Romanoff pulls even with Bennet |

Romanoff pulls even with Bennet

the denver post

Democratic Senate hopeful Andrew Romanoff has closed a double-digit deficit and pulled even with incumbent Michael Bennet in Colorado’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, according to a new Denver Post/9News poll.

In the Republican primary, Ken Buck leads Jane Norton by 9 points, down from a 16-point lead in June.

Romanoff and Bennet are about even – 48 percent to 45 percent, respectively – in the poll of 536 Democrats who have voted or are likely to vote in the Aug. 10 primary. The question has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

The results show a surge for the former state House speaker since June, when he was 17 points behind, and are likely a reflection of a well-organized and passionate ground game, analysts say. Romanoff recently sold his house and cashed in savings to loan his campaign $325,000.

Romanoff’s movement is “dramatic,” according to pollster Jay Leve of Survey USA, the firm that conducted the poll.

Leve said Romanoff is finding support from voters in the Denver area; among voters younger than 50; and among people who call themselves “liberal.”

“He’s finally getting his campaign together. He’s pulling together the Romanoff coalition,” said University of Colorado at Boulder political scientist Ken Bickers. “It’s surprising to me that it’s taken so long.”

That the well-funded Bennet finds himself in a close contest means his campaign – with more than $2.6 million cash on hand – will likely kick into high gear in this last week of Colorado’s nearly all-mail primary election. Eight percent of Democratic voters say they are undecided in that race. Votes will be counted Aug. 10.

“The fact that Bennet has Barack Obama ads on everyone’s television screens multiple times a day right now shows that he’s scrambling to win this primary,” said Eric Sondermann, a Denver political consultant. “That is not an ad you’d run in the general election.”

Billie Young, 82, of Pueblo is voting for Romanoff because she didn’t receive a response from Bennet’s local office when she called for help.

“If he can’t take care of his locals, why would we want to vote for him to take care of the whole state?” Young said.

On the Republican side, former Lt. Gov. Norton has scored some points on Buck since a June Denver Post/9News poll showed her trailing him by double digits.

In the most recent survey of 588 likely and actual GOP voters, Buck leads Norton 50 percent to 41 percent, with a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.

That could be because Norton has run a slew of negative ads against the Weld County district attorney, some of which point out high-profile Buck gaffes – including one in which he tells voters they should vote for him because he doesn’t “wear high heels.”

It worked for Patricia Hafford.

The 63-year-old from Fort Collins was undecided until she saw the commercial featuring Buck’s comments at an Independence Institute gathering.

“I liked Ken Buck, then I heard that ad, and I thought, ‘how stupid,’ ” said Hafford, who was among the voters polled. “Now I’m for Jane Norton.”

But at 41 percent, Norton is still at a significant disadvantage to Buck, who has enjoyed more than $1.5 million in television, radio and mail advertising paid for by outside groups that don’t have to disclose donors. Many of the recent ads attack Norton.

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