PPP: Obama leads in Colorado if Dems gain nine points from 2008 turnout, or something; Update: Gallup has Colorado at R+1 with leaners

Is Barack Obama in trouble in Colorado?  A new survey from Democratic pollster PPP tries to allay fears that the President has lost significant ground in the interior West state that Democrats worked hard to convert in 2008, but its sample is so skewed that it ends up proving the opposite:

Barack Obama isn’t terribly popular in Colorado. But he has healthy leads over all of his potential Republican opponents there anyway and this is looking like one of the states he flipped in 2008 that’s most likely to remain in his column for 2012.

Obama’s Colorado approval rating is 46% with 50% of voters disapproving of him. That represents a 10 point decline on the margin from when we last polled Colorado in February, when he was at 51/45. Obama’s numbers with Republicans (8/89) are identical to what they were then and he’s seen only a slight down tick with Democrats (from 84/13 to 82/15). The reason his numbers have slid is a significant drop with independents. Six months ago they approved of him by a 54/42 margin. Now those numbers are reversed and then some with only 38% approving of him to 56% who disapprove.

In spite of that Obama still has solid leads over all of his potential Republican opponents. Only Mitt Romney improves on John McCain’s 9 point margin of defeat in the state, trailing Obama by 7 points at 48-41. That’s almost identical to the 47-41 lead we found for Obama in February, interesting considering the drop in his approval numbers since that time. Against the rest of the GOP field Obama holds a double digit advantage: he’s up 12 on Michele Bachmann at 51-39, 13 on Rick Perry at 51-38, and 16 on both Herman Cain and Sarah Palin at 51-35 and 54-38 respectively.

Well, even a 46% would hardly be good news for an incumbent.  Anything below 50% usually means vulnerability, as voters know the incumbent and are looking to get to know the alternatives.  Given that Democrats just recently succeeded in winning two statewide offices, this seems like a pretty weak showing on its face.

It gets even weaker when one checks the sampling.  The respondents in the PPP poll break out to a ridiculous D/R/I of 41/33/26.  That may be why “only Mitt Romney improves on John McCain’s 9-point margin of defeat” — because PPP gave the Democrats a nine-point flip in the sample. In the 2008 election, Barack Obama won Colorado, but Republicans narrowly edged Democrats in exit polling, with a D/R/I of 30/31/39.  PPP adds eleven points to Democrats, two to Republicans, and takes 13 points off of independents from a wave election for Democrats.  Is there any universe in which Colorado Democrats have gained so much in strength after nearly three years of bad economic news and White House drift?

And Obama still can’t get to 50%.

The reduction in independents is particularly noteworthy, since — as PPP finds — support among independents has completely flipped.  In 2008, Obama won 54-44 in Colorado among unaffiliated voters.  His approval in the PPP poll among indies has sunk to an abysmal 38/56, and since they comprised almost 40% of the vote in 2008, that should have Obama sitting a lot lower than 46%.  It would, had PPP attempted a predictive model for Colorado rather than a cheerleading sample that ultimately failed anyway.

This poll goes beyond bad, into self-parody.

Update: The embarrassment continues.  Gallup released its 50-state survey of registration figures with independent leaners — and Colorado comes up R+1, at 42/43.