PPP's newest Colorado poll finds that the Senate race remains very competitive, although not that much closer with Cory Gardner in the race than it was with Ken Buck. Our last poll of the state, in early December, found Mark Udall leading Buck by 4 points. Udall starts out with a 2 point lead over Cory Gardner at 42/40. Gardner starts out the race with just under 50% name recognition, and voters with an opinion about him are pretty evenly divided. The close division mirrors how voters feel about Udall's job performance- 41% approve and 40% disapprove of him, almost identical to where we found him in December.
Udall would have wider leads if one of the other Republican candidates was to win the primary. He would lead Owen Hill 43/38 and Randy Baumgardner 44/37. Gardner's entry into the race has broken open the GOP primary field though. Gardner's now at 44% to 15% for Baumgardner, 6% for Hill, 4% for Tom Janich, and 3% for Mark Aspiri. 29% remain undecided but Gardner certainly now looks like the clear favorite for the Republican nomination.
There's little doubt that it's the unpopularity of Obamacare and Barack Obama himself that's making the Colorado Senate contest look so potentially competitive. Only 39% of voters in the state support Obamacare to 51% who are opposed to it, and 58% think its rollout has been unsuccessful to 37% who rate it a success. The President has a 43/53 approval spread in the state, which he won by 6 points in 2012.
Things are looking up for Democrats in the Colorado Governor's race though. John Hickenlooper's approval rating is back on positive ground at 48/41, after slipping into negative territory on our December poll. Hickenlooper's also back to having double digit leads over all of his potential Republican opponents. Bob Beauprez comes closest at 48/38, followed by Scott Gessler at 48/36, Tom Tancredo at 50/36, Greg Brophy at 48/33, and Mike Kopp at 49/32. Hickenlooper's lead over the four Republicans included in the December poll has increased from an average of 8 points to an average of 14 points.
Hickenlooper is looking better, but the Senate race has strong potential to make it a fourth straight election cycle where Colorado is at the center of the nation's attention.
Full results here