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

Author: Ernest Luning - October 17, 2018 - Updated: October 17, 2018

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Colorado gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis answers a question during a debate with fellow candidate Walker Stapleton, presented by Colorado Politics, The Gazette and KOAA, at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs on Oct. 13. (Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Jared Polis holds a lead of seven percentage points over Walker Stapleton in Colorado’s race for governor, according to pollsters who found the same margin in late September.

The poll, by Republican firm Magellan Strategies, shows Democrat Polis leading Republican Stapleton by double digits among women and unaffiliated voters.

The poll’s results have Polis ahead of Stapleton 47 percent to 40 percent among likely voters, with 9 percent undecided and 4 percent opting for Libertarian Scott Helker.

Polis’ lead in the poll is the same result found in a Magellan survey conducted Sept. 18-20. But the undecided percentage is two points lower than the 11 percent indicated in the earlier poll, suggesting that more voters have made up their minds in the race.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

> RELATED: Election Preview 2018 | Governor’s race comes down to money, message and momentum

While the two top candidates are tied among men, with 43 percent support apiece, Polis leads Stapleton 50 percent to 37 percent among women, and the Democrat leads by 26 percentage points among unaffiliated voters, who account for the largest share of the state’s electorate.

“You could argue Jared Polis has been more successful than Walker Stapleton because of his significant lead among unaffiliated voters,”  Louisville, Colorado-based pollster David Flaherty, CEO of Magellan Strategies, told Colorado Politics.

“Those [unaffiliated] voters at this time — it’s not over, but they appear to be leaning toward Jared Polis. That’s the whole ballgame. Those voters gave [Republican U.S. Sen.] Cory Gardner his lead four years ago. It’s always about them. Always.”

The survey of 500 likely voters was conducted Oct. 8-10 by live interviewers over telephone landlines and cell phones.

That time frame came after three of the eight scheduled debates between the candidates, two of which were televised in metro Denver, the state’s biggest population center.

> RELATED: State Debate | Stapleton, Polis, other statewide candidates clash at CoPo-Gazette event

Polis, a five-term congressman from Boulder, and Stapleton, a two-term state treasurer, are vying for the office held by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a term-limited Democrat.

The new survey, Flaherty said, shows “clear evidence” that the state’s Democratic voters are more energized and interested in the Nov. 6 election than their Republican counterparts.

In voter enthusiasm, which the new poll also gauged, Democrats outpaced Republicans by 12 percentage points. Flaherty said he’s never seen a disparity that high between the two parties in Colorado.

By comparison, he noted, Republicans held just a six percentage point advantage during the GOP wave elections of 2010 and 2014.

Flaherty said it isn’t too late for Republicans to turn things around, but time is running out.

“The political environment we’re operating in is extremely favorable to Democrats — much more so than we thought,” he said. “Democrats are just more interested in the election.”

> RELATED: Election Preview 2018 | Colorado governor candidates on the issues

In a portion of the survey released Monday by business group Colorado Concern, and which Colorado Politics’ Joey Bunch reported exclusively, 52 percent of voters appear to favor Proposition 109, a ballot measure dubbed “Fix Our Damn Roads” that would require the state to borrow $3.5 billion to fix roads and bridges but would not impose new taxes.

Only 35 percent support competing Proposition 110, known as “Let’s Go, Colorado,” a measure to raise the state sales tax by 0.62 cents to pay for a range of transportation projects.

State voters also told Magellan, by a 6 percentage point margin, that they want Democrats to control Congress, with women, unaffiliated voters and suburban residents all tilting toward Democrats by 13 percentage point margins. Notably, Flaherty said, suburban women said they want Democrats in control by a 25 percentage point margin.

Colorado voters were evenly split in their view of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court: 43 percent approved, and 43 percent disapproved. Slightly more unaffiliated voters disapprove of Kavanaugh’s confirmation than approve, though fully one-third of them said they didn’t have an opinion.

> RELATED: Election Preview 2018 | Q&A’s with the Colo. governor candidates

President Donald Trump’s popularity is upside down in Colorado, with 50 percent of voters saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing and 44 percent approving. Trump has endorsed Stapleton for governor, but there are no announced plans for the president to campaign on his behalf in Colorado, which favored Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.

Trump is most popular among Colorado Republicans, men, older voters and residents of small towns, the Magellan poll indicates. But the president is viewed unfavorably by Democrats, women, voters younger than 65 and residents of cities and suburbs. Unaffiliated voters disapprove of the job Trump is doing by a 19 percentage point margin.

The poll results’ margin between Polis and Stapleton in the governor’s race precisely mimic those of a survey conducted by Magellan and Keating Research, a Democratic polling firm, in mid-September for Healthier Colorado, a nonpartisan advocacy organization. That poll also found Polis leading Stapleton 47-40 among likely voters.

Another poll, primarily on health care policy, was conducted for the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Colorado Health Foundation from Aug. 15-Sept. 15 but only released last week. It showed Polis leading Stapleton by 11 percentage points — though instead of sampling likely or even registered voters, the poll measured the opinion of Colorado residents over age 18.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.