Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Democratic Palin?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is a Democratic woman (although she'll be replaced by a Republican man should the GOP pick up 39 seats this fall).  The Secretary of State is a Democratic woman.  So are thirteen U.S. senators (compare to four Republican women).  So are 56 members of the House (compare to 17 Republican women).  So are three associate justices of the Supreme Court (compare to zero Republican women), including the two most recent appointees.  So are 17 percent of state legislators (compare to seven percent who are Republican women).  So are 50 statewide elected executive officeholders (compare to 20 Republican women).  But what Democratic women really need, according to Anna Holmes and Rebecca Traister, is a failed vice presidential candidate who can babble incoherently at rallies, on television, and on Facebook.

I don't get it.  Neither does Jonathan Bernstein, whose rebuttal is excellent.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Baby shower cake

For the record, the animals are happy, not hungry.


Good observation from Seth MacFarlane:
Reading a biography of LBJ. He was kind of a jerk sometimes. I mean, it's like, who died and put HIM in charge?
Meanwhile, if you've never heard Lyndon Johnson ordering a pair of pants, do so now.

Whither the withered parties?

I'd been thinking about writing a response to Marc Ambinder's recent piece on declining parties, but Hans Noel nailed it.

This is a song Sarah Palin stole from Gloria Steinem; we're stealin' it back

I'm presenting a paper along with Michael Heaney, Joanne Miller, and Dara Strolovitch later this week at APSA on the topic of feminism and anti-feminism.  This paper is the product of our 2008 convention research.  This time, we're looking at convention delegates' evaluations of two key female candidates: Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

We're still working on some of the details (which is why I haven't linked to the paper yet), but the main finding appears to be that delegates' evaluations of these candidates is strongly affected by their beliefs about gender discrimination.  Specifically, Democratic delegates who believe that workplace discrimination against women exists hold a higher opinions of Hillary Clinton than those who dismiss claims of such discrimination.  Conversely, Republican delegates who believe workplace discrimination against women exists hold a lower opinion of Sarah Palin than those who don't.

The research suggests that there are two different versions of feminism at work here.  The liberal version of feminism, exemplified by Hillary Clinton, is more or less unchanged since the 1970s -- it maintains that women should have a stronger presence in the business and political world in order to redress various forms of gender discrimination that still exist.  The form of feminism that Palin is articulating also seeks to encourage women to be active in the professional and political worlds, but also maintains that gender discrimination largely doesn't exist anymore.  This conservative version of feminism strikes me as somewhat new, far from the arguments that Phyllis Schlafly and others were making a few decades ago about women's best destinies lying in the kitchen and the nursery.

The terminology here is tricky.  Some refer to the conservative version as "anti-feminism."  And, to an extent, it is arguing the opposite of what more traditional feminism argues.  Except that it also does seek some empowerment for (conservative) women.  Palin, for example, has, at times, called herself a feminist, and she famously tweeted that feminism was "hijacked" by a "cackle of rads." And she has been very publicly backing female candidates across the country and encouraging others to run.  Is this the opposite of feminism?  Well, of course, that depends on what feminism is, and there's the debate.

I hope to have more on this after we get some feedback at the conference.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

That anti-incumbent thing

Kevin Drum wants to know if this is really an anti-incumbent year.
Isn't there someone who's enough of a political junkie to give us the straight dope on this? How many incumbents have lost this year compared to 2006? Or 2002? Can't we put a number to this? If the number is a lot higher than the average midterm election, then the anti-Washington meme deserves to live. Otherwise it deserves to die. Which is it? Who's ready to tot up the results from the past few elections and tell us?
Well, John Sides has been all over this question for a while.  Here, he notes that a relatively high number of congressional incumbents may lose their seats this year, but that's like saying a relatively high number of 15-year old boys will get through this school year without masturbating.  We're not talking about large numbers here.  He estimates 87% of incumbents will retain their seats.

Over at Slate, Christopher Beam did a nice article (citing some work by Alan Abramowitz and Larry Sabato) showing that the number of incumbents who have lost their seats in this year's primaries has not been historically high.  The few who have gone down -- including Bennett, Specter, and maybe Murkowski -- are a pretty high profile bunch, so we shouldn't take this too lightly.  As Jon Bernstein notes, next year's GOP Senate caucus will look notably different, particularly on the moderate end.  But we're not talking about a massive wave of anti-incumbency here.

Still, I think it's fair to say that incumbents are having to work harder than normal to keep their jobs.  Just ask John McCain.

(h/t T. R. Donoghue)

Update: Sabato is keeping a running tally of incumbent losses here, with comparisons to previous years.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Defending the 17th Amendment

The DSCC has released an ad criticizing Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck for his advocacy of repealing the 17th Amendment, which would return the power of selecting U.S. senators to state legislatures.  For the life of me, I don't understand why some Tea Party-backed candidates have championed this issue, which is about as close as you can get to the precise opposite of populism.  I'm only slightly less puzzled over the fact that the Democrats have chosen to attack him on this issue.  Yes, it makes him look extreme, but for all the issues on which his stances are pretty out-of-step (abortion, Social Security, student loans, church/state separation, etc.), the direct election of senators strikes me as an issue about which the vast majority of voters largely don't care.  I could be wrong, though.

(h/t ColoradoPols)

The ultimate political networks graph

James Moody and Peter Mucha presented some of their recent research on party polarization at the most recent political networks conference at Duke this past spring.  Their presentation included the following graph, which uses agreement scores between members of the U.S. Senate to demonstrate polarization over time.  As the graph suggests, polarization in the Senate is at near historic levels, although there was a slight increase in cross-partisan agreement during Bush's second term.

Regardless, the graph is extremely cool.  (h/t Jennifer Victor)

APSA Panel - reporters meet political scientists

John Sides has put together a wonderful APSA panel for next Thursday entitled, "What Can Political Science Offer Journalists?"  The lineup:

  • Marc Ambinder (National Journal)
  • Ezra Klein (Washington Post)
  • Anne Kornblut (Washington Post)
  • Mark Schmitt (American Prospect)
  • Jeff Zeleny (New York Times)

The panel will be held on Thursday the 2nd, 2-3:45PM, in the Thurgood Marshall Ballroom North at the Woodley Park Marriott in DC.  Assuming my flight is on time, I'll be there.

What is it with kids today? or yesterday?

The New York Times magazine wants to know:
Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?
Seriously?  Wasn't there a whole literary sub-genre that emerged about 20 years ago that sought to explain why kids in their 20s were taking so long to grow up?  And guess what?  They grew up.  And now they're in their 40s wondering why kids in their 20s are taking so long to grow up.

This isn't new, of course.  The film "The Graduate" (1967), of course, is about a recent college graduate, Ben (played by Dustin Hoffman), who seems to be taking too long to grow up.  As his father (played by William Daniels) says to him,
I think it's a very good thing that a young man -- after he's done some very good work -- should have a chance to relax and enjoy himself, and lie around, and drink beer and so on. But after a few weeks, I believe that person would want to take some stock in himself and his situation and start to think about getting off his ass.
And that film was made before today's Millennials and most of yesterday's Gen Xers were even born.
(h/t Yglesias, who makes the excellent point that these generational studies focus way too much on college graduates)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shedding a tear for bipartisanship

Mark Halperin thinks that mean old President Obama is destroying bipartisanship on Social Security:
In a move as predictable as Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, Democrats are using Social Security scare tactics to gain ground before the November election. President Barack Obama is not only tolerating this classic old politics maneuver by his party — he is leading the charge.
We have to read halfway through the article to find this point:
Also, with some prominent Republicans still calling for a fundamental change to the system by adding private accounts, the GOP has opened itself up to political attack.
Um, kinda important! Indeed, the Republican nominee for Colorado's U.S. Senate seat has called Social Security a "horrible policy."  The Republican nominee for Nevada's U.S. Senate wants to see it privatized.  So it's not like Obama is making this up.

But really, what's so wrong with the two parties staking out different stances on this issue?  Oh, it hurts bipartisanship:
A bipartisan partnership on Social Security — as on every other tough issue, including Afghanistan, immigration, energy, education, deficit reduction and jobs — is going to require trust: trust between the President and Republican leaders to stand up jointly to the extreme forces in Congress and at the grass roots in both their parties, meet in the center, take some political risks and find creative compromises to get things done. On Social Security, that means Obama will have to support raising the retirement age and cutting some benefits, while Republicans will have to back some increased taxation. And they will have to work together and present a united front.
I don't know how these Beltway fantasies get started.  No, you don't need bipartisanship to get things done.  This past Congress has seen almost no bipartisanship, and yet it's probably been one of the most productive since LBJ was in the White House.  Sure, Republicans could have aided bipartisanship by voting for more of Obama's agenda, but why would they want to do that?  That's certainly not what they got elected to do.

Now, if Republicans take over one or both houses of Congress next year, anything they manage to pass that Obama's willing to sign will be, by definition, bipartisan.  But if they're not able to come to terms on Social Security, that will disappoint the pain caucus, but few others.  The program is not about to go bankrupt.

I'm somewhat amazed that someone who follows national politics for a living is holding out hope for a coalition of moderate legislators to form a united front and stand up to the "extreme forces in Congress and at the grass roots in both their parties" on a profoundly partisan issue like Social Security.  Congress hasn't functioned that way in a long, long time, if ever.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The message

I've seen many writers (including Atrios and Yglesias, for starters) criticizing Democrats for not having a coherent message going into the midterm elections.  And I'd agree -- Democrats don't have a coherent message.

But, of course, this really doesn't matter.  Democrats didn't have a coherent message going into 2006, either, and they took over both chambers.  And the Republicans stand to do quite well this year without having much of a coherent message.  The "message" is just a media narrative and will largely be written after the fact anyway.  Does anyone really think that the Democrats can overcome the problems of running on a weak economy with their president's approval ratings in the 40s by coming up with the right words for their campaign banners?

The Depression: In Color!

Via David Karol, check out this series of color photos from 1939 to 1943.  As it turns out, the country wasn't always black and white.  The world of 70 years ago seems a lot less distant this way.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pot pourri

I've been out of the loop for a while, but here are some things I'd probably be blogging about if I had time.

Dream a little dream

Okay, for the record, I really liked "Inception."  I am not immune to the critiques (this one is pretty devastating), but I still thought it was a clever and tightly executed film.  Even if you found it somewhat annoying, I encourage you to read this short essay, suggesting the entire film is a metaphor for filmmaking.  But it's got me thinking about the portrayals of dreams in film.  The dream world of "Inception" didn't seem particularly dreamlike.  Events and characters may have seemed improbable, but it was often easy to mistake the dream world for real life.  That, of course, doesn't square with my own dreams, which seem almost entirely incoherent in hindsight.

Anyway, just the other day, I finally saw David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" (2001), a film which may be entirely a dream.  It's a stunningly beautiful and engaging movie, but ultimately has very little in the way of a coherent plot.  To the extent the plot can be followed, it completely unwinds in the final 30 minutes of the film.  I tend to think that the film is being told from the point of view of Naomi Watts' character Diane Selwyn, largely in the form of self-serving fantasies, erotic dreams, and nightmares, as she recalls her experiences since arriving in L.A.  At any rate, as frustrating as this may be as a film, it strikes me as a pretty solid depiction of dreams, which are incoherent, unreliable, terrifying, and thrilling.

All this has me thinking more about "Dreamscape" (1984), a reasonably compelling sci-fi thriller.  If you haven't seen it, it's about a man (played by Dennis Quaid) who can enter the dreams of other people and help them overcome their fears.  And there's a rival (David Patrick Kelly, playing the same sort of nutjob he played in "Warriors" (1979), only this time with psychic powers), who can also enter people's dreams, but does so to kill them, which, it turns out, kills them in real life.  They end up fighting each other in the dreams of the president of the United States (Eddie Albert), whom Kelly is trying to assassinate.  
Although the film comes off as relatively typical action fare, it has some unusual twists.  (For example, Eddie Albert is introduced as a widower suffering nightmares associated with nuclear war; we don't learn until later that he's the president.)  And the dreams, in particular, actually look a bit like dreams.  They contain haunting images and emotions, and usually aren't heavy on plot.  The president's dreams are quite terrifying, as I recall -- particularly one showing a post-nuclear ghost town filled with the angry whispers of wounded children that ultimately become indistinguishable from an air raid siren.

What other good dream films are out there?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Does Maes have Tancredo to thank?

I can't help thinking that Tancredo's recent entry into the governor's race made Dan Maes' victory in yesterday's primary more likely.  I'm sure a lot of Republican voters were unhappy with Scott McInnis but were probably willing to vote for him anyway since they saw him as more electable than Maes.  But once Tancredo jumped in, what's the point in casting a strategic vote?  Hickenlooper has this in the bag anyway. Might as well vote sincerely for someone who makes you feel good.

Romanoff v. Bennet results

One of the things I found interesting in the results of the Democratic Senate primary was just how widespread Bennet's support was.  Below is a map of the election results.  The reddish counties were won by Bennet (dark red indicates he won by more than 60%).  Bluish counties went to Romanoff (dark blue ones by more than 60%).
Bennet won a majority of the vote in 51 of the state's 64 counties.  He actually won by 60% or more in twenty 21 of them.  Romanoff's support was limited mainly to Denver and a few smaller north-central and south-eastern counties.  Romanoff actually lost in Pueblo County, which he had described as his second home (back when he had a first).

Looking at regression results, it looks like Bennet did better in more conservative, poorer counties.  Also, there seems to be some positive relationship between Obama's performance in the 2008 caucuses and Bennet's performance in yesterday's primary.  The relationship falls a bit short of statistical significance, but there might be something to it is statistically significant at the .01 level, controlling for demographic factors.

Update: Anonymous noticed some data entry problems.  The map and text have been updated.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Colorado elections - initial thoughts

The anti-incumbency/anti-establishment meme being pushed by the media isn't precisely true, but it's not precisely false, either.  As John Sides notes, very few incumbents are actually losing this year.  But I think it's fair to say they're having to work harder than they normally would.

To the extent we can divine any general trends from Colorado's results, we can see that the top-ballot anointed establishment candidates (Michael Bennet, Scott McInnis, and Jane Norton) had a tough time.  Yes, Bennet won -- quite handily -- but he faced a strong challenge from Andrew Romanoff that forced him to raise and spend and to draw upon national politicians' support a lot more than he'd planned to.  In a different year, going up against an incumbent who had enormous financial resources and the backing of the state's Democratic establishment and the president of the United States would have seemed suicidal.  Romanoff tried it anyway and pulled 46% of the vote.

Over on the Republican side, Jane Norton had basically all of the benefits of the establishment in her corner, but she still couldn't pull it off.  It probably didn't help her that her most prominent endorser was John McCain, who was never that beloved among Colorado's GOP base.  Similarly, establishment candidate Scott McInnis is, as I write this, slightly trailing insurgent Dan Maes.  Yes, we could say that the plagiarism scandal caused this, but Maes also beat McInnis back in the caucus and convention in the spring.

We saw another interesting race in the Republican contest for CD7 CD3, where insider candidate Scott Tipton held off a strong, Palin-backed challenge from Bob McConnell after many observers had written Tipton off.  Again, a tough race that probably wouldn't have happened in a more typical year, even if the insider still won the day.

So we saw substantial challenges to the party's anointed candidates, but those challenges were different across party lines.  On the Republican side, the challengers were notably to the right of the insider candidates (especially in the gubernatorial race), at least partially attributable to an energized Tea Party faction within the GOP.  On the Democratic side, though, Bennet drew a challenger that was almost his ideological twin.  The things that motivated that race -- insider v. outsider, who Gov. Ritter should have picked in the first place, etc. -- had little to do with ideology.

One final point: polling in this election wasn't great.  Those polls showing Buck up by 10 to 15 points were pretty unfounded, as was the recent poll showing Romanoff up by 3.  Of course, it tends to be difficult to poll in a primary, particularly when turnout is so unusually high.  No one was really sure who'd turn out to vote.

Election Night!

Doing some live tweeting.

Election Day!

Okay, I'll admit I'm excited.  It's Election Day here in Colorado.  Well, it's more like Election Deadline Day -- roughly a third of the potential electorate has already mailed in a vote -- pretty amazing for a midterm primary.  But surely some folks are still turning ballots in today.

Anyway, I won't have a ton more to say about this election until the results start coming in.  I'm interested in it for many reasons, not least of which is that there are three top-ballot statewide races -- the Republican governor's race and both parties' Senate contests -- that are really too close to call right now.  The fact that all three winners of the caucus/convention/assembly system in these races could actually beat the insider favorites makes this an especially unusual and exciting contest.

I'm particularly pleased by the high turnout so far, which is a nice rebuke to letters like this, printed in today's Denver Post (link unavailable):
We must all be disheartened [and] perhaps sickened by the campaigns run by this year's slate of candidates for governor and U.S. Senate in Colorado.... It's sad to say, but this year, when casting my ballot "none of the above" is not only a viable choice, it's about the only option!
Give me a break.  With a few word changes, this letter could have been written about any competitive election in any election year since about 1800, and some newspaper would always have been willing to run it for some reason.  Of course candidates have been attacking other candidates.  It's an election!  Voters need to make a choice!  The outcomes are important!  Yes, the attacks can seem petty and trivial at first glance, but they generally go alongside substantial differences of policy.  Michael Bennet's governance of the Denver Public Schools, even if spun a bid shadily by the New York Times and the Romanoff campaign, is a legitimate campaign issue.  Ken Buck and Jane Norton are debating the role and size of government.  Okay, the governor's race is a mess, but generally, a tough, critical campaign is one we should welcome -- it means that the candidates think the race is close and they aren't taking any votes for granted.  If you want a positive election, follow one in which a popular incumbent has no chance of losing.  It'll make you feel good, but it bears only a slight resemblance to representative democracy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ballot TRACE

As part of Denver's current mail-in voting system, the city is maintaining a website called Ballot TRACE (Tracking, Reporting, And Communication Engine).  You enter your name and birth date, and it tells you the status of your ballot.  As the readout at left notes, my ballot for Tuesday's primary has been received and recorded.  As an added bonus, you can have the site e-mail you or text you with ballot updates.

This strikes me as a pretty modest, inexpensive step an elections division can take to increase voters' confidence.  Kudos.

Friday, August 6, 2010

NYT doing Bennet no favors

This is not what Michael Bennet wanted to read in the NY Times four days before the primary:
In the spring of 2008, the Denver public school system needed to plug a $400 million hole in its pension fund. Bankers at JPMorgan Chase offered what seemed to be a perfect solution.
The bankers said that the school system could raise $750 million in an exotic transaction that would eliminate the pension gap and save tens of millions of dollars annually in debt costs — money that could be plowed back into Denver’s classrooms, starved in recent years for funds.
To members of the Denver Board of Education, it sounded ideal. It was complex, involving several different financial institutions and transactions. But Michael F. Bennet, now a United States senator from Colorado who was superintendent of the school system at the time, and Thomas Boasberg, then the system’s chief operating officer, persuaded the seven-person board of the deal’s advantages, according to interviews with its members.
The Denver school board unanimously approved the JPMorgan deal and it closed in April 2008, just weeks after a major investment bank, Bear Stearns, failed. In short order, the transaction went awry because of stress in the credit markets, problems with the bond insurer and plummeting interest rates.
Since it struck the deal, the school system has paid $115 million in interest and other fees, at least $25 million more than it originally anticipated.
As ColoradoPols notes, the electoral impact of this story will be muted somewhat since so many ballots have already been mailed in.  Still, this has to hurt, as it paints precisely the picture of Bennet that Romanoff has been trying to paint, only in a much more objective and believable manner.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A bit more on forecasting midterm elections

I offered a forecast for the 2010 midterm elections in a previous post.  I thought it might be helpful to provide a visualization, as well.  In the below graph, I have shown the predicted gains in midterm House seats by the president's party based on two main variables: the growth in per capita real disposable income (from the 3rd quarter in the year before the election to the 2nd quarter in the election year) and the president's Gallup approval rating on Labor Day.  I've provided three different levels of presidential approval: 35, 50, and 65.
As the graph makes pretty plain, it's rare for a president's party to gain seats at a midterm: only unusually popular presidents presiding over reasonably strong economic growth (think Clinton in '98 and Bush in '02) have much of a chance of adding to their margins.  And of course the current economic growth figure is 0.88, and Obama's approval rating is at around 45%, which is where the forecast of Democrats losing 40 seats comes from.

Diana wins another convert

In the original "V" miniseries, the evil Diana had a brainwashing procedure that would compel human subjects to endorse the Visitors and their mission on Earth.  It was effective, but it had a tell: people who'd been brainwashed experienced a change in handedness.  Lefties were suddenly righties, and so forth.

Scott McInnis has some 'splainin' to do.
(h/t ColoradoPols)

Beware the Velo-Nazis

In a previous post, I may have implied that Dan Maes, currently the frontrunner in Colorado's Republican gubernatorial contest, might be unelectable.  Perhaps that was unfair of me.  Perhaps I should give him the benefit of the... wait, what's this?
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are "converting Denver into a United Nations community."
"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.
Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor's efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes "that's exactly the attitude they want you to have."
"This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms," Maes said.
Never mind.

Monday, August 2, 2010

When the insiders blow it

The main story in my book and in Cohen et al's The Party Decides is that party insiders -- usually a handful of key donors, activists, and officeholders -- often try to forestall or strongly bias primary elections by rallying around one candidate and discouraging other candidates from competing.  A great example of this was the group of Republican insiders pushing Josh Penry out of the Colorado governor's race.  I'm inferring and probably projecting a bit, but my impression is that they thought that a Penry/McInnis primary would be too damaging to the party, that McInnis was tested and trustworthy on the issues they cared about, that Penry was a good soldier who was young and could still do great things in the years to come, and that they'd rather devote party money to attacking the Democratic nominee than to criticizing fellow Republicans.  This group probably didn't devote much effort to trying to push Dan Maes out of the race because they didn't take him seriously -- he had no experience, no money, and no significant backing.  So McInnis would have a clear path to the nomination and a solid shot of taking the governor's mansion.

Whoops.  Okay, so it turns out the party rallied behind a seriously flawed candidate.  He had a scandal that was invisible at the time but ultimately proved damaging.  Republican primary voters, uncomfortable with backing a plagiarist (either because the charge bothers them or because they think it will make him more vulnerable in the fall), are now moving over to Maes' camp.  Even in a straight fight, Maes would have next to no chance of winning the general election.  But of course it won't be a straight fight, because Tom Tancredo, disgusted by the whole thing, decided to save the village by destroying it.

This is about as bad as it gets for a party.  It's sort of like if the Democrats had nominated John Edwards for president in 2008 and the baby scandal emerged a month later.  At the outset, this was a winnable election for the Republicans.  Now, Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper just gets to sit back and watch his opponents destroy themselves.  I can't think of a luckier man in politics today.

How does the GOP pull itself out of this?  Well, they may just write this election off to bad luck and focus their attention elsewhere.  I suppose it's possible that Tancredo will decide his whole mission was a silly one and withdraw.  And then maybe, if McInnis somehow wins the primary, he steps down and is replaced by Penry or the loser of the Senate primary.  Yeah, that would be portrayed as a corrupt inside deal, but that would still be better for the party than the current situation.

Party insiders usually make pretty good decisions.  They often have more information available to them than your average voter does.  But clearly, they can blow it once in a while.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wild poll shifts

There's a new Denver Post/Survey USA poll just out on both the Colorado Senate and gubernatorial races that shows dramatic shifts from previous polls.  I would tend to dismiss these results as outliers, except that we're not likely to see any other polls prior to the primary.  This is pretty much what we've got.  Take it or leave it.

Anyway, the lesson from the governor's race, if the poll is to be believed, is that the plagiarism scandal has substantially wounded Republican Scott McInnis.  McInnis was ahead of his primary challenger, Dan Maes, by 28 points in a June poll, and he's now trailing Maes by four (within the margin of error).  McInnis is also doing worse against his November opponent, John Hickenlooper.  In most of the pre-scandal matchup polls, he was leading Hickenlooper marginally -- he's now trailing by a statistically significant five points.

The polls also shows a pretty profound Tancredo effect.  In the three-way matchups, it's Hickenlooper 44, McInnis 25, Tancredo 26.  (It's basically the same result if you substitute Maes for McInnis.)  That's an enormous vote for a third party candidate, and it looks like Tancredo is almost perfectly splitting the Republican vote.  (I hate to make inferences like that from the topline, but I just can't see Tancredo wooing any Democrats.)  My expectation is that Tancredo's vote share will be considerably lower than that -- third party candidacies tend to fizzle as partisan voters return home -- but still pretty sizable.

But it's the results from the Democratic Senate contest that surprise me the most.  Bennet was beating Romanoff 53-36 in the last Survey USA poll conducted in mid-June.  Romanoff now leads 48-45 (within the margin of error).  That's an enormous amount of movement in six weeks.  And it's not just undecideds going for Romanoff -- Bennet has lost eight points.  This is all the more surprising given that, unlike in the Republican gubernatorial race, nothing that dramatic has happened.  No major scandals, no feisty debate moments, etc.  And unlike Dan Maes, who really came out of nowhere, Democratic primary voters already had some idea about who their candidates were.

So what's doing this?  The most obvious thing would be the Clinton endorsement.  That's the kind of thing that can affect Democratic primary voters, although that's still a surprisingly large effect.  It's possible that Romanoff's continued emphasis on good government issues -- campaign finance reform, not taking PAC money, etc. -- is really starting to pay off among primary voters.  It's also possible that Romanoff's distinctly negative campaign is taking a toll on Bennet, whose Rose Garden strategy isn't yielding much fruit.