Lincoln lunch hears rosy predictions

By Janet Simons
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Seventy-nine of the 80 Republicans who attended the Lincoln Club of Colorado luncheon heard exactly what they had hoped to hear.

“An Outlook on the 2010 Elections: Will It Be a Republican Sweep in Colorado?” asked the flyer promoting the Wednesday, Nov. 18, luncheon at the Denver Athletic Club.

According to political analysts Katy Atkinson and Floyd Ciruli, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Atkinson kicked off the Yes Fest by pointing to a Rasmussen poll indicating that the Democratic advantage among unaffiliated voters nationally has vanished during the year since Barack Obama was elected president, the 4th Congressional District turned from red to blue and all but one statewide office went to the Dems.

“The honeymoon is over for Obama,” she said, noting that the president’s approval ratings dropped from a seven-point advantage to a 22-point disadvantage between Nov. 2, 2008, and Nov. 8, 2009.

Atkinson said the poll results marked a quicker drop in popularity than the one experienced by first-term President Bill Clinton, who was elected on a wave of approval that brought Dem majorities to both houses of Congress in 1994. In 1996, under Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” Republicans took back both houses.

Atkinson — whose consulting firm represents Republican candidates and primarily conservative causes — predicted that the right-leaning trend will sweep Scott McInnis into the Governor’s Office and Jane Norton into the U.S. Senate.

She said she had believed Ritter’s personal charisma would make him a popular governor, but that he’d never really connected with the public — and that his reputation was further hindered by the recession, which forces him to deliver nothing but bad news.

She saw little impact on the U.S. Senate race coming from former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff’s challenge of incumbent Michael Bennet for the Democratic nomination.

“Not that Bennet asked for a primary,” she noted. “And lightning might strike. But I think 2010 is going to be a good year for you all.”

Ciruli, whose firm is nonpartisan, painted a similarly rosy picture for conservatives, observing that the thousands of newly registered minority and young voters who swarmed the polls to vote for Obama would be the first to drop out of the process for an unexciting midterm election.

And, he added, the drop in Obama’s approval ratings among unaffiliated voters means that these swing voters have stopped considering the president a moderate.

“Now they see him as a liberal,” Ciruli said. “And if you get too far off center, you lose those voters.”

Ciruli contended that the Colorado voters who strayed into the Democratic camp because of Obama-mania will be returning to their old habits in 2010 as they refocus on the economy, the size of government and the massive federal debt.

Perhaps the only disappointed luncheon attendee was Matthew Arnold, head of Clear the Bench, a committee devoted to ousting every member of the Colorado Supreme Court because of the court’s loose interpretations of TABOR and Amendment 23, among other issues.

Arnold exhorted his fellow Republicans to join him in throwing the rascals out.

“It takes an exceptionally terrible judge to get knocked out of office by the voters,” Ciruli said. “Honestly, I don’t see it happening.”

Janet@coloradostatesman.com