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Gov. Jared Polis speaks on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at the Boettcher Mansion in Denver. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

Colorado Democrats are in a position of strength as they head into the 2022 election cycle, according to a new poll released Tuesday that also shows voter approval for many of the party’s policy initiatives. 

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet lead a generic Republican candidate, the survey shows, and generic Democratic statehouse candidates would beat their GOP counterparts. No big-name Republicans have announced a bid to unseat either Polis or Bennet, which is why the poll tested how they would fare against a generic — or, in other words, any — GOP candidate. 

“This electorate has been pretty consistent over the past few years with Democrats having an advantage of somewhere between 8 and 11 points,” said Andrew Baumann of the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group, which conducted the quarterly Rocky Mountaineer poll with the liberal political advocacy group ProgressNow Colorado. “And that’s where things remain.”

Global Strategy Group polled 800 registered voters between June 17 and 23, weighting the survey to reflect Colorado’s mix of registered voters. The poll, which was conducted through a mix of phone calls and the internet, had a confidence interval of 95%. 

Global Strategy Group is a reputable pollster with a B/C rating from FiveThirtyEight, the political data-tracking website.

Among the poll’s big takeaways: 

  • 47% of voters would back a Democratic statehouse candidate compared with 39% who would choose a Republican if the election were held today. Another 14% said they were undecided or refused to answer.
  • 49% of voters would back Gov. Jared Polis compared with 39% who would vote for a generic Republican candidate. Another 12% said they were undecided or refused to answer.
  • 48% of voters would back U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet compared with 40% who would vote for a generic Republican candidate. Another 12% said they were undecided or refused to answer.

The poll asked voters who they would choose between Polis and Heidi Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent and the only Republican who holds statewide office. Ganahl is seen as a likely 2022 challenger to Polis. A majority of voters — 54% — said they would back Polis, compared with 34% who would support Ganahl. Another 12% said they were undecided or refused to answer.

The poll also revealed that the vast number of Colorado voters don’t know who Ganahl is, which Baumann says is likely why the poll shows she would fare so poorly against the incumbent governor. Even fewer people are familiar with Republican George Brauchler, the former 18th Judicial District Attorney, who is also seen as a potential 2022 candidate for statewide office. 

The survey also tested how voters view Colorado politicians. Here are the results: 

  • 56% of Colorado voters view Polis favorably, compared with 35% who view him unfavorably. That’s been fairly consistent since May 2020. About 58% think he is doing a good job leading the state, while 36% don’t approve of his performance. 
  • 55% of voters view President Joe Biden favorably, compared with 42% who view him unfavorably. His favorability has been rising since May 2020, when it was 43%. 
  • Bennet is viewed favorably by 46% of voters, compared with 29% who view him unfavorably. That’s up from May 2020, when 38% of voters viewed him favorably. 
  • Former President Donald Trump is viewed favorably by 37% of Colorado voters, compared with 60% who view him unfavorably.

Trump remains popular among Republicans, with 75% saying they view him favorably and 22% saying they view him unfavorably. When it comes to Democrats, 8% view him favorably while 88% view him unfavorably.

As for Democrats in the state legislature, 48% said they view the party’s state lawmakers favorably, compared with 37% who view them unfavorably. When it comes to Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly, 27% of voters view them favorably while 44% view them unfavorably. 

Baumann said there the numbers for Democrats and Republicans in Colorado have been consistent over the past year. He said he thinks there is “a lot of stability in … the political landscape.” 

The poll also revealed that voters trust Democrats more on a number of issues, including bringing down health care costs, improving the state’s transportation infrastructure, addressing Colorado’s rising cost of living and handling the coronavirus recovery. One exception is on taxes, where 40% say they trust Democrats to have the right approach and 42% say they trust Republicans.

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....