Who and What Will Win in Colorado's 2016 Election: An Expert's Predictions

In recent weeks, we've posted extensive interviews with proponents and opponents of major measures on the Colorado ballot this year, as well as a number of other races; well over a dozen links can be accessed below. And that coverage will keep coming right up until election day, which (blessedly) is exactly one week away at this writing.

And that means crunch time for candidates and advocates.

Who and what will likely emerge victorious after the votes are counted on November 8? For insight into that question, we turned to Eric Sondermann, one of the smartest and most respected political analysts in Colorado.

Below, see his prognostications about the biggest proposals — amendments 69, 70, 71 and 72, plus propositions 106, 107 and 108 — and the most hotly contested races, involving U.S. Senate candidates Michael Bennet and Darryl Glenn plus congressional aspirants Scott Tipton, Gail Schwartz, Mike Coffman and Morgan Carroll. Sondermann also puts forward a prediction about the all-important face-off between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Colorado outcome of which could have national repercussions.

Get Sondermann's take below — and for additional stories on this year's ballot measures and more, click to access our Election archive.

Amendment 69: ColoradoCare

From our previous coverage: "The proposal would create a Colorado health-care system with a goal of guaranteeing that everyone in Colorado has health-insurance coverage. Since Amendment 69 won't supersede federal programs such as TRICARE, which focuses on veterans, it's not technically a single-payer plan, but it's close enough to have earned the endorsement of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, a longtime advocate of health-care reform."

"My sense is that it goes down — goes down by very large numbers, perhaps two to one or something in that ballpark. No matter how broken our current health-care system might be, this one is just too much: too big, too costly. I don't even think some of the proponents, with the exception of the most ardent, true believers, expect it to pass.

"I've got to believe the political realists among the proponents understood from the beginning that this was going to be a very heavy lift. And I think there's a sense among voters that a state would have a hard time going something like this alone. A lot of voters feel that Obamacare has been troubled, as we've seen by the headlines of late — and proponents would respond by saying, 'Obamacare was always doomed. That's why you need a single-payer system.' But for most voters, the troubles with Obamacare have made them even more leery about such changes and an increased role on the part of government.

"There's also sticker shock that's associated with Amendment 69. When people look at the numbers, you're talking about something that's the size of the state budget. Of course, there would be offsets, i.e., no more health-insurance premiums. But change is scary, and big change is scarier."

Why You Should Vote Yes for Amendment 69, the ColoradoCare Health Plan

Why You Should Vote No on Amendment 69, the ColoradoCare Health Plan

Amendment 70: Minimum wage

From our previous coverage:
 "Amendment 70 would boost the minimum wage from its current $8.31 per hour to $12 by 2020, with incremental bumps over a three-year period."

"This could be one of the more interesting and closer ballot measures on election night. If I was a betting person, which I tend not to be, I suspect it will pass, but not overwhelmingly.

"I regard Amendment 70 to be a classic case of heart versus head. Your heart says vote yes, and your head then says, 'I'm not so sure. What are the economics of it? How many people will lose their jobs?' But in heart-versus-head votes — not all the time, but usually — I bet on the heart. Particularly if you assume that the Democratic turnout is going to be at least at the margins better than the Republican turnout in this election — that would bode well for Amendment 70."

Why You Should Vote Yes on Amendment 70 to Raise the Minimum Wage

Why You Should Vote No on Amendment 70 Against Raising the Minimum Wage

Amendment 71: Raise the Bar

From our previous coverage:
"Amendment 71, known as Raise the Bar, proposes to make it more difficult for constitutional amendments to reach the Colorado ballot by requiring that signatures be collected from 2 percent of all registered voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts, as opposed to an overall number. Additionally, amendments would no longer be approved by a simple majority; they'd have to notch 55 percent support to win passage."

"Just for the record, I've been somewhat outspoken on this one. I'm not working on any campaign, but in terms of my personal beliefs, I've been on the 'No on 71' side.

"Obviously, all the establishment forces in the world are lined up in favor of this. On the 'no' side, you have this unholy coalition of the hard-core left and the hard-core right, and in between that are the people who totally support the intent behind 71 but are worried about the prescription in it. The line I use is that there's no argument about raising the bar, but this one takes the bar and puts it on stilts.

"I'm told that [the Yes on 71 vote] is polling in the fifties, but barely north of 50 percent, and that's a very precarious place. I think this is close to a fifty-fifty proposition. If I was going to make a wager, which I don't do, I think it might go down simply based on the tenor of the year. This is an angry year, an outsider year, and 71 is sort of the ultimate establishment-insider proposal: a 'Let's take a little bit of power away from the populace' kind of campaign. And I think those campaigns have particular trouble in years such as this."

Why You Should Vote Yes for Amendment 71, to Raise the Bar on Amendments

Why You Should Vote No on Amendment 71, to Raise the Bar on Amendments

Amendment 72: Tobacco tax hike

From our previous coverage
"Amendment 72 would increase state taxes on tobacco products. For example, the tax on cigarettes would go up by $1.75 per pack under the theory that the higher cost will prevent children from starting to smoke and encourage current smokers to quit."

"I would suspect it's going to pass, but I don't think this one is a slam dunk the way the previous tobacco tax was in 2004.

"By way of a disclaimer, my firm did the previous campaign in favor of the tax back then. But I think this one has some factors that make it more difficult. One is that the state has already done it, albeit twelve years ago. Two is that the amount of the tax is three times what the previous request was. And three, which might be a function of one and two, is that the tobacco industry is actively engaged in this race, where basically they took a pass back in 2004.

"The tobacco industry is dumping north of $17 million into opposing the amendment. I understand that their initial investment was $5 million, and then they doubled down, and doubled down again, on their investment. If they're doing that, they have some polling that shows they're within striking distance, and for that reason, this is a reasonable amount of money to invest.

"That said, sin taxes tend to be popular, and the tobacco industry obviously doesn't have terribly high credibility. The campaign in favor of 72 has been rather meager, but if I was to summarize it, I would suspect it will pass — but it's one where I wouldn't be surprised if I got it wrong."

Why You Should Vote Yes on Amendment 72 to Raise Tobacco Taxes

Why You Should Vote No Against Amendment 72 to Raise Tobacco Taxes

Continue for predictions about the propositions on the Colorado ballot, as well as two U.S. House competitions, the U.S. Senate contest and the presidential race.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts