An Obama Referendum in Colorado

On November 1, Colorado voters faced a handful of off-year ballot issues, including a ‘tax the rich’ measure and a pro-union measure local to Denver. While the local media worked overtime to spin the issues as not being a referendum on Pres. Obama’s policies, the measures seemed custom designed to let the President know where Coloradans stand on his agenda. The fact that these measures, that mirrored Obama’s policies, resoundingly failed augers poorly for his 2012 chances in Colorado.

The tax increase, Prop. 103, would have raised the state income tax by 8% and the state sales tax by 3.4%. Pushed by Colorado’s most leftist State Senator, Rollie Heath (D, Boulder), the new tax revenues were earmarked for the teachers’ unions (e.g. ‘for the children’). Well, Obama has just completed a southern bus tour touting his own tax increases and stimulus spending earmarked for the teachers’ unions. Despite early PPP poling suggesting that Prop. 103 was too close to call, the real voters brushed aside the education canard to defeat the tax increase nearly 2 to 1.

The Denver union measure, Prop. 300, sought to force even tiny businesses to provide generous sick pay of 5 to 9 days per year. Supported primarily by two Wisconsin unions, the measure went down nearly 2 to 1 in a left wing, pro-union city that voted 3 to 1 for Obama in 2008. Unions and their politician allies seek to force union rules like sick pay on non-union employers to level the playing field for their members. Denver voters saw through the niceties of ‘giving’ employees sick pay as a threat to Denver’s competitiveness in industries where sick pay is not justified or is open to abuse. Obama has used his executive powers to reward the unions that back him by making unionizing unfairly easy. If left-wing Denverites realize that union policies are job-killers, Obama’s aggressive pro-union policies may drag him down.

Naturally, the local Old Time Media outlet, the Denver Post was having none of that. The Post went out of its way to mischaracterize the election results, saying they were “an election for no change, “and “it would be a mistake to look at the results . . . as an indicator for the 2012 election.” Despite the Post’s front page editorializing, the election did mirror national issues, and it was a stunning blue-state rebuke of Obama’s tax and union policies.

A realistic assessment of the November 1 election is that the 2010 elections were a fluke. The election of a serial tax raiser to Governor and an inexperienced teachers’ union flack to the US Senate were due solely to the GOP’s internal divisions that put exceptionally weak candidates on the ballot. The left-wing activism of Tim Gill, who turned Colorado from red to deep blue, has crashed on the shore of independence minded voters.

While the Obama agenda mirrors Props. 103 and 300, his is much more aggressive. Obama wants much higher tax increases, and his union agenda is a frightening threat to free enterprise. Colorado’s strong rejection of the comparatively modest Props. 103 and 300 suggests a defeat in 2012 for a President that effortlessly carried the state in 2008.

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