Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert's Twitter feed reads like a non-stop insanely vitriolic anti-American propaganda site-- which it essentially is. This is 2021's Tokyo Rose of the Western Slope! In my 7 decades on earth I don't think there has ever been a member of Congress who hated America as intensely as the deranged high-school dropout from Rifle, Colorado who thinks QAnon is a serious news source. How are Coloradans reacting? Well, many are organizing in this massive R+6 district (where Trump beat Biden 52-46%) to defeat her in 2022. Democrats in Pueblo, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Durango and even red, red Grand Junction are determined to get her out of office, after a 215,279 (51.27%) to 190,695 (45.41%) win over a moderate Democrat who hoped to win over Republicans by backing away from Democratic Party values. There are already 6 Democrats who have declared their candidacies and 3 others-- including Colorado state Senate President Leroy Garcia-- considering jumping in.
Just as interesting than all the candidates clamoring to take on Boebert, are how GOP voters are reacting. This morning, John Frank summarized the situation for Axios: "The outlook for a Republican rebound in Colorado in 2022 is looking more improbable," he wrote. "The state's Republican Party lost more than 63,000 voters since the 2018 election when Democrats won all statewide offices and the General Assembly in a historic landslide, state data shows. That equates to a 2.6% decline as a share of registered voters. By comparison, Democrats lost 0.7% of their ground, or roughly 13,600 voters. The decreases reflect inactive voters cut from the rolls and Republicans who fled the party after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Beyond a demonstration of party enthusiasm, the fact Democrats can claim 125,000 more voters gives them a baked-in advantage."
Unaffiliated voters dominate Colorado politics and that break 60-40 towards Democrats. This is the latest registration breakdown for the state:
Yesterday, writing for Cook, Amy Walter noted that any attempt-- and she means nationally, "to model the make-up of a midterm electorate is always a challenge. Figuring out which voters will be engaged, which ones will 'drop-off', and which ones will be newly added is critical to effective campaigning. From 1978 to 2010, midterm turnout was fairly static, ranging between 45.5 and 51.9 percent. For example, according to US Census data, 49.4 percent of the voting-age population turned out to vote in 1986. By 1990, turnout had dropped one-tenth of a percent to 49.3 percent. In the last six years, however, mid-term turnout has been anything but steady. Turnout in the 2014 midterm hit a 70 year low (41.9 percent). Four years later, voter turnout in the 2018 midterms hit 53.4 percent-- the highest in 100 years and an 11 point jump from 2014.
However, there's a lot that voter turnout statistics can't capture. A high or low turnout won't tell you which party is favored to pick up seats next year. Democrats have won and lost in both low and high turnout out midterms. So have Republicans. Plus, regardless of how similar the percentage of eligible voters who voted is to the previous midterm, each year brings out a very different electorate. Or as Mike Podhorzer, a strategist at the AFL-CIO and a leader in data analytics for the progressive community, put it: "We consistently underestimate the share of votes coming from new voters, and ignore almost completely the significance of voters skipping elections. This churn in the voting electorate is why I say that voting electorates are 'never the same river twice.'" For example, using a demographic shorthand-- like comparing Latino turnout in one year versus the next to give us a sense for how Democratic or Republican the electorate will be-- assumes that those in the electorate today have similar ideologies and priorities as those in the previous election.
So, what can we or should we expect to see in 2022?
For the first time in four years, Donald Trump will not be on the ballot, nor will he be in the White House. Is that better for Democrats, who don't have to worry about a surge in "Trump only" voters? Or is this better for Republicans who can try to win back many of the suburban voters who ditched the party while Trump was in charge?
What's also interesting about 2022 is that for the first time in 12-years, the person who sits in the White House does not enjoy a cult of personality. Barack Obama was the first Black president who motivated a generation of younger voters and voters of color. Donald Trump energized his cohort of voters-- some of them former Obama voters-- with his "Make America Great Again" appeal. Both could draw big crowds and celebrity endorsements. But, they could not transfer their 'coalition' to any other candidate-- especially down-ballot candidates in the midterm elections. Despite Pres. Obama admonishment of supporters at his rallies ("don't boo, vote," he often told them), they failed to do that in midterms, which cost Democrats the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014. President Trump’s post-election rallies in Georgia weren't effective in saving the Senate.
President Biden, meanwhile, ran one of the most low-key (Republicans would call it under-scrutinized) elections in modern times. He didn't have a dance like Pete Buttigieg, nor was he as meme-able as Bernie Sanders. But, his lack of public adoration was the point. He portrayed himself as the antidote to Trump's "all-me-all-the-time" presidency.
But, while Biden may not produce the kind of intense adoration of his predecessors, he also doesn't enrage the other side as intensely as those previous presidents did. It's just as difficult to turn Biden into a clever meme as it is to caricature him as a dangerous figure.
Democrats are optimistic that popular policy-- like the recently passed American Rescue Plan-- can drive opinions of the president and the party. But, recent polling suggests that may not be possible in our polarized environment. For example, a recent Des Moines Register poll found that while 57 percent of Iowans approve of the job President Biden was doing in addressing the pandemic, his overall job approval rating in the state was 10-points lower-- at 47 percent. National polls from Marist, Pew and CNN show a similar disconnect. In the CNN survey, for example, while 61 percent approved of the American Rescue Plan, Biden's overall job approval rating was 51 percent-- again 10-pts lower than the policy.
Donald Trump's ability to capture media and popular culture attention is unparalleled. We don't know what happens when he is no longer the center of attention. Will the voters he energized (good and bad) remain engaged without him? And, what about the folks who may not have sat out in the last two elections? Could they be newly engaged (for or against) by a very different kind of president and his policies?
For progressives there's a hugely important congressional election TOMORROW... not in Colorado, but in Louisiana. With establishment/status quo congressman and New Dem Cedric Richmond going off to some kind of White House sinecure, the super-gerrymandered D+25 second congressional district is holding its jungle primary. If someone wins 50% + one vote tomorrow-- almost impossible-- they go right to Congress. If not, the two top vote-getters (and both will be Democrats) will proceed to an April 24 runoff. Blue America has-- with maximum enthusiasm-- endorsed Gary Chambers, Jr. in this race. Our <https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/ie?refcode=dwt&recurring=12>IE Committee</> has blanketed the rural parts of the district with ads on gospel radio stations and we are running ads on New Orleans' top gospel stations as well. We expect to intensify the advertising for the runoff.
Chambers is the one outsider running in this race. The other Democrats range from establishment liberals to a conservative DINO. Yesterday FiveThirtyEight noted that there are 8 Democrats competing tomorrow and asserted that the two frontrunners are state senators Troy Carter (a conservative) and Karen Carter Peterson (liberalish), "longtime players in the Democratic political establishment." Tomorrow's outcome will be determined by turnout, of course. But will it be for one of the two establishment candidates-- who essentially both represent the status quo-- or will it be for the inspiring and charismatic disruptor in the race-- the only one running who represents real change in DC?
Local power brokers have largely lined up behind Carter, the highest-ranking Democrat in the Louisiana state Senate. And according to Roll Call, 76 percent of the $519,000 that Carter raised in January and February came from donors who live in Louisiana. Carter also has arguably the campaign’s most valuable endorsement: that of Richmond himself. He’s aligned with the Biden-Richmond wing of the party on policy, too: He has said he prefers a public option to single-payer health care, and while he thinks the Green New Deal is “a good blueprint,” he doesn’t think it’s realistic to implement in one go. On the campaign trail, he has also emphasized his ability to build relationships with people of all political stripes.
By contrast, Peterson is more progressive on policy and isn’t afraid to make waves: “When I go to Washington, my job is not to agree with Steve Scalise all the time,” she told The Advocate. But the former chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party is also a pragmatist willing to compromise to achieve her goals (for instance, she is fine phasing in single-payer health care over time). Her tenure as a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee has also lent a decidedly national flavor to her list of endorsers, headlined by Stacey Abrams. Per Roll Call, at least half of the $450,000 she raised in January and February came from outside Louisiana; the Democratic women’s group Emily’s List has also spent $457,000 to help her get elected. Locally, Peterson is also aligned with BOLD, an influential political organization founded by her father that frequently clashes with Richmond and his allies.
Polls have consistently found Carter in first place with 23-35 percent and Peterson in second with 17-24 percent. But polls of House special elections have such large margins of error that it’s possible another candidate will leapfrog Peterson or Carter for a spot in the all-but-guaranteed runoff election. The likeliest to surprise is probably <https://twitter.com/GaryChambersJr>activist Democrat Gary Chambers</>, who is third in both January-February fundraising ($304,000) and the polls (6-13 percent). Chambers shares Peterson’s progressive views but better embodies the movement’s outsider, grassroots ethos: He gained thousands of social-media followers when a video went viral of him excoriating a white school board member for shopping online during a hearing over renaming a high school named for Robert E. Lee, and 74 percent of his January-February fundraising total came from small donors, far more than Peterson (14 percent) or Carter (2 percent).