Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) trails his best-known Republican challenger and also is struggling in hypothetical November 2010 matchups against much lesser-known GOP candidates, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey of 500 likely voters on Dec. 8.
Former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton (R) leads Bennet, who was appointed to the Senate in January, by 46 percent to 37 percent. Norton, the best-funded Republican candidate, has the backing of numerous Republican senators and Colorado officeholders.
Even county prosector Ken Buck and former state Sen. Tom Wiens, two other Republicans in the race, are running even or slightly ahead of Bennet despite not being established political figures statewide.
Bennet is suffering from a mediocre public image in his state. The poll said that 39 percent of respondents had a very favorable or somewhat favorable impression of Bennet but that 46 percent had a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable feeling. For Norton, the figures are 49 percent favorable and 32 percent unfavorable.
Bennet faces a primary challenge from Andrew Romanoff, a former state House Speaker. Romanoff trails Norton by 11 points and is running about even with Buck and Wiens…
Michael Bennet’s favorability rating is more a function of his high appointed-incumbent profile than anything else–he’s an easy target for voter’s angst, and intense unease on both sides over the congressional agenda, certainly in a primary where a rival is second-guessing you at every step, makes every procedural vote and statement from Bennet stand out disproportionately.
Don’t mistake what we’re saying for excuse making, of course: Bennet is down by 9 points in this early poll, that’s the bottom line. There’s no sugar coating, except maybe for fundraising purposes–he’s got his work cut out for him, a previously known fact.
One thing these numbers don’t show, that said, is anything particularly good for Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff is well known around the state and remembered fondly from his time as Speaker of the House, and should expect positive name recognition–combine that with sympathy for his ‘plight’ in some quarters, and the fact that he’s not the one making the hard votes right now, and his somewhat better overall favorability makes sense.
But even with all that in his favor, Romanoff still loses by a wider margin.
Additional commentary here.