11 April 2007

Revised Denver Election Predictions

Denver Politics has been doing an exemplary job of covering the 2007 Denver municipal election races for Mayor, Auditor, City Council and in the D.A. term limits issue race. Based on information from the site, I'm slightly revising my prior predictions in the races.

I stand by my "all incumbents will win" prediction.

In Council District 7, I stand by my Chris Nevitt will win prediction and by my prediction that there is a good chance of a runoff election. However, I will now add that I think that the most likely other candidate to make it into a runoff is Shelley Watters.

Denver Politics says this is shaping up to be a union (Nevitt) v. business (Watters) fight. I'm skeptical of that analysis, however. While Nevitt truly is a labor backed candidate, just about all big donors in any case who aren't unions are going to be businesses or wealthy individuals, and I don't think that business v. labor divisions are that important to the voting public in city politics today. While Watters certainly isn't the "union candidate" in the race (and third place underdog Julie Conner also has more union support than she does), that doesn't mean that she is anti-union. On the issues, she and Nevitt are both taking the rather similar boring positions you'd expect from any candidate in the district.

Nevitt's biggest worry in a runoff is likely that a lot of liberal leaning, not terribly informed voters will favor a woman if they know nothing else about a candidate. In the general election, Watters and Conner split the knee jerk vote for a woman vote. In a runoff, they won't.

In Council District 8, I stand by my Darrell Watson will win prediction and by my prediction that there is a good chance of a runoff election. However, I will now add that I think that the most likely other candidate to make it into a runoff is Carla Madison. The other candidates in that race have been dismal in their fundraising.

The fact that both Watson and Madison have been the subject of (relatively mild) smears in this campaign shows that they are seen as viable. Smears aren't fun to be on the receiving end of, but nobody smears someone sure to lose. Also, smears hurt if only one leading candidate is smeared, but balance out if there are smears directed at every leading candidate.

In a runoff, Watson probably has an edge. Watson's virtue is his appeal to the entire district, both North Denver (as an African American man with strong community ties) and to downtown (as a financial professional with ties to big foundations, and as a gay man), both of which are part of diverse Council District 8. Other candidates in the first round pick off bits and pieces of his natural constituencies. In a runoff, however, he stops bleeding that support. Madison's political backing, in contrast, comes largely from the boundaries of her neighborhood where she has been active in the neighborhood association.

In Council District 3, I previously made no prediction. I now call Paul Lopez as the front runner, and Ben Romero as the runner up, with a runoff election likely. This is based largely on fund raising, which is a proxy for organization and grass roots support. These two men have raised the vast majority of all money raised in the race. The odds of a runoff are good as there are so many candidates and none has such overwhelming support that it will be easy to get over the 50% mark for any of them.

I previously made no prediction on the DA term limits issue. I now predict that it will pass based on unscientific internet polls, newspaper endorsements, a strong track record of measures referred by city council, a lack of any meaningful opposition, and the popularity of the current incumbent in the office.


Dave Burrell said...

Just to be clear, Denver Politics didn't indicate Council District 8 was "shaping up to be a union (Nevitt) v. business (Watters) fight." The article merely indicated which types of donors were supporting the various candidates, as found in the monthly financial discosures.

The fact is that unions are going for Julie and Chris, whereas Shelly is supported by individuals in the legal and land-development communities.

Does that mean it's "shaping up" to be unions against business... or simply that the respective communities have already decided which candidate they'd rather have making decisions for them in City Council?

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Fair enough. I'm not sure I see a huge difference, but it certainly was not my intent to in anyway misstate what you had said.