Election 2018GovernorNews

Polis grows lead among Democrats for governor, says poll

Author: Ernest Luning - June 7, 2018 - Updated: June 8, 2018

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Jared Polis holds a 13-point lead over Cary Kennedy in Colorado’s four-candidate Democratic gubernatorial primary, according to a survey released Thursday by Magellan Strategies and made available early to Colorado Politics.

But the poll shows that nearly four in 10 voters remain undecided with just weeks to go before ballots are counted.

Candidates for Colorado governor do media interviews during a break at the Colorado Civic Barbecue on May 19, 2018, in Colorado Springs. In the foreground is U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder. (Mark Harden, Colorado Politics)

The survey of more than 500 likely voters in the Democratic primary, for which voters already are receiving mail-in ballots, shows Polis, a five-term congressman from Boulder, atop the field with 31 percent.

Kennedy, a former state treasurer, is polling at 18 percent, followed by former state Sen. Mike Johnston at 9 percent. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne has 3 percent support.

That leaves 39 percent of those polled undecided.

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The firm surveyed Democratic and unaffiliated voters considered likely to vote in the June 26 primary. The poll was conducted on May 30-31 by live interviewers using landlines and cell phones and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.38 percent.

Compared with a survey the Louisville-based polling firm took in late March, Polis — who made a fortune as an internet entrepreneur — has gained 4 points and Kennedy’s support has dropped by 5 points, while support for the other candidates and the share of undecided voters has stayed about the same.

“With Jared Polis’ financial resources, and his solid standing among likely Democrat primary voters, the primary was for him to lose,” said pollster David Flaherty in a memo accompanying the survey.

“Based on the findings of this survey, and if Cary Kennedy and the other candidates adhere to the Colorado Democratic Party’s ‘Clean Campaign Pledge Program,’ a Jared Polis victory is more likely to happen. We shall see.”

Democratic candidates for Colorado governor are briefed ahead of their Colorado Civic Barbecue debate on May 19 by moderators Aaron Harber (upper right) and Joey Bunch of Colorado Politics (lower right, back to camera). Pictured from left are Donna Lynne, Mike Johnston, Cary Kennedy (foreground) and Jared Polis. The debate was sponsored by Colorado Politics and The Gazette. (Mark Harden, Colorado Politics)

The survey also found Joe Salazar holding a 19-point lead over Phil Weiser in the Democratic primary for attorney general with what Flaherty described as a “whopping” 65 percent of voters undecided in that race.

Salazar, a state representative from Thornton who has been endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, had the support of 27 percent of respondents, while Weiser, a former Obama administration official and dean of the University of Colorado Law School, had just 8 percent support.

Noting that Weiser’s $1.4 million in campaign contributions dwarfs the roughly $100,000 raised by Salazar, Flaherty added: “It will be fascinating to see if Joe Salazar’s populist appeal will be able to overcome Phil Weiser’s overwhelming financial resources.”

Flaherty said the most striking finding in the gubernatorial primary poll was how well liked the candidates were, with none scoring “unfavorable” ratings above 5 percent.

“That’s unheard of,” Flaherty told Colorado Politics. “No one dislikes any of these candidates.”

The survey was conducted just as a controversy erupted over a TV ad run by Kennedy supporters attacking Polis and Johnston for their education policies.

Polis and Johnston have swung back hard, criticizing Kennedy for refusing to disavow the ad — paid for by Teachers for Kennedy, a super PAC-style independent expenditure committee not allowed to coordinate strategy with the candidate — while at the same time disputing its charges.

“Cary said she would run a clean campaign,” says a Polis ad that began running Wednesday. “But she broke her word.”

Magellan, a Republican firm, isn’t working for any of the gubernatorial campaigns this cycle. The client that commissioned this survey isn’t associated with any of the campaigns or independent expenditure committees with an interest in the race, Flaherty said.

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.