• Colorado Dems Showing Life In The Polls After First Debates

    Colorado Democrats came out of this weekend’s debates in the lead in for governor and U.S. Senate.

    Just last week, the Senate forecast published by the FiveThirtyEight blog had Republican Cory Gardner with a 54 percent chance of winning his tough Senate race with incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.

    But Sunday’s update, posted after the first senatorial debate, had Udall firmly reclaiming the lead, with a projected 64 percent chance of winning the election.

    FiveThirtyEight’s formula for calculating odds “combines hundreds of opinion polls with historical and demographic information” that are then run through 100,000 simulations, according to the site. Data is constantly fed into the formula and the forecast is updated regularly.

    On Saturday, Udall and Gardner kept the debate lively with each hammering home their talking points on topics that ranged from abortion to NSA snooping. Gardner continued his tactic of tying Udall to President Obama, repeating that the incumbent has voted in lockstep with the president “99 percent” of the time.

    Udall, however, used Gardner’s position on abortion — including his past votes to make providing abortions a felony and to defund Planned Parenthood — to paint him as someone Colorado families can’t trust to “stay out of their personal health care decisions.”

    When Gardner attempted to redirect his answer to one about jobs, the audience cheered when Udall pressed him to answer the question.

    Gardner, meanwhile, pressed one of his key issues — that Udall intentionally misled the public about the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

    “You promised the American people if they liked your health care plan they could keep their health care plan,” Gardner said. “When did you know that promise was not going to be kept?”

    An NBC/Marist poll published Sunday (but conducted before the debate) has Udall with an eight-point lead on Gardner among registered — as opposed to “likely” — voters. The spread among likely voters is 48-42 in favor of Udall. A Rasmussen poll released last week has a much thinner margin for Udall, 44-42.

    “Right now, Udall is disrupting GOP plans to add Colorado to its victory column as they seek a Senate majority,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a statement. “To seal the deal, Udall needs to mobilize young voters and Latinos who boosted Barack Obama in his presidential wins.”

    Udall has been performing better in Marist polls than in some other recent polling.

    The same poll has Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper edging ahead of Republican challenger Bob Beauprez among likely voters, 43-39 percent. Again, the margin is wider among registered voters, with 43 percent supporting Hickenlooper and 36 percent voting for Beauprez.

    Interestingly, 14 percent of Coloradans polled by NBC/Marist have never heard of Beauprez and 25 percent can’t make a determination as to whether they think favorably of him or not.

    The governor’s debate on Saturday focused in part on Hickenlooper’s ability to lead, according to the Denver Post, which noted that the governor spent about an hour “fending off arguments from Beauprez that he ceded leadership to a variety of sources on issues such as fracking, the death sentence of Nathan Dunlap and control of the state’s federal lands.”

    He also attacked a Hickenlooper talking point, that the state economy was robust and growing.

    “We’ve got a long way to go and we can do better than this,” Beauprez is quoted in the Post as saying.

    For his part, the Post reported that Hickenlooper was uncharacteristically feisty during the debate, throwing what the paper described as “sharp elbows” at some points, contrasting with his carefully honed image as a goofy, good-natured everyman politician.

    Hickenlooper also finally owned his decision to spare Dunlap’s life through an indefinite stay of execution, by unambiguously stating his opposition to the death penalty.

    “My opinion is that government shouldn’t be in the position of taking people’s lives,” he said.

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