Steve, a Campaign Spot reader in Los Angeles, adds a note to this post about possible difficulties in polling Colorado. There’s a lot here tied into potential chaos in the Democratic Convention held at the end of August in Denver, and I would add that I happen to know by reputation a good cop or two in that city’s police force — not to mention the help they’ll have from the state police, neighboring police forces, FBI, etc. Having said that, the issue with anti-war protesters, anarchists, punks, snot-nosed trustafarians, etc. probably is a matter of quantity of police forces as well as quality.
In regards to your question about Colorado being a difficult state to poll, I would add another dimension that may render any recent polls there indeterminate of which way the state will go in November.
The Democrat convention is being held in Colorado the week before Labor Day weekend.
Regardless of whether the convention turns into a repeat of 1968, with filthy hippie war protesters camping out on the state capitol grounds and the large public park in front of the city and county buildings across Broadway Blvd. (which are, incidently, only about two blocks away from the Pepsi Center and big hotels the delegates will be staying at), the whole experience promises to be a circus and a fiasco the city of Denver has never seen in its history. The flawed nominating process this year will play no small role in this. That is assuming it doesn’t turn into Los Angeles 2000 for the Democrats, in which case it will be something far worse for both the city (and its Democrat mayor) and the state (with a new, supposedly law and order Democrat Governor). Denver is not equipped to handle any convention scenario other than a coronation, and certainly not the most (potentially) contentious national convention in 40 years.
It is important to point out that the state of Colorado, and the city of Denver, is currently nearly completely controlled by Democrats at every level of government. This puts these locals in a box, politically and from a law enforcement standpoint. This sets up a scenario similar to Seattle 1999 WTO debacle. I happened to be living in downtown Seattle during that awful experience, and what stands out is that the city and state (even the Federal Government at that time) were all controlled by Democrats at every level, even police chief. That meant they were politically unwilling to confront their own in the days leading up to the summit: that is, the anti-globalism/WTO protestors, greenies, and union members that were planning major marches, civil disobedience, and even outright mischief.
The reason is simple, they didn’t want to alienate their own constituencies by seeming too heavy handed. The result was that by the time they had to crackdown, it was too late and with police state tactics, water cannons, gas cannisters, police in riot gear, and dusk to dawn curfews on the streets. There is still a lot of these scenes on YouTube and many disenchanted lefties are promising a repeat in Denver this year. Any variation of this would be a potential public relations disaster for the Democrat nominee in trying to win Colorado, and one that would virtually ensure not only a McCain victory in the state, but a stigmatization that could likely lead to major setbacks for the Democrat party in Colorado for years to come.
The other important thing to remember is that Denver is not Los Angeles or Boston. It doesn’t have the police force, crowd control capabilities, parking, traffic lanes, budget, and law enforcement infrastructure to deal with thousands of out-of-state protestors, let alone tens of thousands of them. When we had the riots here in Los Angeles during the 2000 Democrat convention they were dealt with swiftly by a police force that has extensive training in crowd control and riot suppression since the 1992 riots. As a result, they were relatively minor and able to be handled before Clinton and Gore got to town. There also wasn’t a war in the Middle East, and a sitting Democrat Congress who the protestors expected to end it. We also had a (nominally) Republican lame duck mayor who wasn’t at all worried about offending left-wing groups looking for attention at the convention.
Los Angeles and Boston are both international cities, so having tens of thousands of out-of-towners is part of daily life. Such is not the case with Denver. Most of the tourists flying into Denver International Airport end up leaving the metro area, staying and dining at accomodations in the mountain ski towns, not in the small, confined urban center of Denver.
Having lived in Denver, Seattle, and Los Angeles, I assure you Denver is a lot more like Seattle than it is Los Angeles. Perhaps the law enforcement officials and Democrat officeholders in Denver will rise to the occassion and find the magic formula to keep the city from breaking under the critical mass of the crush of media, Democrat delegates, liberal celebrities, left-wing activists, unions, and the teeming hordes of war protestors, but I would bet not.
At the end of the day, not only did the DNC make a hash of their nominating process, but they also chose a city that will be ill-equipped to deal with the convention circus to officially nominate the eventual candidate. Even the newly returning students for the fall semester from Boulder, Fort Collins, and the other assorted colleges in the area will be enough street activists in Denver to give the locals headaches that week.
The great irony is that the choice of Denver was a political calculation to show a state that had turned (in the minds of the party bosses) from red to blue. The end result will likely be to to turn the state back to red….
Anyone who puts much stock in Colorado polls showing Obama winning Colorado at this point should wait until the second week of September, it will likely not even end up being a state in play by then.
Again, it’s still possible that the Democratic convention comes off without a hitch. But for now, it does appear that storm clouds are overhead…