Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Ratings Change: Colorado Senate

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Gardner poses a stiff challenge for Udall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall never had intimidating poll numbers this cycle, but uncertainty about the GOP primary raised questions about the seriousness of the Republican threat to him. But all that changed when Republican Rep. Cory Gardner decided to run for the Senate in Colorado.

His decision instantly gave Republicans a top-tier candidate in the race and quickly forced three other GOP hopefuls out of the contest. Gardner and Republicans now have a legitimate shot in the Centennial State this fall.

Udall led Gardner 45 percent to 44 percent in a March 8-9 automated survey of 689 likely voters by Harper Polling for the GOP-friendly American Action Network, which was released to CQ Roll Call.

The survey also showed Udall with a 39 percent favorable/43 unfavorable ratings compared to 28 percent favorable/28 percent unfavorable for Gardner. Thirty-seven percent said that the senator deserved re-election, while 50 percent said it was time to “give someone else a chance.”

On the generic ballot, a Republican candidate led a Democratic candidate 47 percent to 42 percent. And President Barack Obama’s personal rating stood at 43 percent favorable/54 percent unfavorable. His job approval rating was not asked.

The Harper survey is consistent with other public polling, which has shown Udall in the low to mid-40s on the initial ballot test against candidates of varying quality.

An automated Rasmussen Reports poll, conducted March 5-6, showed Udall with a 42 percent to 41 percent advantage over the congressman. A Feb. 17-20 survey by Hickman Analytics, a Democratic firm, had Udall with a 46 percent to 42 percent edge over Ken Buck, the 2010 Senate nominee who was running again this year until he switched to run for Gardner’s open 4th District seat.

And a Jan. 29-Feb. 2 poll by Quinnipiac University (conducted before Gardner’s decision) had Udall leading state Sen. Owen Hill, 44 percent to 39 percent. Hill announced on Monday that he was ending his campaign.

Even though Udall showed some softness in his polling numbers in recent months, we maintained our Safe Democrat rating of the race because it seemed unlikely that Buck or any of the other Republicans could put together the campaign necessary to defeat the incumbent.

When Gardner jumped into the race, we immediately changed our Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race to Democrat Favored. Now, we’re changing our rating to Leans Democrat, placing it firmly on the playing field of competitive races that could decide control of the Senate.

The latest polling in Colorado and the recent special election in Florida’s 13th District could be opening a window into the GOP messaging for the rest of the cycle.

In the Harper survey, respondents had a 47 percent favorable/24 percent unfavorable rating of the Medicare Advantage program and just a 37 percent favorable/55 percent unfavorable rating for “the new healthcare law known as Obamacare.”

That means that we are likely to see more ads, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad in Florida that attacked Democrat Alex Sink for supporting Medicare cuts through her support of the Affordable Care Act.

  • don76550

    Udall is no different than the local democrats in Colorado who want to take away your gun rights. If you value your 2nd amendment rights vote Udall out.

    • View From The Left

      Shananigans! Please give a cite to ANYTIME that ANY democrat in Colorado advocated “to take away your gun rights”. There isn’t any!
      Being for sensible gun control and magazine control is NOT taking away your gun rights, its limiting the firepower of the guns and magazines that you can have. Or are you such a bad hunter that you need an Uzi or fully automated rifle to hunt?

      • JayfromBrooklyn

        Let’s try it this way:
        Banning abortion after 20 weeks and requiring a sonogram is NOT taking away you abortion rights, it is limiting the time frame and ensuring you act will full knowledge. Or do you have such bad judgement that you need to wait until after 20 weeks to kill your baby?

        • robertthomason

          A truly great reply!

          • JayfromBrooklyn

            Thank you.

      • robertthomason

        Uh, when did the Second Amendment to the US Constitution have anything to do with hunting?

    • oynque

      And something else Udall is keeping mum about: Northern Colorado has begun legal steps to secede from and divide the state.

    • lookolook

      Those who live by lies will surely die by lies. Liar.

      • don76550

        If that is the case, democrats are doomed

  • numbercruncher1

    Should be a toss up with those numbers

    • JayfromBrooklyn

      I agree, even lean Republican- an incumbent at 45%, with 50% saying he does not deserves another term, is gonna lose.

  • tifosies

    Democrats had better start countering that koch-funded, bogus message (D’s support Medicare cuts) with some cold, hard, truth. The Medicare cuts in ACA aren’t to benefits, and the ACA closes the donut hole for seniors.

    Here’s who wants Medicare (the “entitlement”) gone:

    “I will take my hands off medicare when there is no medicare”~AllenWest and his Teapublicon buddies.

  • Susan Kraemer

    If you vote Republican Senate you will lose your new right to always get health insurance regardless of pre existing conditions, (even asthma was a reason for insurers to deny you pre ACA) if you lose your job with coverage or change it or freelance or become disabled or divorced.

    No matter what, under Democrats you are protected financially. Do NOT vote for a Republican Senate.

    Just as Republican governors found a way to screw their people out of the security that Obamacare has brought the rest of us, congressional Republicans CAN do the same, even with Obama in the WH. Think Obama will be able to veto a dismantling of Obamacare within a must-pass bill on New years eve?

    If you like your plan you will lose it – if these guys have their way.

    I like my ACA plan now. ACA is secure, permanent, real coverage: that no longer caps insurer payouts at $50K. That is illegal now.

    And everyone earning under $45K gets a tax credit to help pay it.

    • obamaclowncar

      Man, you are really a talking-points puppet. The ACA isn’t free lady; guess you’re proud of having others pay for those who aren’t responsible enough to make smart decisions for their own life. In the end, the cost is a burden for all tax-payers, and responsible people are punished for those who decided to do nothing but live off of the tax-payer, as the government is using our money to re-distribute wealth. Another lie from the Obama mouthpiece- what a liar in chief. Maybe you prefer the government telling you what you need to buy, even if you don’t need it, but, I’ll take liberty and freedom any day. Republicans are the Democrats when it comes to the power-grab, but, the Republicans will take the Senate in 2014. Obama, the inexperienced amateur that he is, is a disgrace to this nation.

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