In Colorado, When You’re Up, You’re Down

Yesterday, we published a piece analyzing the University of New Hampshire’s poll and made special note of their readings for US Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1) and Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH-2). The study results were unusual in the fact that they showed Shea-Porter’s job approval rising, but her ballot test declining, while projecting Kuster in the exact opposite position.

Now, a new poll from Quinnipiac University (Jan. 29-Feb. 2; 1,139 registered Colorado voters) finds Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in a similar position to Rep. Shea-Porter. The governor’s job approval has expanded to a solid 52:39 percent favorable to unfavorable, which is a strong improvement when compared to the numbers he was posting in the latter part of 2013. Added to his personal favorability of 47:37 percent positive to negative, one would expect that his ballot performance would be likewise improving, yet his standing continues to lag according to this data.

To further explain, while generally holding favorable opinions of the governor, the respondent sample produced an equivalent number of people who don’t believe he deserves re-election as compared to those who think he does. According to the Q-Poll data, 45 percent of the respondents say Hickenlooper should be re-elected, while another 45 percent do not.

Still, the governor’s ballot test results, while not particularly strong, do show a slight uptick even while simultaneously signaling a moderate to high degree of electoral vulnerability.

Hickenlooper’s closest competitor appears to be Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R), who comes to within six points of the governor, 40-46 percent. Former US representative and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo (R-CO-6), who in late 2013 had pulled to within a virtual tie opposite the governor, now trails 39-48 percent. The Democratic incumbent tops two lesser known GOP candidates, state Sen. Greg Brophy and ex-state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, by similar margins: 47-37 percent over the former, and 47-38 percent when paired against the latter.

The fact that the Q-Poll brandishes conflicting conclusions tells us that we should be skeptical of the findings. At the same time, the data again points to a more competitive governor’s race coming in 2014 than we would have expected this time last year, which is a consistent finding when looking at the aggregate Colorado polling.

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