Barack Obama still looks like the favorite to win Colorado again this year, but Mitt Romney's become much more competitive in the state since wrapping up the Republican nomination. Obama leads 49-42. His lead had been 53-40 on PPP's last poll, which was conducted the weekend before Rick Santorum dropped out of the race.
Romney's seen a major improvement in his image in Colorado, as he has nationally, since GOP voters unified around him. His numbers still aren't terribly impressive with 40% of voters rating him favorably to 52% with a negative opinion. But that's up a net 17 points from April when he was at 31/60.
The reason the race has tightened over the last couple months is that Romney's really closed the gap with independents. He still trails Obama 48-38 with them, but that's quite a bit better than April when he was down 57-31. The candidates both have their party bases pretty unified with Obama at 87% of Democrats and Romney at 84% of Republicans.
There's been an interesting shift along racial lines over the last 2 months. Obama's doing better with Hispanics than he was previously, leading 60-33 compared to a previous advantage of 53-38. But he's doing worse with whites, leading only 47-45, down from 52-41 in April. About a third of the interviews for this poll were conducted prior to Obama's immigration announcement so it would be simplistic to ascribe those shifts to that, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
A couple other interesting notes on demographic divides in Colorado:
-There's a huge generational divide in Colorado that doesn't bode well for the GOP's long term prospects in the state. Mitt Romney is up 14 points with voters over 65, 53-39. But with everyone else he's trailing by 12 points and among voters under 30 he's down 2:1, 58-29. Colorado's been shifting towards the Democrats over the last decade and unless Republicans can appeal more to younger people that movement's going to continue.
We included Gary Johnson on this poll and he gets 7% as the Libertarian candidate. He draws slightly more from Romney than Obama, pushing Obama's overall advantage to 8 points at 47-39.
We also tested former Governor Bill Owens, once seen as a Republican rising star, as a potential Romney running mate. The most interesting thing about Owens' numbers is that just a little more than 5 years out of office he's already been forgotten by a plurality of voters in the state. 40% have no opinion about him one way or the other, with those who do have one pretty evenly divided. His presence on the ticket would make little difference, giving Obama a 49-41 lead as opposed to his overall 49-42.
When you look at all of our Colorado polling this cycle here's the big picture: Obama's a definite favorite to win the state again this year, but it will probably be by a more moderate margin than in 2008.
Full results here