Corey Gardner's Repackaging: How Big an Effect?

Via Andrew Romano:

Until last night. Gardner isn’t a moderate; he’s a pro-life Republican who ranked as the 10th most conservative House member in 2012. He has opposed Republican immigration reform efforts, voted to shut down the government unless Planned Parenthood was defunded and supported Cruz’s efforts to gut Obamacare.

Romano says Corey Gardner "repackaged" himself for yesterday's election: [More...]

He emphasized compromise and displayed a remarkable, Bill Clintonesque talent for triangulation on immigration, abortion and birth control.

Romano says if more Colorado Republicans follow his re-packaging strategy in 2016, it could make a big difference. He is far more knowledgeable about elections than I am (I spent a bit of time with him in Iowa covering a Romney house fundraiser during the 2007 caucuses so I know this.) Nonetheless, I would point out that despite the repackaging, Denver County voted overwhelmingly for Udall. Gardner only got 25% the county's votes. So Gardner's repackaging had no positive effect on Denver, which has the largest number of registered voters in Colorado. (Registered voter tallies are here.)

Similarly, only 22% of Denver voters chose gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez.

I think yesterday's election was less about the approval or repackaging of Gardner and more about low turnout among Democrats. Of Denver's 450,000 voters, 171,000 are registered Democrats while only 55,000 are registered Republicans. Voter turnout was low in Denver, only 200,000 of more than 450,000 registered voters showed up to vote, about 43%. Turnout was much higher in El Paso (55%), the largest Republican-dominated county, as well as the medium sized Douglas County (over 60%.) Gardner won the state by less than 100,000 votes. I think Denver alone could have brought it home for Udall, had more of its voters just showed up to vote.

Also, Gardner only won by 1,000 votes in Jefferson county, and by 600 votes in Larimer County, both of which are larger, predominately Republican counties. So Gardner's repackaging didn't have much of a winning impact in those counties. It could be argued he should have won by a larger margin, and his repackaging cost him votes.

Similarly, Gov. Hickenlooper beat Republican Beauprez in Jefferson County by 12,000 votes and by 8,000 votes in Larimer Counties, both of which have larger numbers of Republican registered voters.

El Paso County (Colorado Springs) will always be strongly Republican, whoever is running, but as we saw in 2008 and 2012, El Paso, Douglas, and the smaller rural and Western Slope conservative counties together aren't enough when Democrats in the urban areas turn out to vote.

Colorado has 3.6 million voters. While 1 million are unaffiliated, I think recent history (2008 and 2012) has shown that when Democrats turn out to vote in the larger counties, they take the state. I don't think it matters much how Republicans repackage themselves for 2016. In my admittedly non-expert opinion, what matters more is getting the Democrats to actually vote.

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    The GOP (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 02:22:23 PM EST
    is running from their own party's stances. It happened here in GA too. They tried to hide where they actually stood on issues.

    I agree wholeheartedly, Jeralyn, ... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 04:26:55 PM EST
    "My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I'm now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."
    - Woody Allen (1935- ), comedian, actor and director (Letter to the New York Times, August 13, 1989)

    ... about our party's serious and pervasive turnout issues. To that end, we really need to educate our own voters that every single election is important, from local school boards to city councils, county commissions, state legislatures and Congress -- not just the race for the White House every four years.

    In that regard, it should further be noted that in most states (but not all), the state legislature has sole authority to determine electoral district boundaries for all state legislative and congressional races, an important process known as either reapportionment or redistricting, depending on one's locale.

    That's why any election year ending in the digit "0" is particularly important, because those elections correspond with the decennial U.S. census count, which in turn requires all states to redraw electoral district lines to reflect the most recent population counts.

    So, the conspicuous failure of Pennsylvania Democrats to show up at the polls in significant numbers during the 2010 election enabled the GOP to seize control of that state's legislature, whereupon the new Republican majority then dutifully redrew the PA congressional map in their party's favor.

    Thus two years later, even though 52% of the 5,281,540 congressional ballots cast by Pennsylvania voters were for Democratic candidates, the Republicans were still able to prevail in 72% of the state's 18 House districts.


    And for 2016 (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 02:24:53 PM EST
    therein lies the challenge - will young people (who are not the same people as in 2008 and 2012, and African Americans turn out for the party, or were they more enamored with the person of Barack Obama?  Even in 2008, it was more about the cult of personality than Democratic candidates, as many people who voted for Obama did not vote downticket and we saw things like many state houses and state legislatures flip to the R's.

    I think by 2012 (none / 0) (#3)
    by CST on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 02:31:03 PM EST
    It was no longer about the "cult of personality" - whatever that means.  People care more about a presidential election in general though.  I can tell you there are a lot of people who cannot wait to vote for Hillary.  I know in my circle of people everyone who voted for Obama is excited about a Hillary ticket, and even a number of people who didn't vote for Obama are excited about a Hillary ticket, because they long for the Clinton days.  Not sure how that will play out with the new youth group that probably doesn't remember the 90's.  I don't know anyone who voted for Obama that wouldn't vote for Hillary - and I mean these people will show up.  Personal anecdotal evidence being worth - whatever it's worth.

    But it's definitely a different group of young people.  Get off my lawn!


    Don't forget the Latino vote (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 02:31:22 PM EST
    Maybe Hillary will choose the very popular Julian Castro as her running mate. And I wouldn't discount Hillary's personal popularity among Democrats. She's is far and away the most popular Democrat in America.

    She is (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 02:42:04 PM EST
    And just as importantly - she can bring in women and get more of the white vote. She can definitely cut into the middle class and blue collar white vote in rural areas where Obama never could.

    If Hillary Clinton is the Dem candidate (none / 0) (#12)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 09:38:56 AM EST
    in 2016, I unfortunately will have to hold my nose whilst casting my vote.

    I agree with (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 02:33:36 PM EST
    CST. The whole cult of Obama thing was over by the time 2012 rolled around.

    Waking at 3:30 this a.m. (none / 0) (#7)
    by christinep on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 05:09:25 PM EST
    after a long day scrounging for last-day votes in a few precincts in near west Denver when I actually felt punch-drunk elated until I checked the Denver vote turn-out about 5:00 pm and knew what would come ... and, as I got dressed in the pre-dawn and checked numbers in different areas, well we all know the drill.  But as for Denver and as to why it happened ... the morning walk-with-dog became very long.

    On the walk, I saw someone with his dog across the street; the person had once been chief of staff for a former Dem governor in CO. Naturally, we both remarked about the 6-year-itch and the generally fearful atmosphere in recent times and more.  Another area of agreement: Gardner schnookered/out-maneuvered the Udall campaign not only by confronting the "personhood" et al issue early and somewhat forcefully, but he also "kept on smiling" "deflecting the issue" and being generally upbeat & positive.  It is the old "Morning in America" positivism that Reagan acted in so well. It often works.

    Now for a blunt bit: My husband & I, who spent many sessions knocking doors and participating heartily in a number of Udall campaign events, had been troubled by the contrasting "dour" presentation of Senator Udall for the past few months ... realize that we think very highly of Udall (and his wonderful environmentalist spouse, Maggie Fox and that we believe he has been a very effective Senator in his one-term ... yet, also realize that something was missing, as if the campaign got stuck for too long on a slice of a bigger issue.  Please do not be offended when I say that it is difficult to make the campaign predominately about the "War on Women" when your opponent adeptly wriggled out of it.  Gardner wasn't an oblivious Ken Buck ... and all the repetition in the world wasn't going to make that happen.  It may have been the mistake of going to the well once too often.

    Our Colorado campaign needed a definable, coherent, positive purpose.  (Frankly, I believe that--even with the more expected red-state losses--we, as a party, could not really "localize" this election.  It is a lesson often re-learned that a candidate hides or runs from the party leader at his/her peril; so, best reinforce the best parts of the connection and frame the issue before it frames you.) It is not enough to assert that the votes are there; yes, the votes are there to be had in Denver, Boulder, more often Jefferson County, and a number of central mountain counties. But, the votes will stay put no matter all the technology of precision targeting if and until there is a genuinely personalized connection.  We need to refine our purpose in a positive way so that these Denver voters will find something to move toward and not simply something to move from or fear.

    Now that we've come through it all, I'm optimistic that we'll find that governing path.

    Christine, It wasn't just Colorado (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by NYShooter on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 10:21:07 PM EST
    needing "a definable, coherent, positive purpose." It was the Democratic Party needing "a definable, coherent, positive purpose."

    I don't think one can over-exaggerate the level of despondency, even despair, felt by the bulk of rank and file Democrats when the euphoria, and hope, of the 2008 election collided with the reality that we had, in fact, elected a DINO. From brushing the Bush war crimes under the carpet, to giving Wall Street a wink, and a perpetual get-out-of jail card; from his pathetic groveling at the feet of the Republicans, to his promoting "Grand Bargains" even the R's were afraid to touch.

    By the time he realized that the magical oratory he utilized to mesmerize so many naïve, Progressive-minded acolytes during the campaign wouldn't work with the battle hardened, mostly racist, Oligarch beholden Republicans, it was too late. The die was cast; "They" had won. For the remainder of his term, for too many of us, he seemed like he was manning a ship without a rudder, and with an engine operating on half its cylinders.

    It must have been an unimaginably heavy blow to a man who had reached such incredible, rarely matched, heights of success in elections to be knocked on his ass so ingloriously by this gang of knuckle-dragging thugs, known as Republicans.
    I don't think he ever recovered, he seemed to have lost interest, and, he certainly didn't display the sort of courage and leadership many of us still hoped he would.

    Many of us here at TL have expressed the feeling that "we didn't leave the Democratic Party, it left us." So, what this election demonstrated was that what had worked in the past, "vote for the Democrats, the Republicans are so much worse," just wouldn't work anymore.

    And, if they don't figure it out very soon, and give us a reason to vote FOR something, we'll finally see what it's like to live under a totally Republican government.


    You know what's (none / 0) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 10:31:04 PM EST
    ironic? I hear the same complaints from Republicans here in GA. They say that Obama sucks is the GOP campaign which it was. They want something to vote for as badly as we do.

    But the obvious difference here is that ... (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 05:34:38 PM EST
    ... those Republicans still turned out on Election Day, while a decisive number of Democrats instead sat at home and griped about their voices not being heard, thus becoming their own best self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I've said this before: If one truly seeks to bring about change, then one must become an active agent for that change.

    But being an agent of political change doesn't necessarily require you to pick up a clipboard and go door-to-door, or stuff envelopes and make phone calls on a candidate's behalf, although all that would be very much appreciated if you were so inclined. More often than not, it simply means making an effort to learn about the issues and the candidates, so that you can then cast an informed vote.

    Complaining simply for its own sake accomplishes absolutely nothing. And if some people can't even be bothered to either show up at their local precinct to vote or mail in their ballot, then by their own choice they've effectively removed themselves from the political equation and rendered themselves irrelevant to the public discussion.



    I think so, too (none / 0) (#11)
    by sj on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 11:34:42 PM EST
    I'm not sure if it's all that ironic, though. Both sides of the aisle can see that essentially it is the oligarchs who are providing our candidates.

    When I was a kid, Dems and GOP pretty much agreed on the problems. We differed drastically on the solutions, but the goals were in alignment: the common good. These rose colored glasses don't hide the corruption that always existed, but, in general, the focus was the common good.

    Then somehow it all became about the wedge issues.


    I have certainly not left (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 11:06:46 PM EST
    the Democratic party, and neither has TalkLeft. Readers of TL may have left the party, which is fine, just as there are numerous readers who never were Dems to begin with. Also, many long time and frequent readers of this site do not comment at all.

    I just write this to make it clear that readers/commenters do not speak for "TalkLeft", only for themselves. I know you didn't mean to speak for TalkLeft, but when you write "many of us here at TL" it can come across to someone who finds this thread via a search engine or just happens upon it that the comment was written by a spokesperson for TalkLeft, rather than someone who comments on the site. Again, it's just the choice of words I am referring to, I'm not suggesting you did anything wrong or disagreeing with you about the position of the site's readers.


    Would... (none / 0) (#15)
    by unitron on Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 06:18:24 PM EST
    ..."many of those of us who read and comment here at TL" have been a more acceptable way of phrasing it to make it clear that it wasn't site owners or managers to whom NYShooter referred?

    yes (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Nov 08, 2014 at 02:07:44 AM EST
    that would be fine.

    "Rising expectations" (none / 0) (#16)
    by christinep on Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 10:08:25 PM EST
    Way back when, I remember reading about studies of the dynamics and effects of "rising expectations" in a community.  It left a lasting impression of the kind that one files away, only to bring out and say "aha" as another example of what looks like "rising expectations" appears on the scene.  

    Briefly, the principle deals with the big ups & big downs associated with a kind of now-all-our-problems-will-be-solved-and-everything-will-be-better-or-perfect-because-of-<fill in the blank> him/her/this act/etc.  It is not a new finding, nor a new understanding.  It is a kind of magical thinking whereby people put someone on a pedestal because they need to or want to ... everyone is enthralled, thrilled, hopeful ... then, life goes on and problems still arise and/or people get impatient because the original high expectation cannot be met ... feet of clay, so knock him or her off the pedestal while blaming the subject of the initial adoration for all that didn't happen or that did happen.

    The problem with "rising expectations" or the inability/reluctance to manage expectations is that everyone feels a loss when the sky could not be reached.  Despondency or funk or whatever ... a kind of inevitability ... especially inevitable in complicated situations or a complicated system (aka governing a large, diverse, multi-faceted country) where many people with many interests are involved.  Heck, even a two-person scenario can confound "rising expectations."

    It may be that a segment of those who voted for Obama in 2008 became dejected given slow recovery, shifts in opinion, approaches that were altered.  In 2012, tho, the President easily won re-election ... so the electoral defection was limited.  You see, there were also numbers of individuals like myself, who voted for him the first time with very little expectation of near term economic recovery and who thought that the circumstances of 2008 foretold a one-term presidency in view of the huge economic collapse and the blood-sucking wars.  SO ... we had a very different reaction in that the more we saw and learned about this President Obama, the more we came to trust in his ability to govern our country ... the more we saw the more we liked (see, e.g., the significant healthcare reform that no predecessor could accomplish, the incremental economic improvements now set to go full throttle, the skillful maneuvering through the continued challenges presented in agonizing Mid-East developments, the demonstrated ability to grow and help usher in a more open national attitude toward social change, the solid Supreme Court appointments.)

    In so many ways, it seems that what we expect determines how we feel or react when the event transpires.  Isn't it always that way....