Tags: Barack Obama | Mark Udall | Cory Gardner | Colorado | Senate race | polls

Polls: Gardner Leads Incumbent Udall in Colo. Senate Race

Polls: Gardner Leads Incumbent Udall in Colo. Senate Race
U.S. Representative Cory Gardner, R-Colo., left, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Landov; Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Thursday, 23 October 2014 09:21 AM

In several recent polls, Sen. Mark Udall continues to trail his Republican challenger, Cory Gardner, as the Colorado Senate race heads into its final weeks.

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Rep. Gardner with a 7-point lead over Udall with 9 percent undecided. An additional 6 percent of voters were divided among the four independent and third-party candidates.

The survey, which was conducted Oct. 18 through 21, has Udall with an unfavorable rating of 54 percent, just two points lower than the 56 percent unfavorable rating for President Barack Obama.

"As President Obama goes, Mark Udall goes," said David Paleologos director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. "Obama’s unpopularity is significantly affecting Udall’s chances for re-election in November, as his opponent has consistently tied him to President Obama. By the looks of both President Obama’s and Mark Udall’s unfavorability ratings, that message is beginning to stick with Colorado voters."

The race is much tighter in the last poll from Monmouth University with Gardner holding on to a slim 47 percent to 46 percent advantage over Udall among likely voters.

Four percent chose another candidate, and 3 percent were undecided.

Both candidates perform strongly among voters affiliated with their respective parties, while Udall holds a one-point lead over Gardner among independent voters. Early voters support Udall by a 51 percent to 41 percent margin over Gardner, but the Republican has a slight 48 percent to 44 percent lead among likely voters who have yet to vote.

"With time left for breaking news, including a budget announcement from the governor due the day before the election, early voting appears to be helping the Democrats’ chances in both [the gubernatorial and Senate] races," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

However, among likely Colorado voters, 41 percent expressed a preference for GOP control of the U.S. Senate, compared with 35 percent who prefer the Democrats. Another 23 percent said it makes no difference who has the majority in the Senate.

Like the USA Today poll, the Monmouth survey finds more voters disapproving (56 percent) than approving (40 percent) of the job Obama is doing.

Jill Hanauer of the liberal New America Project is skeptical of the recent polls showing Udall underperforming.

She argues that if "you consider the drop-off voters, women, Latinos and cell-only houses, there are plenty of ways for public pollsters to miss these voters who are predominantly supporting Udall," as was the case in 2010 and 2012.

Harry Enten of the website FiveThirtyEight acknowledges the polls in those election cycles missed the mark, but notes that polls have adjusted their methodologies in the interim and that Gardner's lead is substantial enough to compensate for the margins of error.

Lastly, he writes, the public polls "aren’t too far off from our model’s 'fundamentals' projection," which accounts for Colorado's partisan history, the national political environment, and candidate fundraising trends.

"The polls and the fundamentals tell the same basic story: An unpopular incumbent is losing in a purple state against a decent candidate in a slightly Republican-leaning year. That’s a pretty believable story," Enten contends.

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In several recent polls, Sen. Mark Udall continues to trail his Republican challenger, Cory Gardner, as the Colorado Senate race heads into its final weeks.
Mark Udall, Cory Gardner, Colorado, Senate race, polls
Thursday, 23 October 2014 09:21 AM
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