31)

Baca 3.09% (67)

Kiowa 2.91% (24)

Mineral 2.89% (18)

Gilpin 2.86% (94)

I don’t think it is a coincidence that they did best in small population counties. Third party candidates failed to break 2% as a group in any county with a voting population of more than 20,000. Of large counties they did best in Weld and Adams.

Third Party Candidates did worst in:

Douglas 1.06% (1,339)

Phillips 1.18% (2,125)

Rio Grande 1.20% (5,408)

Eagle 1.31% (282)

Pitkin 1.39% (137)

I’ll get around to the Senate Race sometime soon. Number were taken from the Denver Post elections results website:…

Edited to add five more large counties.[poll id=”761″]


So, the Evil GOP Was Going to Steal It, Eh?

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Being that today is the fifth day of November in the two thousand and eighth day of the common era it is the day after elections in America and I would now like to direct your attention to an article by Greg Palast and widely circulated after it got into the Rolling Stone on October 17th 2008 entitled It’s Already Stolen.  

In case it gets taken down from where I linked to here is a bit from the heart of the ‘expose’:

Republican Secretaries of State of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls.

Over several months, the GOP politicos in Colorado stonewalled every attempt by Rolling Stone to get an answer to the massive purge – ten times the average state’s rate of removal.

While Obama dreams of riding to the White House on a wave of new voters, more then 2.7 million have had their registrations REJECTED under new procedures signed into law by George Bush.

As the results show Barack Obama winning Colorado’s nine electoral votes by about 52.5% to 45.9% (at this time) I’m pretty confident that the prediction of a stolen election was dead wrong.  For one thing for it to have been right there would need to be more than 335,000 people who could not vote yesterday or during the long early voting period.  That would give Obama another 14% margin.  You really think there are that many Democrats in Colorado who didn’t get to vote and they’re not all blogging about it and calling their paper?  Bull.  To put it bluntly.  Secondly the results were only 1% lower than the final Pollster result of a 7.6% spread.  That’s well inside the margin of error.  Heck, the actual final pollster composite was 51.9% for Obama rather than the 52.5% he got, obviously a few of the undecideds broke for him.

I’m going after this one article in particular, but I’m just using it as an example of the sort of fear mongering that was going on before the election.  I think today the liberals who promulgated this fear mongering should hang their heads in shame at least here in Colorado.  We’ll see about the rest of the country, but I expect that despite the deplorable shenanigans that could make a difference in tight races we had an okay election on the whole.  My message is that this election has not been rigged or stolen by anyone on the national level and people who say otherwise do a disservice to our democracy.


Dead Candidates for President and Veep

Twice in US history a candidate for a major party has died with his name on the ballot or after winning electors. Neither one was on the winning ticket, but they are interesting examples of what may happen someday should a winning candidate snuff it between October the 1st and mid December.  

In the 1912 Presidential Election the Republicans were famously divided between Roosevelt and Taft. This resulted in Woodrow Wilson walking away with the election. But of interest for the people who like inside baseball politics was the October 30th death of Vice President James S. Sherman. His name was still on the ballot and technically the electors in Utah and Vermont were pledged to only vote for him. Instead when the electors met on December 16th the Republican name on the ballot was Nicholas M. Butler. Technically the electors were in violation of the law in both those states, but nothing came of it because the Taft ticket was not elected and because who would have standing to sue and object to replacing the name of a dead man?

Even more exciting was the 1872 Presidential Election that pitted Liberal Republican newspaper publisher Horace Greeley for whom Greeley, Colorado is named, against incumbent Republican President US Grant. The campaign was a bit of a farce and Greeley only got 3 states and 66 electoral votes. Except that he got none because his wife died soon after election day and he reputedly went mad and then died himself on November 29, 1872. When the electoral college met, again on December 16th in 1872, only three electors cast their votes for Greeley. The rest supported a variety of Liberal Republicans and Democrats. The three votes for the dead candidate were disallowed by congress.

Without party discipline and a strong choice of who should be the successor to the Liberal Republican electoral votes it all fell apart. Which, I think, is a real danger for even a modern party should there be a runner up waiting in the wings who thinks he or she should be president more than the VP nominee of the party.

Interesting times. I’m just glad it looks like <knocking on wood> that we won’t face such a problem in this election. But much like making a will when young, I think every party should think about this. Because even the healthiest candidate could have something disastrous happen. Small plane crash, assassination, and undetected weak blood vessels in the brain are just some of the more colorful possibilities. What would have happened if during a celebratory pretzel on election night 2000 George W. Bush had choked to death on top of everything else? Horrible interesting times. Or JFK had been assassinated by Richard Paul Pavlick on December 11, 1960?


Bob Beauprez Trying to Help?

First I’m trying to think of a suitable analogy of using Bob Beauprez as the voice of an “information campaign”. Polling showed him losing the Catholic vote by a 20% margin when he ran in 2006. So why would a push poll/promotional for the website Catholic Answer Action use him of all people? Why not generic voice man?

I’m afraid I cannot give you much meat on the call itself. Apparently their system is not set up to handle mobile phones or is just incompetently set up. The phone call came during the debates. I thought, “800-222-1111? I wonder if that’s some sort of polling organization?” Picking up I found Beauprez saying stuff about election, will you take our poll, Catholic voters, etc. I was going to take it for grins and giggle to see what it would do, but then it started repeating itself.

Really I cannot imagine this doing any good. Every inflexible pro-life catholic is already voting for McCain, I’m sure. And what are they doing, just calling random numbers hoping to get a Catholic on the line? Because it’s that or something more slimy like going through the catechism records of the Catholic Church in Colorado. (I was a Catholic in my youth, but due to profound theological disagreements as well as being gay I left the RCC in 1998.)

What the heck are they thinking?


Jake Jabs, the New Face of Amendment 47

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

I was very surprised on Tuesday when I saw the first ad by local furniture mogul Jake Jabs. My first thought was, “Well jeeze, I’m glad I never bought anything there.”  My second was to wonder if this was an independent effort or some idiosyncratic choice by the backers of the anti-union amendment.

Wonder no more.  The Rocky Mountain News reports that besides the two official proponents of the measure, business labor Julian Jay Cole and Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, meetings about it included State Sen. Ted Harvey (R-Highlands Ranch) and American Furniture Warehouse executive Andrew Zuppa.  The money is indeed coming from Jonathan Coors/Coorstek, but Jake Jabs is the other major player.

I’m not sure if this helps or hurts Jake Jabs’ business. I know I was unlikely to shop there before so turning off people like me who don’t like particle board furniture is no loss for him. According to the the Denver Business Journal reporting on the press confrence held on Tuesday Jabs said he’s not afraid of a boycott. Though he called it because of the huge number of calls he got.

But does it help the amendment? How positive a view do people have of Jake Jabs? And how could he not know that putting his well known mug on the ads would result in calls to the business that he’s intimately associated with?

And is it just him, or will Dealing Doug be out with ads next?

Edited: ColoraodPols user Aristotle said in comments he remembered Jake Jabs trying for the Republican nomination for Senate in 1990 or 1988. This Chuck Green column from 2001 doesn’t give specifics, but it agrees that Jake Jabs was putting out his name until it was discovered he was not registered to vote. And then temporarily pulled advertising from the Post in retaliation for reporting on the fact. One of many times he’s tried to strong arm the local media over unfavorable stories about him.[poll id=”713″]


Close Means Colorado Tips It

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

It is Thursday after the Republican convention and I’m sensible enough to admit that McCain got a real convention bounce with staying power. I would like it to be otherwise, but I think the numbers are not lying to us.

The convention has resulted in him drawing even and pulling very slightly ahead of Obama. And this is true in enough polls that I believe on the national level McCain is ahead very slightly at this time.

There are fewer Colorado polls and they don’t all say the same thing. But it seems that Colorado is even closer than the rest of the country with Obama having a slight edge here.

What does this mean? Nothing. The vote is not today and polls are not votes. It just shows that right now the emotional message McCain is putting out is connecting and there is staying power to this story. It could be that the votes were always there and dispirited Republicans leaning voters were formerly reluctant to say that they were going to vote for a Republican again. Or it could be a genuine shift among working class white males. The whisper racism campaign by McCain surrogates could finally be reaching critical mass. Or it could be a failure to account for young voters being registered in large numbers. It could be some combination of all these things.

But the facts right now show McCain ahead with Colorado’s electoral votes potentially being the deciding vote.

FiveThirtyEight shows Colorado as their number 1 tipping point state. That is whatever candidate captures our votes most often wins their multiple simulations on how the polls show the campaign potentially coming down. Today’s Electoral Vote.Com map shows Obama winning with 273 thanks to Colorado and Nevada.

Essentially we’re one of the closest states and as long as the race is close we’re the most important state. Don’t expect that to last though. I predict change and that in a month we’ll all be on a new narrative. Why? Because the stories out right now don’t have enough to them to keep the new media’s interest for a whole month.


A Question of Party Organization

I’ve been poking at the relevant election statues trying to figure out what happens when a candidate on the ballot dies before election day.  I’ve tried googling and have found nothing except that Westminster, in city elections, allows the replacement of a name on a ballot by a party until the date the ballot is sent to the printer.  Is Colorado one of the states where if a dead candidate wins the election then a special election is held?  Does Colorado generally allow the replacement of a name on the ballot if it has not yet gone to the printers?

The funny thing is that I got on this question because my boyfriend asked me a question I could not answer (other than to guess).  That being what if one of the candidates died before election day.  From there it spread to a more general inquiry.  

I’m fairly sure that with a presidential situation since we actually elect party selected electors instead of a president directly it would fall to the VP.  There would be a mad scramble for rule books and a lot of lobbying, but in the end there would be enough party discipline to just bump up the Veep nominee to the head of the ticket.  Because that is how things are expected to work and if something else happened the process could potentially go all funny.

An ambitious runner up from the primaries could cause trouble, but I think that senario before an election would probably just show “party in disarray” and all but guarantee a win for the other.  Unless the VP pick was willing to step aside ‘for the good of the party’.  But how many VP picks would be willing to step aside with the presidency just a sympathy vote away?


Around a Year Ago in CD-5 News

The Who’ll Win in CD5 Poll a year ago shows how different things can look after a year.  

Doug Lamborn – 17 votes (21.25%)

Jeff Crank – 63 votes (78.75%)

The charitable interpretation is that the addition of Rayburn to the mix that killed Crank’s chances.  But there really was reason to think the Lamborn had no chance back then.

The diary it is attached to also has some interesting predictions in retrospect.  A user with the handle Robert predicted that “If Rayburn jumps in and makes it three way, my bet is that he will split the anti-Lamborn vote with Crank and Lamborn will win with a 40-35-25 (Lamborn, Crank, Rayburn).”

The actual results were

Lamborn – 56,171 – 44.5%

Crank   – 16,431 – 29.3%

Rayburn – 14,721 – 26.2%

A fairly close prediction, but the actual show a lot more support for Lamborn or at least for the incumbent.  CD-5 Line was much further from the mark saying that he was “putting odds by a whisker in Crank’s favor in a 3 way.”  

How could we all be so wrong?  Well at that time there were all sorts of diaries about Lamborn accepting a gambling donation, not reporting it, and then threatening constituents who brought it up.  An example is the diary Lamborn Comes Unglued on Aug. 31.  

By September 5th it was looking really bad for Lamborn with ColoradoPols writing a diary with the headline The Day Doug Lamborn Self-Destructed.  

In the end though all the talk of how damaging the House Ethics Investigation might be came to naught.  Hardly anyone was talking about gambling and threats on primary day earlier this month.  Part of that may have been the fact that the Colorado Springs Gazette was much kinder to Lamborn during the scandal than other newspapers.  This comment by CD-5 Line is a pretty good example of that.  He noted that the Post was much harder on the congressman.  While I’m sure that some people in Colorado Springs read the Post and the News, more probably read the Gazette.  The power of a hometown newspaper going easy on a local politician cannot be underestimated.

Plus things do change.  A poll of ColoradoPols users attached to a diary on Sep. 11 last year found a clear plurality of 44.23% thinking Hillary Clinton would be the nominee of the Democratic Party.  And Rudy Giuliani lead in a similar poll for the Republican question.  More on those predictions later.


Millionaire Amendment Struck Down

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a 5-4 ruling the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the provision popularly known as the “Millionaires Amendment”. (Ref. The News Hour) This was a case brought by New York Democrat Jack Davis who argued that it unfairly rewarded his opponent when he self funded his campaign.

Obviously this is good news for candidates such as Jared Polis. It would have been better news for him if it had come before he triggered it back in March. No doubt everyone affected by this will have a legal mind going over the ruling to see if this means the donations above the cap will have to be returned or if it just means no more can be made. Is there anyone else in Colorado?

Searching for how much Wil Armstron’s business interests are worth has turned up nothing. Likewise John Hickenlooper’s exact wealth apparently has not been disclosed to the public and probably is in the low millions despite the sale of his brewpub and restaurants. (The Rocky Mountain News quoted estimates of his receiving about $7 million for them in 2007.) Coors isn’t running again any time soon and all the other Colorado millionaires and billionaires seem content to throw money into races from the sidelines.  


Demographic Change and Same Sex Marriage in Colorado

Using the results of Amendment 43 as indicating the proportion of opposition to gay marriage (56% to 44%) then using demographics it can be determined approximately when a majority will support the amendment’s repeal.

To do this I first use the report P20-556 by Kelly Holder of the U.S. Census Bureau studying the characteristics of the voting population. From it I approximate the voting population in Colorado as 9% of voters are age 18-24, 14% are 25-34, 19% are 35-44, 21% are 45-54, and 19% are over 65. This, of course, carries the risk that Colorado’s voting demographics are different due to our younger population.

According to the paper “Explaining Rising Support for Same-Sex Marriage in California” by Gregory Lewis of Georgia State University and Charles Gossett of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona almost all of the change in support for same sex marriage since 1997 is caused by cohort change. That is one generation dying off and new ones coming of age. They found this by studying the data of the Field Poll of Californians about the subject, which had been repeated six times since 1985 at the time of their study.

From an article the Sacramento Bee on most recent Field Poll in California I got the data for the most recent poll done this year. It found 68% of voters 18-29 years old said they favored allowing same-sex marriage. 58% of voters 30 to 39 and 51% of voters 40-49 favored gay marriage. That compared with 47% of voters 50-64 and 36% of those over 65 who supported the idea.

Now I do some back of the envelope estimations on Colorado’s population as of 2006. I estimated 69% support by those under 18 years of age, 67% for 18-24, 57% for 25-34, 50% for 35-44, 46% for 45-55, 35% for 54-65, and 27% for those over age 65.  I got these percentages by using the actual vote in 2006 on Amendment 43, 855,126 against gay marriage and 699,030 for it, and then running that through my age cohorts with percentages until the numbers balanced (after rounding).

Then I started replacing age groups with younger ones with two-year intervals in my spreadsheet. (How I love spreadsheets!) From this I found that the break over point using these assumptions comes in election year 2014 when a very small majority supported gay marriage. I would guess to take Amendment 43 out of the constitution will take a few years beyond that, though.

My numbers gets to about 54% for to 46% against in 2020, twelve years from now, so I would guess that would be the safe date for a referendum or initiative given the random fluctuations of public opinion. I then ran this in a different way. My second run found a very, very slightly higher percentage for gay marriage, in no case was it more than 0.5%. The reason for this is that the first run each subsequent set of numbers depended upon the previous election cycles set.  That meant rather than being exactly 69% for the youngest cohort in 2016 it was instead 68.6281311%. I knew this would happen and figured it would just make my numbers a bit more modest, so I’m inclined to go with my first run.

So my guess is that gay marriage will be legalized in Colorado in about six years at the very soonest and twelve years at the latest.

Estimate of numbers Against and For Same Sex Marriage:


53.6% Against

46.4% For


52.2% Against

47.8% For


50.8% Against

49.2% For


50.5% For

49.5% Against


51.8% For

48.2% Against


53.0% For

47.0% Against


54.2% For

45.8% Against


A Question of Representation

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: I got my spreadsheet working better and now I can do the math for any number of representatives or population much more quickly. And in doing so I found I had made a mistake when I did it by hand.  This means that Minnesota should be firmly added to the states loosing one representative and Florida is all but sure to gain two.  Mea Culpa.

Otherwise my analysis by hand agrees with the computer calculated one.  If anyone wishes to play with this version leave a comment and I’ll respond with my email.–From Precinct 854

If congress were reapportioned on last year’s census estimate Colorado would not gain or lose any seats. Indeed the state is pretty far from gaining another one with at least 10 states more likely to get a new representative, so the CDs we have are likely to be the ones we use for quite some time to come. Colorado is growing at about 1.4% annually, but that is not that is far above the national average of 0.89%. In order to gain a seat we would need to add a little more than 330,000 new citizens or a staggering 6.9% growth between now and 2010. Not going to happen.

Congressional seats are apportioned using a formula where every state is given its one representative then the total population is divided by the square root of its current number of representatives times by if it had one more. =Population/((Rep*(Rep+1))^0.5).  The state with the highest number using this formula is then given one representative and gets recalculated.

Utah, close last time to getting another seat, is a sure fire lock to increase one to four seats. Good news for Republicans as Utah is by many estimates the second most Republican state after Idaho. Texas is also a good bet to get at least two more seats. Florida, Arizona, and Nevada are about equally likely to pick up one seat each.

Losing representation would be New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Iowa, each losing one. Georgia is likely to increase by one, but far from certain. Equally uncertain is if Missouri will lose a representative or not.  

The real wild cards are California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Jersey as losers with New York and Ohio potentially losing one additional seat. Potential winners are Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina with Texas and Florida gaining additional seats.

The Conservative Numbers

Texas (+2 to 34)

Florida (+1 to 26)

Arizona (+1 to 9)

Utah (+1 to 4)

Nevada (+1 to 4)

Georgia (+1 to 14)

New York (-1 to 28)

Pennsylvania (-1 to 18)

Ohio (-1 to 17)

Massachusetts (-1 to 9)

Louisiana (-1 to 6)

Iowa (-1 to 4)

Missouri (-1 to 8)

Now obviously this is not yet set, the official census numbers are going to be different depending on the pattern of recovery, if more people than expected move back to Louisiana, etc, etc.

But there is a potential for another wild card.  What if congress increased the number of representatives? Why would they do that? Well if they increased the number of representatives by 20 from 435 to 455, chances are only Ohio would lose one representative. All the other states would tread water or increase by a few. Right now the states slightly increasing their representation or preventing a loss would be California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Washington, Massachusetts, Missouri, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oregon, Iowa, and Montana with 251 votes between them. It would also very slightly blunt the number of seats Republicans might gain out of reapportionment in 2012 (my estimate is the Republicans getting a net increase of 7 sure seats vs 9 if the current method is used). The question would be if the Senate would pass such an increase or if anyone in the majority would be interested in such a wonkish bill in the congress that will be elected after the midterms of 2010.  

How did I figure this? I put the formula with various populations estimates into a spreadsheet and then followed the Huntington-Hill method by hand because I could not figure out how to get nested IF statements to do it automatically.  [poll id=”527″]


Presidents Since 1933

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

It is unusual that two senators are running against each other for the presidency. But exactly how unusual is it? Not satisfied with the analysis of other commentators (who alway bring up John Kennedy as the last one to do it and win) I decided to do a bit of my own digging.

Of the twelve men to serve as president since 1932 five were the current or former Vice-President of the United States.  This means that a third of the fifteen men who have been vice president in that time have succeeded to the presidency, but three succeeded to the office due to the death or resignation of his predecessor.  A current or former Vice-President has lead the ticket of a major party (without becoming president first) six times, but only two (Nixon in his comeback in 1968 and Bush I in 1988) have been elected.

It is a very limited sample, but this would appear to make the vice-presidency most important in its constitutional role as successor to the president.  But given the history of vice presidents perhaps more consideration should be given to the VP as potential future standard-bearer for the party.

Though it is still a great deal more likely for a random VP to become president than just another Governor, the other most common high office held before the presidency.  Five of the twelve presidents have been current or former state governor with three of them going directly from their governorship to the presidency.  The other two governors were out of office for a considerable time without another elective office before running for and winning the presidency.  So this is the first place to look for the ‘bench’ of potential presidents and potential vice-presidents as well.

But those are only the success stories.  Four sitting governors have run for president and lost in five different races.  And one of those governors (Stevenson) tried again after being out of office for four years and lost the rematch.  So six losses in the gubernatorial column all but one against sitting presidents.

Four presidents were former US Senators, but only one went directly from the US Senate to the presidency (though obviously that’s going to jump to two after this fall).  Still a current or recent Senator, all else being equal, is about half as likely as a governor to head off to the presidency because there are about twice as many of them.  

There have been eight former or sitting Senators who were their party’s nominee (out of fourteen nominees running sixteen times), but were not successful in their quest.  Though I’ll reiterate that we’re dealing with very small numbers here so it is hard to say anything with absolute assurance this is probably where we get the conventional wisdom that it is hard to jump from the Senate to the Presidency.  Though only half of them were sitting senators at the time of their campaign, the rest had a job like VP prior to their quest.

The only president in the period I am looking at who was not a VP, senator or governor before he was president was Dwight Eisenhower.  And he’s pretty exceptional.  I doubt we will have anyone else waiting in the wings like that right now.  Two others with no prior political history ran serious campaigns for presidency and lost badly: Wendell Willkie and Ross Perot.

So what can we learn from this?  There is the potential for anyone to be president, but it is a heck of a lot more likely if you’re a VP, Governor, or Senator in descending order of likelihood.  That makes sense because no matter how great a president a person could potentially be there is going to be a lot of skepticism and on the part of the voting public to someone with no prior record.  Though quite crushing defeats have been handed to some major party nominees who were in the wrong place at the wrong time (Goldwater, Willkie, Stevenson).  

It also shows where a group, be ethnic, religious, or political, needs to get its members to even have a shot.  

The people complaining that Sen. Clinton probably being the best chance for a woman president are quite right.  With only seven women on the ‘bench’ of former or current governors (out of 60 total current and former governors of the right age, place of birth, etc) it makes it fairly unlikely we’re going to see another one soon.  The Senate is not much better with just 16 out of 100 being women and many of them would not be as electable as Sen. Clinton.  

But anything can happen as witnessed by the one current Black senator being the person who was able to survive the campaign process.  There are 13 Jewish US Senators currently this means all else being equal there should have been a better chance of a Jewish president than a Black one.  All it takes it the one person with the talent and ambition in the right time and the odds are getting better for women with more being elected to high political office every cycle.

But back to Senatorial statistics.  Given that of the 12 presidents and 14 challengers 5 have been sitting senators and 7 that were former senators.  No matter how you cut it that makes this contest unusual, but not really terribly odd.  More than 2/5 of major party nominees have been senators and it is conventional wisdom that nearly every senator thinks he could do the president’s job better.  So it was bound to happen that two sitting senators would get in a match up.

12 Presidents Since 1932:

Vice Presidents: 5

Vice Presidents Succeeding to Office: 3 (Truman, Johnson, Ford)

Vice Presidents elected: 2 (Nixon ’68, Bush I)

Current or Former Governor: 5

   Sitting: 3 (Roosevelt, Clinton, Bush II)

   Former: 2 (Carter, Reagan)

Current or Former US Senators: 4

   Sitting: 1 (Kennedy)

   Then Vice-President: (Truman, Johnson, Nixon)

Not holding elective office at time of campaign: 4

   Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Reagan

Family Connection to Presidency: 2

   Roosevelt (nephew by marriage) Bush II (son)

Former Command Officer: 1 (Eisenhower)

Family Political Connections: 4

   Roosevelt, Kennedy, Bush I, Bush II

No Family Connections: 8

14 Challengers trying 16 times since 1936:

Vice Presidents: 4 (Nixon ’60, Humphery, Mondale, Gore)

Current or Former Governor: 6

   Sitting: 5 (Landon, Dewey ’44, Dewey ’48, Stevenson ’52, Dukakis)

   Former: 1 (Stevenson ’56)

Current or Former US Senators: 8

   Sitting: 4 (Goldwater, McGovern, Dole, Kerry)

   Then Vice-President: 4 (Nixon, Humphery, Mondale, Gore)

Not holding elective office at time of campaign: 3

   Willkie, Stevenson ’56, Perot

Family Connection to Presidency: 0

Former Command Officer: 0

Family Political Connections: 3

   Stevenson (twice), Gore

No Family Connections: 13


California Spill Over to November

It is an sure bet that the California SC decision striking down the statuary bans on same sex marriage will an above the fold political story for a few days. But what about after that? How much will this change the race nationally and in Colorado? The New York Times is already opining that it “is certain to play a role in the presidential campaign”.

There are four issues to look at. First, how much and how long will the backlash be against the decision in California.  Secondly, which states won’t this be an issue in. Thirdly, where initiatives could drive turn out. Fourthly, will any candidate successfully use this issue in Colorado?

First off there is a back and forth swing whenever such news comes out. In Massachusetts after Goodridge v. Department of Public Health was decided in 2003 and before it was implemented in 2004 The Boston Globe found in a survey that 53% of residents opposed same sex marriage.  A year after the first marriages they found 56% in favor of them as reported May 15, 2005. Opinion polls have show much the same percentage supporting gay marriage in the state ever since. The most recent reporting I could find (NYT) 56% in favor again in 2007 when the state decided not to have a referendum on changing the state constitution.

What is interesting is that before the Goodridge decision there was a slight majority in favor of same sex marriage in Massachusetts.  (On the Religious Tollerance.Org Website scroll down to Apr 2003).  So it seems nationally as well. The up and down trend in nation opposition seems related to how recently a court found in favor of same sex marriage. Wikipedia on US public opinion. But unfortunately I cannot find any tracking polls on the subject so how long the dip lasts is uncertain. It is less than a year, but certainly more than three months.

In the past “liberal Democrats (or activist judges) ruining the sanctity of marriage” has been a good narrative for Republicans. And if this was October I would predict a few point swing in their favor. There will be a strong reaction against the same-sex marriage ruling nationally and in California for a while, but five months may be enough time for it to become yesterday’s news. And I think a constitutional amendment in California will be narrowly defeated. If it were a straight up or down vote on same-sex marriage I suspect that gay marriage would be easily defeated, but it being a constitutional amendment (though only their state constitution) will move the goalposts a bit. But it will still be close run and drive turn out on both sides in California.

There are 17 states, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Dakota, that have some form of ballot initiative to amend the state constitution.  Of these states only Arizona, California, Florida, and Massachusetts do not have a constitutional provision banning same sex marriage.  Arizona rejected just such an amendment two years ago, but another is moving forward because of the decision.  Being more conservative than California and having their native son running there is absolutely no chance that this milder gay marriage ban (at last report it won’t ban civil unions unlike the one defeated in 2006) won’t pass this time around.  If it gets to the ballot.  But from what I have read there is only one house race that was in danger of flipping in Arizona (HD-1 due to a scandal), so national outcomes are not changed.  Massachusetts won’t face an initiative before 2012 as there supporters of an amendment need to get 25% voting for it in both legislative chambers two years running. This leaves Florida and California as the only two places where a referendum could change the outcome of political races.  California is unlikely to go for McCain or any other Republican presidential nominee, but it could tip the balance in some congressional races by encouraging turn out for or against the measure.  Florida is the big place where a referendum in the offing could kill Democratic hopes of low Republican turn out.

The fact that we have a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage actually hurts this as a wedge issue. We’re not voting on this again and while polls (and the vote) showed a majority in favor of amending the Colorado constitution it does not have the same fiery appeal to vote for someone to maybe vote on a constitutional amendment in Washington. It will probably help both Musgrave and Schafer a bit, but with the economy bad and the price of oil high, I don’t predict that it will be the centerpiece of either campaign. On the Democratic side they are going to change the subject whenever it comes up. None of them are strongly for gay marriage and it is a losing issue for now. I think because this is happening in California and we already have a ban in place here that the impact will be negligible after five months of other news stories unless some other state judge drops a September or October surprise.

To sum up: Florida is all but lost to Democrats this cycle. Arizona never was in play. California will be an interesting sideshow and it won’t changes outcomes nationally unless something new comes up in the next five months.


Diana DeGette “Won’t Over Turn Will of the People”

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

At the CD-1 Assembly today, held at South High School in Denver, Representative Diana DeGette was renominated with no opposition as the Democratic candidate for congress in Colorado’s first congressional district.  This will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one.  But the Congresswoman indicated that she may change her support to Obama after the last contest in a little more than three weeks.

DeGette is one of the un-pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention and as part of her acceptance speech she said that she would not join in any super delegate cabal to overturn the will of the people as expressed by the popular and pledged delegate count.  Obviously this leaves the door slightly open for Sen. Clinton if a miracle happens and she can pull ahead, but it also is a strong signal that she will change her vote to Sen. Obama if he wins as seems all but certain now.  Though it also would not be inconsistent with what she said to vote for Sen. Clinton provided there is not any danger of this overturning the will of the people.  

She may also be annoyed by the speculation by pundits and activists as she went on to say that “I don’t know if any representatives of the media are here, but if there are I want to say that I don’t know of any Representatives who is or would try to do that,” referring to overturning the pledged delegate lead.  

A number of delegates around me were reassured by this and very happy as they are both Obama supporters and DeGette supporters.  As I looked around during the applauses for this part of the speech I did not that the Clinton supporters were, by and large, not on their feet applauding but the whole group applauded for the end saying that party unity was important.


Electability, Senators Clinton & Obama

Looking at today (April 22, but no new state polls will be out tomorrow except AZ) I find that on first brush Sen. Clinton looks better.  The polls indicated right now that (theoretically) if the election were held today she’s win over McCain with 289 electoral votes (270 needed to win, 269 to tie).  The polls show Sen. Obama with 269 and McCain trailing rather than tied only because the most recent poll in N. Carolina shows them exactly tied at 47% each.

The significance of these polls should not be overestimated though.  I remember leading up to 2000 and 2004 that at times V.P. Gore and Sen. Kerry both lead by small margins in states they did not carry in the end.  Polling is not destiny.  But it does show, if some judgment is used, where the race will be won or lost.  And so now I’m going to do some digging around in the numbers.

The map for Sen. Clinton has 172 votes from states that are solidly Democratic or for her.  She gets the other 117 in her total from states that are labeled “Barely Democrat” by Electoral-Vote.  These are states that may be potential swing states.  Because of Washington’s political history I’d take its 11 electoral votes out of this column.  Likewise I think there is no chance for Connecticut, New Jersey, or Hawaii to go for McCain absent a meltdown by Clinton.  Is Kentucky a real swing, is it fairly in the “Barely Republican” category or is the poll an outlier?   My gut tells me that there is no chance for a national level Democrat in Kentucky currently, but I’m going to give the Senator from New York the benefit of the doubt.  So adding the numbers up there are 118 potential ‘swing state’ electoral votes in Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

Summery (My Count)

Clinton: 172 (209)

Swing: 140 (103)

McCain: 226 (226)

Advantage: McCain +48 (+23)

It will be a hard fought race but neither candidate is guaranteed a win or loss.  McCain does not have as far to go, but he’s only up on Clinton by 23 electoral votes by my count.  That is almost entirely wiped out if Clinton manages to take Ohio or Florida alone.  I predict that the race will won or lost as the last two were in Ohio and Florida.  If she only takes one of them…  well it is not impossible but it would be hard to win in that case.

The map for Sen. Obama has 211 solidly for him and 178 firmly behind McCain.  I think in this case the New Jersey and Massachusetts polls are off and they will cast their combined 27 electoral votes for Obama if he is the nominee.  Similarly I do not see either Texas or Nebraska going for Obama or being as close as the one poll suggests.  So I’m going to add those back to McCain’s total giving him 217 rather than 178.  This leaves 98 electoral votes to fight over and the two candidates as close as McCain and Clinton with positions reversed.  The potential swing states are Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Summery (My Count)

Obama: 211 (238)

Swing: 149 (83)

McCain: 178 (217)

Advantage: Obama +33 (+21)

Slight advantage to Obama, but McCain is in sight with him just 21 electoral votes ahead by my count.  That lead could disappear if McCain just wins Ohio but this map has interesting things happening all over.  I cannot tell where it will be won or lost, though it looks as if Colorado will be at least mildly important.  Michigan and North Carolina will be terribly important with 17 and 15 electoral votes respectively they are big plumbs and enough for Obama to win by just one electoral vote along with his other states.  And there are all sorts of strategies that could have it coming down to virtually any state depending on the narrative that people believe in.  But he really must win at least one of the large states of Ohio, Michigan, or N. Carolina to put him in striking distance of 270 with a mix of the other states in the margin of error.  And it is barely possible that we could have an electoral tie and have it decided by the House of Representatives as the map currently shows.

So who do I think is more electable?  I am not sure.  I personally think it is Obama (by a slight margin) due to him having more states to fight in rather than a magic two alone where it will be won or lost and fewer electoral votes needed to get to the magic 271.  But Clinton and her supporters have a good argument to make.  It will be a lot more predictable a race with Clinton vs. McCain.  But it could be bad in a predictable way.  Also I think some of the polls are ‘funny’.  I really doubt Obama will get that close in Texas at least until there are more polls confirming that result.  And I reiterate my doubt McCain has a chance in New Jersey, Connecticut, or Massachusetts no matter who is nominated on the Democratic side.

Lastly if McCain picks a certain popular politician from Minnesota as his Vice President that puts that state in play for the Republicans and would be a serious problem for Clinton and not good for Obama either.  Conversely either Democrat could pick Mike Easley of N. Carolina and make it ‘interesting’ for Republicans down south.  

And there are some states that could still end up being ‘swings’ that do not look it right now due to the bad blood of the ongoing nomination.  I’m going to be watching Missouri and Virgina for signs of Republican poll weakening.


Successful Constitutional Amendments Since 1972

Sorted by passage percentage and if the amendment to the state constitution was a referendum (referred to the state ballot by a 2/3 vote of each house) or initiative (put on the ballot by the petition process).  I gathered this information from the State Ballot History Page.  Why?  I was interested to see what would or would not have passed if various limits on amending the state constitution were put into place.  And I was also interested to  see if how much sense I thought an amendment made was related to how close its passage was.  I was pleased to see that almost all of the amendments I dislike passed by 55% or less and that the only things I would miss were over on the referendum side rather than initiatives.  So perhaps 1996’s failed Ref A had the right idea but was going for too high a percentage.

Prior to 1992 amendments to the constitution or state revised statues were numbered no matter if they were initiated by a petition or referred to the ballot by the general assembly and the numbering was started anew each year rather than being consecutive as it is now for initiatives.  Referendums started to be lettered consecutively in 2004.  So to lessen confusion I have included the year of the vote for all the ones I have listed.  Short titles were introduced in 1982 (apparently, that’s the first year in which I see one with a short title) and so I have used a shortened version for this listing to prevent the list from becoming unwieldy, to make it clear I have put the information I have added in brackets [].


82.8% Ballot #4 (1972)- [Municipal Energy Investment Allowed]

82.5% Ballot #2 (1982)- [Denial of Bail to Some Capital Offense Defendants]

80.2% Ref A (1992)- Rights of Crime Victims

79.2% Ref E (2006)- Property Tax Reduction for Disabled Veterans

78.0% Ref B (1992)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

77.8% Ballot 3 (1990)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

77.3% Ballot #3 (1982)- Membership and Appointment of Judicial Discipline Commission

76.9% Ref C (1994)- Post-Conviction Bail

76.1% Ref G (2006)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

76.0% Ref C (1992)- Local Vote on Gaming After Statewide Vote

72.7% Ballot #2 (1984)- Qualified Electors

71.9% Ref D (2002)- Repeal of Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

71.6% Ref D (2000)- Outdated Constitutional Provisions

70.9% Ref C (2002)- Qualifications for County Coroners

69.0% Ref B (2004)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

67.2% Ballot #4 (1988)- Eight-Hour Workday Requirements

66.1% Ballot #1 (1978)- [Appointment County Commissioner to Vacancy]

65.7% Ref A (1994)- Single Subject for Initiatives and Referenda

65.5% Ballot #1 (1982)- [Gallagher Amendment, Property Tax Limitations]

64.3% Ballot #3 (1972)- [Equality of the sexes]

63.3% Ballot #3 (1974)- [Specific Treasury Report Requirement Elimination]

61.8% Ballot #2 (1976)- [Motor Vehicle Taxes]

61.3% Ref C (1998)- Creation of City and County of Broomfield

61.2% Ballot #5 (1974)- [Boundary Control Commission, Denver]

60.5% Ref B (2000)- Legislative Reapportionment Timetable

60.1% Ballot #1 (1980)- [Registration to Vote Required to Sign Ballot Petitions]

60.0% Ballot #6 (1974)- [Revision to State Office Vacancy Procedure]

59.8% Ballot #2 (1980)- [State Lottery]

58.8% Ballot #1 (1984)- Appointment of Insurance Commissioner

56.1% Ref C (1996)- County Sheriffs – Qualifications

56.1% Ballot #7 (1974)- [Taxes On Aviation Fuel Removed from Highway Fund]

54.9% Ref B (1996)- Mailing of Ballot Information

54.7% Ref A (2000)- Property Tax Reduction for Senior Citizens

54.3% Ballot #4 (1982)- [Limitations on enactment of bills eliminated]

54.1% Ballot #2 (1972)- [Establish Student Loan Program]

53.9% Ballot #2 (1988)- Recall Expenses

53.4% Ballot #3 (1986)- Municipal Franchises

52.3% Ballot #3 (1988)- Limitations on Legislative Sessions

52.0% Ballot #4 (1972)- [CU Regents Changes]

51.9% Ballot #5 (1988)- Unpatented Mining Claims [tax exemption]

50.4% Ref B (1994)- Ballot Information Booklet


72.0% Ballot #8 (1988)- Legislative Reform

71.0% Ballot #5 (1990)- Term Limits [State Executive, General Assembly, and congress]

68.7% Ballot #8 (1974)- [No Bussing for Integration]

66.5% Amendment 27 (2002)- Campaign Finance

62.6% Amendment 41 (2006)- Standards of Conduct in Government

61.4% Amendment 35 (2004)- Tobacco Tax Increase for Health-Related Purposes

61.2% Ballot #1 (1988)- English as Official Language

60.2% Ballot #8 (1974)- [Colorado Reapportionment Commission Revised]

59.4% Ballot #8 (1972)- [Banning Money for 1976 Olympics]

58.4% Ballot #1 (1974)- [Poundstone Amendment, preventing annexation without a vote]

58.2% Amendment 08 (1992)- Lottery Revenues for Parks, Recreation, Wildlife

57.9% Ballot #10 (1974)- [No More ‘Plowshares’ Nuclear Detonations]

57.3% Ballot #4 (1990)- Limited Gaming in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek

56.7% Ballot #3 (1980)- [No Unilateral Annexation by Cities]

55.0% Amendment 43 (2006)- Marriage [Anti-Gay]

54.0% Amendment 12 (1996)- Term Limits [congressional]

53.7% Amendment 01 (1992)- Tax Limitations – Voting [TABOR]

53.6% Amendment 37 (2004)- Renewable Energy Requirement

53.5% Amendment 20 (2000)- Medical Use of Marijuana

53.4% Amendment 02 (1992)- No Protected Status [Anti-Gay]

53.3% Amendment 42 (2006)- Colorado Minimum Wage

52.7% Amendment 23 (2000)- Funding for Public Schools

52.1% Amendment 14 (1996)- Prohibited Methods of Taking Wildlife

51.9% Amendment 16 (1996)- State Trust Lands

51.0% Amendment 17 (1994)- Term Limits [local]

50.4% Amendment 18 (1998)- Voluntary Congressional Term Limits [Pledge]

50.4% Ballot #3 (1984)- Prohibit Public Funding of Abortions[poll id=”461″]


Best for the Party?

I’ve heard two competing guesses about what the continuing campaign between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  The upbeat one is that the continuing news attention on the contest will suck any oxygen out of the room so that John McCain will get very little free attention from the media.  With the higher name recognition this will help the Democrats in the fall and there will be more than enough time for the Democrats to unify and the negatives in the polls right now are just a temporary thing.

The second hypothesis is that the continuing contest will do real damage to the Democratic Senators leaving John McCain an unexpected opening to bid for the presidency in what was shaping up to be a terrible year for Republicans.  The current strenuous struggle is creating a narrative about the candidates that is negative and the lack of attention on John McCain is allowing him to quietly reconcile with the conservative base of the Republicans without turning off moderate voters.  

Which is true?  It does seem to be true that the party that is less unified tends to lose in November.  But is the contest between two candidates a case of the party being disunited?  In past contests, such as Republicans in 1976, where the nomination went on for a long stretch it was because of large differences of policy between two candidates rather than a person question of who would be best to implement similar policy goals.  That sounds more like the Republicans except for the fact that the contest did not go on long due to the combination of winner take all large states and conservatives not uniting behind one conservative early on.  

And does how much will any of this impact the race once the general public really starts to pay attention?  About 28 million people have voted in Democratic primaries and caucuses so far.  The Republican total has been far lower (I’ve seen no totals, but it is reported as being half as much on average).  Given that there are approximately 140-150 million registered voters and 85% (119 million) of them vote in presidential elections it is clear that even most voters are not fully engaged in this contest yet.  (Yes that’s accurate.  Rates of voting among registered voters as opposed to all adults are higher.  This is due to a large proportion of non-citizens, people ineligible to vote because of felonies, and failure to register.)  Even the most voters are not paying much attention yet.  

On the other hand the media and political wonks like us will remember the narratives that are being created now.  If the media repeats something over and over, say, “Clinton damaged by brutal primary” it does seem to actually reduce support by a few percent.  If a candidate cannot find a new narrative the media is willing to repeat that can be the end of the game right there.  As we all know from Both-Ways Bob.  He was tagged with that in the primary and it stuck with him to the end.  Though nothing I’ve seen so far seems to have that kind of staying power for either candidate.

Here in Colorado about 2 million people voted in the last presidential election while 1.5 million voted in the gubernatorial election two years ago.  Reported turn out on caucus night was 185 thousand.  Even considering how much harder it is to participate in a caucus and that they exclude unaffiliated voters this gives an idea of how many people are paying attention right now, I’d guess about three times as many as actually went to caucus night or about 1/4 of the people who’ll actually turn out to vote in November.  So far the most dedicated supporters have continued to have low level spats that have not really made any mass media news, but it could have an impact.

So, my poll, what date should one of the Democrats drop out by to avoid an awful fate for the party?[poll id=”441″]


To The Bitter End, Personal Experiences at the Denver Democratic Assembly

Because the national convention is in town this year nearly everyone wants to be a delegate to state just so they can try to be a delegate to the national convention.  No, really.  The question was directly asked of our HD-8 convention.  I raised my hand along with about twelve other people expressing that I was not interested in being a delegate.  Yet I’m still going to the state assembly.

As soon as State Convention delegate selection was over people started losing interest and wandering off.  And then the voting for candidates for HD-8 was over and even more people disappeared.  So we were left without enough people for the state assembly delegates for Udall or Benner.  Though Benner came out ahead in not losing as many delegates to attrition, I think.  And I would prefer Udall to not have a primary against a guy who is not a serious candidate so I raised my hand to volunteer for this even though I did not want to do it.  

But I have a lot more to write about.

My suggestion to cut down the number of people who would be thrilled to be a Convention Delegate would be to make a rule about not being able to leave.  If you are a delegate going to the next level you shouldn’t be able to just kip off to the pub after you’ve got your seat, this is about service!  You should stay and to volunteer for the assembly as well and any other business before the metaphorical gavel comes down.

In staying I also got to see some interesting things and I hope it will be the same at state.  There seemed to be some under the surface conflict between Rosemary Marshall (current legislator from HD-8) and former Mayor Webb.  He was there pushing for Beth McCann personally while Marshall was backing Matt Bergles from the podium.  At least from the floor it seemed like Cindy Lowery was running because she opposes the two establishment candidates having a ‘coronation’.  

Interesting study in contrasts when I was in the Senate District 35 meeting.  Alice Borodkin came up and gave a good speech about experience and knowing how to get things done.  It was a good solid informative speech, in my opinion.  Then Joyce Foster’s group came in with a parade of signs and music and was seemed like more of a rally than a case for her to be a state senator.  That turned me off even though outgoing State Senator Ken Gordon threw his support behind her.  

Earlier in the day at the big meeting in the Wells Fargo Theater there was a huge contrast between the speeches given by Udall and Benner.  Just based on speeches I would have supported Benner, it is just that he has no experience, not even a turn in the state house and his speech would only work on Democrats.  Congressman Udall was funny and interesting, but not terribly exciting.  

During the speech by the Clinton supporter rallying support I had to give a glare and do my best to embarrass one of my fellow Obama supporters for shouting out insults.  What I said to him was pretty mild, just, “Very uncool man, I’m as strong an Obama supporter as you, but that’s wrong.”  I saw him later proudly saying he’s going to state.  I do hope he does not have the chops to end up at the national convention, not that he could embarrass us there given how many people are on that floor.  Funny enough he’s a tall skinny gay guy like me (though younger than me I think) and he even has the same given name as me.

I do wish the Obama supporter had spoken less in platitudes and rallying cries.  I think it sells Obama short to not speak of his record in the Senate which is better than Clinton’s.  But this was just to the party faithful so I don’t think it hurt much.

Interestingly only the two people speaking for Obama and Clinton supported them.  Everyone else walked the line in trying to appear non-partisan, and I think they succeeded.  Ken Salizar’s timing was a bit off a few times or else the crowd’s was.  Sometimes when he paused as if for applause or booing of Republican ideas there was silence for a few beats before we nervously started in.  

The way ballots were handed out was a mess.  Repeatedly we had to line up and have both our credentials checked and then checked again against the list of voters in the right district.  We ran out due to ballots being lost, misplaced, or because enough were not printed up.  I really think that the party ought to consider printing the ballots attached to the credentials or something like that.  Then it would all be handed out once with very little chance of it being lost.  And no waiting in line later trying to make sure only people who should get ballots are handed them.


A Suggestion For Credentials

The Denver Democratic County Convention and Assembly was long and chaotic.  I know that it was hard to organize and anything I say is in the spirit of suggestion rather than of castigation because I know this sort of thing is not easy.

I humbly suggest that next time each ballot necessary for voting be part of the credential/badge rather than being a separate piece of paper.  I know this would require more behind the scenes work to make it happen, but on the other hand it would save a great deal of time at the convention and assemblies by eliminating the need to repeatedly line up for ballots.  

Next up, I, and pretty much every other delegate needs more information ahead of time or groups to get into with experienced delegates.  I like the caucus and assembly process, I think being part of this sort of thing is good for making us feel involved and like our voices are being heard, but in another way it was no more meaningful than going through and ‘pulling the lever’ in a very slow way.  The only ‘work’ we got done was to vote a few times and select delegates to the next level of events.

I ended up becoming a delegate to the next stage because I was one of the few who stuck around to the end.  There were not enough people left for the CD-1 Assembly or the Statewide Assembly so I volunteered.  This is not to say that I’m not interested and fascinated by how it gets done, but I was ready to pass the baton to the next level and do local work rather than moving up the greasy poll.

More information when my ears are not ringing and I have had more time to digest what happened today.


Impeachment: Living In A Dream World

I was initially going to post a question asking what Democrats supporting impeaching President Bush are thinking it would accomplish.  But it occurred to me to search for such a post on Daily Kos.  It gave me all the answers I need.  

I have a different perspective because at the time of the impeachment of President Bill Clinton I was briefly working as a low level volunteer for the Republican Party in Arapahoe County.  I know, I know, but I was a very young self-denying conservative then.  And the experience had a positive effect on me.  It turned me off to getting engaged in the Republican Party.  Why?  They were so gung-ho about it.  They were angry and honestly thought that, finally, the love of Bill Clinton would go away.  They believed that the rest of America would see the President as they did: An immoral man who should not be President.  

I know it is popular among Democrats to frame it in terms of a power grab, but who would have been President if Bill were removed?  Vice-President Al Gore.  And he’d still be eligible for two full terms given that he would at that point serve just a bit less than 2 years.  At the time as a Republican I thought this was bone headed political strategy.  Who’d get to lead the country until the election for which he would be sure to stand?  Who’d probably win it?  I bet that if impeachment had actually succeeded Al Gore would have had just enough mojo from being president for almost two years and then while campaigning to win two more states.

I have no idea what it was in Washington, but on the ground, on the frontlines of the party, they believed fervently and passionately that the Democrats would drop Clinton like a hot potato and that that this was the right thing to do.  They thought America would come around to their way of thinking.  And they were wrong.  

The lesson I think my fellow liberals should learn from this is first off you better be sure that the public will see it as impeachable.  I know that torture of suspected terrorists is an impeachable offense, does the average American believe that or do they believe in the line fed to them by “24”?  I know misleading us into war is an impeachable offense, but how sure are you that middle of the road Americans won’t just see this as politically motivated hot air?  And so it goes for everything the President had done.  In the court of public opinion he’s got reasonable doubt and that’s more than enough cover for Senate Republicans.

That brings me to the next point.  You better be damn sure that your own house is in order and that you can be big enough to make sure that it is not seen as a power grab.  You think Watergate would have gotten as far as it did if some foolish Democrats had their way and did not confirm Gerald Ford as vice-President?  You really think that average Americans would see it as anything but a power grab if President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are removed and a Democrat put in the White House early?  And if you gun for the President and miss, let’s be generous and say we miss by 2 votes in the Senate rather than the 17 I think we’ll miss by, what’s that going to do to the presidential race?

After reading it and the comments I have come to the conclusion that these people really do not know many ‘independent’, ‘moderate’ or people who are not dedicated liberals.  


Theatrically Smoking

Up in Minnesota they have an indoor smoking ban similar to here in Colorado.  But Minnesota legislators kindly included an exemption for actors in theatrical productions unlike here in Colorado as reported in the Denver Post by John Moore on the 17th of February, 2008.  This is an ongoing issue between the State Department of Health and various theater companies.

But maybe our Colorado legislators were smarter than they knew when not including a loophole.  Last week in the Minneapolis Star Tribune they reported on bars having theater nights to get around the smoking ban.  

More seriously if this issue is revisited our legislature better take note of this clever outfoxing of the law to make sure a similar situation does not arise in our state.


Analysis on AP and NYT Numbers

Between them Clinton and Obama have 2,564 delegates according to the AP Wire count.  Obama leads 1,319 to Clinton’s 1,245.  Of the count for these two candidates there is a margin of 2.8% (51.4-48.6).  This shows how close it is.  The New York Times numbers have it even closer, 1,117 to 1,112 because they do “not include projections that are based on nonbinding votes for candidate preference”.  

As much as I would like to be able to declare victory for Obama it is not over.  It certainly does come down to how things shake out on March 4th in Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and Rhode Island.  

What about Colorado in all this?  Well ours are some of the votes not being counted by the NYT.  We’re not counted until we actually select the delegates at the State Convention and the Congressional District conventions.  In a way we’re still up in the air as are most caucus states.  I would think the AP is not going to be far off on their estimate for Colorado, but it remains to be seen how faithful the County Assembly and Convention delegates will be.

Could it go beyond March 5?  Certainly.  Will it?  I should not like to bet on it.  The Iowa Elections Market is putting an Obama nomination at .789 today and Clinton’s down at .186.  He has been ahead of her ever since the 6th of February.  But that’s just a sense of where things are going and it could flip back the other way in an instant.  Markets drive by looking in the rear view mirror to guess where things will be tomorrow.

However, the bet on Texas is not a great one for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.  Due to their past turn out in Democratic races majority Black state senate districts are going to get more delegates than others.  So Clinton’s strategy to win big in Texas might not work due to not looking closely enough at the rules until earlier this month according to a Washington Post article.  And Texas has both a caucus and a primary to allocate delegates.  That makes this a hard one for her especially with the polls fairly close.

On the other hand it does not seem like Barack Obama can land a victory so big that Clinton will have to concede due to the Ohio polls.  Ohio’s primary is open to independents (though not Republicans) and that has apparently helped him in the past, but he is still far behind her in the polls and we’ll all have to wait and see. has it as 51.9 Clinton and 37.8 Obama.

Rhode Island is also open to independents, but it registers them as Democrats if they vote in the Democratic primary.  Few polls there, but the most recent one show a tight race.

Vermont has a totally open primary and I guess that Obama will score a victory there, but it does not have a great deal of delegates and it is proportional like every other Democratic primary.

There are a total of 370 delegates in these four states, most in Ohio-141 and Texas-193.  But the polls seem show a close race that probably won’t decisively end anything unless one candidate decides to pull the plug after looking at national numbers and the races still to come. If I had to bet I would put my money on, “Obama increases lead by 30-50 delegates, but Clinton keeps going until Pennsylvania”.  All of this right now and knowing everything could change.

New York Times Primary Season Election Results Page

The Green Papers Democratic Delegate Vote Allocation  Links to pages on delegate selection.