This morning the Denver Post released results from polling partner SurveyUSA on the U.S. Senate race, and this afternoon they released information about their poll of the Governor contest. As reporter Jon Murray explains for the Post:
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's race against Republican Bob Beauprez was too close to call in a new Denver Post poll in which voters indicated they were still getting familiar with the challenger.
Forty-five percent supported Hickenlooper and 43 percent supported Beauprez among likely voters polled this week by SurveyUSA. The result is within the margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.
We'll admit that it is a bit surprising to see Republican Bob Beauprez polling so close to Gov. John Hickenlooper. When Beauprez last ran for Governor in 2006, polling at this point in the race showed that he was already trailing Democrat Bill Ritter by double-digits in a race he went on to lose by a staggering 17-point margin. Beauprez isn't yet in the same kind of trouble in 2014, but when you dig a little deeper into the poll results, the upside isn't as bright for Both Ways Bob. Again, from the Post:
Beauprez's figures had a positive spread: 38 percent favorable to 34 percent unfavorable.
But 28 percent said they needed to know more about Beauprez, a former congressman who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, to form an opinion. Only 7 percent had no opinion about Hickenlooper.
Beauprez is polling so close to Hickenlooper largely because of the Governor's own summer of self-inflicted political wounds. Beauprez has a 34% unfavorable rating — and 28% of voters still say they don't know enough about him to form an opinion — which makes it clear that this is all about Hickenlooper's (un)popularity at this point. Poll respondents aren't saying, "We want Beauprez" as much as they are declaring "We're not real happy with Hickenlooper." This is a significant difference, which is summed up well by one telling quote from a poll respondent:
"He doesn't have a very strong backing from me, other than he's done a pretty good job in creating jobs for Colorado," said Chris Delaney, 29, a Denver resident who told SurveyUSA he planned to vote for Hickenlooper despite disapproving of his performance [Pols emphasis]. "But that's not the only thing a governor's supposed to do. He just doesn't seem to represent my views and things that are important to me."
Plenty of voters may disapprove of Hickenlooper's performance as Governor, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they want to replace him with Beauprez. And that's where things remain difficult for Beauprez; he can't control his own destiny. Beauprez needs Hickenlooper to lose voter support before he can win the race for himself, and there just isn't enough time for both things to happen.
The amount of negative information floating around about Beauprez is, in a word, staggering. Keep that in mind as we go back to that 28% of poll respondents who say they don't know enough about Beauprez — it's unlikely that uninformed voters are going to be attracted to Beauprez as they learn more about him.
If that 28% remains uninformed — and a barrage of pro-Hickenlooper TV ads don't change the Governor's numbers — then Beauprez has a chance in November. Barring a two-month power outage in Colorado, we don't see how that can happen.