30 October 2014

Opinion: Reclaiming Tolerance

From here.

Several weeks ago, I heard a friend (much smarter than me) speak, and she said something that struck me then, and has stuck with me.

Tolerance implies disagreement.

Think about that for a minute.  That's extremely profound, and seems all too obvious now that I see it in all its clarity, but it never quite struck me that way before.

In today's political culture, people equate tolerance with acceptance, but that destroys the very definition of the word.  Tolerance does not mean acceptance.  In point of fact, they are about as opposite as you can get.

I'd say it's high time we reclaim tolerance.  We can, for lack of a better word, "co-exist" with a variety of differing opinions.  That's tolerance.  But we don't have to agree with them.  We can use persuasion and rhetoric to change minds while we still respect that there are opposing viewpoints out there and not everyone will always agree with us.  That is, by its very definition, the reality of toleranceexisting in a state of disagreement.

The Middle English definition for tolerance is "the action of bearing hardship."  Fascinating, isn't it?  Sometimes agreeing to disagree is quite a hardship.  That gives even more meaning and depth to the idea of tolerating an opposing view, doesn't it?  It certainly does for me.

It's high time we reclaim our language and the use of terms.  To tolerate something doesn't mean you like it or accept it.  And eradicating the fallacious use of this term to bring about what most who preach tolerance want (full, unequivocal acceptance) is long overdue.  Say what you really mean.  Don't redefine words to fit your twisted purposes.

Honestly, the most intolerant people I know are, ironically, the ones who use that word the most.

From here.

Here's the bottom line.  I can co-exist with opposing views, wrong as they may be.  I'm about as truly tolerant as they come.  I love a good debate.  And I love having a lively discussion about issues with which I disagree.

Here's the real question for you "tolerance" preachers out there: do you?  Because my guess is not.  So please, for the love of the English language, stop torturing words into meaning what they don't.  Be intellectually honest.  I know that's sometimes a hard thing to do.  So... at least invest in a dictionary?

From here.

29 October 2014

The Reformation and Millennials: What Does This Mean? (Part 4)

This presentation was given at the Weld County Republican Breakfast on 29 October 2014, and has been modified slightly to make sense in this format (there are a lot more pictures in the linked PowerPoint).

Please read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 first.

What Does This Mean?

In Luther’s Small Catechism, every Commandment is followed up by the question, “What does this mean?” This may seem a disjointed and unrelated talk. An event almost 500 years ago and a generation of young adults today? But there is a distinct connection, at least that I see.

The Reformation changed not only the church, but the world. We can do the same in politics (changing our country, and affecting the whole world) if we really focus. 

While millennials are the least religious generation in American history, those that are religious are longing for something with some roots and history. The GOP can fill that political longing in the same way that High Churches can fulfill their theological longing. But that means we as Republicans needs to stand firm. And that’s where the new (political) Reformation comes in.

New (Political) Reformation

It’s time for us to write our own 95 Theses and nail those on the Republican National Committee and Colorado Republican Committee doors in Washington and Englewood. It’s time the Party knows that we are serious

We believe in limited government, but Republicans are voting to raise the debt ceiling and for new taxes.

We believe in individual rights, but Republicans are voting to invade our privacy in ways we can’t even imagine.

We believe in property rights, but Republicans are voting to take away our property through eminent domain and asset forfeiture.

We believe in family values, but Republicans all over are watering down and moderating our message.

We believe in the value of life, but Republicans hide from that issue when it’s politically inconvenient for them.

We believe in the freedom of association, but Republicans are investigating bakers who turn down a customer.

We believe in the right to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our property, but Republicans compromise under political pressure on that most fundamental of rights.

We believe in the rule of law, but Republicans give themselves special favors and exemptions as elected officials, seeing themselves as above the law and not one of the hoi polloi.

We believe in liberty, but Republicans chip away at that day by day.

On and on and on I could go. I bet you are thinking of areas I missed already. My point now is not to get a full, perfect list, but to say this… that Republicanism, as a brand, is no longer credible

It is up to us to rebuild that trust and reclaim our brand… or go our separate way and let them die the death of the Whigs.

Please note: all pictures were found via google image search, all I did was crop and add text.

The Reformation and Millennials: What Does This Mean? (Part 3)

This presentation was given at the Weld County Republican Breakfast on 29 October 2014, and has been modified slightly to make sense in this format (there are a lot more pictures in the linked PowerPoint).

Please read Part 1 and Part 2 first.

Messaging in Politics

I was at fundraising training at the Leadership Institute in Washington DC last month, and we talked a lot about communication, especially right vs. left brained communication.

Left Brain

  • Intelligence 
  • Logic 
  • Thinking 
  • Short term memory 
  • Conscious awareness 
  • Language reasoning 
  • Problem solving 

Right Brain

  • Motivation 
  • Creativity and intuition 
  • Feelings and emotions 
  • Long term memory 
  • Subconscious mind 
  • Music and jingles 
  • Suggestion
I often say that I am so far left brained, I can’t see right brained. I’m very process-oriented, math-oriented, and so not creative. And, honestly, this is the story with a lot of those right of center. But we have to remember that…
  • Voting is an a-rational act 
  • Right brain is the motivator, left brain is the rationalizer 
  • Conservatives appeal to the left brain… 
  • …but the seat of motivation is the right brain! 
  • The better you can communicate to the right brain, the more you will motivate someone to take action!

Messaging to Millennials


  • Don’t talk down. 
  • Don’t let them know that you know it all. 
  • Don’t pander. 
  • Don’t be inconsistent.  
  • Don’t be a hypocrite. 
Remember: Millennials are the first generation to grow up with microtargeted advertisement from a very young age – they know how to spot BS when they hear it.


  • Do be honest
  • Do be upfront
  • Do be concise – remember, these folks have an attention span of 140 characters.
  • Do appeal to both sides of the brain
  • Do stand your ground
  • Do realize you aren’t going to change someone’s opinion on the first contact or overnight
  • Do build credibility by building a relationship

How to Talk Social Issues

Here are some general ideas to remember when forming your plan to talk about social issues with the “Me” generation:

Do not start out by talking about religion – social issues are moral issues first, not necessarily faith issues. Millennials are the least religious generation in American History.

Ask questions first – and listen. You’ll surprise them. Millennials want to be heard and understood… like everyone else.

Understand that millennials’ education has been drastically more liberal than previous generations. You have to cut through all of that before you can get to the meat of the issue.

Understand that millennials are accustomed to instant gratification. If you can’t provide instantaneous results, they are going to be less interested.

Access to information is much more readily available to millennials than any other generation before. They can fact check, and probably in the palm of their hand, so be precise!

Be ready and willing to agree to disagree, and not argue minutia. Go in with the understanding that you will not come out with 100% agreement.

Follow up. Planting seeds now can reap significant fruits in 1, 5, or even 10 years.

Finally, this is the narcissistic generation. Convincing them that they are wrong is a long-term project. Be ready to invest some time in this endeavor.

Continued in Part 4.

Please note: all pictures were found via google image search, all I did was crop and add text.

The Reformation and Millennials: What Does This Mean? (Part 2)

This presentation was given at the Weld County Republican Breakfast on 29 October 2014, and has been modified slightly to make sense in this format (there are a lot more pictures in the linked PowerPoint).

Please read Part 1 first.


A “millennial” is defined on Wikipedia as “the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends. Researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. ([They are] also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y).”

Before we get into the political aspect, let’s bridge that gap with a look at millennials in the church.

Millennials in the Church

I have a few quotes I’d like to share on this topic from three different articles published last year. I want you to pay careful attention, because as with most of this series, there is a meaning to them far beyond just plain theology.

“The kids who leave evangelical Protestantism are looking for something the world can’t give them. The world can give them hotter jeans, better coffee, bands, speakers, and book clubs than a congregation can. What it can’t give them is theology; membership in a group that transcends time, place, and race; a historical rootedness; something greater than themselves; ordained men who will be spiritual leaders and not merely listeners and buddies and story tellers. … They are looking for true, deep, intellectually robust spirituality in their parents’ churches and not finding it.” (Rebecca VanDoodewaard, Young Evangelicals are Getting High)

“Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. – precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being ‘cool,’ and we find that refreshingly authentic. What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance. … You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.” (Rachel Held Evans, Why millennials are leaving the church)

“‘He cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church for his Mother,’ said Cyprian, nearly two millennia ago. Perhaps if Protestant churches began acting more like dutiful mothers instead of fun babysitters, there would be fewer youth leaving their ecclesiastical homes as soon as they are out of the house.” (Rebecca VanDoodewaard, Young Evangelicals are Getting High)

“In my 20s, liturgy seemed rote, but now in my 30s, it reminds me that I’m part of an institution much larger and older than myself. As the poet Czeslaw Milosz said, “The sacred exists and is stronger than all our rebellions.” … [Churches,] as you change – or as change is imposed upon you – keep your historic identity and your ecclesial soul. Fight the urge for perpetual reinvention, and don’t watch the roll book for young adults.(Andrea Palpant Dilley, Change Wisely, dude)

Millennials in Politics

  • Most millennials (51%) believe in economic freedom, limited taxes and government, and entrepreneurialism
  • Most millennials (62%) believe in “social justice” and consider themselves “liberal” on social issues
    • Now, it is important to note that the percentage of millennials who agreed with social justice dropped drastically—by more than a third—when the words “larger taxes” were thrown into the mix. Fascinating, no?
  • In other words… most millennials could be considered libertarian (53% would vote for a fiscally conservative, socially liberal candidate)
  • Millennials weight social issues as a higher priority than fiscal issues – and that’s where our battle lies
Find more details at this Reason-Rupe Poll released in July 2014.

This is actually neither unusual, nor surprising... considering the idiom about age and political ideology.

Battle for Millennials

In order to win the millennial vote, Republicans need to learn a few things about messaging.
  1. Stop moderating our positions.  Period.
  2. Learn how to communicate better.
  3. Reach people where they are at now, not where we want them to be.
  4. Build relationships first.

Continued in Part 3 and Part 4.

Please note: all pictures were found via google image search, all I did was crop and add text.

The Reformation and Millennials: What Does This Mean? (Part 1)

This presentation was given at the Weld County Republican Breakfast on 29 October 2014, and has been modified slightly to make sense in this format (there are a lot more pictures in the linked PowerPoint).


  • Brief history of the Reformation (Part 1)
  • The role of church in politics (Part 1)
  • Millennials in the church and in politics (Part 2)
  • Messaging (Part 3)
  • What does this mean? (Part 4)
  • The new (political) Reformation (Part 4)

Brief History of the Reformation

The Reformation was a seminal moment in world history.  It is easily in the top 5 most important, impactful events to ever occur.

While there are many players in the Reformation, for the purposes of this presentation, we are focused on the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther, a German Augustinian Monk and author of the 95 Theses, who, on October 31, 1517 (now celebrated as Reformation Day by Lutherans worldwide) at the Wittenberg Castle Church Door in Wittenberg, German, where, today, they have a door with the 95 Theses carved into them at the exact spot where the Rev. Dr. Luther nailed these theses, written in Latin, to expose the teachings of the Catholic Church, primarily on the selling of indulgences and, secondarily, on the doctrinal policies about purgatory, particular judgement, and the authority of the Pope. 

Now, for the backstory.  I'd like for you to meet Johannes Tietzel (John or Johann Tetzel), a Dominican Friar and Grand Commissioner for indulgences in German.  Using fire and brimstone sermons that would put Southern Baptist preachers to utter shame, Tietzel went from town to town in Germany hocking indulgences, which read:

"In the authority of all the saints, and in compassion towards thee, I absolve thee from all sins and misdeeds, and remit all punishment for ten days."

The selling of these indulgences was to pay for the reconstruction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  The sale of indulgences for this purpose occurred under Pope Leo X, although half of the money from the sale of indulgences went to the Archbishop of Mainz, Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenberg (who was Tietzel's direct superior) in order to pay off the debts he incurred securing his seat as an Archbishop.

When preaching for indulgences, a little rhyme became well known.  Whether it was used in this exact form or not is the source of academic debate, but I'm sure it's familiar to many readers.  In fact, this was directly addressed in two of the 95 Theses:

“27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.”

“28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.”

Why does this matter?

Rev. Dr. Luther wanted an academic debate. This is why the theses were written in Latin. However… that was never to be, due to the translation into German and wide distribution of the 95 Theses that caused an absolutely firestorm. The result? Well, it had an impact far beyond just theological reform.


  • Immense increase in literacy 
  • Drastic change in church services (in native language instead of Latin, congregant participation, sacrament accessibility, etc.) 
  • Expanded educational opportunities for all (including for women and children) 
  • Opening Scripture to laymen 
  • Emphasis on marriage and the family
But perhaps the most important cultural impact was the publishing of Luther’s Bible in 1534. This piece of work codified the German written language in a way it never was before. While there are still a wide range of spoken German dialects, the written language is largely unified thanks to this translation. 

Additionally, this piece of machinery absolutely revolutionized the Reformation. The printing press was literally the social media of the day, and Luther seized upon that. There was an excellent article in The Economist a few years ago that talked about this.
“It's also what happened during the Reformation, nearly 500 years ago, when Martin Luther and his allies took the new media of their day—pamphlets, ballads and woodcuts—and circulated them through social networks to promote their message of religious reform.
     Scholars have long debated the relative importance of printed media, oral transmission and images in rallying popular support for the Reformation. Some have championed the central role of printing, a relatively new technology at the time. Opponents of this view emphasise the importance of preaching and other forms of oral transmission. More recently historians have highlighted the role of media as a means of social signalling and co-ordinating public opinion in the Reformation.
     Now the internet offers a new perspective on this long-running debate, namely that the important factor was not the printing press itself (which had been around since the 1450s), but the wider system of media sharing along social networks—what is called “social media” today. Luther… grasped the dynamics of this new media environment very quickly, and saw how it could spread his message.”  (How Luther Went Viral, The Economist, December 17, 2011)

Economic and Political

  • Europe became politically fragmented along religious lines 
  • Rejection of religious “authorities” by monarchs 
  • Many citizens challenging the idea of “divine right” of monarchs 
  • Secularization of politics (separation of church and state—up until this time, the state was almost always associated in some way with religion) 
  • Weakening of the Holy Roman Empire and rise of the nation-states in Europe 
  • A lot of wars (not that this was anything new) 
  • Rise of Capitalism


  • Rise of individualism—economic, political, and social 
  • Encouragement of intellectualism and the renaissance 
  • Strengthened middle class 
  • Poor classes began to demand reforms for themselves (e.g. German Peasant’s War, 1525) 
  • Rise of a more democratic vs. feudal form of government across Europe

The Role of Church in Politics

As much as I’d like to stay out of the theological weeds, I would be very remiss if I didn’t briefly go over one of the greatest theological triumphs of the Reformation: the distinctly Lutheran doctrine of the Three Estates and Two Kingdoms Theology.

Three Estates 

The Fourth Commandment ("Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother") establishes all authority and is the font of societal order and the foundation of all other commandments following.

Estates are the ordering of society.

For more about the role of Christians in government and voting, I highly recommend this resource from my Pastor, Bryan Wolfmueller, called the Voters Guild to the Ten Commandments.

The three Estates are:
  • 1st: Family - parents –> children
    • Foremost estate of human society—the primary building block 
  • 2nd: Church - preacher –> preachee (hearer) 
    • Also deals with the 3rd commandment 
    • Canonical governance, means of disseminating Law and Gospel 
  • 3rd: State - ruler –> ruled 
    • Civil governance (derived from family) 
    • Unlike the other two estates, the structure of the state is complex, although overly simplified, it becomes ruler and ruled; unique caveat with constitutional representative government system (like America) 
It is VERY important not to confuse these estates (i.e. into a theocracy unless it is established by God--the ONLY one ever established was in Old Testament Israel).  It is wholly inappropriate to confuse or commingle the role of the church and state.

Two Kingdoms Theology

I've written about this here and here and here and here, but below is a brief reminder of the divisions of the Two Kingdoms:

Left-hand Kingdom
Right-hand Kingdom
Kingdom of Man (State)
Kingdom of God (Church)
Sword: Internal and External
Word, no sword
Exists for Order and Justice
Exists for Mercy
External Righteousness
Internal Righteousness
Realm of Morals
Realm of Faith
Ruled by Reason
Ruled by Scripture

Continued in Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Please note: all pictures were found via google image search, all I did was crop and add text.

14 October 2014

Vision for the Next Generation

The vision of homeschooling can often be encapsulated by saying that homeschool parents are training up the next generation of leaders.  What constitutes a leader?  What is the composition of leadership?  Edwin H. Friedman, a leadership educator, once said that, “Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.”  While drones are created in the public schools to serve blindly their master, (in this case, the state), homeschoolers have the unique opportunity to create the next generation of leaders by molding them and creating a vision for the future, then achieving it.

I was homeschooled from the end of first grade on.  For as long as most of us can remember, I have had a vested interest in politics.  Beginning in 1998, I spent countless hours on campaigns, Capitol internships, debate (both participation and coaching) and other activities to further this end.  During high school, my parents constructed a program focused on my political interest.  Since high school, I’ve worked on more than a few campaigns, including to elect reform-minded candidates to school boards across Colorado—boards that are friendly to homeschoolers and are looking to break the mold of public schooling.

Recently, I took things a step further and started a 501(c)3 organization called the Colorado Institute of Advanced Governance to create and train a new generation of political leaders with a solid foundation in limited government principles and the skills necessary to advance that in the political arena.  Very little of this could have been accomplished if my parents had not shaped for me a vision for the future, and then helped me to achieve it, adding to it my own vision along the way.  Leadership starts at home.  That is where leaders are formed.

Another example of this is perhaps better said by former British Prime Minister James Callaghan: “A leader must have the courage to act against an expert's advice.”  Every day, homeschoolers run against the accepted experts’ advice to teach their children in their homes.  This requires bravery, lots of prayer, but most importantly, it requires leadership.  And that all starts in the home.

This reminds me of a bungle in California with the appellate court’s anti-homeschooling ruling in 2008.  I think Ruben Navarrette, a staff writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, in his March 20, 2008 article “California court overreached on homeschooling case”, summarizes this nicely. 

“Th[is is] the part that deserves criticism.  The court overreached and turned a child-welfare case into an assault on homeschooling.  How do you go from one to the other?  This was a good moment for judicial restraint.  At the very least, this decision should be limited to the unique circumstances of the Long family, and not stand as a precedent that leads other families who homeschool to worry that they too could be ordered to stop teaching their kids.  The part worth celebrating is that the ruling is so over the top and contrary to common sense that it has put the issue of homeschooling front and center and has motivated the defenders of the practice to set their sights on California.  Homeschool advocates vow to help the Longs appeal the ruling.  And they have a heavyweight in their corner.  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately denounced the appeals court ruling and promised to change state law to guarantee that parents have the right to teach their children at home.  Parents should decide what is best for their children, he said, and "not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children's education.”  The governor is quite correct, and I'm glad to see him in this fight.  Homeschooling isn't perfect.  But look around.  Neither is the public school system, which needs all the reform it can get.  That's why we can't stop looking for viable alternatives that augment traditional teaching - and, just as importantly, challenge traditional thinking.” (emphasis added) 
Vision is the end to this means.  To be able to train up leaders, however, we must first protect the fundamental right to homeschool.  We must always continue to be vigilant in our efforts to promote parental choice and for that to include the uninhibited right to homeschool.  Without this, we lose one of the greatest opportunities to influence the world with our faith and our values because we lose the capacity to easily sculpt new leaders.  As I said before, it all starts in the home.  Cast this vision for your family, for your children, and engage yourself in protecting your rights.  You must do this today, because as we can see in California, the threat is real, here and now.  You can have a huge effect on this world, both your immediate environment and inevitably the rest of the world, if you do.

This article was updated from its original publication from the Support Group Leaders Memo of August 2008.

05 October 2014

Lessons Learned

Picture found here.

If you weren't following this blog in 2012, you may have missed the predictions I made then.  Well, fear not, because 2014's predictions are now out.  My goal is to meet or come close to last cycle's 97% accuracy.  Frankly, anything about 90% is nothing to sneeze at, so I'll set that as my lofty goal.  I certainly learned more from the 3 races I got wrong in 2012 than the 94 I got right, which has helped adjust my model.

2014's predictions will be a little more scientific than in 2012.  In fact, I learned a few good lessons in and since 2012 that I applied when making these predictions.  While my model is based almost entirely on past performance and registered voters, occasionally there are circumstances that might cause a shift in a race, which I held out as long as I did on posting my predictions.

Without further ado, on to the lessons learned...

1. No matter how much I like a candidate, tough races are tough races and districts perform much like the numbers indicate they should.  
I admit to weighting races in 2012 generously (and, in the case of some, too generously) for candidates that I particularly liked--something I am trying to avoid in this year's predictions.  It helps that I know fewer of the candidates in 2014 as well as I knew the 2012 candidates.  In fact, some folks of less than savory integrity and character have used this point as a means to attempt to discredit the results.  I didn't actually set out in 2012 to be nearly as accurate as I was, to be honest.  It was more a fun, informational post than the eerily accurate predictions it turned out to be.  I learned what worked and what to improve, so hopefully this time around is less "opinion" and more "fact".  I suppose you could say that 2012 was an accidental test run.  Hindsight is 20/20, and I would have been more judicious in my use of "toss-up" and gone with my gut instinct on result in more races in 2012 if I had it to do over.

2. Historical district performance outweighs registration advantages.
Speaking of improperly weighting things, 2012 taught me that registration numbers and district performance numbers are not equal.  In 2012, I considered the two to be equally important.  The results of 2012 proved that district performance outweighs a registration advantage in a district.  Instead of looking at them both primarily to determine the District Ranking for this year's predictions, I looked at performance primarily, and registration secondarily.

3. It has been confirmed to me time and again that Jon Caldera's number one rule (that there is nothing Republicans can't eff up) is even more true in Colorado than anywhere else.  
Since there has been very little in the way of leadership change since 2012, I expect equally (or more) dismal results after Election Day for the GOP.  Maybe Ryan Call will finally get the hint that if he campaigned for Republicans as strenuously as he did to save his own six figure job, we might not be entirely in the mess we are now.  Based on what I've seen come out of State Party this cycle, their number one goal is to elect Cory Gardner, with the secondary goal of re-electing Mike Coffman.  While that's nice, that completely ignores the state of Colorado, and specifically the Legislature, where candidates need support much more than Gardner or Coffman do.  Of course, there are the puff pieces about Beauprez that started coming out from the State Party before the primary was over, but that's because it'd be political suicide to "ignore" the top race in the state.

4. Thanks to Redistricting and Reapportionment, Republicans in Colorado are screwed until 2022.
It's not like I didn't know this in 2012, but the results of 2012 proved just how true this really is.  Republicans will be very hard pressed to regain control of the House at all this decade.  The Senate is easier, but still not easy.

5. There is such a thing as too much data.  
After 2012, I started compiling data I had been collecting for over a decade, with over 150 data points for each district, to try and create a predictions model.  Using that much data made picking a selected outcome easy, but not necessarily accurate.  Rather than make the mistake of the failed CU Presidential Predictions Model, I decided to focus on the two areas that made my results so accurate in 2012: voter registration and district performance.

6. The biggest difference between my predictions and others is polling and money.  
I generally find polling to be a useless waste of money and time unless I can see all the cross tabs on it, and even then, I rarely trust it.  There is almost nothing easier to manipulate in politics than polling.  Remember that internal poll that showed Cantor up by 34 points?  I'm sure that looked like a good use of money after he got his butt handed to him (12 points!) by someone who spent a fraction of what he did.  Do you realize that's a 46% swing from what was predicted by a poll to what actually happened?  Of course, that's an extreme case.

This race also serves to prove my money point, which makes it a perfect example.  The candidate with the most money doesn't always win ($5,026,626 to $122,793).  Again, this is an extreme case, but the point is this: poll results and money raised/spent do not determine outcomes of elections.  Sure, the money side certainly has an effect on the outcome of a race, and it isn't unimportant, but it is a relatively small piece of the puzzle compared to voter registration and historical district performance.  And that is where I drastically differ from anyone else I've ever seen make predictions, because I honestly don't even look at polls or funds raised/spent when determining what I think will happen in a race until after all the other data has been weighed.  Variables can certainly swing a race, but 90% of the battlefield is laid in past performance and voting populace.

7. 2013 was a fascinating year.  
2013 brought about horrific voting law changes, including same day registration, ridiculously lax residency requirements, and all mail-ballot elections, which will likely drastically change the way elections play out in the future, and probably not in favor of liberty or Republicans.  Because of these changes (the significant potential for "vote shifting" and the same day registration parts in particular), I honestly don't know how well, if at all, election predictions can be done going forward.  2014 is going to be an interesting experiment in how this will affect the historical performance of a district.

The one plus of mail-ballot elections is old/inactive voters have finally been taken off the rolls.  The number of voters in Colorado has been steadily increasing since 2004 (the first year I have data), which is something you'd expect as the population grows and ages.  Until now.  Between November 1, 2012 and August 1, 2014, there are 2.42% fewer overall voters on the rolls.  Democrats are down 4.18% of their voters overall, Republicans are down by 2.47%, and Unaffiliateds down 1.1%.  Interestingly, Libertarians are at almost 118% of their 2012 number.  What effect, if any, this will have in November remains to be seen, but it is a fascinating bit of data.

On the flip side, the recall efforts proved that "unwinnable" seats can be flipped temporarily, even with crappy replacements, when a galvanizing issue is strong and relevant enough (and, again, proving my point about how money alone doesn't win elections).  The November 2013 election was also a good sign in Jefferson County, but I wouldn't count those chickens before they hatch.  It is yet to be seen how the recalls and November 2013 elections will have an impact in 2014.  I fear that they were too long ago to make a big enough difference this year, but we'll just have to wait and see.

8. Simplicity is key (or, Keep It Simple, Sarah).  
Rather than list out all the races in the lengthy manner I did in 2012, I'm going to condense the information on "holdovers" (2s and 6s), because they're less interesting from a predictions standpoint as a general rule.  There are summary posts coming as well, if you don't want to read the lengthy predictions post.

9. Finally, Nate Silver isn't as good as I am.  
Seriously.  At least for now.  He made predictions in a little over a third of the number of the races I did (which, to be fair, isn't quite an apples to apples comparison anyways because his races were federal, and mine were all Colorado-based, and predominately local races, but just go with me here).  His result was a 94% accuracy--which is nothing to sneeze at, don't get me wrong.  But, at least for 2012, I can claim to be better than Nate Silver.  Yes, this isn't so much a lesson as a personal point of bragging--but be honest, if you bested the "best" in the business, wouldn't you brag about it too?

03 October 2014

2014 Predictions: The Snapshot

Bottom line (up front): It doesn’t look good for Colorado Republicans.  Again.
Image used from here

2012 was a rough year for Colorado Republicans.  So was 2010 (despite it being a peak GOP year in Colorado and the “Tea Party wave” occurring… well, everywhere, it seems, but Colorado), 2008, 2006, and 2004.  Looks like 2014 will be following suit, because not enough has been done to change Colorado’s political environment.  Republicans are still playing catch-up to a decade-old strategy that has long since been improved upon by the other side.

Below are a snapshot of my predictions, with a brief explanation for each set.  On Monday, I’ll be posting the specifics on each district and explanation for my predictions.  That will be a long post.  Because of the number of races covered, there really isn’t a way to make it short, although I’ve done what I can from 2012 to make it more compact without reducing the amount of necessary info. 

Now, without further delay, my 2014 predictions…

Statewide: 3D/2R — think it is likely that Republicans do what they have done the last 2 off-cycle elections (2010 and 2006): Lose at the top of the ticket, but win other races statewide.  This year, however, I don’t think Republicans will be as lucky as they were in 2006 and 2010, winning only one—maybe two—other statewide races, instead of all three.

Congressional: 3R/3D/1 Toss-up — The Congressional Districts were re-drawn in 2011 to be essentially non-competitive, with the thought that CD6 would eventually be a Democratic district.  Is 2014 the year for it to go D?  I guess we’ll find out.

CU Regents: 2D/1R — No change from the current make-up of the board in this election.

State Board of Education: 2D/1R No change from the current make-up of the board in this election.

State Senate: 18D/17R (8R/5D/5 Toss-up) — The make-up of the State Senate for seats not up for election in 2014 is 10D/7R, for a total of 18D/17R currently.  I believe that SDs 3 and 11 will flip back to D, which brings us to 20D/15R (the make-up pre-recall).  I believe SDs 5 and 16 will go R, and 19 and 22 will stay D, so there will be NO net change to the State Senate.

State House: 35D/28R/2 Toss-up — I think there may be either no net gain in the State House (toss-ups going one each to Rs and Ds), or there will be a one-seat pick-up for Republicans (if both go R).  There is, of course, the lesser chance of a Democratic pick up (if both go D), but I think that is relatively unlikely.

Ballot Initiatives — While I am not making predictions on ballot initiatives (I lack the data to make an informed conclusion there), my recommendations are as follows:
  • YES on Prop. 104 
  • NO on Amendment 68 and Prop. 105 
  • No recommendation on Amendment 67 (I will likely be undervoting on that one myself)

In other wordsthere will be either net losses or no change across the board for Republicans if the results are as pessimistic as I expect.  I hope I’m wrong, because I’m honestly kind of tired of saying “I told you so,” at this point.  Unfortunately, I think I’ll be more right than wrong... again.

Comments?  Challenges?  Let me know!