CO: Cook Political Report downgrades Hickenlooper's reelection chances

Gov. John Hickenlooper is considered the more likely of the state’s two big Democratic incumbents to hold on to his seat in November but the landscape may be changing quickly. The Cook Political Report changed Hickenlooper’s race against former Rep. Bob Beauprez from Likely Democrat to Leans Democrat today.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has watched his political fortunes rise and fall during his first term. A year ago, he might have been among the most vulnerable incumbents up for re-election after suffering losses on some of his biggest priorities. Then polling taken earlier this year indicated that his position had improved. It helped that Republicans had a crowded field of candidates….

…At this writing, polls indicate that Hickenlooper might have a race on his hands after all, particularly after botching an attempt to apologize to the state sheriffs’ association for signing several gun control measures.

Yet another data point in the quest to figure out this big purple prize. Noah described the polling as it stands earlier this week:

An NBC News/Marist poll… showed Hickenlooper beating Beauprez with 49 to 43 percent support. But these results were called into question on Wednesday by the release of a Quinnipiac University poll of the Colorado governor’s race.

That survey found Beauprez, a figure who has not held federal office since 2007, has remarkably low name recognition. 31 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the candidate while 25 percent said they viewed him negatively, but a staggering 43 percent said they had not heard enough about Beauprez to form an opinion. Even though voters know nothing about him, Quinnipiac’s survey reveals that they are prepared to give him a shot. The poll found Beauprez leading Hickenlooper with 44 to 43 percent.

Beauprez’s strength in this survey has everything to do with Hickenlooper’s weakness. The poll found Hickenlooper’s favorability rating collapsing from 51 percent in April to 43 percent today. 48 percent approve of the job he has done in office while 46 percent disapprove. 42 percent of respondents said Hickenlooper deserves reelection while 48 percent disagreed. Those results were reversed in April.

It is hard to square these results with NBC’s. The NBC/Marist poll found a comparable number of voters had no opinion or had never heard of Beauprez (38 percent), but it also found that Hickenlooper’s job approval rating is 19 points above water (54/35 percent). Similarly, NBC found voters in the Centennial state have a favorable impression of their governor (51/36 percent).

As Colorado Peak Politics puts is, “these numbers leave very little room for error. Unfortunately, Hickenlooper is terribly error prone.” Indeed. We’ve seen him in action before.

And, Guy Benson flagged the Quinnipiac poll showing Gardner with a two-point lead over Udall:

Gardner and Udall have each consolidated their respective bases, with independents cutting ever so slightly in favor of the Democratic incumbent. In most national polling, independents are leaning heavily toward the GOP this cycle, so Colorado appears to be anomalous. Notable is the fact that this poll is among registered, not likely, voters — so if nationwide trends hold up, November’s electorate could tilt further in Gardner’s favor. On the other hand, the Colorado Left’s operation has been ruthlessly effective at turning out voters in recent cycles. In 2012, RealClearPolitics‘ final polling average showed Barack Obama very narrowly leading Mitt Romney in the state; the president ended up carrying Colorado by a comfortable five-and-a-half points. The GOP hasn’t won a major statewide race there since 2004. All of which is to say that while this survey is no doubt welcome news to the Gardner campaign, there is much work to be done.

Colorado’s a tough nut to crack for Republicans, but they’re certainly well positioned for potential statewide success at this point in the cycle.

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