Dueling polls show difficult challenge for Hickenlooper
The Associated Press
DENVER — Two polls offered starkly different assessments of the Colorado governor’s race Wednesday, with one showing Republican challenger Bob Beauprez jumping ahead of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper by 10 points and the other showing the contest deadlocked.
The day began with a bombshell from Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University, which found Beauprez leading Hickenlooper 50 percent to 40 percent among likely voters — the first time an independent survey found the governor so far behind.
In contrast, a poll from Boston-based Suffolk University hours later found the race statistically tied among likely voters, with Hickenlooper ahead 43-41, within the poll’s margin of error.
The one commonality was the neither poll found Hickenlooper anywhere close to the level of popularity that he enjoyed in his first decade in Colorado politics.
Twice elected Denver mayor with ease, the successful restaurant and brew-pub owner then cruised into the governor’s office four years ago, riding high on a public persona that showed him to be a quirky, approachable everyman.
With less than two months before the election, the polls suggest some of that sheen has worn off.
The Quinnipiac survey was conducted by phone and randomly surveyed 1,211 likely voters from Sept. 10-15. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
The Suffolk poll randomly questioned 500 likely voters by phone from Sept. 13-16. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Republicans have spent months blasting Hickenlooper for granting an indefinite stay of execution to a death row inmate. And the Republican Governors Association has spent nearly $2 million in television ads criticizing him for the decision last year not to execute Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of murder for the 1993 deaths of four people at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese’s.
The help from the RGA has helped offset some of Hickenlooper’s vast fundraising advantage. The latest numbers show Hickenlooper has raised about $4.2 million, while Beauprez has raised about $1 million and loaned himself another $527,000.
Hickenlooper has pledged to run a positive campaign and not attack his opponent. His first television ad released last week focused on Colorado’s improving economy.
Quinnipiac assistant poll director Tim Malloy said the big shift in the polling numbers may be because likely midterm election voters tend to favor Republicans.
This poll “fine-tuned the electorate,” Malloy said, adding “it looks pretty good for Beauprez at this moment.”
Beauprez is a former U.S. representative who lost his 2006 bid for Colorado governor by a wide margin. That was a big year for Democrats, who capitalized on the public’s displeasure with President George W. Bush, then on the sixth year of his presidency.
Now it’s Democrats running with an unpopular president in his sixth year.
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