Democrats hold leads across Colorado ahead of election, new poll shows

A new poll by a left-leaning group indicates Colorado Democrats have comfortable leads in several statewide races heading into Election Day, as the party looks to buck historical midterm voting trends.

The poll, conducted as a joint project by Democratic groups ProgressNow Colorado and Global Strategy Group, shows sizable advantages for Sen. Michael Bennet, Gov. Jared Polis and their down-ticket allies. It also indicates that support for Democrats in the statehouse remains strong, even as Republicans target a push to retake control of the Senate in an election cycle that is often punishing for the party in the White House.

Pollster Andrew Baumann said the results were the most positive for the Democrats “in a while.” He attributed the improvement to the importance of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, as well as former president Donald Trump’s increased presence in the news and improving gas prices, among other things.

The poll surveyed 800 registered voters earlier this month, with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.5%. Thirty-three percent of respondents identified as Democrat; 38% as independent; and 29% as Republican. FiveThirtyEight gives Global Strategy Group a B/C-level rating on an A+ to D- scale.

The poll asked several questions about abortion and found strong support among respondents for abortion rights and concerns about Republicans’ plans should they be elected. Respondents broadly indicated more confidence in Democrats’ handling of issues related to gun control, education and taxation, but they gave Republicans an edge on issues that GOP candidates have targeted this year: public safety and the economy.

Still, the poll’s overall findings drew praise from Sara Loflin, the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado. She said the poll showed Coloradans were tired of the “MAGA sentiment,” using a shorthand for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Michael Fields, of the conservative group Advance Colorado, noted that the poll was conducted by a Democratic pollster and said that the election would come down to turnout. Any polls or predictions until then, he said, are just guesswork.

“Republicans are having to play catch up — it’s just what does that margin looking like,” he said. “There are a lot of unknowns out there. Republicans are playing catch up on name ID, playing catch up across the board.”

If the Global Strategy Group poll is to be believed, Republicans have a lot of catching up to do over the next three weeks.About 52% of likely voters surveyed said that, if Election Day were tomorrow, they would vote to re-elect Gov. Jared Polis, compared to 34% who said they would vote for CU Regent Heidi Ganahl; another 8% said they were undecided. It’s a larger lead than FiveThirtyEight’s analysis, which still gives Polis a sizable 16-point advantage.

Respondents were also asked about Ganahl’s repeated comments about children allegedly identifying as cats in schools across Colorado, a claim that school officials thoroughly rejected. The poll showed that 71% of respondents said the claim wasn’t an important issue at all.

A message sent to Ganahl’s campaign Tuesday was not returned. A Polis spokeswoman told the Post the governor was “working hard to earn the support of Colorado voters.”

The poll gave Bennet an 11-point lead over challenger Joe O’Dea among likely voters, with 7% undecided. It’s a stronger projection than FiveThirtyEight, which has Bennet up eight points as of last week, or polls aggregated by Real Clear Politics, which gives the Democrat a 7.7-point average lead. The race has received national attention as one that Republicans believe they can win in what they hope will be a wave election repudiating President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats up and down the ticket.

A Bennet spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. O’Dea spokesman Kyle Kohli said Bennet’s campaign and his allies had spent tens of millions to beat O’Dea, who he said had Bennet “on the ropes.”

The poll showed comfortable leads for both Attorney General Phil Weiser and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, both Democrats. Weiser had a seven-point lead over challenger John Kellner among likely voters, but with a sizable 12% of respondents undecided. The poll found Griswold with a 10-point lead over Republican Pam Anderson, with 10% of respondents reporting they’re undecided.

The poll did not ask voters about the state treasurer’s race, though Republicans have said they feel particularly confident about unseating incumbent Dave Young.

Republicans have also expressed hope in their ability to retake the state Senate and trim away at the Democrats’ large majority in the House. Redistricting has opened up the map in both chambers for the GOP, but the poll found that, on a generic ballot, Democrats held a slight edge: 47% of likely voters said they’d support a Democratic candidate over a Republican, versus 41% who took the reverse position. But a significant margin — 11% — of respondents said they remained undecided.

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