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President Donald J. Trump talk to members of the press on the South Lawn of the White House Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to Louisiana. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

A majority of Colorado voters — 54% —  support an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, including 61% of unaffiliateds, who represent the state’s most important voting bloc. 

The question provides key insight to how voters might view the candidates in Colorado’s pivotal 2020 U.S. Senate race, where Republican incumbent Cory Gardner is calling the inquiry into Trump a “partisan circus.” Meanwhile, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and Democrats in the Senate race have been pushing for the inquiry.

The findings are in a new poll from Telluride-based Democratic pollster Keating Research, conducted in conjunction with OnSight Public Affairs and Martin Campaigns. OnSight Public Affairs is run by Curtis Hubbard, who has donated to Hickenlooper’s campaign but is not working on it.

Colorado’s voter makeup is split, general speaking, into registered Democratic, Republicans and unaffiliated voters, which is why the latter group is so pivotal.

Chris Keating, who leads Keating Research, said Gardner needs big support from unaffiliated voters to win next year. Without them, he said, “I think it makes it virtually impossible.”

The poll also found that in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, Hickenlooper would beat Gardner 53% to 42%. Among the unaffiliated voters polled, Hickenlooper has the support of 58% compared with Gardner’s 33% share.

The poll found that the head-to-head split includes 9% of voters who are undecided. But when pushed, 2% of the undecided voters said they are leaning toward Hickenlooper and 2% said they are leaning toward Gardner. The rest said they are either supportive of another candidate or are still undecided. 

That low share of truly undecided voters — a share of just 3% who said they are neither leaning toward Gardner, Hickenlooper or another candidate — suggests that many voters have already made up their minds ahead of next year’s contest.

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, left, and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. (Photos by Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

The poll of 500 active Colorado voters was conducted by phone Oct. 10-14. It has a margin of error of 4.4%. Keating said he modeled the poll based on previous general-election turnout and with a 2% Democratic turnout advantage. That predicted advantage has similarly been used by Republican pollster Magellan Strategies in that firm’s polling.

The survey did not ask voters about the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, which has nine total candidates. The pollsters said they made that choice to focus on voter sentiment in the 2020 general election.

MORE: Here’s who’s running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020 — and who’s thinking about it

A Global Strategy Group poll released in August showed that a generic Democrat would beat Gardner 48% to 38% in a head-to-head matchup. 

On the subject of impeachment, the Keating poll revealed 48% of voters polled think Trump should be removed from office, 44% said they think he shouldn’t be ousted and 8% said they didn’t know or were unsure. 

Among that split were 49% of unaffiliated voters who said they think the president should be removed, while 36% said he shouldn’t and 15% reported they didn’t know or were unsure.  

Colorado voters’ partisan divide on impeachment was notable. Among Democrats, 91% support the impeachment inquiry, while 90% of Republicans are against it. Asked about removing Trump from office, 85% of Democrats said he should be ousted and 92% of Republicans say he shouldn’t be.

Trump’s favorability ratings in Colorado continue to be upside-down, with only 38% saying they view him favorably and 60% saying they view him unfavorably. Another 54% said they would give him a grade of D or F when asked to assess the job he is doing in leading the country.

The poll found that 34% of voters have a favorable view of Gardner, while 45% have an unfavorable view. That’s the lowest favorability Gardner has had in a Keating poll dating back to March 2017, and 6 percentage points below a June 2019 Keating survey where his favorability was at 40%.

Keating said that in previous surveys, favorability numbers among Gardner and Trump have been pretty much on par with one another. “This is the first poll where there is some separation there,” he said. “So I really do think that it’s possible that this impeachment and the events surrounding it have played a role in reducing his favorability.” 

Last week, Gardner had a pair of tense interactions with reporters at an event in downtown Denver where he repeatedly refused to say whether he thinks it’s appropriate for the president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival. That happened one day before the Keating poll was put in the field. 

Regarding Hickenlooper, the poll showed 51% of voters have a favorable view of him, while 35% said they have an unfavorable view. 

Hubbard said the poll included questions that were not shared with the public, but he added that they came after the prompts released Thursday and that they were on “different issues entirely.”

In July, Keating and OnSight faced criticism after they released a poll but didn’t initially disclose that additional questions had been asked that were not made public.

Gardner’s campaign declined to comment on the poll.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....