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Politics and Government

Jared Polis maintains lead in new poll, but Democratic enthusiasm is what to watch

Democratic voters are more interested in the midterms than Republicans, and it could have impacts down the ballot

  • Credibility:

Democrat Jared Polis remains in a comfortable lead in the Colorado governor’s race, according to a new poll, but the numbers showing a partisan gap in voter enthusiasm are even more troubling for Republicans.

A survey of likely voters released Wednesday from Magellan Strategies found Democrats are more energized to vote in Colorado’s 2018 midterms, raising concerns for Republican candidates down the ballot.  

The numbers from the poll — conducted Oct. 8-10 — show 59 percent of Democrats responded at the highest end of the scale when asked about their interest in the Nov. 6 election, compared to 47 percent for Republicans. When the top two levels are combined, Democrats held an eight-point advantage, just outside the roughly 7.5 percent margin of error for this partisan breakdown.

The dynamic quiets the notion that the confirmation process for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would give the GOP a boost because of its polarizing nature. 

  • A deeper look at the numbers shows Kavanaugh is potentially a factor in voter enthusiasm — but still to the benefit of Democrats. Among those voters who disapproved of his confirmation, 73 percent ranked at the top of the interest scale, compared to 65 percent of those who supported his confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

“The bottom line is voter turnout will determine if Colorado sees a ‘mixed bag’ of candidate and ballot initiative results or a Democrat rout,” said David Flaherty at Magellan Strategies, a Republican firm.

MORE: Check out The Colorado Sun’s poll tracker in the governor’s race to see where the candidates stand

In the governor’s race, Polis maintained a 7 percentage point lead against Republican Walker Stapleton, 47 percent to 40 percent, the new survey showed. The margin of error for the entire poll is plus or minus 4.4 percent.

The numbers are identical to a poll conducted three weeks earlier by Magellan and Keating Research, a Democratic firm, and show that less than one in 10 voters remains undecided.

  • The numbers show Polis built his lead with a 13-point edge among women voters and a commanding 26-point advantage among unaffiliated voters, both of which are well outside the margins of error in these groups.
  • The support among women is a bit lower compared to the prior survey, but the lead among unaffiliated voters is higher.

In the 2014 election, 5 percent more Republicans turned out to vote than Democrats, which is consistent with midterm years. But this new poll — and the prior one from September — assume that Republican advantage will fall to 2 percentage points, in part because of the Democratic enthusiasm this year. An increase in the number of unaffiliated voters also is a factor.

Among likely voters in Colorado, 46 percent prefer Democrats win control of Congress, compared to 40 percent who want Republicans in power, the poll found. And the results for the Colorado legislature show essentially the same preference for Democrats.

MORE: Where the candidates for Colorado governor stand on the issues

Other poll findings

The other questions found:

  • Most voters view Polis, the five-term Boulder congressman, in a positive light. His favorability rating is 45 percent compared to 36 percent unfavorable, despite all the negative ads run against him.
  • Most voters view Stapleton, the two-term state treasurer, positively, too. His favorability is 42 percent compared to 36 percent unfavorable.
  • Colorado is split on Kavanaugh, with 43 percent approving of his confirmation and the same proportion disapproving. Among unaffiliated voters, a small plurality disapprove.
  • President Donald Trump’s job approval rating in Colorado is negative. Half of voters disapprove of him, compared to 44 percent who approve. A wide partisan divide exists with Republicans feeling as strongly in support as Democrats feel in opposition.

On the question of transportation ballot measures, Proposition 109 to use existing state dollars to pay a $3.5 billion bond for road projects received 52 percent compared to 23 percent opposed.

The competing measure — Proposition 110, to raise sales taxes to pay for the transportation bond — received only tepid support at 35 percent in favor and 34 percent opposed.

MORE: Read about Proposition 109 and Proposition 110.

“However,” the pollster cautioned, “with 25 percent of voters being undecided on Proposition 109 and 31 percent undecided on Proposition 110, it is premature to say either one will be approved or rejected by voters.”

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