The last couple of polls from Quinnipiac University of Colorado races have pegged both the U.S. Senate race and the Colorado gubernatorial race with Republican leads considerably in excess of most other polling. In polling speak, Quinnipiac's numbers this year are what you'd call an "outlier"–a poll skewed well away from the results of other contemporary polling.
There are signs today that this is changing, at least in the gubernatorial race. Five weeks ago, Quinnipiac released a poll showing Republican Bob Beauprez leading Gov. John Hickenlooper by ten points, numbers that not even partisan Republicans could feel confident about. A week ago, Quinnipiac had Beauprez up by four points. Today, Q-pac's press release announces a that Hickenlooper has fully closed the gap:
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, behind 50 – 40 percent September 17, now has 45 percent to former U. S. Rep. Bob Beauprez' 44 percent among likely voters, leaving the governor’s race too close to call, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. Libertarian candidate Matthew Hess has 1 percent, with 2 percent for Green Party candidate Harry Hempy. Another 7 percent are undecided.
Women are the key to Hickenlooper’s strength, backing the incumbent 49 – 39 percent. Men back Beauprez 49 – 41 percent. Hickenlooper gets 45 percent of independent voters to Beauprez’ 40 percent. Democrats today go to the governor 94 – 4 percent, while Republicans back their challenger 86 – 6 percent.
“Off the mat and clearly building momentum, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper fights off a ten count and enters the final round of the gubernatorial slugfest looking stronger by the day,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
Any way you look at this poll it's good news for Hickenlooper. That said, we're still not really convinced at this point that Quinnipiac is polling accurately, and wonder if this sudden shift to Hickenlooper is more "CYA" on the part of Quinnipiac. Quinnipiac's results have been outlier on the other side of this race, too: back in April they had Hickenlooper leading by 9 points, the last such numbers he has seen. Without impugning their metholodology from the peanut gallery, we will say that it's very common for polls to get closer as the election approaches–and sometimes, that happens as much to protect the pollster's reputation as it represents legitimate science. Back in their more partisan days, Rasmussen was infamous–or at least perceived to be–for polling that was heavily GOP biased right up until the last few weeks before election.
Is Quinnipiac really seeing these wild swings, or has the gubernatorial race been close–but still favoring Hickenlooper–since at least early September as almost all other polling has shown? Team Hickenlooper is fine either way, but our gut says the latter.