I am a long-time skeptic that any Democrat can beat Rep. Lauren Boebert in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Her charisma and national brand combined with a substantial demographic advantage for Republicans in that district suggests she should be a shoo-in for re-election this November.
Earlier this year I called for Democrats to unaffiliate and support Don Coram in the Republican primary because the general election would be a foregone conclusion.
Just last month I used the district as a basis to call for primary election reform and allow open primaries and ranked choice voting like the system employed in Alaska.
But recent polls show Democratic challenger Adam Frisch is not just within striking distance but has pulled into a statistical dead-heat. That came as a shock to my preconceived notions.
First, Keating Research issued a poll conducted between the end of September and beginning of October that showed Frisch trailing Boebert by only two points, 47% to 45%. That contrasts with the 49% to 42% the same group reported in July.
Given that Keating is a reputable pollster with a “B/C” rating from FiveThirtyEight.com, the poll likely demonstrates real movement in the race. Frisch may be encouraging persuadable voters who do not like Boebert’s brash persona to consider voting for him.
Second, a poll commissioned by Center Street PAC showed Frisch with a 5-point lead, 45% to 40%. Given both the source and the peculiar methodology of the poll, I wouldn’t put much confidence in its results. However, given the paucity of public polling available in the race, it does at least suggest that the Keating poll movement may be real.
The question is whether Frisch can keep the momentum through the finish line this fall? Ballots drop in Colorado starting on Monday.
Frisch has run an unapologetic campaign lambasting Boebert. The opening line on his website cites Boebert as an “anti-American, anti-Colorado show pony who can’t tell right from wrong.” That seems about right for someone who tweeted out “Today is 1776” just before violent insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Frisch has also raised an incredible war chest for any challenge, much less a Quioxtic campaign. In the last quarter before the election he raised nearly $1.7 million compared to Boebert’s $900,000. Given the national following Boebert has in the GOP base, that type of fundraising disparity is noteworthy.
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Piling on, Frisch then garnered cross-party support from Coram this week. While Boebert cruised to an easy victory over Coram in the June primary, this should be a worrisome development for the incumbent. This type of endorsement underscores the deep divide between factions of the Republican party and could persuade enough Republican and Republican-leaning voters to eschew Boebert.
The same dynamic cost Sarah Palin her congressional race last month when supporters of another GOP candidate, Nick Begich III, were so disgusted by Palin’s vitriol that they defected to a Democrat as their second choice rather than rallying behind Palin as the Republican standard bearer.
If there is any congressional district in Colorado that could mirror the independent streak inherent in Alaska, it is the mountainous 3rd CD.
That could be trouble for Boebert.
She is still favored to win in 97 in 100 times, according to 40,000 simulations run by FiveThirtyEight.com. But that is only slightly better than the odds for Sen. Michael Bennet and less than Gov. Jared Polis in their respective races.
It is also a drop from the >99 chance she had just a month ago. If Frisch can put his money to good use, garner a little national attention and help from outside interest groups, and persuade just enough people disenchanted with Boebert’s bloodlust rhetoric to vote for him instead, there is a chance Colorado could be home to one of the nation’s biggest upsets this November.
Can Adam Frisch beat Lauren Boebert? I still have my doubts, but Frisch has certainly made me far more open to the possibility.
Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq.
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