Lots of interesting poll results from Public Policy Polling today, the second half of their recent survey work in Colorado. PPP is generally considered a Democratic-leaning firm, but their performance in recent elections has been quite good. A study by Fordham University rated PPP the most accurate pollster nationally of the 2012 elections. From today's memo on a number of questions, two standouts: lackluster support for a presidential run in 2016 by Gov. John Hickenlooper, and resilient popularity of gun safety bills passed by the legislature.
Although he is a strong favorite for reelection as Governor next year, there's not a lot of enthusiasm in Colorado for a 2016 John Hickenlooper Presidential bid. Only 21% of voters in the state think he should run to 65% who think he should not, and even among Democrats just 30% would like to see him run with 48% dissenting. Hickenlooper does hold a narrow 47/45 advantage over Rand Paul and Marco Rubio in hypothetical match ups. But even without the benefit of home state advantage Hillary Clinton does slightly better than Hickenlooper in the state, leading Paul 48/45 and Rubio 48/44…
Coloradans support stronger gun laws in general (49/44) and an assault weapons ban in particular (49/45). Latinos, who Republicans need to be more competitive with if they're going to win key statewide races in Colorado, support stronger gun laws by a 59/32 margin. We didn't bother testing support for background checks in the state given the overwhelming support for them everywhere.
“Republicans are looking for a path forward after losing 6 elections in a row for President, Governor, and the Senate in Colorado,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But being on the wrong side of public opinion about hot button issues like gun control and gay marriage isn’t going to get them out of the wilderness.”
We're not surprised to see soft support for a run for President by Hickenlooper, and we wouldn't necessarily count it all as sentiment against him. As PPP's earlier released polling showed, Hickenlooper's unfavorable rating has shot up in the last year as he has been compelled to engage on issues with negatives on both sides of the political spectrum–upsetting conservatives on gun safety and liberals with his questionable support for oil and gas drilling. Despite that, Hickenlooper is still well above water in terms of favorability, and Republicans have no candidate in Hickenlooper's league with which to challenge him. There are a host of reasons why Hickenlooper may not be viewed as the best presidential candidate in 2016, but none of them look to be a threat to his re-election in 2014.
For Republicans, the enduring popularity of gun safety bills passed this year is nothing short of disastrous. After having put all of their messaging eggs in this basket this legislative session, the fact that gun safety retains this much support even after Republicans threw the kitchen sink at Democrats portends a very bleak 2014 for them. Not only have they failed to be persuasive, further credibility damage awaits them when those bills take effect in a few weeks–and the outlandish consequences Republicans warned of fail to materialize.