Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has closed the gap with Colorado’s incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in a newly released Denver Post/Survey USA poll, making the race for the state’s next governor too close to call.
Hickenlooper leads Beauprez by a slim 45-43 percent, within the poll’s 3.9 percent margin of error. By averaging other polls conducted recently — some of which have Hickenlooper up by as many as four points, but at least one showing a Beauprez lead by one point — Real Clear Politics has the governor’s race at a virtual tie, Hickenlooper leading his opponent by a mere 44.3-43 percent.
Political analyst Eric Sondermann told the Post that this is the first time in his political life that Hickenlooper, who has cruised to victory in every other campaign, has been in a real contest.
“It’s a first-of-a-kind for John Hickenlooper, in that his charmed political life” seems to have come to an end, he said. “Now all of the sudden, he has a real race on his hands.”
Hickenlooper is also edged into negative territory in terms of how voters view him. Forty-seven percent said they have an unfavorable impression of the governor compared to 46 percent who view him favorably.
Beauprez’s ratings were also close, but on the positive side, with 38 percent viewing him favorably compared to 34 percent unfavorable. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they needed more information about the candidate before forming an opinion.
Hickenlooper has taken a beating over changing his position on the death penalty since his last campaign — he’d previous supported it, but is now opposed, a change reflected in his controversial decision to grant a convicted mass murderer an indefinite stay of execution.
He’s also come under fire for being a weak leader who can’t make tough decisions and for comments about gun control that critics say show his tendency to change his message depending on who he’s talking to.
The Denver Post/Survey USA poll is the first one conducted since the candidates debated last weekend.
“The governor should be very concerned that three polls this week have shown him in the low- to mid-40s,” Beauprez campaign spokesman Allen Fuller told the Post.
But in its statement, the Hickenlooper campaign downplayed the results, with a spokesman telling the paper, “We have real momentum right now.”
The Post reported that it plans two more polls before the Nov. 4 election.
But voters can start casting their votes sooner — county clerks will begin mailing ballots on Oct. 14.
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