Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

A Shocking Colorado Poll

In Election Analysis on November 21, 2013 at 10:46 am

Quinnipiac University, fresh from being the closest major pollster in the closing days of the Virginia governor’s race (they projected Terry McAuliffe to be leading 45-41 percent; the final result was 48-45 percent), released a new Colorado survey (Nov. 15-18; 1,206 registered Colorado voters) that produces surprising results.

Up until now, first-term Sen. Mark Udall (D) had been viewed as a prohibitive favorite for re-election. This Q-Poll, however, suggests that competition could be coming his way. According to the data, Udall leads former GOP nominee and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck (R) 45-42 percent. He’s ahead of virtually unknown businessman Jamie McMillan (R) only 43-40 percent. The incumbent expands his edge to five, six, and seven points over state senators Randy Baumgardner and Owen Hill, and state Rep. Amy Stephens, respectively. Clearly, all of these match-ups indicate that Sen. Udall is not yet an electoral cinch.

But, the real eye-opening data relates to opinions of federal leaders and issues, in addition to the 2016 presidential contest. In a state that President Obama carried 51-46 percent last November, his job approval rating has dropped to a poor 36:59 percent favorable to unfavorable. According to Quinnipiac, this is the worst rating they’ve recorded for the president in any state. Vice President Biden falls even further to a 24:66 percent favorability index.

The Affordable Care Act is also viewed negatively. Fifty-six percent oppose Obamacare, while 40 percent favor. When asked whether the respondents believe the health care they receive will get better or worse under the ACA, 45 percent said worse versus only 18 percent who perceive it will be better.

Is this poll an anomaly? Colorado has been voting decidedly Democratic in the past few elections, but they have swung back to the right during the last few months. With the state legislature and Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) enacting sweeping new legislation on drugs, gun control, and energy, people have been striking back. Voters recalled two state senators over their gun control votes, including the body’s president, several counties held a referendum to even begin their own state, and in a 2:1 landslide margin, the voting populace rejected the governor’s tax increase ballot proposal designed to fund new education programs. Therefore, these polling results could simply be providing more evidence of a political backlash.

The data pertaining to the next presidential race could be the most surprising of all. Here, former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton actually trails or is tied with all potential Republican nominees. She is behind New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 38-46 percent; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul 44-47 percent; Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) 43-45 percent; and ties Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 44 percent apiece.

It is unlikely that these numbers will hold over the long term, but this is one more piece of evidence that the legislative changes in Colorado have gone too far. This poll reasonably provides us a further indication that previous surveys showing Gov. Hickenlooper in trouble for re-election have validity.

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