30 September 2016

2016 Colorado Elections Forecast

Don’t worry!  Full predictions will be coming before ballots drop on October 17, but in the meantime, I wanted to give you a sneak peek at what I’m looking at and give you a chance to weigh in on what you realistically think will happen this election cycle.

Remember, this is about reality, not what I wish would happen or what I would make happen in a perfect world. 

Reality Check

Let’s look at a few facts about Colorado elections:
  • Presidential election years have favored Democrats in Colorado since 2004 (Democrats average 50.39% in all statewide, congressional, and legislative races in the last three Presidential election cycles to Republican’s 46.65%, or put another way, it’s a 3.74% Democratic advantage in Presidential years over Republicans)
  • Years with more ballot initiatives favor Democrats since 2000 (particularly given the content of some of the initiatives this cycle)
  • And, while I don’t much care for lies, damn lies, statistics, and political polling, it’s pretty clear without a poll that the electorate is incredibly divided and I suspect there will be a lot of mixed party ballots cast this cycle, which changes things in terms of predictability
Bottom Line: I predict this election will have one of the squirreliest results of any Colorado election in recent memory.  I also predict that we will not see a break in the trend of largely Democratic victories in presidential, ballot initiative-heavy election years.

Hold on a Minute…

Yes, I know, it’s unpopular to predict Democrat victories, especially in the circles in which I run.  It wasn’t any more popular in 2012 when I was right 97% of the time, or in 2014 when I was right 94% of the time.  So… maybe third time’s the charm?

The point of these predictions isn’t to be popular.  Let’s face it, I’ve never been one to win a popularity contest, particularly in politics. 

The point is to be right and to see if there are trends that can be established.  Most importantly, it’s to build the case for 2021 redistricting and reapportionment, where the landscape of Colorado elections will be set until 2032.  Think about that for a minute while you keep reading.


Given some fairly high-profile races, Colorado primaries were amazingly calm compared to previous election cycles.  That doesn’t mean they were without their issues, however.  Most notably:
  • Colorado Pioneer Action’s meddling in races (which left them 3-4) shows we must still fear the walking dead in the Colorado GOP Establishment (affecting HD16, HD38, HD63, HD64, SD4, SD12, and Douglas County Commissioner District 3)—my personal favorite is political hack Mike Ciletti working for AND against Lori Saine in HD63, who thankfully won that primary, despite hackerific Ciletti's best (worst?) attempts
  • The surprise victory of Darryl Glenn not once (at state assembly) but twice (in the primary) was, perhaps, the biggest upset of any… at least my time in politics, since 1998
  • The brouhaha with the national delegates over casting votes for Cruz (to whom they pledged but were not bound) and some ultimately voting for Trump in July
  • Democrats having more primaries than Republicans (say WHAT? that never happens!)—not an issue, just a point of interest here, folks

Honestly, this was a pretty unremarkable primary season, again when compared to past cycles.  Certainly with some issues, but it seemed almost sane by comparison.  Which is weird, to say the least.

Redistricting and Reapportionment

Yes, I know it last happened in 2011 and won’t happen again until 2021, but in case you haven’t noticed yet, it has the single most profound effect on election results in Colorado State House, State Senate, and Congressional Districts.  District lines, NOT demographics, are the #1 predictor of election results in a given district.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s play a numbers game…


Before we get to the fun stuff, I should mention that the State Senate Districts that are up in Gubernatorial years tend to favor Republican victories, Presidential years tend to favor Democratic victories.  Coincidence?  I think it’s by design.  But keep that in mind when looking at the numbers for State Senate seats.

Additionally, the results for State Senate seats contain two numbers: R or D seats won vs. how many were up that cycle (and the ultimate result it had in the Senate make-up).

The numbers below are every vote cast in each district for Republican candidates and Democratic candidates, for that election then averaged.  In other words, if lines were truly representative of how the districts vote… what would our landscape look like?  

Proportional results are rounded (since you can’t have a fraction of a legislator… well, technically speaking.  Some of them seem to do a fraction of the job, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.  When numbers don’t add up to 100%, there may be a few legislators missing—maybe we’d actually get some third party/unaffiliated legislators in with proportional representation?


State Senate 2010
Actual Result
Proportional Result
9/18 (15/35)
10/18 (16/35)
9/18 (20/35)
8/18 (19/35)

State House 2010
Actual Result
Proportional Result

Congressional 2010


State Senate 2012 *
Actual Result
Proportional Result
6/20 (15/35)
9/20 (18/35)
14/20 (20/35)
10/20 (16/35)
* note, because of the 2013 recalls, the Senate shifted to 18D/17R between 2012 and 2014’s elections

State House 2012
Actual Result
Proportional Result

Congressional 2012


State Senate 2014
Actual Result
Proportional Result
11/18 (18/35)
11/18 (18/35)
7/18 (17/35)
6/18 (16/35)

State House 2014
Actual Result
Proportional Result

Congressional 2014

More Notes

Is this not insane?  How is it, in a year that Democrats won a net 5 seats, they actually received fewer total votes than Republicans in the State House (2012)?  How about an election year that netted a 1 seat advantage for Republicans in the State Senate (2014) being a near 2-1 trouncing of Democrats in the overall percentage of votes?  

This, friends.  This is why district lines are the single most important issue when determining election outcomes.  Not demographics.  Not polls.  Not money raised or spent.  Lines.  District lines.  Politically drawn marks on a map that change the destiny of Colorado a decade at a time.


Fellow Coloradans, November 8, 2016 is shaping up to be partly cloudy with a chance of Democratic victory.  There may also be a blood moon in there somewhere, but you’ll have to check with someone who tries to divine the return of Christ through signs for that one.

At this point, given what I know and if the election were held today, my forecast for Colorado Election results is:

Statewide: 3D/0R

  • President, US Senate, and CU Regent At-Large are leans D

CU Regent: 1D/1R

  • 1 = D hold
  • 4 is R hold

Board of Ed: 0D/3R

  • 3 + 5 + 6 are R holds

Congressional: 3D/3R/1 toss-up

  • 1 + 2 +7 are D holds
  • 4 + 5 are R holds
  • 3 is leans R
  • 6 is toss-up/leans slightly D

State Senate (of the 18 seats up): 9D/6R/2 toss-up (possible D net gain of 2)

  • 14 + 17 + 18 + 21 + 25 + 28 +29 + 31 + 33 are D holds
  • 4 + 8 + 10 + 12 + 23 + 27 are R holds
  • 19 + 26 + 35 are toss-up/leans D

State House: 35D/28R/2 toss-ups (likely D net gain of up to 3)

  • 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 +12 + 13 + 18 + 23 + 24 + 26 + 28 +31 + 32 + 33 + 34 + 35 + 36 + 40 + 41 + 42 + 46 + 50 + 52 + 53 + 61 + 62 are D holds
  • 17 + 30 are D pick-ups
  • 14 + 15 + 16 + 19 + 20 + 21 + 22 + 25 + 27 + 37 + 38 + 39 + 43 + 44 + 45 + 47 + 48 + 49 + 51 + 54 + 55 + 56 + 57 + 58 + 60 + 63 + 64 + 65 are R holds
  • 29 + 59 are toss-ups/leans D


So there you have it folks! Full predictions (which, when I get to dig in a little more, may shift slightly—this is, after all, a Colorado weather forecast) coming in the first two weeks of October, so stay tuned!

The predictions will also include District Attorneys (which I just haven’t had time to look at before this post, I don’t expect much change there, though), a run down of the amendments, and county turnout data for the past several cycles with trend projections as well.

In the mean time…


Please share those with me!

Comment, share, like, tweet, pin, +, argue, praise… just please don’t wake the babies if you’re going to yell.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

27 September 2016

The Real Value of Education

This post is the final part in a series of three posts on school choice focusing on value: the value in true bi-partisan support of an issue, the inherent value in choice, and the ultimate value in education.  Read part 1 and part 2 now.

“If you don’t have a college degree, you won’t amount to anything in life.”

“Good thing you’re a stay-at-home mom since you don’t have a degree.”

“Wow, your background and experience is so impressive!  Where did you go to college?  What’s that, you didn’t?  Oh.”

“How do you expect to homeschool your kids without a college degree?”

I could go on.  It seems today that the point of education, the ultimate value people place in it, resides in a little piece of over-priced paper.  Even the conservatives who decry the college and university system and its obvious indoctrination of generation after generation into authoritarian and socialist “values” discount you, your experience, and your value if you choose to not spend four (or more) years post-high school getting indoctrinated.

What?  Is that really what we’ve come to—vesting the ultimate value of education in a piece of paper, one that puts kids into significant debt and generally offers no real value to their ability to work (underwater basket weaving, anyone? gender studies? new age mysticism?)?  Do we really trust these entities to churn out responsible, reliable, good citizens after 12 years in failing public schools?  Or worse—trust them to not undo 12 years of good work in other school options?

The cognitive dissonance is astounding.  The lack of logic is alarming.

So let me get this right…

12 years of public school = bad
College debt = bad
College indoctrination = bad
Therefore, send your kids to at least 4 years of college!


Just as when “everyone is special, no one is,” the fact that everyone has college degrees now means no one is special (and college degrees are worth significantly less).  Let’s be honest.  College, currently, is nothing more than extremely expensive high school, part 2. 

But this article isn’t about college.  The point, rather, is what is the real value of education. 

Is the value of education really only to be found in a college degree?  No.

The real value of education isn’t even in “reading, writing, and arithmetic.”  No.

No, the real value of education is in instilling lifelong skills:
  • The ability to critically think for yourself
  • The ability to question
  • The ability to communicate your thoughts and questions
  • The ability to find your own answers

The real value of education is in creating active and engaged citizens.

The real value of education is in learning reality, not bias—and how to distinguish between them.

The real value of education is… wait for it… values, not a piece of paper.

Rather than putting ultimate value in what is increasingly becoming a worthless piece of paper, why don’t we reset and refocus the foundation of education back to what it should be: creating and instilling lifelong skills rooted in values.  Before you can create even basic knowledge, foundational values are necessary.

When we have presidential candidates saying things like, “If you don’t have a college degree, you won’t amount to anything in life,” it’s no wonder this nation is in the mess it is.  Oh yes, did I mention I was told that by a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 2016? 

It’s a systemic problem.  It’s far beyond time we re-evaluate the value of, and values in, education if we truly want to make a difference.

09 September 2016

The Inherent Value in Choice

This post is part two in a series of three posts on school choice focusing on value: the value in true bi-partisan support of an issue, the inherent value in choice, and the ultimate value in education.  Read part 1 now and check back on 23 September for part 3.

Bigger than the school choice issue, choice in general has inherent value.  The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines value as “relative worth, utility, or importance” and “something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable”.

Choice is defined, in the same source, as “the opportunity or power to choose between two or more possibilities” and “the opportunity or power to make a decision”.  Choice is important to prevent monopolies, defined as “exclusive possession or control” or “exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action”.

Choice, no matter what the issue at hand is, creates three things: opportunity, empowerment, and ownership.

Without choice, there is no opportunity, and worse, no progress.  Lack of choice is a creature of habit, a guardian of the status quo, and enemy of progress.  Opportunity means the chance for something new and different, and is often stymied by fear of the unknown and having to work to make a change.  As Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  Having choice and opportunity means taking risks.

Another key factor of choice is empowerment of the individual.  That sense of pride and self-fulfillment cannot be achieved by doing something you’ve always done.  Albert Einstein said that “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”  Creating the power and possibility to shift the world around you—from a change in how you spend your time day to day to bigger, life-altering changes like where and how you are educated—and handing that power to an individual is the greatest form of empowerment you can give someone.  You are holding your future, or the future of your children, in your hands.  Why would you abdicate the power to create opportunity to anyone else?

Finally, choice creates ownership.  After being empowered by opportunity, you get to own that choice.  Being able to say, “I did this.  I chose this.  I built that.  I seized that opportunity.” is critical to success in any arena.  Empowerment without ownership is hollow, as is choice without owning that choice.

Basic economics teaches us that where there is competition, there is growth.  If someone can operate in a monopoly, unchallenged and unchecked, what incentive is there for improvement and growth?  If there literally is no other choice, what reason is there to change or get better?  No one can do anything about it, so why bother?

When choice is introduced and a monopoly is broken, doors, windows, roofs, holes in the wall, craters in the ground, and wormholes in the sky open up.  Not only is there competition, but the incentive to change in order to keep customers, clients, or students is created.  Choice allows the best to survive and thrive.  And everyone wins when the best is in competition with each other.

Choice is scary—especially for the status quo.  When you get used to being mediocre and still used or hired, being thrust into the arena of change can create anger and resentment.  In some ways, the creation of choice almost sends monopolies into the stages of grief—mourning what was once “theirs”.  We have seen this happen time and again with school districts who create a hostile environment for charter schools, private schools, homeschoolers, and any other non-monopoly form of education.  But school districts who want to thrive have learned to embrace that chance.

As discussed in the first article in this series, Denver is a great example of creating positive change when challenged with choice.  Washington, DC has been another well document example of this.  Districts that continue to fail are those who tend to oppose choice, and district who succeed are those who have found a way to work with, and truly compete with, other options in their district.  Coincidence?  Absolutely not.