John Hickenlooper as Governor of Colorado
The current gubernatorial race in the Colorado County is a hotly contested incumbent race. It is more of a two horse race between the incumbent democrat John Hickenlooper, and the highly influential Republican, Bob Beauprez.
John Hickenlooper served as the Mayor of Denver for two terms prior to his election as the Colorado governor in 2011, only resigning on the day of his inauguration as the governor. He won the gubernatorial elections through an uncontested primary followed by a general election in which he garnered 51 percent of the votes. As a mayor, his first task involved handling Denver’s budget crisis. He worked with a relatively young cabinet during his stint as the mayor of Denver. He also serves as the chairman of the National Governor’s Association.
Some of the issues he has fought for during his term in office both as a mayor and as a governor include the reduction of homelessness in the state of Colorado, Legalization of the use of marijuana for medical purposes, reduction of illegal arm possession, better disaster relief strategies, and illegalization of capital punishment.
The most influential opponent in this race, Bob Beauprez, is an older politician, who formerly ran for the gubernatorial seat in 2006 against the then Democrat candidate, Bill Ritter. He had previously represented Colorado’s seventh congressional district in the House of Representatives. Consequently, he has a high level of influence in the political arena.
From the candidature at hand, it is clear that it is indeed a tough race and it would not be easy to predict the possible winner. Besides the two major candidates, other three republicans are also vying for the gubernatorial seat. These include Tom Tancredo, Scott Gessler and Mike Kopp.
Current Political Lay
The election in question is an incumbent election, with two heavily influential candidates i.e. the incumbent governor and a former representative of the seventh district. From the latest poll results, the incumbent and the Republican opponent tie at an average of 45.3 percent votes (RCP). This gives the indication that for either of the two contestants to win, a strategy is to be developed which will cause a voter shift from the opponent’s camp to his.
In the political history of Colorado, it is observed that since 1964, all the presidents that have been voted in by the county have been Republican except in 1992 and 2008. In 1992, the Republican candidate’s personal weaknesses led to the voting in of a Democrat president (Abramson and Rhode 28). On the other hand, the personal strengths of the Democrat candidate in2008 led to his being voted in.
Democrat governors have served the people of Colorado for 22 out of the past 30 years. This shows that there is a 73 percent probability of winning the gubernatorial election as a democrat. Out of the current 7 members elected to the House of Representatives by the state of Colorado, 4 are Republicans.
Despite the rugged terrain of the political scene, the incumbent still has some advantages over his opponent. The advantages include:
Name recognition – many voters are more likely to recall and identify with the incumbent’s name during voting. The positive works he has accomplished during his first term can also be implored to give him a competitive advantage over his opponent.
Access to campaign funds and other government resources – it is easier for the incumbent to obtain funds due to his recognition by various lobby groups as well as policy makers. In addition, he also has easy access to resources that the government may avail to campaigners.
Political history – shows that there is an 80 percent chance of winning re-election to the House of Representatives unless personal defects intervene (Balz). There are currently no major personal defects that need to be addressed.
The major challenge that the incumbent faces as a candidate is the issue of insecurity, which many citizens claim he has not addressed effectively. This is due to his indefinite postponement of a capital sentence for individuals guilty of murder and the recent re-incorporation of parolees on murder charges into the society.
Factors Affecting Voter Perceptions and How to Navigate
According to the median voter theory, voters are more likely to elect a candidate that provides views closest to their own. It is therefore necessary to determine the views of various groups of voters to align the campaign policies to those views. In addition, it is understood that most voters tend to align themselves to the winning side. How to create the impression of a winning team is the main issue of essence. However, the voters are also rational and any strategy, policy or idea that is laid down for their persuasion should be rational too.
In order to achieve the expected results, the following factors, which affect voter behavior, can be manipulated to the advantage of the candidate:
Voter turnout – this is the major determinant of the voting outcome. However, several factors affect the voter turnout in any election. Factors such as the election type, the voting laws, state demographics, gender and socio-economic status of the voters are imperative in determining the possible turnout. Although the voter turnout in Colorado in the past elections has been recorded as one of the highest in the nation, reaching an amazing 73.5 percent in the last election, these factors still affect the turnout. First, it is reported that more people turn up for the major elections than for primary election. Secondly, friendly voting laws encourage voter turnout, younger voters are more likely to vote than older voters, females are more likely to vote in primary elections than males, and people of higher economic status are more likely to vote than those of lower status.
To address the issue of voter turnout, it is necessary to increase the total percentage of registered voters who turn up during the voting process. This can be achieved through Get out the Votes strategy (GOTV).The first stage in carrying out this strategy is s the identification of potential supporters and organizing campaigns to get them to vote on the material day. Getting them to vote may be done through frequent campaign literature drops, sending personalized campaign messages or calling, and offering transport to and from the voting venue.
The second factor that may influence the voting results is the public policy issues in the state (Abramson and Rhode 23). Where the voters are not satisfied with the present public policy issues, it is easier for the incumbent to be thrown out of office. Fortunately, in the state of Colorado, some of the policies, which the citizens considered unfavorable, have been addressed through referendums during the first term of the incumbent. Consequently, it might give him a higher advantage over his opponent. This should be taken advantage of during campaigns to garner more voters to the team of the incumbent.
Government performance – If many voters consider the government to have done poorly in the past term, it will reduce the chances of the incumbent being reelected since he is a Democrat and the current government is a Democrat government. In the past years however, research shows that most people, particularly of other races (not whites), considered the government to have done will in the recent years. This shows that by getting more of the non-government supporters’ votes, the incumbent increases his overall vote total since the government supporters are more likely to vote him in anyway. The strategy therefore lies in convincing as many non-supporters as possible to vote the incumbent.
Candidate Characteristics – from the ideological point of view, previous ideologies of the candidate have been acceptable to the majority of voters (Abramowitz 14). However, the opponent’s ideologies are also good and are liked by many other voters. Consequently, it is important to market the ideologies more to gain followings. In addition, it might be necessary to convince the public that the incumbent’s ideologies are ideal from the former works he has accomplished. For instance, he was one of the individuals who started the community brewery when everyone else though it was possible hence creating jobs for the people. On the other hand, the opponent has come across as not “being in tough with the community” in his various campaign tours. This gives the incumbent an advantage over him.
Another characteristic that should also come into play is the party that the candidate belongs to. As a democrat, the incumbent already has party advantage since he has 73 percent chance of winning. This, when coupled with effective party support, can earn him more votes. The strategy to be used should include identifying voter groups that are more likely to vote for democrats and campaigning more in within the cycles that are less likely to vote a democrat.
Age – the age of the voters also plays a role in determining whom they vote for. It is predicted that younger voters are more likely to vote in a democrat than older voters. Consequently, from the party point of view, it would be necessary to convince the older voters to vote in a democrat and to carry out a sensitization campaign amongst the younger voters. In addition to this, younger voters are more likely to side with the incumbent since he is the younger of the two strongest opponents and has shown signs of incorporation of young individuals in his cabinet as a mayor.
Religion –people of strong religious values are predicted to have high probabilities of voting in a Republican compared to others. For this reason, since religious people are generally more than the non-religious, the strategy to use should be focused on encouraging the religious to vote in a democrat and building the faith of the not so religious in the democratic camp. This can be achieved by engagement in religious activities, encouraging values supported by the religious and providing incentives that encourage the religious.
Race – also plays a major factor in the political scenario. Currently, Colorado has a percentage of 88 percent whites compared to a total of only 12 percent other races. Statistics show that whites are more likely to vote compared to other races, followed by the Latinos. Therefore, assuming that the current polls involved mainly whites and the scores show a tie, it can be concluded that by getting many people from the other races to vote, it will be possible to get a higher percentage of voters on the incumbent’s camp
Socio-economic status – In a recent survey, it was determined that people who are generally well off tend to vote Republican as compared to those who are relatively less well off. In the state of Colorado, most people cannot be confirmed to be exactly well off. It will therefore be easier for the democrat to convince voters compared to the Republican. To take advantage of this position, a campaign strategy that promises better living conditions to the commons is encouraged. Provision of life changing services will earn votes for the incumbent.
The final factor that will also play a role in the determination of voter behavior is the marital status of individuals. The married are reported to be more likely to be Republican as compared to singles. However, since singles are more easily accessed via campaign programs, it is imperative that their votes be confirmed. In addition, they can be used in influencing the married to shift camp to the incumbent’s side to increase votes.
Voter groups to be targeted
From the laid down strategies, it is clear which groups are more likely to vote John Hickenlooper and those less likely to vote him in. From the point of view of the race, the whites are as likely to vote in the incumbent, as they are to vote the Republican. Consequently, it will be necessary to rely on individual strengths and campaign strategies to convince them than on the party of the candidate. On the other hand, people of other races are more likely to vote the Democrat hence; it will be easier for the incumbent to convince them to reelect him.
The second group of people that is more likely to vote the incumbent is the young voters who prefer Democrats. The strategy will be to get the older individuals to shift. This will help the incumbent gain votes since they are as likely to vote a Democrat, as they are to vote a Republican.
In addition, according to John Hickenlooper, abortion is an unrestricted human right and should not be controlled. This will most definitely give him a chance with the pro-abortionists. On the other hand, the opponent has an open idea about abortion, and believes that it may or may not be an unrestricted right depending on the situation at hand. Consequently, it will be much easier for the anti-abortionists to elect Bob Beauprez, while the pro-abortionists will definitely vote in the incumbent. The neutral can easily be swayed by the point of view that abortion is an issue of free choice.
Finally, since the incumbent fought for the legalization of cannabis for medical use while the opponent would like to refute this, it is more likely to give him additional votes from those who consider his stance on the medical use of marijuana as beneficial. The incumbent again has a chance of swaying those who are neither for nor against the use of marijuana on the basis that such use is an issue of free will.
Although his term in office has been without any major hiatus, the incumbent governor recently came under fire due to his silence concerning a potential security threat. Some parolees from the state justice system, who had been arrested on murder charges, had recently been released back to the community even after swearing that they would commit the same offenses again. However, the governor cooled off the heat by requesting anyone with information on how the court’s decision could be challenged constitutionally to give him that information so that he could address the situation effectively. This accusation has therefore only caused a minor setback in his campaigns whose effects can be averted.
At the same time, the opponent also faced claims that he had been part of a scandal that involved a bank fraud. Although these claims were unfounded, the impacts remain and may be advantageous towards the incumbent’s camp.
Despite the challenges of running against a highly influential politician, the incumbent has several advantages that may enable him to win the gubernatorial election. However, this will require dedication and grabbing all the opportunities that may present themselves at any given time. The incumbent has good name recognition, access to funds, and the support of his party as a starting point for fruitful campaigns. The strategies proposed are based on maximizing the retention of voter, and increased activity in swaying the other voters to his camp. This is achievable and should not prove to be a hurdle, particularly since the resources are available.
Abramowitz, Alan. Voice of The People: Elections and Voting in the united states. 2004. New york:McGraw Hill, 2004.
Abramson, Paul, John Aldrich, and David Rhode. Change and Continuity in the 2008 and 2010 Elections. Washington: QC Press, 2012.
Balz, Dan. “Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, after missteps, fights for a second term”. The Washington Post. The Washington Post 23 October 2014. Web 23 October 2014.
Real Clear Politics (RCP). “Colorado Governor – Beauprez vs Hickenlooper”. Real Clear Politics. The Real Clear Politics 31 October 2014.Web 31 October 2014.