We’ve been keeping a close eye on the Senate race out in Colorado this summer, and a seat which at one time seemed like a bit of a stretch for the GOP is beginning to look more and more like a possible 2014 hope and change story for Republicans. Senator Mark Udall has found himself in the political fight of his life against Cory Gardner, and the latest round of news coming out this week certainly hasn’t improved his outlook on life. Stu Rothenberg has slid the race closer to toss-up territory, noting that Gardner is one of the best candidates in the nation this year and finished the most recent finance reporting period with more than $3M in the bank. That’s a fairly significant assessment, given that many analysts didn’t even have this race on their radar a few months ago and Obama carried the state twice.

Udall’s spirits were probably not much improved when he found out that Quinnipiac not only has the race as a tie now, but put his own approval rating at record lows.

The closely-watched U.S. Senate race is tied with 44 percent for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican challenger, and 42 percent for Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Another 10 percent are undecided.

This compares to the results of an April 24 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University showing Sen. Udall at 45 percent to 44 percent for Rep. Gardner.

Today, Udall leads 86 – 5 percent among Democrats, while Republicans go to Gardner 85 – 5 percent. Independent voters go 43 percent for Udall and 40 percent for Gardner.

Colorado voters give Udall a negative 42 – 46 percent job approval rating, his lowest net approval ever and down from a 42 – 42 percent split in April. Voters say 49 – 40 percent that Udall does not deserve to be reelected, tying his lowest score on that measure.

Udall gets a slightly negative 40 – 43 percent favorability, compared to Gardner’s slightly positive 34 – 31 percent score.

Part of this may stem from the fact that Udall has tried to play it both ways on energy issues, leading the NRSC to ask if he’s just a fracking liar.

Udall and Polis share views outside the mainstream when it comes to energy development. Udall has long been in the pocket of radical environmental groups who want to dismantle Colorado’s energy industry. In fact, just yesterday, Polis reiterated that he and Udall remain on the same page when it comes to the underlying issue of fracking.

Colorado is hardly deep red territory, but they are most certainly ready for an improvement on the jobs front, and energy independence is at the front of that debate. Gardner is offering a positive vision to voters on these subjects, while Udall has been exposed as trying to sit on the fence while siding with the President on the fracking question back in Washington.

Yes, it was a bad week, but with any luck he won’t get as much bad news in August. After all, he’ll be on vacation. How much more damage could he do?