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Election 2020

A new poll in Colorado shows Democrats poised for big wins in the 2020 election. Can you trust the numbers?

Democrat Joe Biden leads Donald Trump, and John Hickenlooper outshines Republican Cory Gardner in a survey conducted just days before the election

John Hickenlooper spoke at a distanced campaign rally at Denver's East High School on Oct. 8, 2020. He won his race for the U.S. Senate in November. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
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A new poll conducted just days before the 2020 election shows Democrats Joe Biden and John Hickenlooper are poised for double-digit victories in Colorado.

Biden, a Democrat, leads President Donald Trump 53% to 41% in the presidential race with only a fraction of voters undecided, according to the Keating Research poll of likely voters shared with The Colorado Sun. The Democratic firm correctly forecast the last two presidential elections in Colorado.

In the U.S. Senate race, Hickenlooper holds the advantage at 53% compared to 42% for Republican incumbent Cory Gardner. The margin of error for the poll — which was conducted Thursday through Sunday in partnership with OnSight Public Affairs — is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

“Biden and Hickenlooper’s numbers appear to be moving closer together, which means that as Coloradans cast their vote they are most likely to vote the same way in both races,” said Chris Keating, the pollster. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the Senate and presidential numbers in Colorado are very similar on election night.”

The latest numbers echo other Colorado polls in recent months showing both Democrats at the top of the ballot with solid leads. The polling averages since September show Biden ahead 12 points and Hickenlooper up 9 points, according to The Colorado Sun’s poll tracker.

Biden built his lead with support from women and younger voters, as well as Latinos and those not aligned with a political party.

Biden holds a 57% to 35% advantage among voters age 18 to 49 but the two candidates are evenly matched on those over 50, the poll showed. Unaffiliated voters — the largest bloc of voters so far in the 2020 election — favor Biden 55% to 31%.

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The story is nearly identical in the Senate race. Hickenlooper leads Gardner 54% to 36% among unaffiliated voters, the poll found. He also is running up the score in liberal enclaves like Denver and Boulder. 

Gardner wants to outperform Trump, but the latest numbers show they are locked in similar places.

“The progressive part of Colorado gets Hickenlooper, and this type of vote lead makes it impossible for Gardner to win, particularly when Hickenlooper also wins suburban voters by 19 points,” Keating said.

The poll also found voters aligned against Proposition 115, a ballot measure that would impose a ban on abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy. The measure gets just 38% support compared with 56% against.

The consistency of the Colorado polling in both races is leading experts to express confidence in the numbers, even as voters are anxious about the accuracy of national polling in the presidential election.

The question of whether voters can trust polls is one that Floyd Ciruli gets often. The director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver said in a recent forum that “what you see is about what you get” in terms of the national and local polls.

“I’m pretty comfortable about Colorado as to the surveys we’ve seen here,” he said.

Rick Ridder, another prominent Democratic pollster, recently conducted a survey showing Biden and Hickenlooper with slightly larger leads. He says the numbers this year are stacked against the Republican incumbents.

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“The real problem is Republicans are having a real difficult time breaking the 44% threshold,” Ridder said. 

Dustin Olson, a Republican strategist whose company conducts polls, is less convinced by the numbers. He believes pollsters are not reaching enough Trump supporters, a problem that skewed some state-level polls in key 2016 battleground states. And others who answer the poll questions are not telling the truth.

“I wouldn’t say (polls) are going to be particularly accurate this election cycle,” he said. 

The reason, he added: “I don’t think it’s just hidden Trump voters this election cycle. I think it’s just hidden Republican voters.”


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