Anti-Incumbent Sentiment Harms Bennet

CQ Politics reports on Rasmussen’s latest, our well-documented ambivalence toward early polls notwithstanding:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) trails his best-known Republican challenger and also is struggling in hypothetical November 2010 matchups against much lesser-known GOP candidates, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey of 500 likely voters on Dec. 8.

Former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton (R) leads Bennet, who was appointed to the Senate in January, by 46 percent to 37 percent. Norton, the best-funded Republican candidate, has the backing of numerous Republican senators and Colorado officeholders.

Even county prosector Ken Buck and former state Sen. Tom Wiens, two other Republicans in the race, are running even or slightly ahead of Bennet despite not being established political figures statewide.

Bennet is suffering from a mediocre public image in his state. The poll said that 39 percent of respondents had a very favorable or somewhat favorable impression of Bennet but that 46 percent had a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable feeling. For Norton, the figures are 49 percent favorable and 32 percent unfavorable.

Bennet faces a primary challenge from Andrew Romanoff, a former state House Speaker. Romanoff trails Norton by 11 points and is running about even with Buck and Wiens…

Michael Bennet’s favorability rating is more a function of his high appointed-incumbent profile than anything else–he’s an easy target for voter’s angst, and intense unease on both sides over the congressional agenda, certainly in a primary where a rival is second-guessing you at every step, makes every procedural vote and statement from Bennet stand out disproportionately.

Don’t mistake what we’re saying for excuse making, of course: Bennet is down by 9 points in this early poll, that’s the bottom line. There’s no sugar coating, except maybe for fundraising purposes–he’s got his work cut out for him, a previously known fact.

One thing these numbers don’t show, that said, is anything particularly good for Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff is well known around the state and remembered fondly from his time as Speaker of the House, and should expect positive name recognition–combine that with sympathy for his ‘plight’ in some quarters, and the fact that he’s not the one making the hard votes right now, and his somewhat better overall favorability makes sense.

But even with all that in his favor, Romanoff still loses by a wider margin.

Additional commentary here.

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54 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JO says:

    But that “wider margin” is within the margin of error of the poll (+/- 4.5%), thus raising the question: “So what?”

    Democrats have an uphill fight against Norton, at this early stage. Which candidate would be stronger?

    Comparing voters’ opinions of the two Democrats in the race, Bennet scores a net negative 7 points; Romanoff is net positive 9 points. That seems like a significantly bigger difference between them than their relative scores against one of three possible Republican candidates.

    • bullshit! says:

      No matter how much David Sirota scumbags Michael Bennet, and how personally likable Romanoff might be, Romanoff still doesn’t poll as well as Bennet. There is absolutely no reason for Andrew Romanoff to be running.

      That’s what.

  2. Genius says:

    Arent’ they the same firm that showed Mark Udall losing to Bob Schaffer last time around?

    Official pollster for Fox News right?

    Take this ALL with a BIG grain of salt.  

    Robo dials all done in one day….Republican firm…doesn’t release party registration breakdown for respondents…

    I wouldn’t spend much time trying to read the tea leaves on this one, either for the primary or the general.  

    • Middle of the Road says:

      And about the fact that their polls aren’t always credible?

      That said, these numbers this early out are a good wake up call to both Democratic candidates and I would imagine both camps are taking them seriously and recognize that the Dems have a lot of work to do to retain this seat.

      On another note, w/in margin of error or not, I’m a bit stunned to see Romanoff down by 11 points, considering his AWESOME name recognition and him being the people’s choice and all.

      • wade norris says:

        but the fact that Romanoff has 35% unfavorable ratings vs 46% for Bennet must mean something.

        • Middle of the Road says:

          And those general match up numbers must mean something, too. And frankly, all snark aside, being an incumbent next year (even an Appointed One as you and JO love to remind us) can easily be a detriment, particularly if the economy doesn’t pick up.

        • ThillyWabbit says:

          It reflects that most people wouldn’t know Andrew Romanoff from the czar of Russia.

            • sxp151 says:


              Generally if a pollster doesn’t specifically ask whether you recognize the name, the “Not sure” is considered “unfamiliarity.” Based on this measure Romanoff is slightly less well-known than Bennet.

              Bennet has a 15% unsure, and Romanoff has a 21% unsure rating from the linked poll.

              Of course it’s Rasmussen, so consider it crap.

              • sxp151 says:

                Rasmussen doesn’t say what questions they used, which is important. If you ask people whether they support “Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet,” you’ll probably get a different response from “U.S. Senator Michael Bennet” which will be different from “Michael Bennet.” They don’t say how the question was asked. Anyone know what their typical procedure is?

                • ThillyWabbit says:

                  Though the chart has “D” and “R” after the names, I can’t tell if they were read or not.

                • Ray Springfield says:

                  If they don’t post the sample size and the geography of the same distribution then there is very little to jusge from thi poll.

                  • ThillyWabbit says:

                    But they conduct the calls all on one day, which means their sample is highly dependent on external factors affecting response rate as well as the attitude of the respondents. For instance, they’re likely to get very different results calling in the middle of a Broncos game, when every call is going to piss someone off, than they might get on a school holiday when the person pushing the buttons might be a junior high school kid.

            • ThillyWabbit says:

              Which is a strong reason to ignore any conclusions anyone might make based on this poll.

              Most people can’t name their current congressperson, let alone the former speaker of the state house from 2 years ago.

              Barely half of the voting age public knows that the public option has to do with health care.


      • JeffcoBlue says:

        As a general warning to get serious, this poll is useful. It’s not gospel though.

        Here’s a topic I want to explore, might diary this over the weekend if I get time. High negatives for Bennet, all this anger from the hard progressive left over health care and Afghanistan. A sense that Democrats will be unmotivated in 2010.

        Why? Did Obama promise to quickly pull out of Afghanistan as he did Iraq? Did anyone believe that health care reform would happen without compromise? Did we go to sleep and wake up in a country where 48% of the country doesn’t oppose us tooth and nail? What did the Democratic base expect, and what do they think will happen if they let Dems twist in the wind after only two years?

        Who built up unrealistic expectations on the part of the left that are now being torn down? I don’t think it was Obama, at least not on the two issues above.  But I do hear an awful lot from ‘progressive’ bloggers and pundits, some of whom have been declaring Obama a failure since before he even took office. And now they’re driving Obama’s approval down from the left.

        Is that the wave that Romanoff supporters hope to ride? If so, what happens if it doesn’t work? And how much collateral damage are they willing to do?

        • Middle of the Road says:

          because I think you have hit on something that I’m seeing at Daily Kos and Square State (both places of which I rarely blog anymore because of the constant “outrage”).

        • MADCO says:

          or draft the outline and MOTR and I and others will flesh itout.

          You are right, of course.

          Obama was always going to be a moderate. Only the right wing talkers (Caplis, Rush, Beck) and the hard left thought otherwise. The talkers because they were laying the foundation and setting up their “just say no” and the hard left “cause they’re blinded by ideology and wishful thinking.

    • ThillyWabbit says:

      In fact, Republican-sponsored polls in the same time frame showed Udall winning. Rasmussen was more favorable to Bob Schaffer than either Hill Research or McLaughlin.

    • onebigrepublican says:

      I also believe that about a week out from the Ritter vs. Beauprez election they had Beauprez leading by a double digit margin?? Didn’t they?

  3. Middle of the Road says:

    Is Ken Buck still a candidate or has he dropped out? He came up to Estes Park last month for a meet and greet as the “next Senator of Colorado” but I haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since.

  4. DavidThi808 says:

    More than 30% of the electorate could even name two candidates in this race. What we’re seeing mostly is an anti-Democratic mood. And that to a large degree is driven by the glacial pace of Washington on healthcare and the lack of any action on jobs.

    When people are in this much hurt they are not in a mood to hear “legislation takes time” and “the Senate can only handle 1 serious bill at a time.” It doesn’t matter that the Republicans are the ones slowing it down – we Dems hold everything and so the people expect action and expect it now.

    Bennet, Ritter, Markey, and a ton of other Democrats are to a large degree dependent on how fast & effective the Senate is.

    • RedGreen says:

      and that’s an explicit part of the GOP obstructionist strategy. Muck things up enough, slow things down enough, even without proposing viable alternatives, and voter rage at Democrats only builds.

      • PeterFisk says:

        … it’s not just Republicans. There have been a few key “moderate” Congressional Dems (and one “moderate” Lieberman) who’ve been equally complicit in the mucking.

  5. guesswho says:

    I hear it is David Kenney of many failed referendum/issue fame.  He is also the man behind Ritter. Could he go 0 for 2 this cycle?

  6. bullshit! says:

    Well, I could wipe my ass with it. For all the reasons people have listed, it’s nothing to provoke strong reactions either way.

    But there is one lesson I personally glean from this poll: Andrew Romanoff is pulling down Michael Bennet. He is preventing Bennet from consolidating his base. And he is doing it for no good reason, because he is no more electable, actually less electable, than Bennet.

    Come on, Tsarevitches. Tell me it’s not so.

  7. PeterFisk says:

    A Rasmussen poll typically doesn’t tell us which way a race is going so much as which way Faux News is trying to push that race.  The only time a Rasmussen poll really has any measurable chance of yielding reliable information is when it’s compared and synthesized with other (more reputable) polls. And even then.    

    • RedGreen says:

      Whether the poll is designed that way or just exploited that way, you’re right. The NRSC blasted this headline based on the poll this morning:

      2010 Colorado Senate: Norton Runs Best Against Democrats

      The election is nearly a year away, but right now former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton appears to be the Republican with the best shot of beating either of the potential Democratic candidates in Colorado’s race for the U.S. Senate.

      That’s what this poll is really about.

  8. The realist says:

    and Bennet himself may not be predictable.  What if he decides the US Senate is just not what he expected it to be?  It is a barely-functional body held up nearly entirely in its work by rules that allow a tyranny of the minority (some might say).  What if Bennet decides the creativity (and financial benefit) of the private sector is just a whole lot more fun?  

    Stay tuned.

  9. Sharon Hanson says:

    All along you have been so kind to Romanoff and so dismissive to Bennet and here is one more example of your kindness to Romanoff. You had better be careful Colorado Pols or you will leave the impression you are biased in favor of Romanoff with your audience.


    I’ve got an idea let’s post more unfavorable postings for Romanoff. That way the audience will see you don’t favor Romanoff. What do you say, Colorado Pols?  

  10. GOPwarrior says:

    This post should be called “Norton beats Bennet by 9, Romanoff by 11.” Any other title is nothing but spin spin spin spin spin

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