Considerations on Colorado, The day after.
When Colorado voters elect the first “Unaffiliated” US Senator on November 2nd, 2010, they will make United States history. The ripples will resound across the nation, and most noticeably across the State of Colorado, as the few staunch Republicans and Democrats, the political pollsters, the newscasters and the journalists will be saying, “What the heck just happened.”
Like most of America, the Colorado voter was simply fed up with their party and the “Unaffiliated” provided that free choice option they were looking for. All across the country the incumbents were all essentially “fired,” regardless of party. This was not a win for Republicans or Democrats. The American public had sent a message, they were not only tired of the broken down two-party system but they wanted Washington and their state to hear their message. They felt and voted for the only solution they viewed as creating a new future, get rid of the incumbent and look elsewhere. Scott Brown winning in Massachusetts was again, a historic shot that would be heard around the world. It appeared to be a Republican victory, but this was only an illusion, the reality was, people were just “firing the incumbent.”
The warning signs were there, the pollsters and parties just wanted to see what they wanted to and just ignored what was sitting in front of them. It appears they were all looking through some bizarre rose-colored two-party system glasses failing to even recognize the litany of polls that were coming out day by day, week by week and month by month, showing a massive decline in voter approval or confidence in their own party and the American political system.
Even as late as August, several polls were reflecting a confidence score, which if you took out the margin of error, that could reflect a score of near zero. But what happened in Colorado? Why did the “Unaffiliated” win the US Senate?
It was the “perfect political storm.” Colorado, unique in its people, harden by the extremes they live daily by, had a large “Unaffiliated” voter base. This was a very much misunderstood base. They could be called Colorado’s best Republicans, but do not misunderstand, they are not “Independents” or “Progressives” or puppets of any party. Instead, they look at each person, and like in 2008, they just didn’t like what they saw in either major party, and now they had an option, the “Unaffiliated.”
In most elections cycles they formed a simple majority, some say they formed a third of the voters. In that year of 2010, they held the potential to be close to 1.2 million voters. Historically, in every election cycle the “Unaffiliated” voters would wait until the General election to vote, they could have voted in the primary if they switch to a particular party, but this was not the case in Colorado.
Colorado had a surprising high voter turnout for their primary election, but for most the wrong person won. Even at best, the turn-out did not even represent 50% of the voters within each party, and the winner got a low 25% of his party’s voters to win. Something was beginning to smell wrong. The Republican winner Ken Buck had to essentially cater to some far right factions, and most of his support came from ads outside of the state that was funded by what would be considered radical factions, even to mainstream Republicans. The Democrat winner Michael Bennet also had to depend on a huge onslaught of millions of dollars spent in an aggressive campaign, which made sense since he was the incumbent, who had to overcome an administration which had an approval rating falling into the deep abyss.
The first sign that things were about to go terribly wrong was in a Rasmussen Report Poll done on the 12th of August right after the election. It showed that while Buck had 46% of those polled, and Bennet had 41%, the important result which was missed was the 5% who preferred someone else and the 7% who remained undecided. And most bizarre were polls later showing the person that 70% of Colorado disapproved of, that being Senator Bennet, as leading in the polls up to the election.
For most political pollsters, there is always a certain amount of people who are undecided, the parties go for these target groups to swing or sway them there way. What happened in Colorado was something they all ignored. There were seven candidates on the ballot, a couple “Unaffiliated” and the normal amount of other parties, including the Green and Libertarian parties, who also were in the primary with a few thousand voters. But who represented, the “Someone Else” which was showing up in the polls. It didn’t matter to most, it was no big deal, they always ignored anyone but the major parties.
The logic for them is traditional and typical, for them these candidates have no name recognition, they don’t have the money to be on TV and certainly all of the media does is to avoid recognizing these non two party factions. But with such a historical record, why were the polls reflecting an increase in the “Someone Else” factor? This was part of the fatal flaw of the media and the polls, they had two party on the brain. Nothing else mattered.
If they only looked at their own polls after the election, they would have seen that; Republican Buck was only viewed Very Favorably by 17% of Colorado voters and Very Unfavorably by 20%, and only twenty percent (20%) had a Very Favorable opinion of Democrat Incumbent Senator Bennet, while 29% regard him Very Unfavorably, the majority of voters from both parties really did not want or care for these two representatives of their party. 49% of the voters (who voted in the primaries) were looking for a different option and found one in the general election, the “Unaffiliated.”
One of the critical mistakes made, was the media’s drive for the campaign money from both parties, of course this happens in every election. In 2010, the amount of primary election TV ads saturated the market and drove voters to the brink of anger, not to the intended adversaries of the attack ads, but to the process and then towards their own parties.The high number of robocalls just irritated the party members to wits end. For the general election the two party candidates wanted to just duck for cover, some thought they were in their respective party bunkers, hidden from public view or criticism.
In hindsight, the masses of “Unaffiliated” voters each party sought to move over to their choice backfired. Those voters would become politically active and had the option to move to the “Unaffiliated,” which they would consider as best representing them by simply not being with any party or with politics. They were all fed up with both parties and they showed that with their vote for the “Unaffiliated.”
No one saw, the underdog, the “Unaffiliated,” who was a nobody, no political experience, no money, just a “little guy fighting for the little guy”, they all considered a unwanted cliche’. No one believed anyone could bring a direct form of democracy back to political life. For them, the face-to-face, toe-to-toe, eye-to-eye with people on the issues that were keeping them up at night was a waste of time. They could buy it, they believed.
A significant number of voters from each party bailed from their perceived rat infested sinking ships and crossed over to casting their vote also for the “Unaffiliated.” Those who didn’t care for the party representations also did the same. Both of these voting blocks were not convinced that Buck or Bennet was the true outsider they were now claiming to be.
The Buck n’ Bennet message that they could be within their “out of control” party and they would suddenly be able to fix what had gone wrong, was simply not making sense to anyone. For the voters this was not as a protest vote but a vote for what they felt would be the right message, one which yelled someone had to “Stop the insanity.” They saw their parties as losing it, and they didn’t want to lose America.
The people of Colorado, within a short period of time, came to the collective realization that they would become the historical change in America’s political system; one which signaled the “new vision” that would propel this country into the 21st century, and forward to prosperity, and signal the return to American exceptionalism.
The quick lessons learned were that television and radio, and all the millions paid to attempt to sway and buy this US Senate, would seriously fail. It failed in a critical way which no one saw coming, only the voters who made it happen, saw it, felt it and made it happen. The common will and sense of the people of Colorado rebelled against those messages from the two party leadership and stood forward to take action, and they did. The children screamed in praise and joy.
Now, the Senate and the nation has to consider what had just happened in Colorado. A new day in the US Senate is about to begin. Memories of a Senator who claimed to be independent or one who embrace socialism as an independent would just simply fade away. The “Unaffiliated” fought on the battle and won, to start the birth of a new nation. Pay Attention and Listen, These are the Considerations of Colorado.