Cory Gardner is in Worse Trouble Than You Thought

Late yesterday a new poll on the Colorado Senate race from Montana State University and The University of Denver came out with some pretty stunning numbers. From Forbes:

In a sign of Colorado’s increasingly Democratic lean, a poll released Tuesday showed former Gov. John Hickenlooper with a commanding lead over Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in the U.S. Senate race, while former Vice President Joe Biden overwhelmingly leads President Donald Trump as well.

The poll, released by Montana State University on Tuesday, has Hickenlooper leading Gardner by 17 points, 48% to 31%, in a race that will be pivotal in determining control of the Senate.

In the presidential race, Biden leads Trump by 18 points, 53% to 35%, adding to a spate of recent swing state polls showing Biden leading by mid-to-high single digit margins.

If you are a supporter of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), this is the point where you start railing on the MSU/DU poll for a bad methodology, shaky margin of error, using trained monkeys to conduct phone surveys, blah, blah, blah. This argument might even get you somewhere, if not for another completely different poll, with a completely different methodology, showing pretty much the same deficit for Gardner.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper leads U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner by 18 percentage points in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, according to a poll from Colorado firms released Wednesday.

The Keating-Onsight-Melanson poll of likely voters, made available in advance of its release to Colorado Politics, shows Hickenlooper with 54% support to Gardner’s 36% in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, with 9% undecided and 1% picking another candidate.

The Democratic firms’ last survey, in October, found Hickenlooper with an 11 percentage point advantage over Gardner, 53% to 42%.


This is the way down, Senator!

That’s two different polls, released on two separate days, showing former Gov. John Hickenlooper — the frontrunner for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination — with a 17-18 point lead over the incumbent Republican Senator, Cory Gardner. Again, we’re sure that you could dig into the methodology of each poll and come up with some complaints, but two polls with similar numbers? That’s not a coincidence.

Even if both polls are wrong, Hickenlooper is almost certainly ahead of Gardner by double digits. This also makes sense if you consider that the last top-ticket race in Colorado, for Governor in 2018, resulted in an 11-point win by Democrat Jared Polis over Republican Walker Stapleton.

There are also plenty of reasons to believe that these new polling numbers for Gardner are not outliers. Gardner’s approval ratings have been consistently in the toilet for more than three years now. — and as we’ve pointed out on more than one occasion, Gardner doesn’t even poll well among Republican voters. Hickenlooper, meanwhile, is a popular and well-known former two-term Governor of Colorado.

These numbers also track with top-of-ticket results; both new polls show Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden leading President Trump by an 18-20 point margin in Colorado. Biden probably isn’t going to beat Trump in Colorado by 20 points, but a double-digit margin of victory would not be a surprise (Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 5 points in Colorado in 2016; Barack Obama carried the state by nearly 9 points in 2008).

Cory Gardner isn’t just in trouble of losing the 2020 U.S. Senate race…he faces a very real risk that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) could soon drop Colorado off the map entirely. Control of the U.S. Senate is very much in play in 2020, and with states such as Arizona and Maine moving out of reach for Republicans, the NRSC will have to make some decisions about where to best expend resources in hopes of holding onto states like Montana or North Carolina.

Hickenlooper is now handily beating Gardner in fundraising and in public polling. The trajectory of the 2020 Senate race is pretty clear.

26 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. kickshot says:

    "The trajectory of the 2020 Senate race is pretty clear."

    How can you say that if you only have half of it correct?

    • JohnInDenver says:

      How do we know trajectory?  Two polls that didn’t bother with Hick/Romanoff figures, but went with just Hick. I got an invite to another poll, from CIVIQS, testing only Hick v. Gardner.  I think 3 polls ALL choosing to assume a particular match-up is a good hint of trajectory.

      Money raised — Romanoff has a higher percentage of unitemized individual donations (34%), showing the “grass roots” donors in Colorado are a more important part of his campaign.  Hickenlooper’s equivalent is 24%.  Dollar amounts matter.  The unitemized individual giving:  Romanoff raised $731k at the last report.  Hickenlooper raised $2.02m.  Romanoff raising 36% as much as Hick.   I did not get individual donations from inside/outside Colorado — but I speculate Romanoff is much more Colorado-based by percentage.  I’d be surprised if the dollar amounts are going to be all that different.

      A campaign staying silent on polling reports has been a worrisome sign in my (limited) experience.  A campaign not having some “good news” comparison to their opponent is also not a good sign. 

      • Voyageur says:

        In fairness to the pollsters they aren't including extra candidates against Gardner because it's expensive to do so.  If I put gardner, hick and romo on the same poll, I divide the ds and gardner wins, 40 pct to 35 for hick and 15 for Romo (hypothetically)

        Whereas either dem alone wins 50 -40.

        So, to rate both, I need one survey hick- Gardner and a wholly separate romo gardner survey with different voters.  It's just too expensive.   Adding in a minor candidate like Garcia would triple the cost.

        • JohnInDenver says:

          I wasn’t thinking of a separate poll for the primary. That opens up all sorts of problems. But a general election survey would mean a slight design change, talking to the same people (or slightly more) and asking an additional question, alternating who got to go first.

          • if the race is between Hick & Gardner, would you vote Hick, Gardner, or other?
          • if the race is between Romanoff & Gardner, would you vote Romanoff, Gardner, or other?

          There would be an incremental cost — but at this point, I’m more interested that 3 independent polling firms (and their clients) chose not to do that. And Romanoff isn’t answering with polling of his own.

          • Voyageur says:

            Yes, that can be done but it's expensive and introduces a bias.  You give voters a choice they can't actually have in november.  In effect you give a guy like duke an "auction". If you can't get romo will you hold your nose and vote for hick, etc.

            And you'll still have minor candidates yelling at you for ignoring Garcia, Warren and my parakeet.

            • Duke Cox says:

              You give voters a choice they can't actually have in November.  

              Funny how you state things you think as though they are facts.

              Time will tell.

              • Voyageur says:

                Duke, it's a bit early for you to hit the ganji.  No voter this November will look at a ballot with Gardner, Romo and Hick on it.  Maybe in Dukeworld but not on earth.

  2. kwtree says:

    Why didn’t they poll Romanoff ( or any  other Democratic Senate candidates) against Gardner?

  3. kickshot says:

    The Montana State poll was an online poll with the primary consideration of coronavirus. The Senate race was a secondary consideration … "OH! As long as you're here taking our coronavirus poll, what are your preferences for CO Senate?".

  4. Meiner49er says:

    As I see it, Gardner knows he's got to take one for the team. He takes his lumps in November, blames COVID, and then packs off to work for a fat cat oil company  where he makes twice what Hick has raised in the campaign as an annual salary., maybe more. Wait one, maybe two cycles, and he's tanned, rested and ready. For what I don't know, but I don't think Cory is in "trouble."

  5. Blackie says:

    I noticed on PPP that even Emerson had Hick up 13 points on Gardner.

  6. ParkHill says:

    If Trump is running 10pts behind 2016, and that stench-by-association carries over to the rest of the Republican Party…

    Go NC, GAx2, AZ, MT, ME, KS and TX!

    The Democratic messaging should be GOP guilt by association with Trump.

    • Early Worm says:

      Under the category of when your dream scenario becomes your worst nightmare – What happens if Trump loses (odds are definitely against him at this point), the Dems take the Senate (if they only need to get to 50, it might be even money), and something happens in the Supreme Court between the election and the inauguration? Something like Thomas or Alito retiring, or any of them dying from Covid 19 or otherwise. Will there be riots in the streets when on lame-duck majority leader McConnell rams through one of his 30-year-old proteges (or dog groomers) for lame-duck tRump's rubber stamp?

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      If folks vote against the Anti-Christ then they sure as Hell aren't going to vote for one of his lackeys.  Talk me through how Gardner has a realistic chance to beat Romanoff if the state rejects Trump by a wider margin than 2016 due to no anti-Hillary votes.

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