Today's release from Public Policy Polling reaffirms the present dead heat in Colorado's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, with incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper clinging to statistically insignificant leads over their Republican challengers:
PPP's new Colorado poll finds the exact same numbers in the races for both Governor and the Senate- Democratic incumbents John Hickenlooper and Mark Udall are clinging to 44/43 leads over their challengers Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner respectively.
In the Governor's race this represents a significant tightening over the last four months. In March we had found Hickenlooper leading Beauprez 48/38. Since that time though Hickenlooper's approval rating has dropped a net 10 points, from 48/41 then to now 43/46. And Beauprez's net favorability has improved 14 points from 20/33 then to now 31/30. That movement's come largely among Republicans- he's gone from 33/22 to 57/12 within his own party as it's unified in the wake of last month's primary.
The closeness in the Senate race is nothing new though. Our last four polls have found Udall with leads of 2, 2, 4, and now 1 point. This is shaping up as yet another key Senate contest this year where the early blitz of negative advertising has left both candidates unpopular. Udall has an upside down approval rating at 36/47, but Gardner's not a whole lot more well liked with 34% of voters rating him favorably to 39% who have a negative opinion.
Read the poll's full results here.
These numbers confirm a trend we've seen in other recent polling: a swift closure of the gubernatorial race as GOP nominee Bob Beauprez consolidates post-primary support and Hickenlooper recovers from a tough few weeks in the press, while the U.S. Senate race remains extremely tight with little movement in the last few weeks. We continue to foresee trouble for Beauprez as the press examines his far-right record, which hasn't happened even as Hickenlooper has faced what will likely be the worst press of the campaign stemming from his disastrous appearance in front of hostile county sheriffs. The same lies ahead for Cory Gardner, though it's arguable that Beauprez will prove easier to marginalize due to the sheer extremity of Beauprez's past statements–not to mention Gardner's slick deceptiveness.
Looking down the ticket, undeniably troubling indicators for Colorado Democrats–demonstrating the significant challenge ahead for them this year after years of political dominance. Many voters are undecided, but Republican candidates for Treasurer, Attorney General, and Secretary of State all hold leads well outside this poll's margin of error. Republicans also hold a 45-38% advantage in the poll's generic legislative ballot. Even if trends in the top-ticket races stabilize in favor of the Democratic candidates as we expect, Democrats need to recover downballot to avoid a divided state government in 2015–potentially much more divided than was the case in 2011-12, when the GOP held a one-seat House majority.
Can Democrats get it done? Absolutely–the record shows that the polls consistently underestimate Democrats in this state, as they did in 2010 when the "Republican wave" broke on the Rocky Mountains.
But anyone on either side who feels confident today is a fool.