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THE COLOR AND MONEY BLOG:
Monday, November 10, 2008
Post-Election Analyses: Obama's Coattails Saved Affirmative-Action Preferences in Colorado
A look back at what happened in Colorado suggests that Connerly's opponents would be mistaken in concluding they have clearly turned the tide against him, however.
For starters, the measure was defeated by an extremely narrow margin: 50.7 percent against, 49.3 percent for. It was not until several days after the election that state election officials concluded that it had, in fact, lost.
More importantly, as a Chronicle of Higher Education analysis of the election results points out, political scientists and other experts believe Barack Obama's campaign played a substantial role in the measure's defeat. Not only did the Obama campaign's formidable advertising blitz and ground game turn Colorado from red to blue--allowing him to win 53 percent of the popular vote--it also brought to the polls a lot of people who had not voted in past elections. They included black and Hispanic voters and college students, populations that have been strongholds of support for affirmative-action preferences when similar measures were voted on in other states.
Kenneth Bickers, a political-science professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told the Chronicle: “This election brought out people who in most typical elections wouldn’t be voting.”
For his part, Connerly told the newspaper: “If the vote was held tomorrow with no Obama money and no Obama on the ballot, we’d win, 60 to 40."
A similar measure easily passed with nearly 58 percent of the vote in Nebraska, which remained solidly red as 57 percent of its voters backed McCain.
Connerly's opponents managed to keep such measures off the ballot in Arizona, Missouri, and Oklahoma, through concerted efforts to block his petition-gathering efforts and to challenge the legitimacy of the petitions he submitted. He told the Chronicle he already has a new effort underway to get such a measure on the Missouri ballot, in 2010. He said he also may give Arizona and Colorado another shot down the road.