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Jared Polis speaks at a campaign event for Colorado Democrats in Denver's Washington Park on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Jared Polis is the clear favorite to win the Colorado governor’s race.

Two new polls show the Democrat holding a solid lead against Republican Walker Stapleton a week before Election Day, confirming five prior general election polls showing the same result.

The latest surveys of likely voters released Thursday — one from a Democratic pollster and one from a Republican pollster — give the five-term Boulder congressman huge advantages with unaffiliated voters and women, two key demographics for victory in Colorado.

MORE: The Colorado Sun’s poll tracker in the Colorado governor’s race. See all the numbers.

“In 23 years of polling in Colorado, a statewide candidate with this type of consistent 7- to 8-point lead in the polls has never lost the election,” said Chris Keating, one of the state’s top Democratic pollsters. “Our statistical model gives Jared Polis a 98 percent chance of winning.”

The Keating poll from Oct. 25-30 shows Polis with 50 percent support compared to 42 percent for Stapleton, the two-term state treasurer. The margin of error is 4.3 percentage points and only 4 percent of likely voters appear undecided at this point.

The second poll, conducted Oct. 29-30 by Republican firm Magellan Strategies, showed Polis at 45 percent and Stapleton at 40 percent. The margin of error 4.4 percentage points. The firm’s latest numbers suggest the race tightened ever so slightly from the firm’s two earlier polls that put the Democratic candidate ahead 7 points.

“This survey, along with the two prior public surveys we have released this election cycle, have consistently measured Jared Polis with a lead of 5 to 7 points,” said David Flaherty at Magellan Strategies. “Taking that survey data into account, and a real chance that Democrat and unaffiliated turnout will exceed 2014 levels, it is safe to say that Jared Polis has the inside track of becoming the next governor of Colorado.”

MORE: The Colorado gubernatorial candidates on the issues. Here’s how they compare.

In both new polls, Polis holds a 21-point edge among unaffiliated voters and a double-digit lead among women. The Magellan poll showed Stapleton’s unfavorable rating increasing 6 percentage points compared to its poll conducted Oct. 8-10.

One glimmer of hope for Republicans is a question from the Magellan poll that showed voter interest among the party’s voters increased from earlier in October to exceed or match Democrats. Three-quarters of Republican voters now rank their interest in voting at the top of a scale, an improvement from 47 percent in early October.

Flaherty attributed the spike in interest among the base of the party to President Donald Trump’s recent remarks on the immigrant caravan and birthright citizenship laws. “Trump is pushing their buttons,” he said in an interview.

So far, the figures don’t match early voting numbers, which show the two major parties dead even through Tuesday. But the numbers reinforce the point that turnout is expected to decide this year’s election.

What to know about the polls

One of the main differences in the poll numbers for the governor’s race is a matter of how the firms modeled the expected turnout.

The Keating poll — conducted with OnSight Public Affairs and Martin Campaigns — forecast an even turnout between Republicans and Democrats. The decision reflects current early voting numbers from less than half the vote, as well as an expected draw between the competing trends in this election — traditional strong Republican turnout in midterms against strong Democratic enthusiasm in the Trump era.

The Magellan poll is based on the premise that Republicans will exceed Democratic turnout by 2 percentage points, down from 2014 when Republicans held a 5-point edge. This is consistent with two prior Magellan polls, including one conducted in conjunction with Keating Research.

What all this means

The bottom line: Republicans need a huge turnout, exceeding Democrats by more than 2 percent to have a chance to win the governor’s race and upend these poll numbers. If Republican turnout exceeds Democrats by 2 percent or less, the surveys suggest Democrats are poised for victory.

Updated Nov. 1 9:30 a.m.: This story is updated to clarify the margin of error numbers in the new polls.

VOTER GUIDE 2018: Resources, explainers, latest news and more


    John Frank is a former Colorado Sun staff writer. He left the publication in January 2021.