Earlier this year when former congressman and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo announced that he would challenge Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in 2014, few expected much of a contest. After all, Hickenlooper, a popular Denver mayor back in 2010, won the governorship with ease even in a Republican landslide year (51-36 percent over Tancredo who ran on the American Constitution Party ballot line). But Quinnipiac University, now for the second time in the last three months, forecasts a race that is surprisingly close.
According to the new Q-Poll (Aug. 15-21; 1,184 registered Colorado voters) Gov. Hickenlooper leads Tancredo only 46-45 percent, an almost identical result to what they found in their June survey (42-41 percent, Hickenlooper over Tancredo). Furthermore, the governor is upside-down with respect to the respondents’ opinion about whether he deserves re-election. Forty-five percent of those sampled believe he should win a second term; 48 percent do not.
Several things are occurring here. First, clearly Hickenlooper’s personal popularity is suffering, to which his job approval rating of 48:44 percent positive to negative attests. Second, a relatively severe gender gap exists. Women give the governor positive reviews, but men view him in the exact opposite context. Third, Hickenlooper holds decidedly unfavorable ratings, and overwhelmingly so from men, regarding his highly publicized actions pertaining to the death penalty and gun control.
Women support the governor over Tancredo by a 53-37 percent margin, but the male preference is much different. The latter group backs the Republican challenger in double-digits, 53-39 percent. In terms of personal approval, females have a positive opinion of the governor (54:35 percent), but men disapprove of him (44:50 percent).
Hickenlooper’s registers a poor 27:48 percent for his position against the death penalty and 35:52 percent for promoting more stringent gun control. Conversely, the governor scores positive marks on his handling of the economy, 50:41 percent, is rated as a strong leader (57:38 percent), projects as honest and trustworthy (56:35 percent), and is viewed as caring about the respondents’ needs and problems (50-44 percent).
To compound Hickenlooper’s political problems, former Rep. Tancredo is not the only Republican who fares well against him. Secretary of State Doug Gessler, also an announced candidate, trails only 42-47 percent. A third gubernatorial candidate, Greg Brophy who is an obscure state senator hailing from the northeast sector where at least nine counties will vote on a November 2013 ballot proposition to begin the process for creating a new state of North Colorado, is behind only 40-47 percent.
In conclusion, the latest Q-Poll again detects serious weakness in Gov. Hickenlooper’s re-election prospects, and the Colorado gubernatorial campaign must now be rated as a toss-up. Political unrest continues to percolate in the Centennial State, thus endangering Gov. Hickenlooper and potentially breathing new life into the previously moribund political career of Tom Tancredo.