The Denver Post’s John Frank reports on a poll of the Democratic gubernatorial primary field from GOP-aligned Magellan Strategies that nonetheless describes what we think is an accurate picture of the race as of this writing:
Democratic candidate Cary Kennedy is primed to make the party’s ballot for governor in Colorado just as a new poll shows her closing the gap with front-runner Jared Polis…
Polis, a five-term Boulder congressman, remains in front with 27 percent, but Kennedy sits at 23 percent — a statistical dead-heat within the 4.8 percent margin of error, according to a primary forecast from Magellan Strategies, a Republican polling firm based in Colorado.
Former state Sen. Mike Johnston received 8 percent and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne received 5 percent in the survey conducted last week. Another 36 percent of likely primary voters are undecided.
In a memo discussing this new poll, Cary Kennedy’s campaign manager Aaron Bly was ebullient:
We are in a great position for State Assembly on April 14th, which is the final step in the process to set the primary ballot.
This polling and her decisive wins in the Democratic nominating process show her strong base of support with the key demographics in Colorado politics – women and the suburbs.
The plurality of voters in this poll who are undecided obviously means there is plenty of room for movement, but this poll reflects the overall dynamic we’ve been observing in the Democratic gubernatorial primary toward a two-person race between Rep. Jared Polis and former Treasurer Kennedy. Basement numbers for Mike Johnston and Donna Lynne underscore the challenge those candidates face as the race focuses on the top two, and it may not be long before both Johnston and Lynne are relegated to the role of spoilers.
Between Kennedy and Polis, the question becomes much more difficult to forecast confidently. Both candidates have good name ID and deep bases of support among the party rank-and-file. Unknown variables like the role of unaffiliated voters add further uncertainty. Kennedy’s ability to remain competitive in fundraising is crucial going into the heat of primary season, in which Polis can be expected to own the airwaves and reach out effectively to every likely primary voter. Financial superiority as well as a highly disciplined campaign advantage Polis, but not enough for him to run away with it given Kennedy’s demonstrated strength so far.
It’s still early enough for anything to happen, but this poll is consistent with what we see unfolding.