DENVER - Colorado’s Precinct Caucuses, which take place one month after those in Iowa, won’t draw anywhere near the attention of those in the Hawkeye State.
Political pollster David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies says there are two main reasons: the GOP opted to cancel is traditional presidential preference poll this year and the Democrats don’t have anywhere near the number of candidates running that Republicans do.
“That circus, the attention will pass us by because of the change to our delegate process,” Flaherty said.
But Flaherty added that doesn’t mean Colorado will be ignored. He said as one of just handful of “swing” states, Colorado will play a pivotal role during the General Election.
“Here’s what’s going to happen in Colorado,” he said. “It’s not all about the campaign and the candidate’s committee. We live in the age of Super PACs.”
Super PACs are political action committees that may engage in unlimited political spending independently of campaigns.
Flaherty said Democratic Super PACs are waiting to see who wins the GOP nomination.
“Once they see who the nominee is, I guarantee you in Colorado we’ll start to see some negative ads about whoever the Republican nominee is,” he said. “The same thing will happen on the Republican side.”
When asked when we’ll start seeing those types of ads and when the ads will “takeover” local television, Flaherty replied, “Based on the convention schedule, we’re looking at the end of July… but I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing stuff in June.”
“Thank God for DVRs,” said Colorado voter Chuck Cate.
Cate said that while he’d like to see Colorado play a bigger role in the nomination process, when there are more candidates to choose from, he likes the attention Colorado gets as a purple state, one that is not solidly Democrat or Republican.
“I love that we aren’t sitting on one side or the other of the spectrum and that gives us freedom to have open debates with friends and family and things like that,” Cate said.
When asked what it would take for Colorado to play a larger role earlier in the process, Flaherty said, party leaders have to make the decision on how to go about it.
"There's been more than one story out there about Iowa or New Hampshire not being able to hold on to their "first in the nation" status," he said. "There's been a lot of talk about regional primaries, in the sense where groups of states that border each other would (hold caucuses or primaries at the same time.")
He said one way to do it would be to divvy up into five regions that would rotate every four years. For example, the west would go first during one election cycle, and would be fifth the following cycle and then move up each succeeding cycle.
Flaherty wouldn't hazard a guess on how the Iowa caucuses will turnout, but he did say that Donald Trump has been the big story.
“He’s running a campaign that’s unorthodox to what we normally see,” he said. “If he wins tonight, he’s going to have to do it by winning over a good portion of those evangelical voters… who will have to overlook some of the traditional things they look for in a candidate.”
The pollster said Trump has drawn support from conservatives, democrats and people who haven’t been involved in the political process before.
“Although people may disagree with some of the statements that he’s made regarding women or Muslims, this guy seems to get things done,” he said. “Voters believe that.”
When asked if we’ll see an historic voter turnout, Flaherty said, “That’s a good question. Honestly, I look at Latino turnout hitting an all-time high, if Donald Trump is our nominee, because he’s been so ‘black and white’ about what he wants to do with immigration.”
When asked if those who feel the same way Trump does will turn out in historic numbers, the pollster said, that’s not a given.
“If they don’t believe Donald Trump can win, they might not bother to engage,” he said. “The big question is will Trumps voters actually show up to vote?”
He said many of Trump’s supporters are new to the process. They are not regular primary voters.
“If it’s him, it’s going to be very interesting,” Flaherty said.