CongressElection 2018News

Poll: Lamborn, Glenn lead GOP primary field in 5th Congressional District

Author: Ernest Luning - May 23, 2018 - Updated: May 24, 2018

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U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, left, and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, are pictured in file photos. (File photos by Mark Reis/The Gazette and Brennan Linsley/AP)U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, left, and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, are pictured in file photos. (File photos by Mark Reis/The Gazette and Brennan Linsley/AP)

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn holds a 10-point lead over Darryl Glenn in the crowded 5th Congressional District’s Republican primary race just two weeks before mail ballots go out, according to a new survey released Wednesday by GOP polling firm Magellan Strategies.

Lamborn, seeking his seventh term, tops the field of five Republicans, with 37 percent of likely primary voters picking the incumbent if the election in the Colorado Springs-focused district were held today. Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016, follows with 27 percent, and state Sen. Owen Hill comes in third with 10 percent support.

Tyler Stevens, a former mayor of Green Mountain Falls, and Bill Rhea, a former Texas state judge, bring up the rear at 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

With 21 percent of voters undecided and both of the race’s leaders enjoying high favorability ratings, pollster David Flaherty said the contest between Lamborn and Glenn is “far from over” and could narrow in the five weeks until ballots are counted.

“At this time, the Republican primary election for the 5th Congressional District is a two-horse race with incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn currently having the inside track,” Flaherty said in a memo accompanying the survey — the first publicly available poll in the congressional primary.

“The candidates will continue to spend the bulk of their financial resources over the next several weeks making their best case to voters. A 5-point increase in support for Darryl Glenn combined with a 5-point decrease in support for Doug Lamborn will produce a very tight race.”

The poll asked 591 likely GOP primary voters their opinion in automated telephone calls May 20 and 21. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent. The poll surveyed registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters who say they intend to vote in the June 26 primary.

Lamborn’s political opponents waged a prolonged court battle this year that nearly kept the incumbent off the primary ballot. A Colorado Supreme Court ruled in April that Lamborn’s nominating petitions didn’t meet legal requirements, but Lamborn persuaded a federal judge to throw out the state law and restore him to the ballot.

The heavily Republican congressional district covers El Paso, Chaffee, Fremont and Teller counties and includes a portion of Park County. Democrat Stephany Rose Spaulding is her party’s nominee for the seat.

Flaherty also asked the 5th District voters to express a preference in the GOP gubernatorial primary, although he cautioned that the results aren’t necessarily representative of the statewide Republican primary electorate.

While a plurality of the district’s voters — 34 percent — remain undecided in the governor’s race, the poll shows state Treasurer Walker Stapleton leading the pack with 32-percent support, ahead of Victor Mitchell at 18 percent. Doug Robinson and Greg Lopez trail with 8 percent apiece.

“In our view, the emergence of Victor Mitchell as the primary challenger to Walker Stapleton is obviously the biggest finding,” Flaherty said.

In the congressional contest, the poll found that Lamborn is ahead in every category of GOP voters, from an 8-point lead among self-identified “Trump Republicans,” to a 13-point lead among evangelical Christians and a 20-point lead among voters who term themselves “traditional Republicans.”

“Doug Lamborn’s cross-over appeal among these relevant Republican primary voter subgroups is why he is so hard to defeat,” Flaherty said.

Lamborn, who was first elected after narrowly winning a six-way primary in 2006, has faced at least one GOP challenger in all but one of his re-election bids.

Glenn leads Lamborn by 3 points among unaffiliated voters, but that group makes up just 16 percent of the poll’s weighted sample, based on Magellan’s projections of the make-up of the district’s likely GOP primary electorate.

On the other hand, Lamborn leads by 24 percent, his widest margin, among voters age 65 and older, which are projected to account for 44 percent of the primary’s voters.

According to the poll, just over 50 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of the two front-runners, although more voters — 31 percent — have an unfavorable opinion of Lamborn than Glenn, who is viewed unfavorably by just 20 percent.

Hill suffers in comparison, with 55 percent of voters having no opinion or having never heard of the Colorado Springs lawmaker first elected in 2012. Among those who have heard of him, 24 percent view him favorably, and 21 percent have an unfavorable opinion.

“If Owen Hill is going to be competitive in this election,” Flaherty said, “these numbers need to improve significantly and quickly; with ballots being returned in just over two weeks there is very little time to make that happen.”

The survey was paid for by Magellan Strategies, said Flaherty, who noted that the Colorado-based firm hasn’t been hired by any of the candidates or committees working in the 5th District or gubernatorial primary races.

Flaherty said he intends to poll 5th District Republican voters again before ballots are counted.

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.