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Why everyone was wrong on the recall – The referendum of Senator Giron

"A trip to the Island of Haiti will shatter your heart into a thousand pieces...some of which will never leave." -Haitian Proverb

After the election, Victor Head and Pueblo Freedom and Rights said they won. State Senator Angela Giron said it was because of voter suppression. The media did their normal thing asking pundits what they thought instead of digging into the data. 

There was data and a poll that changes everything.

In the only empirical data outside of the voting results, Public Policy Polling buried a poll showing some very alarming information for both sides. While initial national stories focused on why this poll was held back at PPP’s concern over its accuracy, if you read the numbers they tell a different story. 

I’m going to do this backwards and talk about what this means then dig into the numbers. It’s not that polls are perfect but this poll provides insight firsthand that reporting has not provided.

State Senator George Rivera and Pueblo Freedom and Rights are wrong when they say this is a referendum on guns. After months of hammering away on the Second Amendment and gun-rights, the poll, performed on the weekend of September 7, says Pueblo supported her votes but not her. They overwhelming supported expanding background checks and they are split evenly over limiting magazine capacity.

That means the election turned away from guns and into a referendum on Giron. The NRA, the GOP and the media all believe the election was on guns. The numbers from this poll do not support this.

Why did Giron lose?

You first have to look at Senator John Morse’s final numbers. In Colorado Springs, Morse lost in a manner expected in El Paso County. He lost 51 percent to 49 percent. With a short campaign he performed as expected but ran out of time. With another week he might have been able to secure more votes. But it sets the baseline that Senator Giron should have been equal to or have done better than Morse in votes.

Senator Giron lost 56 percent to 44 percent outspending the opposition, having a large get-out-the-vote campaign, and in a county with more time to vote. Everything was set-up for her to just get by. 

According to the poll, she lost hispanics and people under 45. Why?

It’s impossible to answer why but you can break down her campaign and say it was missing key things with these groups that hurt her campaign. 

The Hispanic & Women Vote

She seemed to lack key hispanic surrogates that would use their bases in support of her campaign. Missing was fellow legislator, State Representative Leroy Garcia. Her biggest ally in the campaign could have been Garcia but he was largely absent in support. 

Also missing were well known Pueblo Democrats–former State Senator Abel Tapia, former City Councilman Ray Aguilera and former County Commissioner Anthony Nunez. Her campaign did not inundate Pueblo with national Hispanics that would have provided easy press and star appeal. 

Was low Hispanic turnout to blame? From what the polls say, she had problems with Hispanic voters but the poll doesn’t elaborate why. When you compare the precinct turnout, Pueblo West turned out to vote. The area is Republican and was more supportive of the recall group. Voter apathy was higher in precincts where Hispanics have stronger numbers.

What’s next?

Where do Pueblo Republicans go from here? It is tough to see how they win in 2014. Let’s just assume Democrats put up their best and safest option for SD 3. State Representative Leroy Garcia is the logical candidate for the Democrats. He was barely visible in support of Senator Giron and is untouched by the recall. He voted against the magazine capacity bill so he takes Rivera’s main issue away from him. 

Garcia would be candidate number one on many lists as Pueblo Democrats do not have a history of punishing candidates who don’t provide cover for other Democrats. This is a strictly Republican trait. 

If Garcia were to run, that leaves his house seat open. Unless the Pueblo County Democrats put a completely unlikely and incompetent candidate, it’s hard to see how they lose Garcia’s seat. 

Campaigns are unpredictable so this is all speculation but it is tough to paint a scenario where the Republicans can win both seats. For this to happen George Rivera would have to run a perfect campaign against a unlikely-to-win Democrat candidate. 

The poll results:

A majority of Puebloans were not opposed to two of the most controversial bills supported by Senator Giron. 

A majority of Puebloans were in favor of the expanding background checks.

Senator Giron lost Hispanics, women and younger voters. 

The PPP poll is bad news for both sides. Puebloans weren’t in agreement with Pueblo Freedom and Rights on the gun legislation but they didn’t approve of Senator Giron. 

How do you make sense of this? The poll confirms what PULP heard but we couldn’t report because it was not based in fact. There were anecdotal statements that some people didn’t care about guns, but they were not going to vote for the former senator.

A third of Democrats surveyed said they supported the recall. Eighty-four percent of Republicans and 59 percent of unaffiliated voters said they supported the recall. 

Giron also lost the voting blocks President Obama had won in his elections in Pueblo. From people aged 18 to 45, 58 percent surveyed supported the recall. That’s an incredible number against Senator Giron. 

Fifty-one percent of women supported the recall. Women, with a majority, supported both the limits on magazine capacity and background checks. 

Senator Giron lost Hispanics; 50 percent to 44 percent said they supported the recall. Here Hispanics split evenly at 47 percent  on capacity and were in favor of expanded background checks.

by John Rodriguez | @johnmrod

 

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