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March 24, 2011 08:16 PM UTC

Colorado Pols/RBI Poll: Romer 22%, Mejia 10%, Hancock 9%

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: Coverage of today’s poll from FOX 31’s Eli Stokols.


This is a poll of the Denver mayoral race, released by Colorado Pols and conducted by Denver-based RBI Strategies & Research. The results show Chris Romer with a solid lead, but perhaps more importantly, he is the only candidate with any real name recognition; Romer’s total favorable rating is 40%, while the next closest candidate is James Mejia at 26%. Favorability ratings for Michael Hancock (22%), Doug Linkhart (21%) and Carol Boigon (19%) are incredibly low this close to Election Day.

Here’s a more detailed summary from RBI research director Kevin Ingham:

RBI mayoral survey shows low voter engagement with just 3 weeks before voting begins

A survey of likely 2011 municipal voters in Denver shows that while Chris Romer is currently leading, a plurality of voters remain undecided and have yet to significantly engage on the race.  When asked who they would vote for in the race for Mayor of Denver, 22% of respondents said they would vote for Chris Romer and 10% said James Mejia with Michael Hancock (9%), Doug Linkhart (7%), Carol Boigon (5%) and Theresa Spahn (2%) all receiving support in the single digits.  Another 5% said they would vote for a different candidate and a 40% plurality say they remain undecided on which candidate they will support.

This survey is a useful snapshot of the status of the race at a time before voters have began to engage.  Though Chris Romer is clearly leading, much of this can be attributed to his name ID advantage and the race remains wide open.  Early horserace surveys, such as this one, tend to show that support is highly correlated to name ID.  Therefore, with such a large portion of the likely electorate unfamiliar with the candidates, the high number of undecided voters is not surprising.  In fact, fully 32% were unable to provide hard name ID for any of the six candidates presented during the survey interview.

As the major mayoral candidate begin to communicate with voters, the race will be sure to become more engaged and is likely to become highly fluid over the next few weeks.

RBI Strategies & Research conducted a telephone survey of 400 Denver voters who indicated it was likely that they would vote in the May 2011 Municipal Election. Interviews were conducted March 21 – March 22, 2010 by Standage Market Research of Denver, Colorado, a market research firm specializing in telephone survey interviewing. Respondents were randomly selected from a list of Colorado voters, purchased from Voter Contact Services, who registered after the 2010 General Election or voted in the 2010 General Election and either 1) voted in at least one off-year election dating back to 2003 or 2) registered after 2009 off-year election.

The margin of error for a survey of 400 interviews is ±4.9% at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error is higher for subsamples within the full sample.

Other sources of error not accounted for by the stated statistical margin of error include, but are not limited to, question wording, question order, and refusal to be interviewed.

Toplines | Crosstabs

NOTE: RBI Strategies is not involved with any Denver mayoral campaigns.

Mr. Ingham will join our readers at 1PM today for a Q&A session on the results of this poll. In order to keep things as orderly as possible in what is likely to be a popular discussion, we’d appreciate it if our readers held their questions for Mr. Ingham until 1PM when he arrives to answer them. In the meantime, you’re welcome to comment on the poll results themselves.

Please be respectful in your comments and questions for Mr. Ingham. We appreciate the time that he is making for this Q&A session, and whether you agree or disagree with anything he says, there is NO reason you need to voice your opinion in a rude or disrespectful manner. We will not tolerate bad behavior from anyone during this Q&A session, so please be good Polsters.


89 thoughts on “Colorado Pols/RBI Poll: Romer 22%, Mejia 10%, Hancock 9%

  1. Boigon dropped a lot of money on a lousy TV ad and her desultory numbers are the result. Romer is ahead but not by very much.  Lots of hand wringing today in BoigonLand and RomerLand.  

    I hope Chris is recovered from that terrible cold he had when he filmed his ad.


    1. Pols seems to have embraced him. I’ve only met a couple activists pushing Boigon. She may be great, but she has not connected well across the board. Hancock and Romer seem to be splitting the education reform vote.

      Romer has all the money for every kind of ad and a big staff, as well as name recognition, so it was an uphill battle from the start for everyone else. Dunstone is famous for his ground game. Romer will probably clean up unless Mejia gets a lot of large checks fast. (Mejia does have a Dunstone-trainee at the helm for his ground game, so he could pull off a win if they had enough cash to get his name out there quickly. Not likely — it would take a lot of cash.)

      This stuff is painful. Lots of great candidates and workers.  

      1. With Romer being the most familiar name.  And in a Mayor’s race, people start tuning in even later than for midterms.  Still, I saw Romer and Boigon on TV last night and now would be a really good time to start seeing Mejia.

        Once again, we here at Pols are our own little world, not to be confused with normal people. My son recently moved into Denver from a  short way out, he is very interested in politics and news in general and he was just getting set to try to find out about the candidates.  Most of his 20 something friends probably will never find out so if they vote (big if) “that name rings a bell” or other general considerations like gender or ethnicity may well be the deciding factor without a very concerted effort to gain their attention.

        On the plus side, I bet most of the completely uninformed don’t even bother to vote for Mayor so the abnormals aren’t at as much of a disadvantage as in bigger elections.  

        1. Stokols has some additional info about name recognition breakdown.

          Mejia has 32% hard name recognition.

          Hancock has 26% hard name recognition.

      2. Interlocken must be working for someone’s campaign. It’s strange to lash out like that at someone besides the frontrunner. Probably he got some high fives in a campaign office somewhere after getting the first comment planted.

        The poll margin of error is 5% and all the second place candidates are within 5 points. The poll also says the calls were done in two nights early this week, which means there’s been very little campaign advertising and no media coverage of the pay raise vote is factored into these calls.  

        I’m personally not surprised that Roy’s popularity isn’t helping Chris more on the natural.  Denver voters don’t vote for famous people or famous names – they are waiting to learn more about these candidates.  

    2. I think Elway’s Back posting nails it.  I just plain don’t like “the anointed one” idea when it comes to elections.  This election will be about more than just name recognition.  I also agree that Interlocken’s posting is suspicious.

  2. instead of 400, and got very close to the same results.

    This is great that RBI and Pols are are doing this. And, if I’m not mistaken, the first public poll released. Does anyone think if the Rocky was still around there wouldn’t have already been two or three polls by this time, same as there were in 2003 when it was an open seat? That’s what less media competition does to a town …

  3. There are enough undecided to swing this to at least three others. Too bad for Boigon, it’s clearly not happening for her, which sucks because I like her and think Denver could use a woman mayor.

      1. I’m on her mailing list and I’ve tried to follow her a bit.

        So far as I can tell, she has said literally nothing other than she is for “kids” and “seniors” and favors “jobs.”

        Her complete lack of message may not separate her from anyone else, but she is incredibly underwhelming as a candidate and her ad was, well, underwhelming.

        I say this without any dog in the fight.  I’m not a Denver resident any more.  I am underwhelmed with Romer, too, and know next to nothing about Mejia, Hancock and the others.

  4. It seems like a race to get into the runoff with Romer, and there the non-Romer candidate could do some serious damage. I at least can’t come up with a prediction when it is a Romer vs. just Mejia/Hancock race. Right now there is too much distraction for any other candidate to take hold.

    If I were any of the other candidates I would not worry about Romer, instead trying to separate from Mejia/Hancock/Boigon/Linkhart. You can worry about Romer in the runoff, if you get there.

    I think that any of these candidates has a good shot in a head to head with Romer. Except, his financial advantage will be huge, as any of the other candidates will probably have to expend most of their money to get to the runoff.

    1. “A friend of mine” isn’t supporting anyone until the run off because she honestly can’t decide. Then the evil bitch is planning on voting for the person not Romer. It’s a much easier campaign strategy if you don’t have a huge problem with the other candidates.

      She’d rather not see Hancock anywhere, but everyone else is livable (except for that jackass gym rat guy), hoping for either Boigon or Mejia (she’d want a plug here). Easily supported! Just not by me of course. 😉

      That’s her perspective as a resident. Not so easy, or practical, to just wait it out if you are actually campaigning, which I believe is your point. Sucks for them, not bad for the rest of us.

      1. Romer’s unfavorable ratings are on par with other politicos that have comparable name ID (Less than Hick, Webb and Mejia, same as Boigon and only slightly greater than Linkhart/Mejia).

        Mejia could pull this off, but the “I’m not Chris” argument ain’t going to work (and he’s going to need some money to tell people who is).

        Also, what’s the timeline on this Poll? Was this conducted before or after Mejia went on the air? What about Romer?

        1. on not being Romer. It’s just how “my friend” is making the hard decision of Mejia v Boigon. Both of these candidates have workable ideas and rich backgrounds in many different areas.

          Who said Mejia was using the “I’m not Chris” argument?

  5. 1-month out in the Chicago race it was Emmanuel 44%; Braun 21%; Chico 16%; del Valle 7%; Undecided 9%.

    Emmanuel won 55% outright after spending $11 million.

    But your poll shows 40% UNDECIDED in the Denver race vs. just 9% in the Chicago race one-month out.

    For what it’s worth, some felt that Rahm was able to project a “vision” for the city, not just a manager.  It seems that Mejia’s personality could help him there.

    1. What he needs to focus on is the ground game and get himself an army of volunteers. His charisma needs to be presented to people face to face.  

  6. Seems that with the margin of error that this race for second is wide open. Yes Boigon and Meija have been on the air but the buys are so low they have probably had no effect. I doubt that Hancocks’ flipflop and Boigons NO vote on the payraise had taken on the steam it has now.  Boigon has the breakout issue and the resources to get into the runoff. Voters are just barely tuned in.

    1. If a few undecideds make up their mind, then the election will look a lot different in a month and a half.  Anyone who’s got enough energy and is smart enough to be on TV right now has a definite chance.  Interesting read, but ‘highly fluid’ is right.  Don’t place any bets yet.

  7. I have watched Denver mayoral races for 30 years at this point in ’91 Webb was at 7%. This race is going to be fun. Hope no one is measuring the drapes yet.

    1. I remember photos of a very shocked Norm Early in the newspaper. Hickenlooper was in the single digits as well, I believe. Denver does not like mainstream anything. They love underdogs.

  8. I was talking to her the other day, and she’s torn between Mejia and Carol Boigon. She said they mangled Carol and James’ names when they polled her, to the point where they said “Mah-gee-ah” and “Boergeros” or something.

    Does that effect the overall quality of the poll?

    1. during roughly the same time line.  We checked in with our phone bank to check that they had the names correct and they were confident that they were doing all names correctly.  In fact, they had been doing Denver polling on this race for the 9 days before our poll went in the field so our interviewers were all familiar with the names well ahead of our field window.

      Also, we provide phonetic pronunciations for every name in the questionnaire so our interviewers are able to read the correct pronunciation during the call.

      Thanks for bringing it up!

  9. I’m going to be here to answer your questions until 2pm.  If you have a question, just post it and I will try to get to it as soon as I can.

    Last time we did this, you guys had some really good questions.  Keep it up!

      1. I’ll just direct you to this.

        Basically, it says that 95 times out of 100, the numbers in this poll will deviate from the “true” numbers by the stated margin of error based solely on statistical sampling error.

        And yes, the race appears to be extremely close for second place.

    1. But I can try to give you a sense of the extent to which Romer’s name ID is helping his lead.

      40% of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Chris Romer.  44% of those who have a favorable opinion of Romer are voting or leaning towards Romer.

      That is a higher level of positive name ID and a higher level of “name ID to support” conversion than any other candidate.

      Does that answer your question?

    2. But I can try to give you a sense of the extent to which Romer’s name ID is helping his lead.

      40% of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Chris Romer.  44% of those who have a favorable opinion of Romer are voting or leaning towards Romer.

      That is a higher level of positive name ID and a higher level of “name ID to support” conversion than any other candidate.

      Does that answer your question?

  10. What is the projected turnout for the May election — using your responses on likelihood of voting and first-time off-year mail ballot models?  

    1. Frankly, with such a disengaged race, it’s very tough to make a prediction.  Registration and historic voter turnout is a helpful predictor but the thing that we can’t account for at this point is how many points of television the candidates will be buying.  That will matter a lot because if people don’t know the candidates, they aren’t likely to turnout.

      How’s that for a non-answer?

  11. I know you covered this for the Other Place polling, but I wanted to verify.

    I think landlines in this type of poll make a huge difference. You know, since people may not know that apples do sometimes fall far from the tree. 🙂

    Just curious…

    1. This is from our statement of methodology:

      Respondents were randomly selected from a list of Colorado voters, purchased from Voter Contact Services, who registered after the 2010 General

      Election or voted in the 2010 General Election and either 1) voted in at least one off-year election dating back to 2003 or 2) registered after 2009 off-year election.

      We also call cell phones because if a voter lists a cell number when they register to vote, we are able to call that number.

  12. I got a call last week, but I think it was an anti-Romer push poll (or message testing).

    If the call I got was a real poll, it was poorly designed.  I don’t think it was you because RBI does quality work, but I want to rule it out.

  13. 65% of likely voters polled think Denver is going in the right direction.  Seems like an optimistic electorate.  What are such voters likely to look for in a candidate for mayor?

    1. I can’t really speculate on what voters are looking for in their next mayor based on the fact I don’t have hard data and I don’t like to make predictions without data.

      However, people in Denver definitely seem to see Denver as a silo of how things should be running.  Other polls show very negative opinons about the direction of the US and Colorado but Denverites appear to feel good about their city.  I think that is informative for people trying to come up with a winning strategy.

      Also, I think it is informative to look at the fact that the previous mayors all have really high favorable ID.

      Hickenlooper: 77% favorable / 13% unfavorable

      Webb: 64% favorable / 17% unfavorable

      Pena: 59% favorable / 19% unfavorable

      Apparently folks seem to think they did something right!

  14. I think it’s really surprising Romer is only at 22%.  He’s been touted as the big frontrunner largely based on his name recognition.  (I think he’s even said himself that he’s over 50%.)  I would have thought he would have been doing better.  This is a wide open race.

    1. if the candidates were well known, absolutely.  however, people are just now going on television and a lot of these folks haven’t run city wide before so name ID is naturally low.

      like i said above, a huge predictor of turnout will be the number of points the candidates put behind their ad buys.  if you don’t know the candidates, you probably won’t turnout.

      also, let’s keep in mind that there is a runoff if no candidate gets a majority in the first round.  romer is way ahead and the rest are clumped together with roughly similar name ID.  i’d say this poll shows a heated race for second place. so perhaps the most informative numbers right now for outcome are:

      1) positive name ID – who will recognize your name on the ballot and have warm fuzzies when confronted with the crowded field before them?

      2) cash on hand – who has enough money to make a large ad buy and increase their name ID in a crowded field?

    1. looking at the likely voter universe, we did a surname analysis to approximate the number of hispanics that will turnout in this election.  that surname analysis showed that 12% of likely voters were hispanic.  so we set our quota targets accordingly.

      while surname analysis is not perfect for determining turnout, we have had a really high success rate with Voter Contact Services’ (the company from which we purchase our poll samples) surname match when we are doing polls of strictly hispanic populations.

      we feel confident in our hispanic sample.

    2. You does your weighting on Hispanic and African American voters track with 2008/2010/older municipal elections?  I notice you weighted 12% Hispanic and 8% African American

        1. It’s not that I don’t believe you, I honestly don’t know where to look.  I didn’t realize African American turnout in Denver was that high.


    Romer looks as ridiculous as he sounds in his commercial.  If you wear a bike jersey get the weight off first.  Glad to see the Boigon team is out blogging.  Let’s see you spend $250,000 on TV and are 2% ahead of Theresa Spahn. I agree you are right that is great news for Carol.  

    1. If you have something productive to say, that would be one thing. But you don’t. You attack appearances of candidates, mock how they look, mock how they speak. I see your name in these threads and am learning to just skip reading what you have to say.

      And on an equally interesting note about trolls such as yourself, how interesting is it that we have a plethora of brand new spanking users signed up today to comment in this diary? Good to see the mayoral campaigns read Pols.  

        1. Romer doesn’t sound like he has a cold.  Romer doesn’t look ridiculous in the bike jersey.  Boigon is doing great by being at 5% after $250,000 on TV.  Glad you corrected me

          1. while you continue to badmouth everyone.

            In fact, I’ve only ever seen you post one really nice comment about any of these candidates. Clearly, you’re not a Boigon fan so I can’t help but wonder whose campaign you are involved with?

            It wouldn’t be Spahn’s by any chance, would it?

            *[new] Theresa Spahn

            Theresa Spahn has a real pro in Shelia McDonald handling her campaign and has raised a fair amount of money.  

            Will she be a contender or just split the vote and harm Boigon?

            1. I like everyone he trashes a little more than I did before… maybe he’s drawing a paycheck from Romer and Boigon to be so nasty about them that contrarians like me end up more supportive?

    2. Are you really going to make me stick up for Romer? Really? Please stop with the body shaming, because I’d rather not say anything remotely favorable toward that smarmy, entitled little schmuck.

        1. and then seeing them get picked up by local media outlets. And it’s really nice to have Kevin come here in person and answer questions. That’s a bonus that you won’t experience on most blogs.  

                1. but your ignorance and shilling/trolling is just too ridiculous.  FYI I am not a Boigon supporter and not undecided.

                  She went up on TV on March 15th.  This poll was in the field the 21st and 22nd according to Kevin.  

                  I cannot imagine she had more than 500 points behind an ad this early, and probably closer to 200 given that she will need to hold out to get up near 1000 in the final couple weeks.  Holding to the gross rating points average, that would mean in the week between the ad dropping and the poll being conducted the average viewer would see it between 2-5 times (probably less given there was a a weekend in there).  To give some perspective in the 2010 Senate race there were tens of thousands of points up every week from both sides, and yet the race finished very close to where it originally started in a heads up poll, with all that TV only really shifting undecided women.

                  If you want to talk cheese so be it.  But you don’t even have the most basic grasp of advertising in political campaigns.  No one is going to pick up ground on firm yes’ with 200 points of TV, but they may increase their name id a very little bit, and most importantly get a good press hit for being the first up on TV.

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