EducationElection 2018News

CU poll shows Polis, school tax, takings measure leading

Author: Mark Harden - October 22, 2018 - Updated: October 23, 2018

While ballot runner Kimberley Sweetwood empties the ballot box outside a DMV office in Colorado Springs on June 25, 2018. (Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

A new poll from the University of Colorado Boulder shows a sizable lead for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis, and also indicates solid support for a pair of ballot measures to tax wealthy Coloradans to finance schools and to force reimbursement for property owners impacted by government regulations.

The “Colorado Political Climate Survey” of 800 registered voters (download here), conducted Oct. 12-17 and released Monday, is from the American Political Research Lab, part of the Department of Political Science at CU Boulder. The poll was administered online by YouGov, a London-based internet market-research company.

The poll gives a 12-percentage-point lead for Polis, the Boulder congressman, in the governor’s race, with 54 percent of registered voters surveyed favoring the Democrat and 42 percent supporting Republican Walker Stapleton, the state treasurer.

> RELATED: Poll: Polis maintains lead over Stapleton in Colorado governor’s race

It shows overwhelming support for each candidate among members of his own party, but it also indicates a 15-point advantage for Polis among independent voters, who are seen as key to the election’s outcome.

Of those polled, 37 percent identified themselves as Democrats, 32 percent as Republicans and 26 percent independents. Five percent said they belonged to some other party.

Polis has consistently led Stapleton in public polls. A survey conducted Oct. 8-10 by Colorado firm Magellan Strategies showed the Democrat leading by 7 points, the same spread the polling organization found in a Sept. 18-20 survey. And a poll conducted Aug. 15-Sept. 19 by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation with the Colorado Health Foundation showed Polis ahead of Stapleton by 11 points.

As for Colorado ballot measures, which have not received much attention in public polls this cycle, the CU poll finds solid support for Amendment 74, which would make property owners eligible for compensation if a government law or regulation reduces the fair market value of their property, a practice that some refer to as “takings” of property.

The poll shows 63 percent support for the amendment, with 37 percent in opposition.

> RELATED: Poll: Voters favor no-new-tax transportation fix over tax-hike plan

Amendment 73, which would raise taxes for individuals earning more than $150,000 a year as well as corporations in order to boost funding for Colorado public schools, also is leading by a hefty margin, the poll indicates, with 58 percent of registered voters surveyed supporting it and 42 percent opposed.

Both measures are constitutional amendments, which, under a state amendment passed recently, would need 55 percent super-majorities to be adopted.

Another closely watch measure on the ballot — Proposition 112, which would greatly increase the buffer zone between new oil and gas operations and occupied buildings in Colorado — also is leading, but by a narrow 52-to-48 percent margin, the survey indicates. As a statutory measure, it needs just a simple 50-percent majority vote to pass.

The CU/YouGov poll finds overwhelming support for Amendment Y, which would reform how boundaries for congressional districts are drawn, and for Proposition 111, which would cap interest rates and fees on payday loans.

The survey shows the “yes” vote on Y ahead by 78 percent to 22 percent, and support for 111 standing at 84 percent to 16 percent. (The survey did not ask about Y’s companion measure, Amendment Z, which would set up a similar new system for drawing legislative district boundaries.)

> RELATED: Trump tweets Stapleton endorsement; poll shows Polis ahead by 11 points

Meanwhile, the poll finds widespread opposition to Amendment 75, which would reshape Colorado’s campaign-finance laws in cases where candidates spend $1 million or more of their own money on their races. It shows the “no” vote on 75 ahead, 61 to 39 percent.

The CU/YouGov poll is deemed to have an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for questions asked of all people surveyed.

The survey is of registered voters, including some who may not be considered likely to actually vote. It was conducted online; there is a lively debate in political and polling circles about the general accuracy of online polls versus “live” surveys with a pollster directly interviewing people over the phone or in person.

The political-tracking website FiveThirtyEight gives YouGov a “B” grade for historical accuracy and methodology, a lower rating than dozens of “live” polling organizations nationwide but among the highest for an online pollster. YouGov called races correctly 88 percent of the time among 375 recent surveys, FiveThirtyEight says.

> RELATED: National poll: Democrats hold 9-point edge in midterm elections for Congress

The CU/YouGov survey also assessed Coloradans’ opinions on a variety of issues:

  • Asked how they would rate the state of the Colorado economy, 19 percent said “excellent,” 49 percent said “good,” 21 percent said “fair,” and 11 percent said “poor” or “bad.”
  • 57 percent of those surveyed said they disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job, with half saying they “strongly disapprove.” Majorities of both sexes indicated disapproval of Trump: 54 percent of men, 60 percent of women.
  • 97 percent of Democrats disapprove of Trump’s job performance and 57 percent of independent voters disapprove, while 89 percent of Republicans approve of the president’s performance.
  • 73 percent of those surveyed disapprove of Congress’ performance — 85 percent disapproval among Democrats and 51 percent among Republicans of the GOP-led Congress.
  • Asked whether they support Democratic or Republican candidates for Congress, those surveyed favored Democrats by a 9-point margin. Support for Democrats was somewhat broader among women: a 14-point margin, but men favored them, too, by a 6-point spread.

“National polls suggest a strong year for Democrats in House races around the country,” Scott Adler, chair of the CU Boulder political science department and head of the American Political Research Lab, said in the survey announcement. “It is often the case that the president’s party takes losses in midterm elections. Our results comport with these narratives.”

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.