As I mentioned yesterday, the cash and the ads from outside groups have already been flying back and forth in Colorado, but Team Udall released its own official TV spot this week that was just about everything you’d expect from an anxious swing-state Democrat desperate to talk about anything but ObamaCare: Republicans and particularly Cory Gardner don’t respect women and actually want to ban birth control, blah blah blah. According to a poll out this morning from Quinnipiac, Udall evidently knows his audience, because the gender gap is one of the few things he has really going for him:

The economy and healthcare, listed by Colorado voters as top issues in this year’s U.S. Senate race, could be the mountains which Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall must climb, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Sen. Udall gets 45 percent to 44 percent for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, his Republican challenger, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

The gender gap is wide as Udall leads 52 – 35 percent among women while Gardner leads 53 – 38 percent among men. Udall leads among Democrats 90 – 3 percent while Gardner takes Republicans 88 – 7 percent and gets 43 percent of independent voters to Udall’s 41 percent.

In an open-ended question, allowing for any answer, 16 percent of voters list the economy or jobs as the most important issue in deciding their U.S. Senate vote, and 14 percent list healthcare. No other issue comes close.

Voters who list the economy back Gardner over Udall 53 – 40 percent and voters who cite health care back the Republican 57 – 36 percent.

That 50 percent of Colorado voters say they don’t yet know enough about Gardner to form an opinion about him (particularly the youths aged 18-29, 72 percent of which feel they don’t know enough) is another major opportunity for Team Udall — ergo, expect the “extremist” attacks and the war-on-women-mongering to continue, the better to define Gardner as an undesirable hyper-partisan lowlifeas early as possible — but that’s just about where Udall’s definitive advantages end. Colorado voters oppose ObamaCare by 59/37 percent, with a 62/34 split among independent voters; they disapprove of President Obama’s job performance by a 21-point margin at 59/38; they do not think Udall deserves to be reelected by 46/40; and voter confidence seems to be trending toward Gardner when it comes to the top two issues of the race. To top all of that off, some polling conducted last week from the Chamber of Commerce corroborates a lot of Quinnipiac’s findings:

The internal survey, obtained exclusively by POLITICO, has Republican Rep. Cory Gardner up by 2 points among likely voters, 44 percent to 42 percent, over Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. Libertarian Party candidate Gaylon Kent pulls 7 percent. This is within the 4-point margin of error.

Udall is viewed favorably by 38 percent of likely voters and unfavorably by 33 percent. A slight majority, 51 percent, said it is time to give a new person a chance, compared with 35 percent who said they would automatically vote to reelect him. …

Pollster Tony Fabrizio and David Lee highlighted a few crosstabs that should embolden Republicans in a memo for Chamber officials. Gardner’s voters are most passionate: he’s up 8 points among those who have an opinion of both candidates, he leads by 5 points among those who say they will “definitely” vote and he’s up 20 points among those who say that, on a 1-to-10 scale, they have a 10 level of interest.

And here’s another potential crack that Team Gardner might want to open up: Quinnipiac also released some more state-legislature-centric numbers from Colorado on Wednesday, and voters increasingly oppose Colorado’s latest package of gun control laws (the ones that inspired a successful recall election of two state senators) by 56/39 percent, up from 52/43 percent in February. Udall sits rather to the left of some of his fellow vulnerable Democrats on the gun-control issue. Ahem.