After yesterday's poll from NBC/Marist reassured Colorado Democrats with apparent growing leads in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, a new poll out from Quinnipiac University today restores a healthy sense of fear:
Despite stronger voter optimism about Colorado's economy than found in many states, the race for governor is tied, with 43 percent for Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper and 44 percent for former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Voters give Gov. Hickenlooper a split job approval rating, with 48 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving, compared to a 52 – 39 percent approval rating in an April 23 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.
Hickenlooper does not deserve reelection, voters say 48 – 42 percent, down from a positive 47 – 43 percent support in April.
The gender gap is wide today as men back Beauprez 48 – 37 percent, while women back Hickenlooper 48- 40 percent. Hickenlooper leads 90 – 4 percent among Democrats, while Beauprez takes Republicans 86 – 7 percent. Independent voters are divided with 41 percent for Beauprez and 40 percent for Hickenlooper.
In another split, 43 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the governor, with 42 percent unfavorable, down from 51 – 37 percent favorable in April. Beauprez gets a 31 – 25 percent favorability rating, with 43 percent who don't know enough about him to form an opinion, compared to 52 percent who didn't know enough about him in April.
Clearly a significant move from Quinnipiac's last poll of the Colorado gubernatorial race, when Gov. John Hickenlooper was beating Bob Beauprez by a comfortable nine-point margin. But what's the reason? Speculation we've heard ranges from consolidation of support for Beauprez among conservatives after the primary to fresh negatives for Hickenlooper from his gaffe-laden comments to county sheriffs about the gun safety bills passed last year.
Looking ahead in this race, though, we see major problems for Beauprez in the very large percentage of voters who don't know enough about him to form an opinion. That vacuum is going to get filled, and there's a vast body of highly damaging material on Beauprez to fill it with–as we've been reporting in this space for months. It's arguable that the only reason Beauprez appears competitive today is that Beauprez's record has not been reported accurately by the press so far–witness the ridiculous story right after the primary in the Denver Post about what a "mainstream moderate" Beauprez is. Once the public learns about Beauprez's civil war rhetoric, his "birther" speculation about President Barack Obama, the "hoax" of climate change, his Tom Tancredo-style immigration views, and much more–it remains our view that Beauprez has nowhere to go in this race but down.
To ensure that outcome, it's time for Democrats to take the gloves off.