Ok, we had the convention, what does it all mean? This is what I see as the major items, after sleeping on it.
First off, the Boulder Democratic party is incredibly well run. I can't say enough how impressed I am with how smoothly the whole thing ran. Major kudos to Deb Gardner and her entire crew. You did the impossible and made it look easy. (Deb Gardner for governor in 2014?)
Here is what I think is the biggest data point from yesterday - well over 90% of the attendees are not party activists. Everyone was talking about how 95% had never attended a county convention before but Claire Levy was in that group and I think we have to count her as an activist. The important data point is that most of these people probably could not have named the 3 amigos. They were there to vote for Obama or Clinton and the rest was other stuff they were also asked to do.
Which means, having the party base on your side was good for maybe 5% of the vote. In fact, not everyone there will bother to vote in the August primary. But I think it is reasonable to say that the results are a good indicator of how a primary vote would play out if it was held today. So let's drop the "candidate X had an insider advantage" because that wasn't worth much.
Ok, this was easily the biggest surprise of the day. Rollie had the backing of most of the activists. And Cindy had recently been busy shooting herself in the foot. So everyone thought the questions was "would Cindy hit 30%?" And Cindy won with 53%. This totally changes the race.
I think the speeches of each candidate had a gigantic effect here. First off Rollie's way of carrying himself reinforces his age negatively - and that has an impact. Rollie also gave a very deliberate speech where he listed the issues we face, but did not sell us that he has the skills and the ideas to address them. He may very well have all that, but he has to convince and sell it.
Cindy got up there and had energy and drive and threw out the one-liners that gave the crowd the red meat it wanted to hear. Personally I tend to be driven away by that as I worry it means the candidate is all sizzle and no steak. But the crowd ate it up (or at least 53% did).
I think for Rollie to win he's going to have to shift gears big time and come across as energetic, impassioned, and dive into why he has the skills to address the issues we face, and do so in a way that gets across in quick sound-bites.
I think for Cindy to win she needs to push for as many live debates as possible and just keep improving her presentation. I wish it didn't work this way but if you can sell the sizzle well, it's very effective. And she can sell it.
Oh, and so far I am under-impressed with both. Hopefully the campaign will give one a chance to show they will be a strong effective contributor in the legislature.
Will Shafroth is toast. He's a nice guy, I think he would make a good rep, and he has 0 traction. Anyone who supported Will, plus any who just couldn't decide, added up to 4% of the vote. It's not there. And the thing is, Will's resume does not stack up to Joan's or Jared's and voters do want to have a track record as past effort is a good indicator of future effort. (I'd love to see Will switch to SD-18, he would rock in that race and a couple of terms in the state house would give him a great list of accomplishments to point to.)
And again, lets go back to this was not the party activists. Will was given a slot to speak before the CD-2 vote. He presented his case with an equal shot to Joan & Jared, to a group that is reasonably representative of the voters in the upcoming primary, and it didn't resonate.
Jared's got a tough road ahead of him. 40% among party activists would have been a great accomplishment. Across all the counties (Adams & Boulder being the big dogs) I think Jared is at a hair under 40%. Figure if Will stays in it will be Joan at 55% and if Will drops out Joan at 60% and this means Jared is in serious trouble.
On the flip side, this is no worse than where John McCain and Barack Obama were 5 months before the presidential primaries started (and Huckabee was an asterisk). Jared has 5 months to change the dynamics and a week is a lifetime in politics.
What Jared needs to do is to find something that resonates big-time with the electorate. And based on how Jared approaches the race (and life), he will keep trying. So I think he's a bit down now, but definitely not out and still has a decent chance.
Joan is rocking. I really enjoy watching a professional who performs their job brilliantly regardless of what that job is. Joan is a joy to watch in action. What Joan needs to do to win is continue executing perfectly (or close to it).
I support Jared but I find all three candidates (and their staffs) to be very impressive.
Be afraid, be very afraid. We had Mark's wife presenting for Mark. We had Ken Salazar (has he ever been seen without his cowboy hat?) talking about Mark. We had several others discussing the Senate race. And the single reason they gave for electing Mark is to flip a Senate vote from Republican to Democratic.
Now this is a very strong reason as there are numerous times in the Senate right now that critical measures fail by 1 vote. And every Dem will vote for Mark come November.
But this does not lead to a charged up base. This does not lead to volunteers. This does not lead to donations. And this does not give the unaffiliated, the voters that decide the election, a good reason to vote for Mark. Moderates prefer a divided government and so many could easily balance their vote for Obama/Clinton with one for Schaffer.
If Mark continues down this road I worry that he will lose most of the moderates and be left with mostly those who will vote for the Democratic candidate regardless of who it is. That is a losing proposition in Colorado.
To win Mark needs to start actively campaigning on why people should be charged up to vote for him. To get the base energized and to get the middle sold. And he needs to get his ass in gear yesterday.
I saw no ground game there for Obama. On the flip side the Clinton campaign was there in force - big time. The Clinton campaign sent Wellington Webb in person (and boy is he good). I even had one person handing out some Obama flier tell me that they had it in the bag.
This is not won yet. I worry, not just for the primary, but for the general election too. Whichever candidate wins, they need to fight for the general nomination down to the last second and for every single vote. As an Obama delegate, worrisome...
Once we have a nominee...
There's a lot of people worrying about what happens once we have a nominee, be it Obama or Clinton. Every time someone spoke to this issue and how we had to line up and support the winner, the place erupted in cheers. I don't think we need to worry on this count. (One suggestion, regardless of who wins, put Wellington Webb up on the stage to speak to this issue - immediately.)
How to get Elected as a Delegate 101
I got a comment earlier saying they hoped I voted for all 87 slots. Are you kidding? I knew maybe 5 people on the ballot. I voted for myself, Claire Levy and Suze Ageton (both quality politicians), and a college freshman who is a friend of one of my daughters (and will be a good delegate).
But I realized that most others there were in the same predicament - they knew a couple of people and that was it. So I went around and traded votes. I said I was blogging and would appreciate their vote. And without exception people said they would vote for me if I would vote for them. And I happily did so.
So I voted for about 30 people knowing absolutely nothing about what kind of delegate they would be in exchange for their vote for me. Vote trading pure and simple. (In fact my daughter's friend did the same - "Dave, vote for me and I'll vote for you.") My guess is that will put me near the top in votes.
So we all condemn politicians for the horse trading inherent in getting legislation moved forward. But when it came time for me to get sent to the state convention, I did the same thing, pure & simple.