Colorado Republicans Celebrate China’s Quickie Executions

Execution in China.

Execution in China.

​Debate over the death penalty in Colorado continues this election year, as Republican work to make Gov. John Hickenlooper's granting of a temporary reprieve to "Chuck E. Cheese Killer" Nathan Dunlap a campaign issue. A recent interview leaked by a conservative news outlet, as one example, quotes Hickenlooper as considering a full commutation of Dunlap's sentence–along with the governor's growing belief that the death penalty in Colorado (as elsewhere) is no longer a just punishment.

Republicans, aware that this is a divisive issue and that polling shows risk for Hickenlooper's new position, have pounced on the death penalty as a way to divorce independent voters from an otherwise likable candidate. Depending on how you spin it, Hickenlooper's temporary reprieve to Dunlap while he deliberates the efficacy and morality of capital punishment can be portrayed as thoughtful statesmanship or bumbling indecision. Naturally in an election year, Republican opponents are 100% of the opinion that it's the latter.

Yesterday, the Republican news site Complete Colorado reprinted an op-ed from former GOP. Gov. Bill Owens, written in 1993 not long after the Chuck E. Cheese murders. GOP social media surrogates were quick to spread it around:

But when we actually started reading Owens' 1993 Rocky Mountain News guest column, which we had never heard of before yesterday, the "shivers down our spine" were likely for reasons other than GOP operative Kelly Maher's.

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2014 Will Not Be a “Wave Election”

Bush wave

No, not that kind of wave.

Our friends at "The Fix" produced an interesting list today titled, "The 10 Things We Know 10 Weeks Before Election Day." While there are several interesting points on the list, the one that stood out most to us is #2:

This isn't a wave election. Yet.  The last two midterm elections — 2006 and 2010 — were waves, elections totally dominated by the national issue environment to the detriment of individual candidates trying to swim against the tide. (Terrible water metaphor alert!) That doesn't look like it's happening just yet.  The generic Congressional ballot — "if the election were held today would you prefer a Republican or Democratic controlled Congress?" — shows Democrats with a narrow one-point edge, a far cry from the five point (and building) margin that Republicans had at this time in the 2010 election. And, in Senate races, candidates like Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Mark Begich (Alaska) are hanging in races that, if the national environment was worse, would already be lost.

It has been awhile since we heard much talk about another midterm "wave election" similar to the 2010 version that gave Republicans control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Earlier this year, Republicans were giddy about the prospect of another wave that could enable them to pick up the Senate in 2014, but this election cycle looks and feels much different than 2010. Remember how much media coverage was given to Congressional town hall meetings in August of that year? Republicans may be more excited about the election than Democrats in general, but 2014 definitely does not have the same political fervor that enveloped 2010.

It's also worth noting that the 2010 national wave was significantly less impactful for Republicans here in Colorado. While Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton did capture seats held by Democrats (Rep. Betsy Markey and Rep. John Salazar, respectively), both CD-4 and CD-3 were not what any political handicapper would have called Democratic seats; Gardner and Tipton essentially won back seats that the GOP should have held anyway. In the 2010 Senate race, first-time candidate Michael Bennet defeated Republican Ken Buck in a race that Buck could have — and some say should have — won for Republicans. In CD-7, incumbent Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter absolutely destroyed GOP challenger Ryan Frazier, winning re-election by a 12-point margin.

"The Fix" hedges their bet about 2014 by saying that this "not yet" a wave election, but the "not yet" is unnecessary. If 2014 was indeed shaping up to be a "wave election," we would already be feeling it by now.

Beauprez Says Secession About “Celebrating Diversity”

beauprezncolorado

Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez was featured in a sit-down interview with Fox 31's Eli Stokols that aired Sunday morning on Stokols' #COPolitics public affairs show.

One of the topics of conversation involved the failed Secession movement of last fall, in which voters of 11 counties cast ballots on the question of seceding from the State of Colorado to form a 51st State. The total number of voters able to vote on the topic of secession was relatively small, as we pointed out before, and a majority of politicians on both side of the political aisle did not approve of the proposal.

Stokols asked Beauprez about the Secession effort and where he stood on the issue; as you can see in the video below (beginning around the 7:40 mark), Beauprez says he did not support Secession. But Beauprez does talk a lot about sad rural Coloradans before attempting the odd connection that secession is really about "celebrating diversity" (as opposed to what it really was: a small, loud group of angry partisans who refuse to concede that the majority of Colorado's population is not aligned with rural interests any longer).

"I did not support the secession movement, but I certainly understood the sentiment — that's the key here."

This is a little different, of course, than what Beauprez said about the Secession movement last September. In Voice of America News (Sept. 16, 2013), Beauprez was clearly trying to align himself with sad rural Colorado:

"…maybe we ought to just go our separate ways.  Why don’t you run your state and we'll run ours."


Which state is that, exactly, Bob?

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Big Line Updates; Now, with Percentages!

We have occasionally changed the appearance of The Big Line from representing fractional odds to presenting percentages. It's a matter of preference, of course, but as Election Day nears and Colorado Pols attracts more and new readers, we figured now would be a good time to switch again to percentages.

Here's what we're currently thinking as to the main movers in the top races in Colorado. For the first time this cycle, we've also added Lines for State Senate and State House majorities, respectively.

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (65%)
Cory Gardner (35%)

Gardner has been throwing multiple messages at the wall of late, which is typically the sign of a campaign that doesn't feel confident in the direction it is headed. There's a saying in football that if you are rotating more than one quarterback into the game, then you don't really have a quarterback. If you're a Gardner fan, this is a very difficult question to answer: What is his path to victory here?

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (68%)
Bob Beauprez (32%)

While there has never been a point in this race where it really felt like Gov. Hickenlooper was in trouble, Hick has made enough errors that it has provided Beauprez with an opportunity. Still, Beauprez can't win just by running a decent race; if Hick stops his stumble, there's not enough room for Beauprez to squeeze past in November.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE TREASURER, SECRETARY OF STATE
With so much money going into races for the U.S. Senate and CD-6, there will be little oxygen left in the room for candidates in the other statewide races after Governor. It's difficult to tell at this stage whether any of the candidates will be able to do enough to make their own luck.
 

CD-6 (Aurora-ish)
Andrew Romanoff (54%)
Mike Coffman (46%)

We wrote earlier about our belief that Countdown Coffman is underway following incumbent Rep. Coffman's boorish behavior in last week's debates. We've been hearing consistent buzz that Romanoff is now rising steadily while Coffman seeks the momentum he needs to prevent a complete collapse.
 

STATE SENATE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (55%)
REPUBLICANS (45%)

We usually wait until this point in the cycle to attempt handicapping state legislative outcomes, but our analysis is similar to what we anticipated in the aftermath of the June Primary. Tea Party victories in two key Senate districts (SD-19 and SD-22) make winning the majority an uphill battle for Republicans.


STATE HOUSE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (75%)
REPUBLICANS (25%)

The ballot wasn't even completely settled until recently, but the direction of this battle has been clear for some time. Republicans have had difficulty even finding candidates for 2014; the GOP will be lucky not to lose a seat or two at this point.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

Hickenlooper Picks Max Potter as New Communications Director

Maxamillian Potter

Max Potter, Gov. Hickenlooper’s new Communications Director

Governor John Hickenlooper informed his staff this week that Max Potter will replace the departed Eric Brown as the Governor's Communications Director.

Potter was a longtime editor at 5280 magazine before making a surprise jump to Hickenlooper's staff earlier this year in a broad communications role. Brown left the Governor's office in July for a communications job in the private sector. Kathy Green, director of communications for the Colorado Tourism Office, has served as interim Communications Director since Brown's departure.

Christie to Beauprez, “Yeah, you’re not so much at the top of my list.”

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/08/6_governors_races_chris_christie_really_wants_to_win_to_make_his_term_as_rga_chair_a_success.htmlLooks like Christie's swing through Colorado last month should not be construed as an indication that Bob Beauprez is at the top of his "pick up" list for this year.  The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Christie has six races at the top of his list, and Colorado is not among them.

  

Holbert stands behind statement likening Hick actions to spousal abuse

(Stay classy, Rep. Holbert – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Chris Holbert (R).

Rep. Chris Holbert (R).

In a Facebook posting yesterday, state Republican Rep. Chris Holbert wrote that Gov. John Hickenlooper "treats us like we are his abused spouse."

In explaining why he'd vote for gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, Holbert wrote in response to a Facebook post of one of Holbert's Facebook friends:

Because Hickenlooper treats us like we are his abused spouse. He smiles and tells us that things will be better, signs bills into law that trample on the freedom and prosperity of the People, apologizes, becomes angry when we don't forget, swears at us, then promises to abuse us again.

Don't put Hickenlooper back in office for another four years. That ONE person can cancel out anything that a Republican Senate might accomplish. Don't allow ONE Governor to cancel out 18 or more Senators who would work to repeal eight years of Democrat control.

Reached by phone this afternoon, Holbert stood behind the comments.

Asked if he thought his comparison to spousal abuse could be offensive to actual abused spouses and others concerned about domestic violence, Holbert said:

Holbert: "I think there are various kinds of abuse, and what I am pointing to is verbal. I’m not comparing it to physical abuse. People would have greater respect for the governor if he would have one story and stick to it."

"He tells us one thing and tells his supporters another thing," Holbert said, explaining his Facebook post further. "He suggested to the sheriffs that he didn’t talk to Bloomberg and records show he did. He apologized for signing bills that he claims he didn’t understand were so controversial. And then he talked to Eli Stokols, I believe, and says he’d sign the bills again. So which does he mean? I feel that’s abusive to the people of Colorado who look to him for leadership."

Tom Tancredo is His Own Consultant

Tom Tancredo with top consultant, Tom Tancredo

Tom Tancredo with top campaign consultant, Tom Tancredo (left or right, doesn’t matter).

The June 24th Primary Election may be pretty far in our collective rear-view mirrors, but Election Day doesn't mean that losing campaigns immediately shut down. There are bills left to pay, offices to mothball, rhetoric to file away, etc. And for losing campaigns, there is often cash left over to spend on…stuff. Occasionally, that "stuff" ends up back in the hands of the candidate.

After looking through campaign finance reports from losing campaigns filed in July and August, we found some interesting (if not particularly legal) expenditures. Republican Tom Tancredo's campaign for Governor, for example, lists a total of about 121 separate expenditures made to one "Thomas Tancredo," including out personal favorite, which was reported on June 30, 2014: Tom Tancredo's campaign paid Tom Tancredo $1,300 for "Consultant and Professional Services." 

We're assuming this wasn't considered a bonus for Tancredo's consulting advice that resulted in a Primary loss to Bob Beauprez. It is telling, however, that Beauprez had trouble dispatching a man in Tancredo who apparently wasn't overly interested in running a serious campaign for Governor.

All told, Tancredo's campaign paid Tom Tancredo about $10,501.99 in the year or so that he ran for Governor as a Republican. That's a lot of money to pay yourself for various items, though it pales in comparison to the money that 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes somehow squirreled away.

If you're wondering, Tancredo is actually a bit of an outlier when it comes to odd expenditures. The campaign for Republican Scott Gessler wrote at least two separate checks to Scott Gessler for $3,468.38 for services described as "Other." On the other hand, Mike Kopp, the other losing GOP candidate for Governor, does not appear to have received any odd expenditure checks from his own campaign.

You can check out some of our more interesting campaign finance findings for Tancredo after the jump…

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Frackapalooza 2014: Losers

Fracking operation in Greeley.

Fracking operation in Greeley.

News broke on Monday that Gov. John Hickenlooper had reached a deal to avert dueling ballot measures related to fracking, and since we are a political blog and all, we had to swoop in and rank stuff.

Tuesday, we gave you our "Winners" from what we are calling Frackapalooza 2014, which culminated in the removal of four initiatives from the ballot (two backed by Polis, and two backed by the oil and gas industry) in exchange for the formation of a humongous "blue ribbon commission" that will make recommendations to the legislature.

Is this a good deal for Coloradans? A bad deal? As always here at Colorado Pols, we limit our analysis to politics while leaving the policy debate to others. Which leads us to…

Frackapalooza 2014: Winners, Losers, and Lessons

In the interest of both time and space (relative though they may be), we're going to break this up into three separate posts. After the jump, check out our "Losers" from Frackapalooza 2014 (you can find the "Winners" here):

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Winners, Losers, and Lessons from Frackapalooza Deal

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

​News broke late yesterday that Gov. John Hickenlooper had reached a deal to avert dueling ballot measures related to fracking — and not a moment too soon. Yesterday was the final day to submit signatures to the Secretary of State's office for certification to make the November ballot. The deal has apparently met approval with Rep. Jared Polis, oil and gas executives, environmentalists, and even some Japanese tourists on 16th Street Mall (okay, we made that part up), and will culminate in the removal of four initiatives from the ballot (two backed by Polis, and two backed by the oil and gas industry) in exchange for the formation of a humongous "blue ribbon commission" that will make recommendations to the legislature. So, instead of ballot measures, the State will appoint 18 people to continue arguing about fracking long after Election Day.

Is this a good deal for Coloradans? A bad deal? That depends on who you ask, of course, and here at Colorado Pols, we sort of avoid the question because we focus our analysis on the pure politics of the deal. As always here at Colorado Pols, we limit our analysis to politics while leaving the policy debate to others. Which leads us to…

Frackapalooza 2014: Winners, Losers, and Lessons

In the interest of both time and space (relative though they may be), we're going to break this up into three separate posts. So up first, after the jump, are the big Winners from Frackapalooza:

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No “Consolidation Bonus” For Beauprez

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

AP's Ivan Moreno reports via the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has a fundraising edge against Republican gubernatorial challenger Bob Beauprez in their first head-to-head month.

Hickenlooper's campaign said the governor raised about $353,000, while Beauprez's campaign reported about $261,000.

It's the first fundraising report since Beauprez became the Republican nominee on June 24. The reporting period covers June 26 to July 26.

Beauprez has $235,413 cash on hand. He spent most of the money he had raised previously on a four-way Republican primary.

One of the arguments made by Republicans, including commenters on this blog, in defense of the overall lackluster fundraising numbers we saw during the GOP gubernatorial primary, was that Republican support was divided among several relatively equal contenders. It's a reasonable point, and it makes sense that whoever won the primary should benefit from a unified Republican donor base. In fact its important that this happen, since as you can see, Beauprez spent most of his cash on hand while unopposed incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper banked his huge fundraising hauls through the primary. If Beauprez doesn't want to start writing vanity campaign checks in August, he needs the GOP donor base to pony up.

Interesting, then, that they don't appear to be doing so.

BREAKING: Hickenlooper/Polis Deal Averts Fracking Ballot Measures

UPDATE #4: Sen. Mark Udall weighs in with congratulations:

Colorado has served as a model for the nation on finding the right balance between protecting our clean air and water, safely developing our abundant energy resources, and safeguarding our communities and our public health. I have been proud to champion efforts to strike that balance by bringing together Democrats, Republicans, the oil and gas industry, conservationists, and citizen groups.

From the beginning, I have pressed everyone involved to find a balanced way forward and to work toward a collaborative solution. I am proud this engagement yielded results, and I applaud Governor Hickenlooper and Congressman Polis for reaching this compromise. 

—–

UPDATE #3: Conservation Colorado's statement:

Conservation Colorado believes local governments have a historical right and responsibility to protect the public health and environment of their communities from land use impacts of industrial activities like drilling and fracking. We applaud Congressman Polis’ strong advocacy for his constituents and on behalf of many other Coloradans concerned over the impacts of oil and gas drilling on Colorado communities.

We congratulate Congressman Polis and Governor Hickenlooper for working diligently to bring this complicated issue to a good public policy result. No Coloradan should have to wake up and see a drilling rig over their back fence and worry that their families health or quality of life will be adversely impacted.

—–

UPDATE #2: Gov. John Hickenlooper's statement announcing the new task force to recommend legislation for 2015:

“Colorado is fortunate to have an abundance of energy resources, and we have an obligation to develop them in a way that is safe for our residents, supports jobs and the economy, respects private property rights and protects our environment,” Hickenlooper said.
 
“The work of this task force will provide an alternative to ballot initiatives that, if successful, would have regulated the oil and gas industry through the rigidity of Constitutional amendments and posed a significant threat to Colorado’s economy. This approach will put the matter in the hands of a balanced group of thoughtful community leaders, business representatives and citizens who can advise the legislature and the executive branch on the best path forward.”

…Hickenlooper expressed confidence in Colorado’s existing set of regulations as developed and enforced by the COGCC and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Those agencies have undertaken four major rulemakings addressing oil and gas development since 2011. That included a year-long public process to develop a new setback standard, which took effect last year.

“Recognizing the value of energy and our environment, and managing that balance, can be difficult but it’s something we’ve always been able to do in Colorado. Collectively, we have one of the strongest regulatory approaches in the country, and we will continue to build on that record to protect our world-class environment while providing the flexibility necessary to develop our important energy resources,” Hickenlooper said.

—–

Rep. Jared Polis speaks at a press conference with Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Rep. Jared Polis speaks at a press conference with Gov. John Hickenlooper.

UPDATE: Full statement from Rep. Jared Polis after the jump. Excerpt:

In 2011 I visited with concerned parents in Erie who were distressed over plans to locate several fracking rigs next to Red Hawk Elementary School. They asked for my help, and I immediately called upon the operators to reconsider the location of those wells. For weeks I sent letters, I had conference calls with oil and gas executives and I plead with them to not move forward with these ill advised plans to place fracking rigs dangerously close to children's elementary school. In the end my pleas and the pleas of these concerned parents for reasonable setbacks from their kids elementary school fell on deaf ears. I told those parents and my constituents that I would not give up the fight, that I would continue pushing for responsible regulations that protect them and I have devoted a considerable amount of my time doing just that ever since.

I believe today's announcement is a victory for the people of Colorado and the movement to enact sensible fracking regulations. I know for many today's announcement will not go far enough, but I believe it's just the beginning of next chapter.

—–

lion-lamb

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports, a press conference at the Colorado Capitol is getting underway now:

Environmentalists and the governor's office struck a last-minute deal to withdraw all proposed ballot initiatives to restrict fracking for the November election, defusing a political time bomb that had driven a wedge between liberal and pro-business Democrats…

The deal does include some immediate concessions to environmentalists to avoid the Polis-backed initiatives.

The governor's office has agreed to withdraw the state from a lawsuit against Longmont over the city's voter-enacted ban on fracking.

In addition, the governor has committed to more rigorously enforce a 1000-foot setback, the distance that must separate oil and gas drilling from existing buildings.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Polis has also requested that the industry withdraw two of its own initiatives: Initiative 121, which stipulates that communities that limit oil and gas activity would be prohibited from receiving state severance tax revenues from oil and gas development; and Initiative 137, which would require the fiscal impact of each initiative be estimated earlier in the process and included in the Colorado Blue Book.

Backers of those initiatives submitted signatures ahead of Monday’s deadline but may be willing to drop them before the ballot is finalized in September.

At first blush, it does appear Rep. Jared Polis has extracted significant concessions from Gov. John Hickenlooper as part of this agreement–withdrawing the state from the suit over Longmont's fracking moratorium, and better enforcement of setbacks between drilling and other developments like homes and schools. Bigger setbacks for drilling was one of the two ballot measures Polis was working on. Polling from supporters of Polis' ballot measures showed they had a solid and enduring chance–even after opponents' arguments against–of passing this November. Today's agreement allows Polis and conservationists to claim victory without that long and costly ballot fight, which some Democrats worried could be divisive for the general election.

Instead, Polis comes out a winner with tangible deliverables resulting from his effort–and Hickenlooper shows his remarkable knack for making the lion lay down with the lamb yet again. We'll update after today's press conference with more coverage and details.

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One Colorado PAC Officially Endorses Gov. Hickenlooper and AG Candidate Don Quick

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

HickQuick1

Today, One Colorado PAC – the statewide political action committee dedicated to supporting fair-minded candidates as part of One Colorado’s mission to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans and their families – endorsed Governor John Hickenlooper and Attorney General candidate Don Quick for the 2014 general election.

“Elections matter – and this November, full equality for our families is on the line,” said One Colorado Executive Director Dave Montez.

“Attorney General John Suthers has vowed to continue defending our state’s discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples, even as Republicans in other states have decided to drop their defense of similar bans and stop wasting taxpayer dollars. We need to elect a Governor and Attorney General who will allow our families to share in the joys of marriage and stop defending the indefensible. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General candidate Don Quick are the team who will get it done as quickly as possible.”

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Colorado River Basin drying out faster than previously thought

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What will our Fracker in Chief say about this?

Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.

In the past nine years, the basin — which covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California — has lost about 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, nearly double the volume of the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. That figure surprised the study’s authors, who used data from a NASA weather satellite to investigate groundwater supplies.

About two-thirds of the water lost over the past nine years came from underground water supplies, rather than surface water.

“We were shocked to see how much water was actually depleted underground,” Stephanie Castle, a water specialist at the University of California at Irvine and lead author of the report, said in an interview.

This water is critical for all aspects of life in the geological area.(No, I will not change my screen name to Captain Obvious.) Fracking, which our governor, a trained geologist, says is harmless, uses enormous amounts of water which in turn affects individuals' water wells. Discarded fracking fluids are now also beginning to affect water tables and aquifers around the nation.

Oh, and did I mention increased earthquake activity in fracking areas?

Here's a map of the Colorado River Basin by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that is in the Post article:

The ease with which our Governor gives his support to the highly disruptive extraction of fossil fuels from our environment never ceases to amaze me. There are many negative aspects of the technology, yet he has remained firm in his support of Big Energy. Maybe this latest piece of evidence will finally catch his attention to the long-term harm fracking will do to Colorado's environment. 

PPP: Udall, Hickenlooper 44%, Gardner, Beauprez 43%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

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.

beauprezdemsfear​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.