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Colorado voters have soured on Democrats heading into 2022 election season, “warning sign” poll indicates

President Joe Biden’s numbers took the biggest hit: Just 45% of voters said they view him favorably compared to 55% in June

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., asks a question of United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai as she testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, during a hearing to examine President Joe Biden's 2021 trade policy agenda. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
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Colorado voters have a less favorable view of Gov. Jared Polis, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and President Joe Biden compared to four months ago, according to a new poll released exactly a year out from the 2022 election. 

But while Democrats’ favorability numbers may have decreased, and Biden’s job approval took a hit, Polis’ approval numbers have stayed steady.

Andrew Baumann, a pollster at the Democratic-firm Global Strategy Group, which conducted the survey, said the results are “certainly a warning sign” for Democrats, namely when it comes to Biden’s decreases, which could affect the midterms.

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The Rocky Mountaineer poll of 800 Colorado registered voters was conducted Oct.19-24 by Global Strategy Group, in partnership with ProgressNow Colorado, a liberal political advocacy nonprofit. The survey was weighted to match Colorado’s voter registration split and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

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

Forty-nine percent of voters said they had a favorable view of Polis, compared with 41% who said they have an unfavorable view of the governor. That’s down from June, when the last edition of the Rocky Mountaineer had Polis’ favorability at 56%, with 35% viewing him unfavorably.

Forty percent of voters said they view Bennet favorably in the new poll, while 27% said they view him unfavorably. That’s down from June when 46% of voters said they viewed him favorably and 38% said they viewed him unfavorably. 

Biden’s numbers took the biggest hit. Just 45% of voters said they view him favorably while 50% said they view him unfavorably. In June, 55% of voters viewed Biden favorably, compared with 42% who viewed him unfavorably. 

When it comes to job approval, 47% of voters said they approve of the job Biden is doing while 50% said they disapprove. Another 3% said they didn’t know. The numbers are down from June, when 56% of voters said they approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 40% said they disapprove and 4% said they didn’t know.

For Polis, 57% approve of the job he is doing while 37% disapprove. Six percent said they didn’t know. The numbers are consistent with the June poll, when 58% of voters said they approve of the job Polis is doing as governor and 36% said they disapprove.

“There’s no doubt that the presidential job approval matters in midterms,” Baumann said. “It’s down here. It’s down across the country. It’s not ideal.”

President Joe Biden greets Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock after landing in Denver on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

Democrats still hold an advantage over Republicans

Baumann thinks inflationary concerns and congressional Democrats’ infighting over two major spending bills are contributing to the declining favorability numbers. “It hasn’t been our finest hour,” he said.

While Baumann said elements of the poll are concerning, he doesn’t think the numbers reflect a changing political situation in Colorado, which has favored Democrats in the last two election cycles. 

“Nothing in these data show that the fundamental political calculus in Colorado has changed,” Baumann said.

Voters, for instance, still said they would back or lean toward backing a generic Democratic legislative candidate over a generic Republican candidate by a 7 percentage point margin if the election were held today. And 52% of voters said they would vote for or lean toward voting for Polis compared with the 35% who said they would vote for Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl, who is currently a University of Colorado regent.

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The poll also asked voters if they would vote for or lean toward voting for Bennet in an election against Republican challengers Eli Bremer, a former Olympian who lives in Colorado Springs, and state Rep. Ron Hanks of Fremont County. Bennet was favored by at least 13 percentage points in both hypothetical matchups.

Voters also said they trust Democrats more than Republicans when it comes to reducing air pollution and addressing climate change, raising wages for Colorado workers, improving public education and bringing down the cost of health care.

A screenshot of a poll memo created by Global Strategy Group and ProgressNow Colorado. “DK” stands for “don’t know.”

When it comes to protecting public safety, handling the economic recovery after the pandemic and addressing Colorado’s rising cost of living, voters said they trust Democrats and the GOP equally.

Thirty-eight percent of voters said they have a favorable view of former President Donald Trump, compared with 58% who have an unfavorable view of him. When asked about U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, 25% said they have a favorable view of the Garfield County Republican while 38% said they have an unfavorable view of her.

When asked if they agree or disagree that Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election, 67% of voters said they agree while 29% said they disagree. Four percent said they don’t know or refused to answer.

Among Republicans, just 38% said they agree that Biden legitimately won last year’s presidential election, while 57% said they disagree.

“Yes there’s been a little bit of a slip,” said Sara Loflin, who leads ProgressNow Colorado. But she said the poll clearly indicates Republicans’ “numbers are still in the toilet.”

Colorado voters support mask wearing, vaccination

The poll also asked coronavirus-related questions, revealing mixed news for Democrats.

In June, 65% of registered voters said they approved of how Polis was handling the pandemic, while 30% said they disapproved and 5% said they didn’t know or refused to answer. When asked this month, 58% said they approved of how Polis is handling COVID-19, while 35% said they disapprove and 6% said they didn’t know or refused to answer.

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While Democratic voters remain supportive of how Polis has handled the pandemic, the October poll shows a decline in support among unaffiliated voters. Fifty-five percent of unaffiliated voters said they approved of the governor’s handling of COVID in the new poll, compared to 63% in June.

Biden also saw a steep decline in his COVID-related job approval among Colorado voters. Back in June, 63% said they approved of how he was handling the pandemic. That dropped to 50% in October.

This news first appeared in The Unaffiliated. Subscribe here to get the twice-weekly political newsletter from The Colorado Sun.

A brighter spot for Democrats in the recent poll is that 54% of voters think Polis and Democrats “got it about right” when it comes to their handling of the pandemic. Twenty-seven percent said Democrats overreacted while 12% said they didn’t take it seriously enough.

Republicans in Colorado got much lower marks on the question. Just 31% said the GOP got it about right, while 44% said they didn’t take it seriously enough.

The poll also asked about requiring health care workers and state employees to be vaccinated, requiring teachers and students to wear masks at schools, and requiring airline passengers to show proof of vaccination before flights. More supported than opposed all three.

A screenshot of a poll memo created by Global Strategy Group and ProgressNow Colorado.

Sixty-two percent of voters said they are pro-mask while 30% said they are anti-mask. When asked about getting vaccinated against COVID, 74% said they are pro-vaccine while 20% said they are anti-vaccine.

“The data shows Coloradans are really on one side of the debate about vaccines and masks,” Baumann said.

UPDATE: This story was updated at 10:22 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2021, to add job approval polling numbers for President Joe Biden and Gov. Jared Polis.


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