If new polling released today from Democratic-aligned pollster Public Policy Polling proves accurate, Colorado is headed back to the future in 2014.
PPP's new Colorado poll finds voters closely divided in their feelings about both Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Mark Udall- but also that this could prove to be another place where Republicans waste an opportunity by running the wrong candidate.
In 2010 Hickenlooper defeated Tom Tancredo by 15 points. Yet despite having half a dozen candidates to choose from next year, Republicans are still leaning toward nominating Tancredo again. He gets 34% support among GOP primary voters to 15% for Scott Gessler, 9% for Greg Brophy, 3% each for Mike Kopp and Jim Rundberg, and 2% for Steve House.
Voters are pretty split in their opinions about Hickenlooper with 45% approving of him to 48% who disapprove. But in a head to head match up with Tancredo he still leads by 8 points at 48/40. He has similar margins against Mike Kopp (45/37) and Scott Gessler (47/40). The Republican who comes closest, despite having minimal name recognition, is actually Greg Brophy at 44/43. Tancredo and Gessler are both much better known but with favorability ratings of 31/42 and 15/24 respectively they are not particularly well liked so their being known isn't really a good thing…
PPP should always be properly disclaimed as a polling outfit that generally works for Democrats, but it's worth noting that their polling has proven highly reliable in past Colorado elections. They're telling a story not too dissimilar from other polls we've seen recently from Quinnipiac University: Democrats have taken an undeniable hit this year from a combination of political setbacks, but Colorado Republicans are totally unprepared to capitalize on this new weakness. There is perhaps no better example of this than the incredibly feeble gubernatorial primary field competing to take on an admittedly weakened Democratic incumbent. Our gut feeling is still not that 2010 third-party candidate and extremist former Congressman Tom Tancredo will become the nominee, but his lead in this early poll is a telling indicator of how weak this field is.
Continuing to the 2014 U.S. Senate, not much else to buoy GOP electoral hopes in Colorado there either:
We're seeing a similar story in the Colorado Senate race. Ken Buck proved to be a very poor candidate against Michael Bennet in 2010 and lost a contest Republicans were generally expected to win all year long. And now GOP voters are ready to run him again- 45% say he's their choice for Senate candidate to just 8% for Randy Baumgardner, 7% for Amy Stephens, 2% for Owen Hill, 1% for Jaime McMillan, and less than 1% for Mark Aspiri.
As in the gubernatorial race, it's remarkable to see 2010 GOP U.S. Senate nominee Ken Buck's name, as of this poll, headed for the November ballot in 2014. We continue to be amazed by the underperformance of former Colorado House Minority Leader Amy Stephens, who really by all rights should be polling better than 7% in this race. That, along with Buck in the lead, spells bad news for Republicans who would like to actually do well in next year's elections. As it stands today, this is the top of a ticket tailor-made to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.