Salazar v. Coors

Covering One of the Most Vital Senate Races in the Country.
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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Coors Concedes, Despite Losing By Only 2%

The headline is meant to be ironic. Over at View From a Height, I've been getting lots of hits on "Margin of Litigation," as though it were either a scientific term like "margin of error," or a legal term. Of course, it's neither. It's more like a wish, frankly, and that margin seems to be growing, rather than shrinking.

Last night, though, Pete Coors didn't have either on his side, at least by traditional standards, and was man enough to admit it. No recounts. No depending on absentee or provisional ballots to drag things out. Very gracious, very nice, very thankful and appreciative, but also very vanilla, which probably best encapsulates the reason that he lost.

Of course, we also lost control of the state legislature, both houses, which means that we don't yet know if Salazar was riding a Democrat tide here last night, or had coattails. Over the next day or two, as we start to analyze the data, we'll post some of the analysis here. For the moment, it just looks like Salazar was able to get enough votes out west and in the high country to offset Coors's advantage in Colorado Springs and in the even-more-thinly-populated eastern plains.

Coors is a good man who was never really able to capitalize on the resources of the statewide party to the extent that he should have. Speaking for myself, I doubt that Schaffer could have done much better statewide, but it be interesting to compare parallel-universe state maps. I suspect they would have been very different.

Friday, October 29, 2004

2002 Poll Biases Suggest Coors Victory

The final polls are out in the Senate race, and we again have great disparity among the different surveys, as we did two years ago for the Wayne Allard-Tom Strickland showdown. In the final election weekend polling of 2002, the Post had Strickland up by 1, the Rocky Mtn News had Strickland up by 5, and Zogby had Strickland up by 9. The final result? Allard 50, Strickland 45. That means the Post undercounted the GOP candidate by 6 points, the Rocky by 10 points, and Zogby by an atrocious 14 (but Zogby's reputation for state polling is notoriously bad).

Today, looking at a comparable snapshot of the race between Ken Salazar and Pete Coors, Zogby has Salazar leading by 9, the Rocky (Public Opinion Strategies) has Salazar leading by 6, and the Post (Mason-Dixon) shows the candidates knotted at 46. Factoring in the same biases that affected Colorado pollsters in 2002, the results of the election could be forecast as follows:

Zogby: COORS +5 (Salazar +9, net GOP gain of 14)
Rocky: COORS +4 (Salazar +6, net GOP gain of 10)
Post: COORS +6 (TIE, net GOP gain of 6)
Average: COORS +5

If this model holds true, Coors will win by the same margin that Allard did two years ago. But it will only happen if the Republican GOTV effort does its job. And believe me, it's looking strong.

The key difference between the two years, of course, is who is at the top of the ticket. In 2002 it was the governor's race, and Bill Owens won convincingly. The Dems fielded a weak candidate. Colorado is going for President Bush this year, but it figures that some more Dems will come out to vote against him. So I think it's safe to add that handicap to the average posted above. My prediction? Coors wins by 2 to 3 percentage points.

One final note I can't repeat often enough: predictions don't come true if you don't vote, if you don't volunteer for the 96 Hour Victory Team to ensure that every possible supporter of our side gets out and votes.

The only one of the polls with any internals available is the Denver Post. It looks like their balance of party sample (using a model of 37% GOP, 33% Independent, 30% Democrat) is very close to the actual. The Rocky Mountain News wouldn't release their internals because of "proprietary" issues.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus.

What Is Going On Here?

I wonder if many of you out there might be wondering why the posting at this site has been so sparse of late. Quite simply, it's because there's not a lot of news. As Ben's analysis below shows, both candidates have been doing pretty basic campaigning for the last couple weeks, and not making a lot of news. The Denver Post has coverage of Salazar's bus tour and of Coors' brutal schedule, and the Rocky Mountain News has stories of Coors' message and of Salazar's appeal, but neither story really does a whole lot to move the story down the field.

By the way, if you're concerned about the Zogby tracking poll that shows Salazar up by 11, don't be: in 2002, Zogby's last poll had Tom Strickland up on Wayne Allard by 9--Allard won by 5. Make no mistake--this will be a close one; but I tend to agree with Ben that the candidate's itineraries tell you alot about where they think the race is.

Cross-posted at Best Destiny

Thursday, October 28, 2004

But Where Are They Campaigning?

This morning's Post features separate reports from the campaign trail for both US Senate candidates. Read side-by-side, one gets the impression of a serious contrast. Mark Couch's piece focuses on Republican Pete Coors as a weary, sometimes frustrated, candidate who still makes the occasional gaffe during his speeches. Karen Crummy's piece paints Democrat Ken Salazar as a loose and confident rock star. Maybe it's more of the subtle tones that seep through, with the Post praising its pick for the Senate as a genuine man of the people and portraying his GOP opponent as a bit aloof and elitist.

Not surprising. I'm more interested in the subtext in the stories... namely, where are the candidates campaigning in the last week?

Salazar: After leaving the Eastern Plains, the failed Dairy Queen franchise operator stumps in southern Colorado cities like Lamar, Las Animas, and Alamosa - not far from his childhood home in the San Luis Valley. This rural constituency was supposed to be a stronger suit for the Democrat, yet he is focusing on shoring up this group six days before Election Day.

Coors: He's hitting Longmont and Fort Collins to shore up support, too, in some areas that are traditionally more Republican-leaning. Most interesting, though, is the mention of a rally in Denver with Sen. Elizabeth Dole to attract female voters.

This snapshot indicates that for the most part, both candidates are using the homestretch to reach out to the base. But to me, it looks like Coors is reaching a bit more into Salazar's column than the other way around. Will we see either of the candidates in suburban Denver over the next several days... especially the swing turf of Jefferson County - Arvada & Lakewood? I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open. Accepted wisdom in Colorado politics says close statewide races these days are won & lost on this neutral turf. Stay tuned.

Apart from the fact Coors has had to toss in more of his personal fortune than he earlier anticipated, I'd say the GOP machine - both state and national - is running this campaign on schedule and on target. With a little help from the 96-Hour Victory Team, we can carry Coors across the finish line on top. With the political eyes of the nation tuned to Colorado, don't forget the most important thing you can do: every vote counts.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus.

Monday, October 25, 2004

A Photo Finish? Your Guess is as Good as Anyone's

The most recent developments in the Senate race: the President comes to town to help push the Republican candidate past the finish line in front, and Coors pours $500,000 more of the family fortune into the race. What does it mean?

Salazar told supporters on the campaign trail: "I think they recognize that they are behind and that the only way they can win is by pumping millions more dollars into this election."

But then again, Coors also opened up his pocketbook to the tune of $400,000 right before his primary election showdown with Bob Schaffer. It wasn't desperation there, as the election results pointed out. However, Coors also subsequently promised to hold his personal contributions to the federal spending limit of $571,840. Now that Coors has topped that figure, Salazar is allowed to ask individual donors for up to $6,000, rather than the $2,000 allowed under regular campaign law - a result of the so-called "Millionaires' Amendment."

Recent polls are all over the place:

Zogby (Oct 21-24) Salazar +9
Survey USA (Oct 18-20) Coors +4
Ciruli Assoc (Oct 15-19) Salazar +4
Rasmussen (Oct 18) Coors +1
CNN/Gallup (Oct 14-17) Salazar +1
Rocky MN (Oct 13-15) Coors +5
Real Clear Politics Average = Salazar +0.6

Prognosticating who is going to win this race at this point means going with your gut. Only clear answers to some murky questions could give us a better picture of which candidate is edging ahead in the Senate race. With early voting a week old here in Colorado, how many votes does each candidate have locked in? Who is going to turn out in large numbers?

We can say for sure that Salazar, the failed Dairy Queen franchise operator, didn't greatly benefit himself by appearing with Kerry at a recent rally in Pueblo. And, of course, Kerry just pulled out of Colorado.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I Ran Away From John Kerry, Before I Ran With Him

John Kerry and Ken Salazar will finally share the same stage, after weeks of taunting from the Coors camp about their never having met. The event looks like a sandwiched-in kind of thing, on the way from Reno to Las Cruces, NM. Pueblo is heavily hispanic, and this looks like an attempt to use Salazar to shore up Kerry, without unduly damaging Salazar. Salazar, obviously, runs far ahead of Kerry among hispanics.

Cross-Posted at View From a Height.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Coors Pulling Ahead

Two sets of polls show Ken Salazar losing ground badly in the last couple of weeks of the campaign. Public Opinion Strategies, whose polls last month were widely discussed here, now has Coors with a 45-40 lead, where he had trailed 42-52 a month ago. The USA Today Gallup Poll has Coors erasing a 9-point deficit two weeks ago, to pull within a point, 49-48. (As an aside, it also has Amendment 36 collapsing to a mere 39% support, compared to 53% opposed.)
Neither poll would take into account a series of weekend side-by-side comparison interviews and profiles in the local papers. Those are online, but none of them really contains much new information.

Cross-Posted at View From a Height.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Why 'Sending Coors a Message' Is a Bad Idea

I received this via email from a Thinking Right reader today. Mr. Telli makes a very convincing argument why, while standing on principle is certainly respectable - in a political season where our very lives are at stake - it's foolish.

My Fellow Colorado Conservatives,

A few days ago I received a letter entitled "Sending Pete Coors a message about our Conservative values" from a group calling themselves Grassroots Conservatives. This letter urges other conservatives to refrain from voting in the Colorado Senate race, because Pete Coors is "masquerading as a conservative" and "bowing to the anything goes agenda". The letter is not signed and while I believe it could be a ruse from the Democratic Party to divide Republicans and convince some to stay home on Election Day, I also believe some conservatives may do exactly as this letter urges and refrain from voting in the Senate race. My fear is that many conservatives may be troubled by Mr. Coors' positions on social issues and rather than vote for someone they believe does not hold the same values as them, they will not vote. I completely respect standing on one's principals, but I believe this position is shortsighted and foolish and one that could hand the election of the second Colorado Senate seat to the Democrats.

I do not believe Mr. Coors is the easy victor on November 2 (as implied in the letter), and I am certain that the Democrats will turn out to vote for Mr. Salazar. If conservatives refrain from voting in this race, they not only risk losing the Colorado Senate seat, but also risk losing Republican control of the U.S. Senate. If Mr. Coors is victorious, it is possible that, with Senator Allard's and other conservatives' guidance, he will vote with his fellow Republicans. Mr. Salazar never will. If the Democrats gain control of the U.S. Senate, social issues held dear by conservatives will fall by the wayside. For example, the Marriage Amendment will not be brought up again for debate and certainly not for vote, there will be no hope to ban the horror of partial birth abortion, and the assault on God in our society is sure to continue and possibly increase. Furthermore, and possibly most importantly, if President Bush is to continue to bring the fight to our enemies, he must have the support of the Senate. The Colorado Senate race is only one important race this election year and Colorado Conservatives must do their part to help ensure Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate. It is for these reasons that I urge my fellow conservative to vote for Pete Coors on November 2.

I am in no way connected to the Coors campaign. In fact, I did not support Pete Coors in the primary and I was surprised by the margin he defeated Bob Schaffer. I also have concerns regarding his conservatism. However, I am certain that if the atrocity of partial birth abortion is ever going to end, if the sanctity of marriage has any chance of being protected, and if so many other issues that we hold dear will remain in the public forum, the Republicans must retain control of the U.S. Senate. If conservatives turn out in our full numbers on November 2, I'm confident this is possible. If not, then we allow the liberal Democrats to win.

May God continue to bless America.

Christopher Telli

Colorado Springs

Crossposted @: Thinking Right