Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post is first to write up today:
Gov. John Hickenlooper beats all four Republican rivals in a new poll that shows he's favored by women voters and has a slight advantage with crucial unaffiliated voters.
Of the four GOP candidates on the primary ballot, former Congressman Tom Tancredo presents the stiffest challenge to Hickenlooper, but loses to the Democratic governor by 7 percentage points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning.
Since Quinnipiac began polling Colorado voters in June 2013, Hickenlooper's favorability ratings have increased from 45 percent to 51 percent, while his unfavorability ratings have decreased from 42 percent to 37 percent.
Quinnipiac's release on today's poll of the Colorado gubernatorial race underscores how women voters–more to the point, ongoing GOP alienation of women voters–gives incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper a growing advantage over any potential Republican opponent.
Hickenlooper's leads over possible Republican contenders are:
47 – 40 percent, over former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo. Men back Tancredo 47 – 42 percent while women go to Hickenlooper 53 – 34 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 44 – 39 percent.
48 – 38 percent over Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Men back Gessler by a slim 44 – 41 percent margin while women back Hickenlooper 55 – 32 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 43 – 36 percent.
48 – 39 percent over former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, with men to Beauprez 46 – 41 percent and women for Hickenlooper 55 – 33 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 45 – 36 percent.
47 – 38 percent over former State Sen. Mike Kopp, with men for Kopp 44 – 40 percent and women for Hickenlooper 54 – 32 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 44 – 36 percent.
"Strong support from women and an edge among independent voters give Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper a solid foothold in his reelection effort," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.
Looking beyond the gubernatorial race, it's certainly not all good news for Democrats in today's Q-poll: the same poll that gives Hickenlooper a decisive edge over his opponents demonstrates ongoing confusion among voters over the gun safety legislation passed by Democrats in 2013. 56% of respondents still oppose "the state's stricter new gun control laws," even while they support universal background checks for gun purchases–one of those very same laws–by an overwhelming 85%. Only 34% of respondents say the General Assembly is doing a good job. Note that the question isn't qualified by partisanship, but it's a Democratic majority in both chambers.
Bottom line: it doesn't surprise us to see Hickenlooper pulling away from a pack of undistinguished GOP candidates, who are in many ways more liabilities to their party than assets. Assuming that trajectory continues, Democrats can start looking at ways to trickle Hickenlooper's strength down the ticket–where it's very much needed.