In the most recent KOM survey, Trump’s favorability rating among Republicans dropped slightly, to 78–21, while Gardner’s rose, to 72–19. But that increase is not nearly enough to compensate for Gardner’s abysmal favorability rating among undeclared voters, now the largest slice of the Colorado electorate. Among those voters, Gardner scored just a 29 percent favorable rating, compared with 62 percent unfavorable.

So sticking with Trump may be the best available strategy for Gardner, even if it’s not sufficient to win in a general election in a state where Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by just less than five percentage points, and where Democrats won every statewide office in 2018. (Gardner’s office did not return requests for comment for this article.)

“I’m not sure there’s a better path for him at this moment,” says Curtis Hubbard, a partner at the Democratic consulting firm OnSight Public Affairs, part of the consortium that conducts the KOM poll. “Part of the calculation for the GOP nationwide is, they understand that there isn’t any path forward that doesn’t include kissing the ring. And it’s unfortunate, and it probably will result in Gardner’s being a one-term senator. I say it’s unfortunate for him because I think he’s a better Republican than he’s letting on.”