Quinnipiac University's polling of major Colorado races continues today–after yesterday's release showed Gov. John Hickenlooper pulling away from his gaggle of Republican challengers, today's polling of the U.S. Senate race remains very tight:
Sen. Udall gets 45 percent to 44 percent for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, his Republican challenger, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.
The gender gap is wide as Udall leads 52 – 35 percent among women while Gardner leads 53 – 38 percent among men. Udall leads among Democrats 90 – 3 percent while Gardner takes Republicans 88 – 7 percent and gets 43 percent of independent voters to Udall's 41 percent.
In an open-ended question, allowing for any answer, 16 percent of voters list the economy or jobs as the most important issue in deciding their U.S. Senate vote, and 14 percent list healthcare. No other issue comes close…
This poll shows a statistically insignificant tightening of this race from the two-point lead Sen. Mark Udall enjoyed over then-frontrunner Ken Buck in Quinnipiac's last poll in February. It's ominous, as we've noted in other recent polling, for Republicans to see the man who replaced Buck as the party's presumptive nominee polling basically no better, even after hundreds of thousands of dollars expended trashing Udall by third-party groups like Americans for Prosperity.
With that said, Udall and Democrats face an ongoing challenge improving the public's view of both health care reform and the economy. On the latter, Udall gets a boost from what appears to be a significantly more favorable opinion of Colorado's economy versus nationally in this poll. Looking ahead, the rapidly improving outlook for the Affordable Care Act after a string of good press in recent weeks also bodes well for Udall–though that's not yet reflected in these numbers. And perhaps most important today, the large and persistent gender gap in this race, with women lopsidedly backing Udall, portends the same dynamic that sank Ken Buck in 2010–strongly validating the Udall campaign's early strategy of hitting Gardner hard on women's issues.
When the needle finally moves in this race one way or the other, and it will, we'll be here to cover it.