Hickenlooper, Udall Hold Small Leads in Colo.

Hickenlooper, Udall Hold Small Leads in Colo.

By Scott Conroy - December 6, 2013

Two Democrats running for re-election in Colorado next year appear to be vulnerable, as both have approval ratings that are underwater.

But according to a new survey conducted by the Democratic Party-affiliated Public Policy Polling, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall still hold leads against all of their potential Republican challengers, despite their slipping numbers.

Hickenlooper, who ascended to office with an easy victory over former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo in 2010 (and who is occasionally mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential contender), now has the approval of just 45 percent of the state’s voters, while 48 percent disapprove of him.

But he leads Tancredo -- who is running for governor again and currently leads the GOP primary field, according to PPP -- by an eight-point margin (48 percent to 40 percent) in a hypothetical general election matchup.

The Republican candidate who comes closest to topping Hickenlooper in one-on-one matchups is state Sen. Greg Brophy, who trails the Democrat by just one point (44 percent to 43 percent).

But Brophy, who does not enjoy high name recognition statewide, sits in third place in the Republican field with just 9 percent of the GOP vote, far behind Tancredo (34 percent) and Secretary of State Scott Gessler (15 percent).

In the Senate race, the survey showed that 40 percent of voters approve of Udall, while 41 percent disapprove.

But the first-term Democrat leads all of his potential Republican opponents, including Ken Buck, who lost the 2010 Senate race to Democrat Michael Bennet -- an outcome that was one of the toughest for the GOP to swallow in a year that otherwise saw Republicans riding a wave of victories nationwide.

Bennet won that race in large part by portraying Buck as an extremist on social issues. But Buck is currently the top choice for Republican primary voters to put up against Udall, earning 45 percent of the vote in the PPP survey.

State Sen. Randy Baumgardner was in a distant second with 8 percent of the vote and state Rep. Amy Stephens drew 7 percent support.

Udall’s lead over Buck in the poll was 46 percent to 42 percent, while his advantages over Baumgardner (47 percent to 40 percent) and Stephens (44 percent to 37 percent) were larger.

A major reason why both Colorado Democrats appear vulnerable is that President Obama’s approval rating in the state (which he won in both 2008 and 2012) has slipped to just 43 percent with 54 percent of voters disapproving of him.

The poll of 928 Colorado voters (including 355 “usual” Republican primary voters) was conducted Dec. 3-4. In the overall survey, the margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points; it was plus or minus 5.2 points for the GOP sample. 

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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